These couple of weeks or a month or two have been really nerve racking to be honest. Infact it has taken me back to my days where I used to host my Fierce Brunch events and encourage open conversations about what women go through. And I vividly remember most of the topics or issues that would come out strongly was to do with Gender/ Sexual Based Violence. I remember how my dms would be filled with confessions from various women about what they are facing in their homes yet are unable to speak up because of the different issues stopping them such as; Segregation, not being able to be accepted in the society, shame, not having the story believed and so much more. I really remember how sad these confessions or stories would make me feel to the point where I had to speak to someone about it just to stay sane.
Now back then in my active capacity I used to organise for mini activity interventions that were fun, interactive but at the same time giving a chance to those who felt like speaking out in confidence or be heard. You know quite a number of women face GBV/SGBV from all walks of our communities all across our country, however so much has been stereotyped about the victims of GBV/SGBV that it has forced them to hide and not speak up. I mean I understand the numerous implications that rise when things like this happen to a woman or a man but that again happens because of the stereotypes that surround it.
I mean I’d like to imagine an instance where we normalize such conversations within our circles and just give a sense of assurance that it shall be okay and that their voices are heard. I say this because as much as we have conversations and interventions that are for this issue we need to really educate or actively engage our community on matters to do with SGBV/GBV on a personal level and sometimes using real life examples, because if we keep hiding this unfortunate issue will grow and the numbers will never reduce.
Honestly I am very happy that there are quiet a number of interventions that have been done so as to deal with the situation at hand. Ministry of Gender & Public Service together with a few of the other Ministries such as Ministry of ICT, Innovation and Youth Affairs have placed interventions such as helplines to enable victims and others to reach out, speak out or even report the incidents. Red Cross have helplines that help in counselling services for SGBV/GBV Victims, Ministry of Health as well as so many others.
But I always like to put more emphasis on also collective societal effort, what do I mean by that? I mean we need to start speaking out and calling out these perpetrators, most of whom are hiding in our homes, in our neighbourhoods and in our DMs. The same way society has a tendency of making victims feel uncomfortable about talking about being attacked is the same way we have to turn the table around and make those abusers feel uncomfortable for even being part of society and our communities at large.
What COVID119 has done, is it has shed light on how many toxic relationships a lot of us are in but also the need for us to really look deep into our mental health as a whole. A lot of the people around us are sick mentally without even knowing it and somehow justifying it by some unusual and unacceptable actions that they participate in. If you look deep into the stereotyping habit, you will find that most stereotyped issues are just issues that society is uncomfortable to accept or even address, so in return they tend to shun away people not because they don't know about them but because of the fear of not knowing how to deal with such issues. Truth be told none of us know how to deal with different issues life throws at us but we have to put in collective effort so that we can be able to fight such issues as one.
Now, i always talk about Values that bind us and that make us who we are as individuals. As the world progresses so does our connection to the values that we grow up with. Most of the time we believe in individual responsibility and individual values that govern us which is not bad it shows a sense of self identity and self reliance. However, when it comes to social issues that threaten to harm not only our current generation but the generation behind us, we need to have collective value systems that empower us and encourage us to be the voice of the voiceless and be the representation of those who are yet to harness power to speak up. Speaking up doesn't necessarily mean attacking or shaming those who are at fault, it just means that there is an issue at hand and we need to speak up so that we can unstereotype society and make everyone understand that there is a problem at hand and that problem cannot just be solved by you and me but by us all if we just shed awareness more and speak up when someone we know is a victim and is in need of help.
Remember we are each others keepers and unstereotyping starts with you and me!
say No To Gender & Sexual Based Violence!!!