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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

16 DAYS OF ACTIVISM – ENDING ALL FORMS OF GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN…

Date:

A Patriot’s Diary with Ekena Wesley

Call it extreme chauvinism! Whatever it was the callous and barbaric loss of lives visited on 14 female students killed at L’Ecole Polytechnique in Mississauga, Brampton, Montreal because of their gender on December 6, 1989, was unpardonable. Armed with a Ruger Mini-14 semi-automatic rifle, a would-be male student who supposedly did not gain entry into the university, shot the 14 women, – saying he was “fighting feminism.” Twelve of the women were female engineering students, one was a nursing student, and another was an employee of the university. Insane! Wasn’t it? Women deserve to be engineers. Tunisia has the single highest number of world-recorded female engineers.

Each year, from November 25 – December 10, gender activists and human rights campaigners the world over organize benefitting programs to commemorate all forms of gender-based violence against women. The struggle against all manner of violence against women has been an uphill battle. In spite of the challenges, women’s groups, gender activists, and human rights actors have been resolved in heralding the systematic abuse and violations women continue to suffer. We need affirmative action! the violence must stop! Women and girls have rights! Those rights must be protected at all times!

In a male-dominated world like ours, the fight against violence meted out to women and girls continue to face hurdles. In Liberia, for example, despite inherent cases of abuses, the 14-year-old self-destructive war seemingly worsened gross disrespect and abuses women and girls are saddled with. While tradition and our socialization contribute in part to flagrant abuses women and girls suffer, the failure of the institutions at our disposal to ensure perpetrators are held accountable continues to hunt us. Our culture, tradition, and socialization are all impositions. they have not changed anything but denied women and girls their human rights.

Living in denial is another key element that we are forced to grapple with in surmounting systemic violence against women and girls. Our inability to accept and own the nightmarish madness and trauma amid the trappings of its consequences most often than not compels denials because victims fear being ostracized by society. Most victims fear reporting the abuses would come to socially disconnect them through stigmatization. Post-traumatic interventions are rarely accessible for victims in mainly impoverished communities.

Realizing the symbolism and compelling imperatives of the 16 days of activism and the need to raise international awareness aimed at bringing aggressive pressure to bear on Member States for increased support, it is worth noting that affirmative action cannot be overemphasized. Our women and girls deserve better. The emerging cases of rape, violence and wanton abuse against women and girls cannot continue to go with impunity.

One observance after the other of 16 days of activism is not just the solution. In as much as we need awareness or systematic consciousness in the concerted fight against all forms of violence against women and girls, we think our government needs to do more. Protecting the rights and liberties of women and girls has to be holistic. The struggle must continue unabated.

Our law enforcement systems must be proactive. Justice for victims who endure emotional pain and anguish cannot continue to be elusive. Justice delayed is justice denied. Our court systems must provide the opportunity for victims and perpetrators to come face-to-face with the law. Our traditional beliefs and practices that render us, women and girls, as slaves must be abolished. Imagine traditional leaders crazily defended Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in spite of the horrendous experiences women and girls are subjected to from time to time. The violence and systemic abuses must end!

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