The acts—Tomorrow and Always
women around the world will devote a moment of silence to commemorate
the sisters who have lost their lives to violence based on gender.
The social fabric of our world teaches us to honour the lives of
men who fought in wars. Yet we have forgotten our silent battle
that has been fought for centuries.
we will find the time from our busy schedules and in our silence,
we will remember the lives of the women who have been killed or
maimed due to their gender. Some of us have experienced the crime.
Others have read in newspapers, witnessed with eyes, heard stories
from friends or listened to the sound of a neighbour’s cries. Tomorrow,
we will denounce these acts.
1999, the United National officially recognised November 25 as the
International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
This day marks the sixteen days of activism against gender violence
that culminates, most appropriately, on December 10, International
Human Rights Day. Tomorrow, we make a pledge to denounce gender
violence from domestic battery, to rape and sexual harassment, to
state violence including torture and abuses of women political prisoners.
Our silent offerings should be more than the musings of our mind.
We must utilise this time to make changes in our daily lives, however
small, to initiate further changes in our communities to stop this
have come to recognise that our legacy is important and our words
and deeds have impact on future generations. There are mothers who
do not understand their daughter’s rebellion against the system
of female compliance. And there are mothers who encourage their
daughters’ right to exercise her individuality. They encourage the
changing of the guard so that the old restrictions are discarded.
A new generation will carry a torch, but we must ensure that the
light we leave them is strong.
major form of violence against women happens in their homes and
the shocking reality is that depending on the social fabric of the
country, it tends to be ignored. In many countries, this crime is
disregarded because of the lowly status of women. We read about
brutality in Africa, South America, North America, Central America,
Europe, Australia, Asia and the Caribbean.
journey around the world and hear the cries:
At a boarding school, 300 boys attack the girls’ dormitory. Seventy-one
girls are raped. Nineteen are trampled to death in the stampede
to escape. The school’s vice principal remarks, “The boys never
meant any harm against the girls. They just wanted to rape.”
A man who confessed to stabbing his wife and her lover to death
is for the second time acquitted of murder by an all-male jury.
The acquittal is based on the argument that he acted in legitimate
defence of his wronged honour.
States: A 51-year-old woman is stabbed 19 times and killed by her
former boyfriend as she waits inside a courthouse to extend an order
of protection. Twice before he had been charged with harassment.
Both times the charges were dropped.
the Caribbean, if a woman calls the police about the brutality of
her husband, the police seldom respond. We have few shelters for
abused women because the state is not willing to protect a portion
of its citizens. Think of the number of men who have been arrested
for domestic abuse. The number is not very high.
this basic human rights to be addressed, it must be acknowledged,
not only by the victims, but the entire society. The government
must acknowledge that its role is to protect all citizens. As women,
we must ensure that our agenda and needs are addressed by the government.
our day to day lives, whenever we have the opportunity we must:
awareness about gender-based violence as a human rights issue in
our homes, at work, at play and in politics;
the existing local work around violence against women;
solidarity with women around the world;
tools to pressure governments to implement promises made to eliminate
violence against women;
men into our circle and let them understand the plight. They have
daughters, sisters and mothers and many of them have witnessed or
that religion maintains its place as a spiritual centre and not
encroach into the structure of government and impede social equality;
leaders and the community that we are tired of this injustice.
will bring about the changes and the world will understand that
we want to eliminate gender crimes. When Miss Costa Rica, Miss Denmark,
Miss Panama, Miss South Africa and Miss Switzerland boycotted the
upcoming Miss World pageant in Nigeria to protest the stoning sentence
of 31-year-old, Amina Lawal Kurami, who has been sentenced to death
by stoning by a sharia court for bearing a child out of wedlock,
they illustrated their solidarity to the movement. This sentence
is to be carried out when her child is weaned, likely sometime in
2004. The original Miss Belgium and Miss France also boycotted the
pageant, but pageant organisers persuaded the first runners-up to
travel to Nigeria.
women held onto their strong political convictions and gave up what
many consider to be an opportunity of a lifetime. Their sacrifice
upholds the sanctity of the crowns they wear, the solidarity of
womanhood and the ‘Misses’ they represent, not only in their respective
countries but around the world. They represent the true Miss World.
[Editor’s Note: This article was written
in commemoration of this year’s celebration or marking of the International
Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Today, we live
in a world that is saturated with violence—most of it perpetrated
against women. Off the top of my head, there is the religious riots
in Gujarat, India, in which an estimated 250-300 Muslim women and
girl children were gang raped and murdered (stabbing, shot, and
thrown into fires) by Hindu men and boys while the state police
watched. Of course, there are the Nigerian scenarios of the stoning
and the Miss World-related riots (mentioned herein by author), which
began because a female journalist exercised her right to free speech
as a journalist. (She is now living in hiding for her life.) In
Guyana, the woman, in particular, the Indian woman and girl have
been singled out for the blunt of the racial and criminal attacks
unleashed by both criminals (including the Black militants) and
anti-government protestors on July 3rd. For some notes on the “war” on our women, refer
to the statement by Red
Thread, the feminist group in Guyana. All credits to the author
and the Chronicle, in which this article first appeared
in November 23, 2002.]<<<