Let us continue speaking about human rights. Last week I wrote about education, and now I wish to highlight domestic violence. Here is a cut from a website for an organisation called The People’s Movement for Human Rights Education, PDHRE:
“What is the human right to freedom from violence?
Violence against women violates fundamental human rights and is an affront to women’s inherent human dignity. Physical, psychological, and sexual violence against women and girls, public and private, plagues all societies and classes and poses tremendous obstacles to the achievement of equality, development and peace. Governments have the obligation not to engage in any form of violence against women and to prevent violence against women wherever it occurs.
The human rights as issue
Human rights relating to violence against women are set out in basic human rights treaties and include:
The human right to life.
The human right to full respect for human dignity.
The human right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.
The human right to freedom from discrimination and violence, public or private, due to any status, including gender, race, ethnicity or age.
The human right to full equality between women and men.
The human right to full equality between women and men in power and decision-making.
The human right to freedom from sexual abuse, physical abuse, and psychological violence.
The human right to freedom from marital rape.
The human right to freedom from female genital mutilation and other traditional practices harmful to women.
The human right to freedom from all harmful customary practices.”
Isn’t it strange that we need to emphasise how to, or how not to, treat half the population of the world? Women are called the weaker sex, and if we are that weak, why are men so afraid of us that they need to suppress us all the time? What gives them the right to treat us in a way they would never accept to be treated themselves? Have you ever considered that question? Not all men abuse women, but all women live with the fear that we will never know when the abuser turns up. He can be the father who should give his daughters and his wife unconditional love. He can be the romantic boyfriend who is a little bit too eager in his cuddling and doesn’t take no for an answer. He can be the teacher who is offering higher grades for some sexual services. He can be the uncle who gladly holds a girl child in his lap and allows his hands to touch her inappropriately.
The narrative can go on and on forever, and all of us women know what it is like not to have our freedom to feel free. We feel like prey to male lust and the question is: When will this stop? We keep on warning our girls to not give in to boys. Girls who get in trouble, because they have been intimate with boys, are the ones who are blamed and treated badly. When will we instead begin to educate our boys on how to behave towards girls, and what consequences their misbehaviour could have? A girl child is often forced into marriage, to protect the family’s honour, but will that be a happy marriage when neither the boy nor the girl is mature enough to become parents?
A forced marriage will almost always lead to misery where the young girl is mistreated by both husband and the in-laws. The girl has no adequate education so she cannot provide for her child. She depends on her husband for her every need. The frustrations in the relationship often leads to verbal and physical abuse. The girl has no one to turn to and no one will inform her of her rights. People believe that she has only herself to blame, and every husband has the right to correct his wife the way he likes. This is what still too many believe, but it doesn’t make it right anyway.
All forms of violence against women and girls, including domestic abuse, are rooted in misogyny and patriarchy.
Recognising misogyny as a hate crime means tougher measures can be taken to stamp it out and better protection for women and girls. Marital rape is a legal term that hasn’t been in use very long, compared to other laws. The woman was seen as her husband’s possession, with which he did as he pleased.
Not until the last half century was rape understood to be an offence against the woman, against her dignity, instead of against her family’s or her husband’s honour.
Therefore, a man could not be prosecuted for raping his own wife because she was his possession.
Let us go back to the forced marriage between a young couple. While they were courting, everything was nice and exciting, just as it has always been when young girls and boys begin to show interest in each other. No matter how many rules there are in a society, mistakes will always be made and the consequences thereof are to be faced. Forcing a girl to have sex is rape, no matter when it happens. A boy who has felt himself forced to marry the girl he impregnated doesn’t think their relation is fun anymore. He has to get a job and all the money must go to support his small family instead of his pleasures. He will instead seek his pleasures in his young bride, without a thought of how vulnerable she is. I make him sound like a cruel person, but he is just untutored in this area.
To be able to make a change, we need to educate our young men and women in all areas of life – not only what is in our current curriculum. The school curriculum doesn’t cover everything our young ones need to know. We can’t continue closing our eyes to the constant problems that occur, we must face them and deal with them. Right now boys and girls circle around each other, not knowing much about the other gender. Girls are taught to be careful around boys, but they are not taught how to protect themselves. Boys find girls interesting and exciting, they brag about what they have done to some girl – even if that was only in their dreams. If adults avoid speaking to the young ones about the realities of life, the lessons learned can be tough and hard to deal with.
As long as us adults fear to speak to our young boys and girls about the more sensitive parts of life, we allow them to live in fear, in ignorance and to find information elsewhere. The usage of the Internet has become more and more common. Young people have smartphones so whenever they pick up a wi-fi signal it is easy to roam around among the endless sites of information. Pornography is haram, but who cares when it is so exciting for a young male to peep into the forbidden world for a while? It might feel as an awkward subject to speak about with a young male, but we can’t turn a blind eye to this issue. Pornography is giving the young male a very twisted view of what love life is about, and it is the young women who become the victims.
Our ignorance adds to their suffering, so when will we decide to make an end tothe violations of their rights?