Gladys Gachanja speaks with the Youth and Gender affairs Cabinet Secretary, Sicily Kariuki
The University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus – the Institute for Gender and Development Studies: Nita Barrow Unit (IGDS: NBU) presents 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign.
As the title of this article suggests, I have in recent days, following the overwhelming non-ending events that relate to the inhumane treatment of children and female adults alike, resorted to referring to this society in which we exist as a brutal one. Much as many of us would like to conceive and start our own families, it is such a scary thought to have your children exist in such a cruel world with monster-like humans.
As many of you would know about the recent #MeToo trend on social media where essentially victims of abuse and particularly rape, were coming out and speaking out about their personal incidents of abuse. I came across a particular thread on Facebook relating to this hashtag and what I found extremely appalling in that thread is that not even a single victim that came out mentioned a stranger as their perpetrator, it was people they knew, people whom they would expect protection and love from. Many men want to argue that women and girls make themselves vulnerable to rape by the way they dress and I hold a view that this narrative is absolute nonsense, men need to take NO! for what it is and know that they are not entitled to female bodies. These bodies are personal and not commodities and the sooner everyone acknowledges and appreciates that, the better for our society.
Rape is but one of the ways in which women and children are oppressed on a daily basis but there are other ways. Many women live in fear each and every day because of the conduct of their partners who are advocates of patriarchy and do not want to be called out on their behaviour. These men feel so superior that the women they are with are not entitled to any views but rather are subjected to whatever the men say, which is wrong. These women often don’t speak out because they have been oppressed for so long that it’s almost become a norm to them, it also gets difficult for the women to speak out if they financially depend on these men, which is often a situation these men create deliberately so that the women can be vulnerable, for the satisfaction of their egos.
A reasonable amount of work is being done to empower women and young girls, but my cry with this approach is that despite the fact that it is very necessary, it will not be as effective if we choose to only focus on one gender group and ignore the other, and then hope to transform society for we would be delusional if we do so. I genuinely believe it is time for all of us to come together and have these dialogues because what I find is that everyone – black, white, young, old, male and female needs this empowerment that is so often talked about, we all need it to be better and to ultimately and ideally reach common ground where these pressing societal issues are concerned.
Finally, we need to stop hurting each other, we need to stop causing each other pain, and we need to be kind to one another. Cruelty has no place in this society, patriarchy cannot prosper where we intentionally seek to make peace. All of this needs to stop, it must just stop!
Noko Prudence Rakoma is a 20 year old passionate speaker and blogger who is also a student, she is the founder of an organisation called Kgoshigadi Reign which essentially seeks to empower society through having having conversations. Noko is also a young entrepreneur who co-owns a hair business called Queendom’s Castle Hair.
25 November-10 December…violence against women and children and all human life is abhorrent anytime of the year.
The 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children is an international awareness-raising campaign. It takes place every year from 25 November (International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women) to 10 December (International Human Rights Day). The period includes Universal Children’s Day and World AIDS Day.
This year’s 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children Campaign (16 Days campaign) is important because we commemorate many milestones. The year 2014 marks 60 years since the signing of the Women’s Charter on 17 April 1954 in Johannesburg; 20 years of freedom and democracy in South Africa and 16 years of the 16 Days of Activism Campaign.
South Africa adopted the campaign in 1998 as one of the intervention strategies towards creating a society free of violence. The campaign continues to raise awareness amongst South Africans about the negative impact of violence against women and children (VAW&C) on all members of the community.
The objectives of the 16 Days Campaign are to:
- Attract all South Africans to be active participants in the fight to eradicate VAW&C; hence the theme: “Count me in: Together moving a non-violent South Africa forward.”
- Expand accountability beyond the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) cluster to include all government clusters and provinces.
- Combine technology, social media, the arts, journalism, religion, culture and customs, business and activism to draw attention to the many ways VAW&C affects the lives of all people in all communities around the world.
- Ensure mass mobilisation of all communities to promote collective responsibility in the fight to eradicate violence against women and children.
