Eerste River, Cape Town, South Africa – Valencia Farmer, a 14-year-old girl is gang raped by four men before she is stabbed fifty-three times; her throat slit and she is left for dead. The young girl is unable to grow into an adult because four rapists have snuffed out her opportunity to grow old. More than a decade and a half later, a fourth man accused of taking part in the crime is convicted to 23 years in prison.
Cameron, Texas, USA – an 18-year-old Dede Westbrook is arrested twice for domestic violence incidents. On one incident he is reported to have thrown the mother of his two children to the ground. On another incident, he is accused of biting her arm and punching her in the face with his fist. He is then arrested for criminal trespass, reportedly after violating a restraining order.
Masya, Kanungu, Uganda – Agnes Asiimwe, a mother of four, suffers violence and rejection because when her husband tests positive and she tests negative for HIV Aids, he demands to have unprotected sex with her. Things don’t go so well for her.
“When my husband tested positive, he wanted us to have sex without using a condom. Accepting his situation was hard and at times he would force himself on me,” Agnes laments.
Yaba, Lagos, Nigeria – 36-year-old Ronke Shonde, a banker is reported to have been beaten to death by her husband, after suffering an abusive relationship for quite a while. The mother of two is found dead in her Lagos home while her husband, the alleged murderer flees the scene of the crime. Her six-year-old child cries uncontrollably as Ronke’s body is laid to rest a few days later in Atan Cemetery, Yaba, Lagos
News about violence against women is something that has over the years become a common occurrence often generating unprecedented outcry, massive backlash and several hashtags to condemn the act across the whole world. However, despite all this world wide condemnation, there seems to be a sad realization that violence against women is not going to be a thing of the past, at least not in the near future.
As a man who has talked to a number of women who have suffered at the hands of senseless and often brainless men, one thing seems to cut across. It is common knowledge that men are the greatest perpetrators when it comes to violence against women. What is even more unfortunate is that we men also hold quite a chunk of power in this battle to eradicate a practice that most sane people would agree to have no place in today’s world.
I have had several interactions with campaigners for the protection of women from Violence and many of them seem to have little respect for men as a whole. While their ill-sentiments are not entirely unfounded, I get the feeling that the struggle to weed out Violence against women is going to zero down to Men Vs Women – which in my opinion, it should not. The campaign to weed out violence against women is one that needs to be fronted by both men and women because from experience, men are probably better placed to tell fellow men how horrible and inhumane violence against women is.
On 25th November 2016, during the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, Uganda took an important step forward to protect women and girls by launching its National Action Plan on the Elimination of Gender-Based Violence. The plan, advanced by U.S. Ambassador Deborah Malac was intended to advance the plight of the girl child and women as a whole. The plan highlighted the bitter truth that gender-based violence manifests in many ways, including ‘physical violence, rape and sexual assault, child and forced marriages, female genital mutilation, human trafficking, and the denial of resources and services.’
Very many women got on board and joined the cause, while most men sat back and quietly promised to offer support whenever the need arose.
The idea of actively involving men in this struggle is an idea that might not seem like a big deal seeing as men are the perpetrators of this heinous act anyway. However, men are a crucial part of the conversation and as much as it is women who are victims and therefore actively involved in campaigns to end Violence against Women, it is important to recruit as many men in the struggle as possible.
It is easier for two men to face off than for a man and a woman to face off. When a man faces off with another man, he will most likely not be taken for granted and neither will he accept to be shoved aside easily. If it comes to a confrontation, a man facing off with another man will be more evenly matched than a woman facing off with a man. When a woman stands up for herself or for another woman, she might be dismissed and her complaints relegated to the ‘rants’ section. However, when a man complains on behalf of the woman, he will most likely be given more attention. As sexist and unfortunate as this may seem, it actually is a more logical path to take especially if the end goal is weeding out violence against women. One or two feminists might not be too impressed with this approach but after realizing that more women will be saved from violence if men actively got involved in fighting this vice, they just might give this school of thought a chance.
Let’s have more frontline men fighting for women in this seemingly endless struggle to end Violence against women. Let’s have more men actively ridicule, call out and stand up against men who are violent towards women. Let’s have more men name and shame fellow men who are violent towards women. Basically, let’s have more men lead the fight to weed out violence against women.
Soon enough, women will not be scared to walk around freely or express themselves because they will know that if a man as much as lifts a finger, other men will rip him to shreds.
“There are two kinds of males – men who stand up for women’s rights & cowards. The choice is yours.” ― Abaida Mahmood