Elias Chakabwata: A tribute to all women
By Elias Chakabwata
As the World commemorates the International Women’s Day, it is heartbreaking to note that in so many areas women are still suffering from gender based violence. Media is awash with headlines of women who are being abused on a daily basis.
It is clear that some of the incidents go unreported because of fear of the dire consequences which may ensue. Society at times seems to ignore the abuses that are being done against women in the name of culture. Violence against women is sugar coated and packaged to sound as part of “love in a marriage”.
A man is allowed to bash a woman simply because he paid lobola. The family members can stand watching as though they are watching a Jet Lee karate movie while a man will be doing acrobatics and somersaults against a defenseless woman who will be crying and appealing that she is being killed and is worried who will keep her three children if she were to die.
In work places gender based violence manifests in so many ways. If there is a vacant post that may have arisen in the organization the male human resources officer sees this as an opportunity to make a suggestive move towards the women who may apply for that particular job.
The human resources officer seeks sexual favors from the women and upon being turned down he also ignore their application despite the appropriate qualifications that the ladies may have.
In some instances out of desperation the woman gives in to the demands and so is abused and carries the scar of the abuse with no one to tell because if she tells anyone she is likely to lose her job if the human resources officer is confronted or she may be labeled lose. If she is married in some cases the husband may accuse her of deliberately luring the male human resources officer.
In marriages if there are no children, self-appointed gynecologists are quick to blame the wife. In some cases it may be an issue beyond the wife. Sometimes women carry inward scars from issues of life.They endure pain in an effort to save their marriages.
If a man and woman are seen in a public place behaving in a way that is not acceptable to the standards of the community people focus on the woman and ignore the male accomplice. This is seen as normal by some people. So men are allowed to behave in any way anyhow, yet when women are caught doing exactly the same they are labeled as “immoral and wicked women”.
In the religious arena very few women play significant roles. In some instances women are accused of causing the fall of man. Well if this line of thought is followed the proponents forget or deliberately forget that the Savior of mankind came also through a woman!
The first person to announce the resurrection of Jesus Christ who is believed by the Christians to be the Savior of the whole world was a woman who visited the tomb of Jesus Christ and found the tomb empty, John 20.
The apostles were in a hiding somewhere and it took a woman to announce one of the most important events in the history of mankind. Yet many times women are treated as second class members of the Church.
Further studies of the Holy Scriptures show that a woman met Jesus at a well in John 4 and she was transformed and went in to the city to proclaim and testify what had happened to her. The whole city came to see Jesus because of the testimony of one single lady!
In some places certain culture treats women as property owned by men. If a woman tries to offer a suggestion she is told to shut up because the husband paid lobola and she has no say in the affairs of the family.
It is a common practice in some places to compensate the death of someone by giving a girl child to the family of the deceased . This is still being done in some remote areas in the world. The girl child is not asked to consent but her fate is decided by the elders of the clan.
In most cases this has been done nicodemously. The girl child has no one to tell her ordeal as she is taken away against her will to be an appeasement offering to ensure the avenging spirits do not continue to wreak havoc on the suspected murderer’s family.
In learning institutions the girl child may fall pregnant and the boy or man responsible may be at the same school, the girl withdraws from her education while the boy continues with his studies. The same is done on weddings.
A lady who has a child outside wedlock is made to open her veil as she enters the new marriage. Even if she is married to the same man and they decide to have their marriage solemnized by a minister of religion or by a magistrate, the lady’s face is uncovered while nothing is done to the man to show that he has children as well.
When a man slaps a woman in public people take it as normal and say it is a “private affair”. It seems society has normalized the abnormal and accept vices as virtues.
Sexual assault against women is on the increase and it seems even the jail sentences being passed by the courts are not acting as deterrents to such heinous crimes against women.
Some blame women for the increase in rape cases and indecent assault crimes, negating the animal like behavior some men display against women. Such actions and behaviors should be condemned in strongest possible terms.
As women commemorate their day worldwide it is important that authorities reflect on some issues bedeviling women. The legislative arm of governments should look closely on the effectiveness of the sentences being given those who commit crimes against women like rape , molesting and indecent assault. There is need for a complete overhaul of the justice engine to redress issues concerning women!.
Governments should be deliberate in terms of addressing the issues affecting women. For example empowering women through various programs to make them economically independent. There should be vigorous campaigns to empower the girl child to know her rights and exercise them within the confines of the law without fear of reprisal from the offenders.
Religious movements must have programs that address women issues. It is a good thing to have a woman lawyer come and teach other women on the position of the law concerning issues like inheritance or rape. Women need protection from the law.
Certain cultural practices that promote discrimination against women should be kicked out of the nation via a window. For example in some cultures when a woman is married the first day she is welcome in the family she is made to sleep with her father in law.
This reduces women to objects or toys with no feelings. Such practices no matter the defense put in support of them have no place in this day and age.
In some religious organizations child marriages are promoted and so once a girl child reaches puberty a man in the organization targets her and everything is planned behind the back of the girl and she will only be told about the marriage when everything is finalized.
No one considers the feelings of the girl child in such matters. This is all done in the name of church traditions and beliefs .While one agrees that these are religious beliefs which at times are sensitive to comment on , one should interrogate such practices which are archaic and they should be relegated to the dustbins of culture and civility.
Sometimes women will feel so helpless to make decisions and take the abuse as a normal thing.
It is against this background that women all over the world are commemorating the international women’s day. As that is happening there is need for the women to rise above prejudices against them. There is need for women to support each other in whatever area they find themselves in.
Be it in education or business or some other sphere of influence, the girl child must work hand in hand with her sister to emancipate each other from the shackles of modern day slavery in this age of Information Technology.
Where are the Marie Curie’s of our time? We are still looking for the Catherine Kuhlman’s of our day. We need more ladies like Angela Mao!
From the most powerful and influential Angela Merkel to the most feeble and frail woman in hospital, women deserve to be honored for the role they play in the communities.
Sometimes a mother will strap her child at her back and carry a bucket of mealie meal to the 10 kilometer grinding machine. From there she will go to fetch water 8 kilometers from the “nearest” borehole. She is expected to cook a meal for the whole clan in the evening. The next day she will be up at around 3 o’clock in the morning to go to till the fields.
As the world celebrate international women’s day it is important to take a minute and say “thank you” to all women for the important role they play in our communities and nations at large.
To all men take a minute to say “thank you” to women in your life. A thank you will put a smile on someone’s face because women at times are more exposed to blame and harassment as opposed to appreciation and honor. Viva women. Long live mothers.
Dr Elias Chakabwata (PhD), President Impact Training Institute