I still remember vividly the early stages of the lockdown orders in different city states globally due to the pandemic. Many of us were afraid of the imminent impact; some feared for hunger and potentially running out of supplies and as a result, they went panic shopping.
I myself did a bit of “panic shopping”. However, I could not stop thinking about what the impact of the lockdown would be for the marginalized in the society- how much there would be a surge in Gender-based violence (GBV).
Gender-based violence is a human rights violation, a public health challenge, and a barrier to civic, economic and socio-political participation. It undermines not only the safety, dignity, overall health status, and human rights of the millions of victims, but also the public health, economic stability, and security of nations.
Gender-based violence cuts across ethnicity, race, class, religion, education level, and international borders. An estimated one in three women worldwide has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime. Although statistics on the prevalence of violence vary, the scale is tremendous, the scope is vast, and the consequences for individuals, families, communities, and countries are devastating. The immediate and long-term impact on the health and welfare of women and children, with ripple effects in the broader community and country cannot be overemphasized.
Gender-based violence is a significant barrier to the achievement of every development outcome. Sustainable Development Goal 5 recognizes that gender equality is the foundation for a “peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world” and that this includes a world free of gender-based violence. We all are called out to support the elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls in the public and private spheres.
Sexual violence is a serious public health and human rights problem with both short and long-term consequences on women’s physical, mental, sexual and reproductive health. Whether sexual violence occurs in the context of an intimate partnership, within the larger family or community structure, or during times of conflict, it is a deeply violating and painful experience for the survivor.
In the words of one of the women I respect the most, Mercy Familusi, “it has become a sin to be neutral at this stage”.
It is vital for us all as individuals to promote the rights of all women and reduce gender-based violence while mitigating its harmful effects on individuals (women) and communities. Unless women and girls fully enjoy their human rights and are free from violence, progress toward development will fall short.
It is high time we do more than standby and watch or just talk. It is time to Increase awareness of the scope of the problem and its impact on women and the society at large. It is time to improve services dedicated to survivors of violence in our communities. It is time to do all we can to strengthen prevention efforts.
It is time to blame rapists for rape and not women. Don’t tell your daughters not to go out, rather tell your sons to behave like human beings. Teach them to respect the sex that gave them life.
Do not for selfish “pleasurable” or even vindictive reasons put someone in a position where the pain and trauma will last forever.
If at this point you as a man can’t speak up for women who are abused, because you think it’s none of your business, you are either a rapist, a potential rapist, or a rape apologist. Hating rape has nothing to do with feminism, but has everything to do with common sense.
In the words of the German theologian, Martin Niemöller;
“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me”.
We CAN NO LONGER BE NEUTRAL; It is time to speak out and act. Let’s do better.
#justiceforUwa #JusticeforTina #JusticeforJennifer #saynotorape #NomeansNO #STOPRAPINGWOMEN