Thirty percent of women across the globe have been victims of violence at least once in their lifetime and in most cases at the hands of the people they trust. United Nations Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka in her Women’s Day speech in 2012 said:
“Women and girls who experience violence lose their dignity, they live in fear and pain, and in the worst cases they pay with their lives. Violence cuts deeply into the liberties we should all have: the right to be safe at home, the right to walk safely on the streets, the right to go to school, to work, to the market or to watch a film. We should be able to expect that attackers will be punished, that justice will be done, and that we can get care and support for injuries.”
Nothing new there, but something worth repeating for decades to come because women’s rights are in reality human rights. Imagine a world where women are not subjected to gender-based violence?
Imagine the economic gains that can come with combining men and women’s contributions in every sector of life?
The United Nations estimates that $11 billion is lost annually because women are sidelined or their contribution to society is not quantified.
Everything starts at the level of emotion, physical abuse and gender discrimination.
This week we carry a story about a woman in a rural setup who is virtually the bread winner.
However, she is losing the war at home against her unemployed husband who feels that she is only useful as a sex object. Hence he makes sure he has sex with her for six hours daily — with no rest.
Imagine she has an 8-5 job, comes home to cook, help children with homework and other traditional duties and before she’s ready to rest, bam! it’ sex. When does she get the average eight hours sleep?
Sex other than being for reproduction — in humans it saves a function of bring lovers together, affection and keeping the marriage in tact but for the said woman, she wants to run away because it’s literary slavery for her.
Reality on the ground in most of Sub-Saharan Africa and even relatively in the first world is that there’s deep-rooted inequality in roles, rights and opportunities of men and women, and attitudes and social norms that condone or normalise such violence, have made the problem tenacious, but not inevitable.
With laws to protect women and punish perpetrators, services to rebuild women’s lives and comprehensive prevention that starts early, ending violence against women and girls can become a reality.
Yet, robust funding for efforts to end this violence remains woefully insufficient. Let’s go beyond the 16 days of activism to full-time activism.