There are so many forms of violence against women – political, economical, as well as domestic and sexual violence.
In Africa’s conflict and war zones the rates for rape and abuse are extremely high. Assaults at home or at the workplace are unfortunately part of the everyday life of many African women. Reasons therefore are often the very patriarchal structures of the countries, in which legally protected rights for women mostly don’t even exist. In some countries, there exists a form of cultural determined violence, which is forced on very young girls: Female Genital Mutilation. Those are not only very painful, but also life-long degrading procedures, which are trivialized, legitimized and accepted by society justified by longstanding traditions.
The Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women appeals to question this acceptance, to uncover any form of violence against women, to confront it instead of denying it. And to be persistent and ask over and over, what can be done, to protect the affected persons actively from violence.
During my talks with African women, I was able to learn a lot about concrete measures and developments tackling the problem that are already in place; Women take more powerful positions in politics and trade. Rwanda, for example; here, already more than 50% of the parliamentarians are female.
Women are more mutually supportive and cooperate in networks. For example in the judicial system; there are groups of lawyers which offer legal advice and help to abused women – free of charge. Violent offenders are persecuted and punished more insistently by the authorities. As for the administration of justice, more and more laws are drafted and passed, which guarantee women more protection.
Fact is that, first of all, there must be more awareness for the appreciation of women as an absolutely equal part of society. Especially in strongly male determined structures. Dominant behavior, abuse of power, tradition as legitimation for violence – All of this should be opposed by a sharp, respectful and modern mind, in Africa and worldwide.