The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence are on. This is an annual international campaign that kicked off November 25, 2019 and will go on till December 10. This year’s commemoration comes hot on the heels of the recently concluded Global Gender Summit and in the course of the International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa.
Both summits are of great magnitude and will ultimately have an impact on the continuing conversation about gender equality and ending gender-based violence. As these national and international events go on, what role are you playing as an individual? As a parent, how are you raising your child? Violent actions are not picked overnight.
A primary school boy in Kenya went viral on social media when he recorded a video of him lashing out at a girl in his school for having said he resembled a girl. The young boy used profanities you can never imagine. I do not know if he was reprimanded for that by his parents or they let him be ‘because he is only a child.’ In my opinion, a child who threatens the life of another child is not one to be left alone. It will start like that and grow into an uncontrollable situation.
Violence is defined as physically harmful behaviour carried out by an individual and directed against others. It could also be the use of physical force so as to injure, abuse, damage, or destroy. This means it is something to be observed in an individual and contained from a tender age. A child who throws a tantrum and hits the mother with a phone because she took a cup from his or her hand should not be allowed to continue like that. It is not to say that we start treating our two year olds like we would treat violent adults, it’s only to say keep watch.
They will reach school going age and will take the violent behaviour among their peers and teachers. Aside from such violent behaviour, there are traits that children will learn from parents like groping and smooching. They will want to practice it with their peers and that, in a subtle way, could lead to teenage pregnancies and the spread of STIs. You may think I am exaggerating but what would you say of girls as young as 11 coming back home pregnant?
This year’s theme for 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is “Orange the World: Generation Equality Stands against Rape!” I have lost count of rape victims I have personally interacted with and in a lot of cases the perpetrators are those known to the victims. To reduce rape cases we need to curb stigmatisation and create safe spaces for people to freely share their ordeal. We cannot normalise sexual violence, neither can we continue to blame women for how they were dressed or seated.
We may not know the exact number of rape and sexual assault victims in Rwanda because some cases are reported and others are not. The fact is there are many victims.