Today’s topic is one that many would shy away from and I would argue a majority of us,Africans have been confronted with it at some level or at some point in our lives. To most of us, this is too much of a thorny issue to discuss. We are either too ashamed or too embarrassed to admit it, but we all know it’s going on and we all know it’s wrong. But I ask you this, what does one do when this is the norm in society?
I recall one particular incident that was quite traumatic to me. One morning as I was preparing to go to school, I went into my mom’s room as I typically do in the mornings, to tell her that we were all ready. I could hear her sobbing in the distance and as I approached the corner to enter her bathroom, I caught a glimpse of her on the bathroom floor with a bruise on her back. She didn’t tell me what had happened but I didn’t need to be Einstein to put 1 and 2 together. Naturally when something like this happens you’ll expect some sort of discussion but that wasn’t the case. We went on like nothing happened.
Over time, I began to wonder if it was all in my imagination. Until, one night I heard some commotion whilst everyone was asleep. This time, I saw it, I saw it with my very own eyes. I saw my father hit my mother. I couldn’t believe it. How could my father do such a thing? Two days past and I couldn’t hold it in anymore. I finally told my mother what I had seen and we shared some tears.
Across Africa, domestic violence (physical, sexual, financial, verbal or emotional) is the most prevalent form of violence against women and girls. To me, this isn’t too much of a shocker, but what’s more startling isn’t the number incidents but rather the attitudes of the women, girls, men and authorities. To most African men and women getting beaten is justified. To the authorities, this is a family matter and should be handled in private. Thus, help is typically not easy to find.
Personally, one of the main reasons I choose to profess and write about authenticity, self-love and self-worth so often, is because I understand what these things are capable of. When your opinion of yourself goes up, you’ll stop trying to get so much validation and attention from other people. The more self-worth you have, the less needy you become, the more inner stability you have and you feel a lot more deserving of good things in life, so you’ll less likely self-sabotage—making it easier for you to leave an abusive relationship.
One would think that this disruptive attitude or domestic violence in general, might be a generational issue or it’s due to a lack of education, or exposure, or it’s because of poverty but I would disagree. Domestic violence does not discriminate.
You’ll be so shocked to hear that millennials like you and I, still think in this same disruptive manner, regardless of living abroad or having numerous degrees. I personally know of a few friends and family members, my age, currently going through this. Last year alone, it is estimated that in South Africa a male partner kills a girlfriend or spouse every six hours. Wow! This is tragic and clearly something needs to be done. As we don’t want this to be the new normal. So … what can we do about it?
Fundamentally, I think our African traditions and practices that look at women as second class, ran far deeper than we ever thought. Right from childhood, right from infancy, the boy is preferred to the girl. Even when men marry out of love, they still think the woman is below them and that they do whatever they want. It is for this reason that at #oiagives we place a strong emphasis on educating girls and empowering women.
Through strategic partnerships and collaborations with individuals, organisations, educators and institutions, we are committed to finding solutions that would actually make a difference. Solving the problem of domestic violence requires targeted efforts to make sure young girls and boys become more aware of cultural influences that contribute to domestic violence and sexual assault, thus preventing violence before it even happens and making sure women have the necessary resources and skills needed to become financially independent, so they have the ability to leave these abusive relationships.
If you’re interested in learning more about @oiagives or want to get involved and become a part of the OIA Gives tribe, please feel free to reach out on our social media pages or send us an email at [email protected]
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Story submitted by Gloria