‘In Congo it is estimated that in more than half of the couples the women are victims of domestic violence. Women are also victims of psychological violence’ [Anna Alvazzi del Frate & Angela Patrignani, United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (1995). Women’s Victimization In Developing Countries, Issues & Reports No 5]. As an African male, born & raised in the Motherland, I can attest to that. Africa, despite her rich & prominent culture, unique landscape and extraordinarily diverse tribes (ranging in their thousands), is a continent severely plagued by many types of gender inequality and inhuman treatments to females.
The Democratic Republic Of Congo (D.R.C.) is known by the United Nations as the ‘World’s Rape Capital’. More sex crimes are committed to females there than anywhere else in the world. Often, gender inequality issues relating to the D.R.C. are centred on this, so unfortunately, seeking to do anything to end the act of beating women proves difficult as most of the times it gets swept under the carpet! Men who beat women are deep down inside inferior to women’s intellect and scared of their mental and emotional power! They then resort to their innate primitive caveman to defend their egos, thereby converting women into makeshift punching bags. Women by nature are physically less strong than men, usually. Exerting physical violence to them is thus particularly painful and menacing because their bodies are not built to take beatings as ‘well’ as men’s bodies are (overall). Take a look on the internet for ‘female domestic violence victims’ under images and turn the search filter off! I challenge you to get past the first page! Now that you have done so, we can both agree that men who physically beat women are the lowest calibre of men that exist.
You know, in my work of addressing gender inequality, I think a lot about men and women’s behavior and study it for myself. I often spot chauvinistic traits in males, even in myself, regularly. I constantly try to figure how we can make things work, how gender equality can be achieved. I don’t know if you’re in on this with me or don’t know about it but gender inequality and chauvinistic behavioral patterns are ALL AROUND US! I live in the tropics; Sun, nature, birds, fauna, flora and sea! I see a dove, an animal that is an icon of beauty,…chasing another one from a spot it just arrived to, thereby prompting the other one to fly away! An Agama lizard harassing a female lizard ‘on heat’ and brutalizing her when he doesn’t get any (sound familiar?). PIGEONS, a worldwide symbol of PEACE, scuffling, in which (presumably) the alpha-male arrives to a scene of a feeding (as humans love to feed pigeons) and chases every one else away! The same with dogs, chicken,… it depresses me to continue. Were all those animals just caught on a bad day? Don’t know, but I see those acts regularly.
Regardless of the ‘great’ social evolution of humanity since the beginning of time (you know, not living in caves anymore etc), an integral part of men’s responsibility is to protect women. Because they’re built to (if need be)! Over centuries, men have been the economic provider in households and the personal security of their families. Since the 20th century, women have officially been allowed to work (they’d been working ever since just never recognized) and have made great strides for feminism until date. These strides, although truly incredible, however provide little for the overall drastic and immediate improvement of the welfare and future of billions of girls & women victimized by all types of gender inequality worldwide. What good is the right to vote for a rural Ethiopian mother of five if she can’t fully feed her family without denying herself a meal daily? What’s the point of being allowed to work when, to a large extent, good jobs are realistically an enigma and the only job that lies available to you is prostitution or some form of it (including escorting ‘sugar daddies’) because you’re an ordinary female youth in Sub-Saharan Africa? It is my belief that men have collectively FAILED in their roles as guardians of women over time and, appallingly, continue to do so. The very difference in women being less physically strong than men, has, for centuries, been exploited by men and abused to their own benefit. Because they can. They’ve got the muscle, who should stop them? And that is exactly what has fueled the bacterial-like growth of violence against women and girls throughout the world, when all of a sudden male folk began to realize that they could absolutely dominate over women AND get away with it! This in itself has been and continues to be an EMPOWERMENT for many male perpetrators of domestic violence around the world.
Since the beginning of time, women have ALWAYS known that men have weak egos in reality! Tell them too much TRUTH in criticism and you risk becoming beat up as a result of them being hurt! I’m almost 30 years old,… and my mother STILL talks to me in that way, careful not to hurt my feelings sometimes, (but she raised me never to hit women!). That’s just to show the nature of the male homo sapiens. Behind all that bravado, muscle, the bigger than life persona and the super-cool ego & charisma lies a person who can be broken down in just a few words! Why do you think men beat women up so much? They try to prevent it!
