Eradicating Gender Based Violence : What’s new in our arsenal of prevention?

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.

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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).

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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!

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