Friday, March 13, 2015

Not enough African opposition to violence against women

When a gruesome video of a Ugandan maid torturing a child was widely circulated on social media outrage was widespread and calls for the maid to be prosecuted were swift and unconditional. A few months later, another gruesome video, this time of a man brutalizing a woman in beastly fashion, sparked mixed comments online, and didn't generate enough outrage in same circles: a worrying indication that violence against women is tolerated and somewhat acceptable by some.

In the video (screenshot below), which is extremely hard to watch due to the graphic violence, a man wearing a blue t-shirt beats a half-naked woman with what looks like a piece of wood, drags her around, pushes her to the ground and pulls at hair. At one point the woman appears to pass out, and is dragged on the ground by the man.

I was unable to establish where the video was taken, but drawing from the fact that the language spoken in the video is Swahili, also known as Kiswahili, it's safe to say the incident took place somewhere in east Africa. The reason for the violence is also unknown. It could be in Kenya, Tanzania or Uganda. However, as far as I'm concerned, the video showcases a problem that is widely prevalent in many parts of Africa, including in Cameroon where I come from.

It's worthy to mention that besides Africa, women are violated in other parts of the world as well, including in Europe and the United States. A report released by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in partnership with the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and the South African medical research council found that violence against women is a global problem. According to the report, some 35% of women will experience violence that impacts their physical and mental health. Intimate partner violence being the most prevalent with 30% of women affected worldwide. The impact of violence, according to the report ranges from broken bones to pregnancy-related complications and mental problems.

In my view, nothing justifies such violence. Absolutely nothing. The video highlights the plight of the African woman. It's an adequate depiction of what many women endure on a daily basis. The numerous bystanders in the video who didn't bother to intervene and stop the violence, the way I see it, represent the high level of impunity for such violence against women in many African countries. There're numerous people who think, erroneously of course, that men are entitled to "discipline" women. This twisted mentality is inculcated in young boys and passed on from generation to generation, hence a cycle of violence hunts generations of women and girls.

I share the view that violence against women is a "global health problem of endemic proportions." I also think it's a social problem that destroys the lives of women and girls by fermenting gender-based violence and gender inequality. I've personally heard gruesome reports of abuse in Africa, Europe and the United States, hence no continent is void of the social ill.

Although violence against women is a global problem, there're differences in the way members of the public and the authorities, including the police respond to violence. It's easier, in my view, for a man who physically abuses a woman to get away with it (with some degree of support from bystanders) in Africa than in Europe for example.

It's my wish that the culprit in the aforementioned video be identified and brought to book like the Ugandan maid. Governments truly need to step up their game to protect women. I believe ordinary members of the public also need to step up their game.  

No comments:

Post a Comment

Search this Blog

Related Posts with Thumbnails