The D.R.C. suffers, like many other African countries, from a dearth of reliable and current statistics. Fighting domestic violence through government agencies, NGOs, charities or else wise is challenging, to say the least. And if that weren’t tragic enough, members of society rarely want to bud in an argument of a couple that turns into the man hitting the woman because they feel it’s a private, domestic affair and have to say in it. In a profile of gender equality in the Democratic Republic of Congo, composed by contributors of Wikigender.org, it is stated that ‘Domestic violence against women, including rape, also appears to be common. However, there are no known official statistics, provided by either the government or NGOs, on the extent of this kind of violence.’ [Wikigender.org contributors (2010). Gender Equality in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Wikigender.org].
WE ALL are encountered with this kind of situation. Some of us not so regularly, others all the time (it seems). Because of a very common trait of our collective upbringing, not to mind other people’s business, we typically find ourselves in a conundrum. We are witnessing an act of violence and know it’s wrong for it to be happening, for nothing to be done about it but at the same time we are instinctively holding ourselves back from interfering over a possible backlash, over our bothering about strangers not being proper. What could possibly be proper about that moment? When you’re walking past a man hitting the woman with him, all measures of properness and what is right have already vaporized into thin air! That exact area is a spot of anarchy, within the boundaries of the society we all like to adhere to:)! Doesn’t it then become your DUTY to refrain from whatever hesitations inside and just fight the moment and get rid of this anarchy? The woman who’s being beaten half to death surely thinks so!
Within the last year, I have personally witnessed at least 5 violent cases of domestic violence, physical violence against women, women being beaten the crap out of,… whatever you want to call it. Once I saw a man stoning a woman as she was running away from him with GRANITE ROCKS, the size of a grown man’s palm, repetitively after her! Everybody in the area had to immediately duck, including myself, to avoid becoming a casualty as well.
Another time, at night I saw a man, in his mid-twenties, PUNCHING his girlfriend like he was in a boxing match! There were hardly any people around but the ones who were just stood by and stared. You know what it sounds like when you watch movies with men beating each other up and the sound effects you hear from each blow? Well, they’re not entirely fake, they’re real! I heard several of them. I ran into the fight at my own risk and dragged the guy off her (he was much stronger than me). The girl’s face was badly bruised and bleeding,… her top half torn open. It took me a few minutes to get the guy to understand that if he’d continue, he would kill her! When they both finally left, in opposite directions, he told me just before that she had been disrespecting him.
I once saw a girl, in her early twenties, sobbing as she was walking towards me, holding some tissue to her right eye, sloppily. The second we both passed each other, I saw her right eye swollen up like she had blinked an egg!
My analogies are put the way they are on purpose; TO PROVOKE YOU! Did you laugh? Because there’s absolutely nothing funny about them. If you understand them, you’ll appreciate the hard-hitting message I’m sending out! These crimes happen every day around the world and far too little is being done to end it. This is what goes on with women each day, right now, over the last few minutes, in the next ten seconds, to many women, in lots of places!
As the saying from Edmund Burke goes, ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing’. And that quote alone goes to show you the extent to which gender inequality has THRIVED in our times; who said good women could never do anything? Peace-keepers are known to have the most dangerous jobs in the world. Breaking up a fight can be a very risky thing to do,… BUT SOMEONE HAS TO DO SOMETHING!!! If organisations are not going to take a lead role, then we can! Right? So what is stopping you from becoming more proactive and mediating peace the next time you see an argument of a couple turn nasty (and at rates at which things seem to be going these days, YOU WILL see a scuffle)?
It’s menacing to be told what to do when someone’s screaming at you with a finger shoved in your face. It’s not much different when what you’re reading feels the same way. How much less of a menace do you think that very same feeling I’ve just put you through is compared to the moment in which a woman is being beaten, from all across her body, over and over again, with no sign of ANYONE helping her, far or near?
(maybe in my next article, you’ll demand that I shout at you more often!)
Don’t be a superhero. Protect a woman who needs your help from being put through the worst experience of her life!
References: 1, Anna Alvazzi del Frate & Angela Patrignani, United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute http://www.unicri.it/documentation_centre/publications/issues/r5.php
2, WikiGender – Gender Equality in the Democratic Republic of Congohttp://www.wikigender.org/index.php?title=Gender_Equality_in_the_Democratic_Republic_of_Congo&oldid=14503