Gender-based violence should not be allowed to thrive in society
Posted Thursday, January 10 2013 at 02:00
On 9th October last year, Uganda celebrated a milestone. On this very day, in Swat Valley, Pakistan, the global women’s movement was literally taking a blow to the head. 15-year-old Malala Yousafzai, was shot in the head on her way from school by members of the Taliban for being “anti-taliban and secular”. During this same month of Jubilation, in Namutumba District, here in Uganda, Police held a man for torturing his pregnant wife to death after she allegedly denied him sex.
Last month, in New Delhi, there was an international outcry over the death of a 23 year old medical student who was gang raped. Interestingly, even with the millions of undocumented deaths from rape and wife beatings, the New Year ushered in a shocking statistic as portrayed by the article published in The Daily Monitor of January 1; “60 per cent of women say wife beating is okay”. I have no idea which women were interviewed and under what circumstances, but you will agree with me that this saddening statistic may very well be true.
If you are able to read this paper, bought off a vendor, borrowed from a fellow passenger in a matatu or fellow patient in the waiting room or online, most likely your biggest worry for that moment is not the state of the women’s movement or the girl child for that matter. Understandably, it shouldn’t be, considering the fact that this is the 21st century. Even with all the powerful women in the world and the million and one laws set up to protect women, mankind, in all their intelligence, fall short.
The Suffragette movement, the girl child movements and all feminist movements appear to be all for naught if we constantly hear of rapes and other gender based abuses.
In India women appear to be second class citizens. Ms Rita Banerji, a gender activist, maintains that gender-based genocide in India is the worst genocide in history and the violence is increasing. Young married women and baby girls are killed every few minutes. Under the Taliban, many women in many cases have been banned from going to the market or shopping, in other cases women are not to leave a city or country without the approval of a male relative (they are stopped at borders and airports by authorities), education for women is a struggle too.
These, for you and me may seem like horror stories right out of the medieval times. Unfortunately these horrors are so much closer to home than we think.
Malala, was released from hospital last week. She wakes to petitions to award her the Nobel Peace Prize. It is expected that she will make full recovery, but this young girl has clearly lost her childhood and no Nobel Peace Prize will make up for it. Arresting, trying and sentencing perpetrators does not solve the problem let alone bring back the victims or their innocence. Laws can only do so much.
In the India gang rape case, one of the aggressors is a teenager. If our sons have decided they too can partake of “disciplining” women under the single pretext that they are men and therefore greater by some right, it’s clearly our fault as their predecessors, humanity as a whole, male and female. Culture needs to change from the grassroots; to a culture that calls upon a universal conscience for men, to know that hurting the opposite sex cannot be justified. For the longest time, women have been expected to apologize for their strengths; a mindset that needs to be changed. Like Roseanne Barh said, “The thing women have yet to learn is that nobody gives you power. You just take it.” No whisper can be overstated, every voice in this struggle is as important as the next. We have won a few battles but the war rages on.
Many will argue that women emancipation is a western thing, unbefitting of African society.
I beg to differ, gender violence is not about woman emancipation; it is about good and bad and that bad must be fought with every device known to humanity.