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There is need to eliminate gender-based violence

By Sharon Tanui | May 25th 2020

This year’s theme for International Women’s Day was “An equal world is an enabled world”. This is still the perfect decade to address and iron out issues that affect women who for a long time have been looked down upon in spite of their efforts to fight for their rights.

It is evident that there are still women that are suffering in silence at their places of work or at home. With the recent coronavirus cases and restrictions, most marriages have been shaken up due to a rise in domestic violence cases.

The violence ranges from emotional, verbal, being pushed or hit with an object, being denied conjugal rights for married couples, just to mention a few. Due to the curfew, most family members have been forced to stay long spells together, which has become a weirdly normalised lifestyle for them.

I say weird because a number of them who did not see eye to eye initially have had to adjust to changes in their lifestyles, thanks to Covid-19. This has brought conflict and violence among some family members. Due to the pandemic, life has become a living hell for many women.

The issue of "submission" is what in my view, makes some misguided men to beat their wives, burn them with acidic chemicals, rape and even kill them.

But such violence is barbaric and needless. According to Ephesians 5:23 and 25, the Bible is very clear on the subject of submission in marriage: “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord…Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and gave himself for it.”

But while that is the case, some men interpret submission to mean dominance or modern day slavery. Men ought to love their wives so that they can submit to them. It works in favour of both. 

Women go to work to make ends meet, get home, and attend to the needs of their children and husband every day for the rest of their lives.

In some homes, some traditional men would rather have their wives cook, clean and serve them without the service of a house help. For others, hiring a house help becomes a blessing in disguise since she would relieve the rest of the family of the many house chores.

However, in most cases, the man of the house who thinks he is head over all (dominance factor) might even decide to sleep with the house help, just because he can. 

Domestic violence is not a new thing, in fact most people have unfortunately come to get used to it.

But it is not only at home that women have it rough. Women are still being subjected to toxic working environments and depreciated, whereby they are only given ‘easier’/‘feminine’ tasks compared to that of men. It is, indeed, a tired topic of discussion.

In many cases, this discrimination can be reduced if the women agree to sleep with their bosses. This can even earn them higher ranks at their places of work. Discrimination is still evident at home where females are urged to take easier courses (girly courses), as some rightfully put it, and leave the 'hard' ones such as medicine or engineering to men.

This outdated notion has paralysed and killed many dreams of women who would have made such enormous and progressive impact in the society. Hats off to the tough women who know their rights and fight for those who are not aware of how powerful they are in the society. We celebrate you for standing up for us.

There are still outdated cultural prejudices that largely affect women. The issue of ownership of land by women is still frowned upon by some men. It seems that in most families, boys do not care to work as hard as girls because they know that they will own their father’s pieces of land someday, effortlessly.

In the African culture, it is assumed that land only belongs to men. If you ask me, this is outright mediocrity. Isn’t it time to eradicate such an archaic practice?

Sexual violence is another issue that has seen our societal fabric crumble every day. Reports on rape are still on the rise. Why would anyone defile a girl as young as four, so innocent, harmless and with a promising future? Why is there no justice for these young girls and women? Some men even cite women's dressing as their reason for assaulting them. Such perversion must come to an end.

It is a sad state of affairs that whenever women realise that their rights are human rights, men feel threatened and so become more rigorous and dominating. However, it would be unfair to not congratulate men who respect women. Kudos for understanding and valuing women, regardless of their status.

The rest of the men need to understand that we are not fighting them. We just want equal rights. We are tired of being looked down upon despite our efforts to come out of this ugly shell of gender disparity.

Times have proved that we are way powerful than men think. It’s about time that we are not only heard, but also listened to intently. In fact, we must strive to end gender inequality this decade.

Finally, all victims of domestic violence ought to undergo counselling. However, this is not possible especially for the underprivileged. It is important for the government to ensure that counselling is available even for these people so that families can live in harmony.

Churches and other religious bodies should also do more to help families live more peacefully.

Ms Tanui is a journalist

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