What inspired me to write this post is my deep concern over the current trend on my social media sites. Every day I see atleast one post from a gossip blog about a woman being beaten to unrecognizable identity by her husband/boyfriend. So I did some research to understand the depth of this problem which I was sure was deeper than a mere story on a gossip blog.
Forms of violence can be physical, sexual or psychological. More than 250 million women today were married before their 15th birthday, worldwide. What does this mean for young girls? This means obtaining an education will only become a dream for most of these child marriage victims and their right to make their own choices will be taken from them.
In addition, an appalling 200million women and girls alive today have undergone female genital mutilation. This does not only leave physical scars, but lasting psychological trauma as well. How would physical and sexual assault against women not continue, when two thirds of all countries have outlawed domestic violence?
In many parts of Africa, violence against women and children is perceived as an acceptable cultural norm, hence it is rarely treated as a violation of one’s human right. The liberation from societal oppression and cultural perceptions for the African Woman, is a fight we must never give up.
Web Dubois once said this “There is no force equal to a woman determined to rise”. From our glorious kinks which defy gravity to our melanated skin which identifies us, African women embody power, resilience and hope. It is factual that history, society and culture have tied down the “African woman”, placing her in a position of repression – but change is on the horizon. Our grandmothers have birthed catalysts for change and our mothers have built the foundation we now stand on. All over the world African women are beginning to challenge the “norm”, stereotypical barriers, what we have been told we cannot achieve or be. Why is it that “when men are oppressed, it’s a tragedy. When women are oppressed, it’s a tradition” – Letty Cottin Pogrebin. Although this struggle is still very real, we now have role models rising up in our midst showing us that we African women do have a voice, do have the power and do possesses the audacious in born ability to be great.
We are driven by our yearning to break every perception and label that has been stamped on our foreheads. The strength and intelligence we possess as African women now intimidates and inspires people because it is not the norm. But who decides the norm any ways? African women are redefining the so called “Norm”. I am proud to be a black young African lady.
What can we do to put an end to the marginalization of women and children?
- Do not treat domestic violence as a socially and cultural acceptable practice. It is a violation of a woman’s right.
- Send all girls to school! Education is empowering for both boys and girls, but even more so for girls because an educated girl is less likely to fall prey to child marriages. We need to promote and support gender equality in educational institutions.
Do not be quiet. Report all forms of violence and abuse to the appropriate authority depending on the context and act of abuse – physical, sexual and psychological.
Communities should hold perpetuators of acts of violence against women accountable and speak up against it, rather than turn a blind eye to the struggle of a woman/child.
Be aware of the agency, Non-Governmental Organization or hotline to contact to report any act of violence/abuse in your community, province or nation. To report domestic violence in South Africa, contact Lifeline on 0800150150.
Remain blessed and hopeful.