According to the Human Rights Library, Gender-based violence is violence against women based on women’s subordinate status in society.
It includes any act or threat by men or male-dominated institutions that inflict physical, sexual, or psychological harm on a woman or girl because of their gender. In most cultures, traditional beliefs, norms, and social institutions legitimize and therefore perpetuate violence against women. Gender-based violence includes physical, sexual and psychological violence such as domestic violence; sexual abuse, including rape and sexual abuse of children by family members; forced pregnancy; sexual slavery; traditional practices harmful to women, such as honor killings, burning or acid throwing, female genital mutilation, dowry-related violence; violence in armed conflict, such as murder and rape; and emotional abuse, such as coercion and abusive language. Trafficking of women and girls for prostitution, forced marriage, sexual harassment and intimidation at work are additional examples of violence against women. Gender violence occurs in both the ‘public’ and ‘private’ spheres. Such violence not only occurs in the family and in the general community but is sometimes also perpetuated by the state through policies or the actions of agents of the state such as the police, military or immigration authorities. Gender-based violence happens in all societies, across all social classes, with women particularly at risk from men they know.
A lot of people everyday experience gender-based violence and it may come as a shock that even though you may know about this issue, a huge number its victims especially in my community, Uganda, are unaware that this is violence and that such should not be happening.
Let’s explore a few terms.
Uganda, like many countries across Africa, is a highly patriarchal society and this is not because the government has said so, but because this system is influenced by our culture, traditions, norms, tribes, upbringing, among other factors.
About four days ago, a certain someone posted on his Instagram, complaining about how women have no business ideas and about how they cannot sustain a conversation and he added, that women were no visionary at all.
It was a long, generic post that implied some pretty ugly stuff about women most of which were baseless tantrums while to some extent, some had bone. After minutes of reflection, I gathered a few thoughts;
- Misogynists’ talk of developmental goals/dreams and how women fail to have them but how are women supposed to when this is a matter of foundational factors? If a girl from age three is raised to know that she’s only pretty and thus should be given, how does one then expect magic to suddenly happen at age twenty six, that now a female suddenly bears an independent mind? Many females have been raised to not challenge the norm or question what their male counterparts are allowed to.
Note: there are a lot of young women who have found themselves under such scenarios and they believe this is how life should be; that the men in one’s life should dictate her career path.
Albeit many men are complaining about women’s incompetence but they forget that while one was being raised to be a man and provide for the family, one was being coached on how to be a good wife right from age eight. “If you don’t know how to cook, your husband will chase you away” and etcetera, those are the so many statements people like me and several others grew up to. And then suddenly, a woman who has been raised to be given is expected to jump out of her ‘I should be given comatose’ and start embarking on this new journey of being a visionary. A lot of children drop out of school as soon as they get their first periods because their parents and guardians think this is now the time for them to focus on marriage.
- Women are raised to volunteer as service providers or jump at anything they call an opportunity as soon as a male asks. ‘Don’t be too smart or you will intimidate the men. If you become too rich before getting married, it is going to be tough for you to find a man.’ So in short, one is raised to aspire to achieving less that a man, just so they don’t sell themselves short when it is time for marriage or child bearing, a culture almost everyone believes should be the fate, dream, or end goal of every woman.
- One of the reasons men are so frustrated and thus end up abusing women is because women ask for material needs such as i-phones and cars, which makes men angry because they now have to dig into their pockets to provide this. Ironically, none of these men ever complains about a woman being too available or having to have sex with him whenever he wants it. Others don’t want their wives to work. So they do not complain about a woman’s culturally forced submission to the male, but they complain about her desire to have several other belongings that she would otherwise be able to afford herself had she had freedom to education, career, or even working.
For some married women, being hit by a husband is something they have been led to believe is okay because their elders while setting them off for marriage, said that their husbands would straighten them up and this is how they believe it should be done. Because of reasons related to this, many women don’t report cases of violence in marriages because they have been raised to believe that you should not discuss what happens in marriage with a third party as it makes you an unworthy-wife; this includes of the abuse.
A Graphics publication by the Domestic Abuse intervention project revealed ways in which Gender-Based Violence Against women is practiced and it showed that…check HERE!
Have you experienced gender-Based Violence? Do you witness it in your community? What are some of its causes and effects? What do you think of this article? Please do subscribe to get notified once the second blog on Exploring Gender-Based Violence in My Community (ii) is up. Cheers!
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