There is a day that marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against women, which was on the 25th of November, offsetting the 16 days of activism, which ends, 10th December, Human Rights Day.
So as we come to the end of the 16 days, why don’t we reflect on this.
The battle to give feminism a softer landing has been more than real in the last year, but that is not what 16 days of activism is about.
It is about prodding all the citizens of this world to end violence against the female gender.
This is not to say that violence against women takes precedence over violence against men.
In fact, there are shocking statistics In Kenya that suggest the male gender is almost under siege.
However, the point for the 16 days of activism is to fight for the female gender.
Here are the types of gender-based violence.
Intimate partner violence
The term “intimate partner violence” describes physical, sexual, or psychological harm by a current or former partner or spouse.
Most victims of intimate partner violence prefer to suffer in silence. Some do so because they feel ashamed and others because they do not want to “air their dirty linen.”
The most shocking thing is that many people today believe that intimate partner violence is justified. It is definitely not justified.
Emotional abuse is rampant and happens in numerous forms, butnis hardly recognizable because it is easy to overlook and think that it is your fault or you are simply overacting.
Sometimes It is hard to imagine how you got there? Here is a cycle that could shed some light on how Gender Based Violence takes place.
Sexual harassment is any uninvited and unwelcome verbal or physical behavior of a sexual nature especially by a person in authority toward someone who’s weaker than him or her.
In order for perpetrators to prove their power over their victims, they use sexual harassment.
Victims give in to it because of fear and also because they have been coerced into it.
The most widespread is street harassment.
Street harassment is any action or comment between strangers in public places that is disrespectful, unwelcome, threatening and/or harassing and is motivated by the gender of the victim.
It is a violation of human rights as it undermines human dignity.
It ranges from leers, whistles, honks, kissing noises, gender-policing and non-sexually explicit evaluative comments, to more insulting and threatening behavior like vulgar gestures, sexually charged comments, flashing, stalking, assault, and murder.
Every woman can say that she encounters a whistle or being followed by a car while walking frequently.
It is highly unlikely that men experience explicit evaluative comments or whistles.
Whenever a woman has her clothes publicly torn off her body for whatever reason, such as the case of the woman whose clothes were torn off after she was accused of dressing skimpily, it begs the question, does the fact that she is not dressed well warrant male harassment?
One man said: “Men are explorers by nature and they love exploring.” Another man said, “Men undress all the scantily dressed women they see, the difference is how.”
Some men went ahead to say that the woman got what she deserved for “leading men in to sin”. The men who were against the brutal act were dismissed as being “soft.”
Should we teach women safety rules or teach men to improve their behavior?
The chilling statistics that were released conducted by the Central Bureau of Statistics in Kenya between December 2007 and June 2014 show that with the population of approximately 40 million, a shocking 40,500 women are raped every year in the country.
A demographic health survey carried out by the Ministry of Planning in 2003 revealed that at least half of all Kenyan women had experienced violence since the age of 15, with close family members among the perpetrators.
Women are told that they are:
- Asking for it
- Were dressed badly
- Are whoring themselves
Does this mean that men are justified to rape women because they are not happy with the way they are dressed or that prostitutes can be raped?
Did you know that what men fear will happen to them in jail is what women live in fear of everyday. Think about it.
When women in India refuse to be involved with a man, the men retaliate by pouring acid on them to permanently disfigure and harm them.
This shows that women in India have no voice or control over their lives, or even their bodies.
Recently, the most common word used is the ‘friend zone’ which means that when men are pursuing women and they decline, the men get to ‘stay’ in the ‘friend zone’ as she continues to pursue her love interests.
It also means that just because a man has treated you well, taken you out on dates, the woman should automatically agree to be intimate with the man because he ‘has a right to be rewarded.’
Would that be the case if it was vice versa?
This means that the women cannot say no because ‘they are not capable of knowing what they want or what is good for them.’
When women say NO they mean YES and when they say YES they mean YES. Sound familiar?
This includes Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), dowry abuse, early or forced marriages and denial of education or employment for women.
Girls and women are now allowed to inherit their parents’ property.
According to African tradition, women were not allowed to inherit property that previously belonged to their parents.
It was outright discrimination. Girls were thought of as being irrelevant and useless.
This was the situation for a very long time. However, the Constitution of Kenya 2010 changed this.
In Article 27, the Constitution outlaws discrimination on the basis of Gender. The Law of Succession Act Cap 160 also states clearly that women may inherit their parents’ property whether they are married or unmarried.
The most prevalent is FGM, which is still practiced in some tribes including the Samburu and Kuria.
The 2009 FGM survey in Kenya indicates that 27 percent of women aged between 15 and 49 have undergone FGM. However, measures have been taken to stop the tradition, spearheaded by the First Lady, Margaret Kenyatta.
Rape is the only crime that the guilty are not guilty even if they admit it. Think about it.
“She was dressed badly, when a woman dresses that way, what does she expect?”
Many victims don’t report rape cases because they are sure that justice will not prevail.
If their spouse raped them, the authorities found it impossible to act on it.
Only one out of every 20 women report cases in Kenya and only one out of six will seek medical assistance in Kenya.
This means that rape cases could even be three times the reported figure because many victims will rarely report the incident to relevant authorities.
The Central Bureau report unveils that rape cases in most provinces are mostly settled out of court.
On 21st July this year, the evolutionary Sexual Offences Act of 2006 marked nine years of existence.
This particular piece of legislation provides to seek prevention and protection of persons from harmful and unlawful sexual offences acts.
However, even with this laudable framework, assaulted persons will wait for a week or more to access justice, most of the times giving up along the way to only end up bitter wounded souls.
There will only be light at the end of the tunnel if a radical jolt to the society is activated
Resetting mindsets and taking the 16 days of activism earnestly and create awareness in order to create safe spaces for women.