There is a concerted effort by people (globally) to keep women in a certain place in society. It doesn’t matter if it is in the seemingly free societies of the Europe, Australia, America or South East Asia, the strict societies of the Middle East, the budding developments of Africa or the backwater towns of each of these regions. The common factor is that society has carved out a place for women and girls and when they refuse to stay in ‘their lane’, they are most often met with violence.
But even worse than that is the number of women who stay in ‘their place’ and still suffer the debilitating effects of violence; domestic abuse, rape, female genital mutilation, overbearingly hard labor, child marriage, improper healthcare leading to extremely painful childbirth and more. All these are broad categories of what is a disease that has been permitted to stay; a disease that is fueled by patriarchy, misogyny, bigotry and a view that women are a little less than men.
Since the dawn of time, most women have accepted their lot in life and have never questioned the status quo. And when some women stand against the injustices that society metes out to them, they are met with resistance from men, which is expected, and from women too, which is just sad. We admit that men are not the only proponents of patriarchy and the irony isn’t lost on anyone.
This means that in ending violence against women, the mandate has to go back to women.
Women have to be taught that;
1. We are human beings first and thus, equal to men. We are not by nature of our gender less than men; be it physically, emotionally, mentally or psychologically. Some of our physiology may be different but we are inherently equal;
2. The ONLY thing a man can do that a woman CANNOT do is provide sperm. In like manner, the ONLY thing women can do that men CANNOT do is carry a child from fertilization to term and produce milk to suckle the child. And these two things are purely physiological;
3. Women are emotional beings who are logical too. Just as men are. It is pure fallacy to think that women are ONLY emotional and men ONLY logical. This ruse has been used to keep women in ‘their place’ when it comes to leadership, governance, family direction and the likes;
4. Women CAN and WILL do any and everything they set their minds to and shouldn’t believe otherwise. It doesn’t matter if it is as hard as being an astrophysicist or as simple as being a housewife. Women have the brain capacity to do it all;
5. Women are not to be corrected with physical abuse. There is no cause — just or otherwise — for hitting a woman. When she does wrong, she should be told she has done wrong and allowed to learn from her mistakes. Flogging, beating, slapping, cutting, hitting or punching her is NOT ACCEPTABLE! Under no circumstance is spousal abuse right;
6. It is not a woman’s fault that she is raped or sexually assaulted and abused. It is the perpetrator’s fault! The entire blame lies with the abuser. A woman does not invite rape by dressing in a certain way, or by being on the bus alone, or by wearing make-up, or by putting pictures on her social media platforms, or by walking home in the dark, or by hanging out with that male friend, or by refusing her husband sex or by trusting that uncle (or brother, father, family friend, teacher or anyone she knows) and a woman definitely doesn’t invite rape by having her own opinions and standing for them;
7. Women have every right to have an hold their own opinions, whether similar or vastly different from popular norms, without fear of harassment and abuse;
8. Women have a right to inheritance and ownership of property without being harassed by male family members or in-laws. The home wives live in with their husbands and children is as much their houses as it is their spouses. No one has the right to evict them from their homes in the event of the demise of their husbands. Adding to that, women are not to be treated in barbaric and unfair manner to prove that they are not culpable in their husband’s death. People die! deal with it;
9. No woman should have to face ANY FORM of female genital mutilation. Every organ on the body has its use and function and beyond that, it is not beneficial to any woman to have part of or all of her external genitalia removed in the guise of enforcing sexual purity. Female genital mutilation is a totally unhealthy, irrelevant and unnecessary procedure and must be stopped globally;
10. Every woman is as sexual a being as men are. A woman’s urges and desires does not make her a ‘whore’, ‘prostitute’ or even loose. If a woman who chooses sexual freedom is to be labelled, men who do same should be labelled too. The wanton double standards has to come to an end! Some women, like some men, have higher libidos than others and THAT IS OKAY! A woman has the right to explore her sexuality without fear of being labelled or worse, attacked. She has the right to make her own choices of chastity or sexual freedom without being forced to tow a line;
11. Women ARE NOT PROPERTY! They are not to be bought and sold like goods in the open market; whether it is for marriage or for forced prostitution. A woman is a full, living, breathing person and selling her not only demeans her humanity, it speaks of character so vile it has to be purged. No woman should be a slave to anyone and;
12. EVERY WOMAN is entitled to proper healthcare from birth until death. She shouldn’t have to die from diseases or childbirth because her family or spouse doesn’t believe in modern medicine or the importance of hospitals. Malaria, typhoid, diarrhea and maternal mortality are things we shouldn’t have to be talking about in 2016 and women need to rally around this. Women need to know and understand why they should be checked frequently and why they need to go to the hospital as soon as they have a medical problem. It is YOUR LIFE! AND YOU OWE IT TO YOURSELF TO TAKE CARE OF IT!
Why is it necessary to shift the narrative back to the woman? It is not too complicated to understand.
Once a woman knows and understands that she has rights, is valuable, worth it and deserving of being treated right, she will be more than willing to stand up for herself and her rights. The woman would also be less willing to accept abuse from any and every one and when face with violent relationships on any front, a woman would be more willing to walk out of said relationship.
Will a stronger, more rounded woman reduce instances of rape or violent attacks? No. But when there are more well-rounded women in society, they can band together and kick out the stigma of reporting rape cases, thereby taking the invisibility cloak of power from the perpetrators of violent acts against women. When more women are willing and ready to point out their attackers and face them in court without shame or fear, less and less men would be willing to abuse women in whatever way they feel like.
This means that our justice systems have to make sure they are up to par and unprejudiced against women and girls everywhere.
So women, it is time to band together, to join hands, to enlighten ourselves on our worth and to STAND AGAINST ALL FORMS OF VIOLENCE AGAINST US! If one woman or girl, anywhere in the world, still has to suffer violence, we ALL SUFFER VIOLENCE. Time to change the rhetoric. Time to stand up against the system! Together, we are powerful enough to enact any change we want! Just take a look at the suffragettes, the thousands of women that protested in Poland, the 1956 March by women in South Africa, the women in India, Canada, Nigeria, Liberia all speaking out for their issues. We only need to come together to set the ball rolling. Are you willing to be a part of this?
Know your worth and stand up for your rights today!