Of late, incident after incident of rape, murder, attack, sexual harassment of women have been reported in the media. Women are being attacked in their businesses, intimidated, some sexually harassed and others killed. In an engagement last week, I heard a woman say that she is now afraid to go out at night, that even coming out of her vehicle scares her, less she be attacked. It is becoming too much!
The saying that if one educates a man, one educates an individual but educating a woman is like educating a nation comes to mind; and it is true. But I say, if one kills a man, one has committed a murder but whoever kills a woman has committed genocide. The implication is clear. Such woman may have given birth to a girl who in her turn might as well have given birth to a girl and thus snuffing out the life of the first puts the brakes on all those lives.
The violence against women therefore poses an existential threat to the fabric of this nation and should be taken extremely seriously. Ways must be sought to nip this in the bud before we become another India. The participation of women in the building of the nation is indispensable. We can achieve nothing absolutely without the input of women.
So, Mr President, I am not a lawyer and when it comes to legal matters, I know zilch about it but learned friends of mine in the legal fraternity have told me that the laws we have on the protection of women are solid and of the highest standards. Thus, it is not about enacting more laws but enforcing the ones we already have. The way I see it though, the root of this problem is not as much of legal as it is of culture and tradition.
We live in a ‘conservative’ society which is chauvinistic and misogynistic. We must seek to change the way our people view the status of women in the society. More often than not, the perpetrators of these heinous crimes against women are either a relative of family friends. Thus, there must be measures and mechanisms put in place to fight it from all angles.
The naming and shaming of the pedophiles is one way we can seek to arrest this unfortunate trend. When we name and shame someone for rape, it will certainly serve as deterrent to any other individual who has designs to do something like rape, sexual harassment or things of that nature again. As most people feign religiosity and that they have a sense of shame, they will endeavor to avoid these crimes if they know for a fact that it can result in their details being publicized all over when found guilty.
Severe punitive measures should also be put in place against people who have been found to harbor or aid rapists due to the fact that they didn’t want the embarrassment for the family. The Maslaha syndrome is costing us a lot and we must change the attitudes if we are to make headways in the struggle for a more just and equitable society. To achieve the required goals, we need a multidimensional approach to the problem. In addition to the legal measures, we must use advocacy and civil awareness to move forward on this.
This will be time consuming and will require resources. One thing is clear though, Waatoo tejee! We have to start now!
Have a Good Day Mr President.