Today I attended a debate convened by United Nations Population Fund Uganda. It’s main aim was to capture the views of Ugandan Youth on what can be done to end domestic violence against women and girls. It was quite an emotional and heated debate as well, as people spoke from their hearts. This was in line with the 57th Commission on the Status of Women: a global policy making body dedicated exclusively to gender equality and advancement of women whose sitting was held earlier this month at the United Nations.
One of the youth leaders present Isabella talked about her experience while growing up. ‘I come from TESO and in my area, cows are held in high regard more than women.’ Her view was one of the very many that were voiced at this debate.
|Photo by Christopher Herwig|
Violence against men:
A few of the people that I engaged on Twitter mentioned the fact that this was according to them, a one sided debate or a skewed debate. Why are we talking about violence against women and girls and not the men? Boys and men need to be engaged a lot as well, because they are a crucial part of this conversation. They are the main perpetrators of violence against the girls and women, which needs to be addressed. However, we also need to talk about how they are violated. A lot of attention has been given to the women and not men. And yet the reality is that men are violated. One of the twitter users @dtlumu said: “The cultural dogma sometimes bars men from coming out; and, it [culture] also makes domestic violence a women issue.” Is culture a main reason as to why men are not speaking out against violence? Do we have men whose rights have been violated? Yes. Why then do they not have a voice? I am sure that if they spoke they would be listened to.
Violence is not about Poverty
I think that the biggest misconception yet is the fact that the ‘poor’ women are the ones that mostly get abused by their men. And as such, many people think that if all women got economically empowered then, that would bring an end to gender based violence and violence against women and girls. Is that so? Contrary to popular belief, NO. One of the participants on this debate said: ‘there are so many middle class women who get beaten by the men in their lives and wake up in the morning, wear some make up and go smile at the world.’ They continued to say that: ‘if the middle class women [and men perhaps] started to get up and talk about their problems denouncing violence against them, then people would listen more.’ The notion though is: well the women are poor and do not make money that is why they are beaten,economic empowerment will solve this. But that is not the case.
Violence against women and girls has been an issue even before the Commission on the status of women was set up in 1946. Year in, year out; the debate rages on what could the possible causes could be and what can be done to put an end to the trauma and pain that women and girls are subjected to. A lot of money has been given towards this cause as well. We must continue to fight though. The struggle is real.
Here are some of the tweets featured today #CSW57UG