As the world braces up for the yearly commemorations of 16 days against gender based violence, this year’s commemorations are historic and reflective of the miles that have been traveled and also an introspection of what’s new in our arsenal of prevention as we move forward is undeniably one of the trending issues to be looked at.
Millennium Development Goals have been a global focus for development since 2000-2015.
I suppose we all know that the globe is transitioning from the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that were adopted in 2000 and they came to a halt last year after having been the globe’s focus for development for fifteen years .
However Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)are now a new focus for global development after the realisation that there are certain areas where governments have failed to meet the MDG’s targets due to a lot of factors that bottlenecked these developments , so in pursuit of those goals, seventeen (17) Sustainable Development Goals officially came into effect last year through endorsement by member states at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
Sustainable Development Goals will be the globe’s focus for development for the next fifteen years.
Goal 3 of MDGs was targeted at eradicating gender inequality which also focused on ending all forms of domestic violence, but because this target wasn’t met as clearly evidenced by GBV cases that are still rife globally, goal 5 of SDGs is now focusing on that.
Goal 5 .2 of the SDGs targets that by 2030 , there will be elimination of all forms of violence against all women and girls in public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation. This is a very ambitious target which needs not a ‘one size fits all’ approach if the globe is to eradicate GBV.
Below are case studies of young Zimbabwean women who are victims of GBV . These are their stories:
*Belinda chipuni(not real name) aged 22 stays in Epworth one of the shanty towns a few miles out of Harare’s Suburbs .
She got married at the age of fifteen and bore 2 children . Her husband who have two other wives is old and very violent.
He abuses her physically, each time he beats her up, he uses fists and sticks.
At times the violence only ends up after the furniture has been reduced to mere rubbles.
As if vandalizing furniture and butchering her is not enough , Belinda’s husband doesn’t support her neither her two children.
She can’t send her children to school either. The pathetic young mother dread the horror everyday, but does nothing about it .
Belinda survives on vending, but this hand-to-mouth business of hers doesn’t yield much except to keep her and the two children alive .
This young lady can’t go back to her parents home because her father too is a violent man who used to beat her and her mother for trivial issues.
The mother is now deceased and the father married another wife, a move which has shut all her hope of ever returning back to her parents home.
Belinda narrates that she had had three miscarriages before conceiving the two children she now have.
Apart from the beatings and miscarriages, she noted that she also suffered an early menopause, she hasn’t seen her period for two years now, but she believes she has been bewitched by other wives of her husband out of jealousy.
Could the early menopause be as a result of the violence she encountered…. she has no explanation for that and has no medical explanation as well to what could have led to the early menopause.
In another case, Dorcas kanyangarara aged 25 got married at the age of 17 , she said it was a forced marriage, but later managed to accept her fate.
She got two miscarriages before conceiving a son that she now has. The husband abused her physically several times during all her pregnancies and that contributed immensely to her miscarriages, he would make her do laborious jobs even if she indicated that she was in pain .
The husband later suffered from stroke and died and she remarried .
Nothing has however changed in her second marriage, in fact the second husband is even worse.
He doesn’t want the child from her first marriage and this is usually the bone of their contention.
Whenever he comes home drunk, he throws her son and his belongings outside threatening to kill him if he dare set his foot in his house again. The son is only six years old, a minor still needs proper parenting.
This scenario traumatises her and her son.
At some point she reported the violence cases to the nearby police station, but when her husband was summoned he said the woman was a liar and nothing like that was taking place at home , the husband had invited other relatives who also witnessed in favor of him.
Although the evidence of GBV was there, the police officers only insisted that they should go home and resolve their issues in a more amicable way .
This has made her lose confidence in the law enforcement agents, she thinks they are more biased towards men who are perpetrators of violence.
Dorcas wishes that one day she will be able to fight back and never be a victim of GBV.
These two case studies depicts the numerous domestic violence cases that targets women at large .
It is therefore worthy to note that this era of SDGs ushered in a new dawn of hope, where engaging young people as agents of change in speaking up against GBV in their diverse societies is a new approach needed in the arsenal of prevention.
To begin with, working with youth is a sustainable way of eradicating and preventing GBV as this is a critical time when they are socialized to societal values and norms of the society.
For example engaging boys not only prevent violence against women and girls, but help improve the lives of men and boys by freeing them from harmful and myopic aspects of masculinity that continue to drive GBV.
As an aftermath, the society will flourish with tolerance to gender equality.
Moreover, because violence against women and girls is deeply rooted in gender-based discrimination, societal norms and gender stereotypes, it is important to start prevention from an early stage of life by educating and demonstrating to young people how eradicating GBV is healthy to their families and societies at large.
By the time they have their own families, young men will be responsible husbands to their wives . Such kind of socialization should be propagated right and the time I believe is now .
Furthermore, equality as stipulated in the UN Charter is a fundamental principle of international law .Therefore achieving gender equality and eradicating all forms of violence based on gender must be a societal responsibility that puts young people on the forefront as they are the ones who still have so much zest for life unlike the elderly who find it difficult to change from the norms of masculinity they have grasped at a tender age.
I have therefore no doubt that meeting the targets of SDGs and doing away with gender discrimination lies entirely on how much governments are willing to invest in their young people to lead this change.
Of late engagement of young people has always been tokenistic. This has however stifled progress and rendered young people incompetent, yet they are innovative and have an amazing way of communicating with other young people from all over the globe through the concept of embracing simplicity.
I wish if governments could grasp this concept of simplicity, positive change becomes inevitable .
Young people are the new approach needed in the arsenal of prevention so lets give them a chance and full support for sustainable results!