From 25th November to 10th December there is a “movement”, nay a crusade, dubbed “16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence”.
It is a battle for the “soul” of the family, community, country and humanity; about violence which is perpetrated predominantly by men and boys and against women and girls simply because of their being female. It is the violence that happens where love is supposed to reside, by people who are supposed to loving and caring
To reflect on what role each of us has played in the perpetuation of this “pandemic”, it may be useful for each to hold the mirror to his face and honestly say if they like the face they see in the mirror. In your reflection, ponder over these questions:
What role have you played to stop violence against women? Are you an indifferent bystander, one who looks askance, arm akimbo? Do you think violence against women is a “private” matter and therefore must be dealt with privately? Do you believe that women are to blame for what violence they suffer, including sexual violence? Do you believe that a woman or girl cannot be raped with her consent? Are you one of those who cheer on the boys as they taunt the girl walking down the street?
And I ask again:
Would you dare to speak out loudly against sexual and gender based violence? Are you ready to take a stand when you witness sexual harassment or a scene of domestic violence? Will you protest when your friend makes sexual gestures or utter lewd remarks at a lady?
Are you ready to critically interrogate patriarchy and toxic masculinity that engender sexual and gender based violence?
Whatever you may think:
Gender based violence or violence against women and girls, whether happening in public or private sphere, is criminal, reprehensible, intolerable, inexcusable and condemnable. Let it be known that an employer who asks for a date or some sexual favour before he employs a lady should know that he is indulging in a criminal conduct. The police officer who beats his wife or partner must be seen as a criminal in the same manner as he sees the pickpocket or burglar. The religious preacher who demeans his wife and treat her less than a human being must be seen as a sinner in the same way that he sees the alcoholic who refuses to repent. The tax collector who outrages the modesty of a woman or directs lewd and obscene comments towards his female colleague must be seen as a criminal in the same manner as he sees the businessman who short-changes the GRA.
Women and girls hold half our sky and thus what we men and boys do to them, we do to ourselves. It is said that one in three women would be a victim of violence in her life time. Certainly that one woman could be my sister or your daughter. Thus, who can escape this pandemic if we refuse to fight it, condemn it when we witness the violence or stand with the victim? We are all the losers if we look the other way, not just the victim.
And yes, no religion permits or condones violence against women or gender based violence. None. The Holy Prophet of Islam was and remains the best to his family.