Most of us, I’m sure, grew up in households or communities where it was acceptable for a man to abuse his wife or a woman he cohabited with. Some saw it as a means of spicing up the marriage because not hitting the wife was seen as a sign of lack of love.
Think about that for a second; why should violence be described as love?
The UN defines violence against women as, ‘any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.
2019 Estimates published by WHO indicates that globally about 1 in 3 (30%) of women worldwide have been subjected to either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime.
Worldwide, almost one third (27%) of women aged 15-49 years who have been in a relationship report that they have been subjected to some form of physical and/or sexual violence by their intimate partner.
GBV can manifest in a large variety of ways. Some of these include: physical violence, such as assault or slavery; emotional or psychological violence, such as verbal abuse or confinement; sexual abuse, including rape; harmful practices, like child marriage and female genital mutilation; socio-economic violence, which includes denial of resources; and sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse.
This issue is not only devastating for survivors of violence and their families, but has a significant impact on the country at large. Most victims and survivors of GBV are unable to report due to societal stigma and name calling. For most victims, this scares them alot and prevents them from seeking justice.
The prevention, response, and eradication of all forms of sexual and gender-based violence (GBV) against women and girls depend heavily on access to reproductive health services. Most women and girls’ lack access to basic services like safety, protection, and recovery, which makes them vulnerable to unplanned and unintended pregnancies, and high rates of unsafe abortion. GBV also makes women more susceptible to contracting HIV and other STDs (STIs).
This devastating situation cannot be overlooked. GBV can be eliminated if it is prioritized globally as this will aid to achieve gender equality as stated in goal 5 of the SDGs and the empowerment of all women and girls.
As the youth mentorship cohort of AfNHi, this is s clarion call to all, especially African leaders to
- Prioritize issues of GBV and women empowerment
- Respect, protect and fulfil their human rights obligations to gender equality and to a life free of violence for all, including women, adolescents and girls
- Increase funding for SGBV prevention, mitigation and response
- Ensure the enforcement of laws addressing SGBV
- Ensure access to emergency helplines, police and justice sector response, sexual and reproductive health care, safe shelter and psycho-social counselling.
- Increase funds to reproductive health education and services.
Elimination of Gender-based violence is a collective effort. To ensure that there is zero tolerance for GBV, all systems, structures, and institutions must collaborate. It is important for governments, the corporate sector, and all parties involved to make the most of this window of opportunity (16 days) to commit firmly to achieving equal rights for women and girls and put an end to all forms of violence and harmful practices against them.
The time to act is now, more than half of the world population depends on you!