- Encourage society to acknowledge that violence against women and children is NOT a government or criminal justice system problem, but a societal problem, and that failure to view it as such results in all efforts failing to eradicate this scourge in our communities.
- Emphasise the fact that the solution lies with all of us.
What is violence against women and children?
Violence takes many forms, for example:
- Physical violence in the form of domestic violence, terrible violent crime such as murder, robbery, rape and assault.
- Emotional violence and trauma at many levels caused by many factors. Women and children in their homes, at work, at schools, on our streets, in our communities suffer this form of violence for various reasons.
- Another terrible blight of our democracy is the violence of poverty, starvation, humiliation and degradation, especially against women and children. Poverty, inequality and unemployment are conditions under which violence thrives.
What can you do?
Together, let us take actions to support the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign.
- Support the campaign by wearing the white ribbon during the 16-day period: A white ribbon is a symbol of peace and symbolises the commitment of the wearer to never commit or condone violence against women and children.
- Participate in the various 16 Days of Activism events and activities: See thecalendar outlining events taking place around the country over the period of the 16 days.
- Volunteer in support of NGOs and community groups who support abused women and children: Many organisations need assistance from the public. You can volunteer your time and make a contribution to the work of institutions. Help plant a garden at a shelter, sponsor plastic tables and chairs for kids at a clinic or join an organisation as a counsellor. Use your skills and knowledge to help the victims of abuse.
- Speak out against woman and child abuse.
- Encourage silent female victims to talk about abuse and ensure that they get help.
- Report child abuse to the police.
- Encourage children to report bully behaviour to school authorities.
- Men and boys are encouraged to talk about abuse and actively discourage abusive behaviour.
- Seek help if you are emotionally, physically or sexually abusive to your partner and/or children. Call the Stop Gender Based Violence helpline (0800 150 150).
- Talk to friends, relatives and colleagues to take a stand against abuse of women and children.
- Try and understand how your own attitudes and actions might perpetuate sexism and violence.
- Spread the message on social media using #16Days2014
- Join community policing forums (CPFs): The community and the local police stations are active partners in ensuring local safety and security. The goal is to bring about effective crime prevention by launching intelligence-driven crime-prevention projects in partnership with the local community.You may want to also become a reservist, a member of the community who volunteers his/her services and time to support local policing efforts to fight crime. For more information on how to join, contact your local police station.
- The Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill provides government with the legislative authority to fast-track the empowerment of women and address issues of enforcement and compliance towards the attainment of our target of 50/50 gender parity.
- On 6 June 2011, Government launched the Strategy and Guidelines on Children Working and Living in the Streets [PDF]. This Strategy provides guidance on the services and programmes to be rendered to children living and working in the streets.
- The Green Paper on Families [PDF] seeks to strengthen and support families as the cornerstone of a well-functioning society.
- Since 1994, Government has developed several pieces of legislation to redress the wrongs affecting women and children.
- The Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Persons Act (Act No 7 of 2013)fights trafficking of young girls and women, and also the practice of ukuthwala, a form of abduction that involves kidnapping a girl or a young woman by a man and his friends or peers with the intention of compelling the girl or young woman’s family to agree into marriage.
Mbewu MCM – a talented director and professional photographer, Ndumiso Sibanda, take a look at the LUV ”love” short story series that this talented Afrcan artist has pulled off.
A talented director and professional photographer, Ndumiso Sibanda, pulls of an amazing LUV ”love” short story, take a look at this talented artist’s love story compilation.
“Now I have seen that some of you fear to go forward to fight for our King.If it were in the brave days of Osei Tutu, Okomfo Anokye, and Opoku Ware, leaders would not sit down to see their King taken away without firing a shot.
No white man could have dared to speak to a leader of the Ashanti in the way the Governor spoke to you this morning.Is it true that the bravery of the Ashanti is no more? I cannot believe it. It cannot be!
I must say this, if you the men of Ashanti will not go forward, then we will. We the women will. I shall call upon my fellow women. We will fight the white men. We will fight till the last of us falls in the battlefields.”
— Queen Mother Nana Yaa Asantewa