16 days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence (GBV) kicked off on November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women to December, 10, International Human Rights Day.
This is not a campaign to be taken lightly or frivolously because GBV is a menace that has eaten deeply into our lives, first as humans (mentally, physically and spiritually), which has, in turn, affected us socio-economically, politically and culturally.
GBV is not limited only to rape and attempted rape. It cuts across every form of oppression against a woman such as sexual abuse and exploitation, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), savagely cruel and dehumanizing cultural practices, domestic violence of every form against a woman, a child, a man. Child marriage, forced marriage, human trafficking, psychological violence, and so on.
While we actively fight against GBV, it is necessary to note that in as much as the dominant ideology of patriarchy and toxic masculinity are the root causes of GBV, we must not fail to recognize that in order destroy this root cause so as to bring to GBV an ultimate end, we must first, put to an end the fan that flames this fire, which are women.
Statistically, it has been recorded that women are also responsible for most of these crimes against their fellow women. FGMs are been carried out by women who believe that the removal, partially or totally of the external female genitalia is necessary in order to control the sexuality of a woman and social acceptance. The ritual of subjugating a widow to shaving off her hair, drinking the water used to clean the corpse of her husband, wearing same dress for a year, sleeping on the ground without a blanket for over a month, sitting on the ground motionless for a specified period of time and so on are been carried out by their fellow women. Human trafficking, child labour and so on are been also perpetrated to a large extent by women.
Currently, a video where a school girl(a child) was publicly humiliated on the grounds of wearing artificial lashes to school has made the internet, and this was perpetuated by a woman who works as a teacher in the school. If a child cannot be protected in her school by those who ought to be her guardians, the world is not safe for such a child.
Same women are also responsible for bringing up boys with a false sense of entitlement towards a woman. Men who believe women are nothing but properties to be used and toyed with as they deem fit.
It is time therefore, to re-educate our women and men, letting them know the necessity of bringing to an end these primitive and savagely cruel cultural practices. Re-educate them to bring up their girls to know that they can become whatever they want to be, even if they aim to be the president of any country and not just how to be domestically useful to their husbands and children.
It is time to re-educate women to bring up their boys to respect the rights of a woman and that everyone has equal rights, be you a boy or a girl. To teach their boys to know that a woman is not a slave and that there is no job designated for a woman and a man. Teach the boys that a woman has an equal right to speak just as he has.
During this campaign and even afterwards, let us as women and men, not just stand as observers but walk the talk to bring to an end this long rooted menace that has eaten unhealthily into our society and globally, because your voice is as important as my voice. If we don’t stand in unity as women, this circle of violence will only keep expanding until it is a wide uncontrollable furnace. So let us as women walk in unity and most importantly with love.
(TEAM MEMBER, PLATINUM INTERVENTIONS’ CARE INITIATIVE)