The 16 days of activism against gender based violence kickstarted worldwide on the 25th of November and tomorrow (10 December) marks the end of the awareness campaign. According to Amnesty international, the 16 days of Activism against Gender Based Violence (GBV) is started on the 25th of November, which is also the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and religiously ending on the 10th of this month which is Human Rights Day.
Carrying the theme: “Let’s challenge militarism and end violence against women”, the awareness seeks to eradicate violence that is gender based at all levels, be it in the family, school, workplace, places of worship and at a national scale. Gender based violence (GBV) is defined as being that violence directed against a person on the basis of gender and constitutes a breach of the fundamental right to life, liberty, security, dignity, equality between women and men, non-discrimination and physical and mental integrity.
In each society, the presence of GBV is a reflection and a re-enforcement of inequalities between men and women. Patriarchy is a form of social organization in which a male is the family head and is dominant in most of Africa. In the modern world, where child headed families and single parenthood has become the norm, matriarchy (the opposite of patriarchy) is fast gaining ground. One of the millienium development goals shows the globes dedication towards overcoming inequality on a worldwide scale. Millennium Development Goal 3 aims to Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women and one of the avenues of realising this is through encouraging and lobbying against domestic violence, which is perhaps the biggest form of violence. It is imperative that communities be emancipated about the far reaching effects of sexual violence, which disempowers victims and reduces their capacity to perform in other sectors of life: religious, social and political. A nation cannot progress if its people are plagued with tendencies of sexual violence as it destroys self-esteem, confidence and self-dignity.
Rape is one other form of gender based violence and can go two ways, it leaves long term scars in people’s lives and destroys prospects of building families thus destroying childhood dreams. Other forms of gender based violence include the trafficking of women, forcing women into prostitution and forced abortion to name but a few. Some of the far reaching effects include suicide, hospitalisation, the destruction of family units, a disturbance in both the physical and mental health of the victim and ultimately a slow paced economic and social development.
Violence, simply put is an act of aggression a tendency to become wild, turbulent and is normally associated with damage to property and injuries. Someone who is violent intentionally uses physical force, power against themselves, another individual or a group or community.
As active citizens, who have embraced modernisation, it has become our responsibility to disseminate information as it has the power to overcome some of the challenges bedevilling our community. By simply sharing a conversation with someone who has been a victim of GBV, one can not only offer an ear, but inform them of the options of dealing with GBV. Unfortunately for some victims, they would have come to a point in which they see various forms of violence as being normal and correcting this would take a strategic approach from various stakeholders like the government, religious groups, the education system and other community groups. Tomorrow’s generation needs to be taught from a tender age that violence in any form is not good.
Perhaps the challenge of violence is one whose magnitude may demand key stakeholders to craft policy and engage society in the creation of long term strategy, but one thing that is for sure is that in its many forms, it can be reduced by addressing the problems from which it emanated or its possible root cause. The reduction in poverty, substance abuse, improved incomes and the creation of nurturing relationships and stable environments could very well be some of the steps towards a better tomorrow that is violence free. It does not have to be Human Rights Day, or the 16 days of activism against GBV, but a lifestyle that one adapts in their lives. It begins today, it begins with you.