Parental guidance is strongly advised for minors below 13 years, when reading this article. Sensitive religious adult souls and fanatical followers of any patriarchal or ideological movement are advised not to read this article alone, especially in the dark. The author is not liable for any mental stress this article may cause anyone.
By the time you finished reading this article a large number of women and girls somewhere in the world including in Zambia would have been tortured, beaten up, raped and or murdered, or all the above. Almost in all cases it will be a man or boy who would have done this.
Almost all wars are started and fought by men and the worst victims are women and children, especially little girls. No war has ever been fought in which girls and women are not raped. Hunger, extreme heat and cold, dehydration from lack of water, naked fear of boots, bombs and guns – all combine to create a hell on Earth worse than any imagined hell of any religion, for women and girls, during any war.
There is always a tension just beneath the surface, pregnant with the possibility of violence and the scent of death, whenever a girl or woman is in the presence of a man or boy, whether this is the grandfather, father, uncle, brother, lover or total stranger – it does not matter: there is a silent understanding that the girl or woman must yield to the will of the boy or man, or else the boy or man will use emotional oppression or violence to enforce his will, upon the girl or woman.
From birth to death a girl is born into a world condemned to be inferior to a boy, and to serve a man. Any radical departure from this expected behaviour is met with the violent force of traditions and customs, religious beliefs and teachings, school indoctrination and should all this fail, a mental institution and jail will do. Inevitably off course, the girl or woman is murdered.
Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, African traditional religious beliefs and virtually all religions to a smaller and greater extent all preach, practice and enforce moral codes and practices that put girls and women below boys and men, and sometimes even sanction murder of a woman who violets these codes of female enslavement.
It still is that in many human communities’ men are not satisfied if their wives cannot bear children (even when the man may actually be impotent) and he has the power to cause his wife to become pregnant by another man, thus concealing his impotence.
In Zambia as in so many other human communities, the practice of men inheriting wives continues to this internet age; quite like inheriting any piece of property. Alternatively, the woman whose husband has died must accept to have sex with someone from her late husband’s family in order to be “released and cleansed”. Men “marry” and women are “married” by men. The father hands over his daughter to another man, at weddings.
In matters of love a “good girl” or “decent woman” must not be forward but must wait for the boy or man to make the first move, or ask for marriage. Women “initiation” ceremonies and rituals, teach women how to be submissive to sustain their marriages.
It is to stop all this violence and more, and the killing of girls and women by men and boys, that 30 years ago, in 1991, “The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence” started as an international campaign. The 16 days run from the 25th of November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to the 10th of December, Human Rights Day, every year, globally.
In the past 30 years, globally, some progress has been made to place in the public domain the fight for equality between the genders and the struggle for equal access to education, wealth and all other resources and services necessary for the promotion of equality, freedom, development and full life, for women and girls. However, the violence and killing of girls and women continues, and in some parts of the world new and even more savage and brutal ways to kill girls and women are being minted every day.
Why and how do we live in a world in which slightly more than half of the human population – girls and women – live in permanent terror from boys and men? How can we begin, even as we intensify the current struggles against this scourge, to lay the foundation for the actual elimination of violence and killing of girls and women by boys and girls?
We all know, or should know, the cause, the root, of the violence and killing of girls and women by boys and girls: it is the unequal distribution and access to power, all power in human society, and the private ownership of this power by boys and men, and the organisation of our society by private greed.
At the heart of this inequality is male ownership of the means for producing wealth – education, training, skills, land, capital and technologies. Armed with this superior access to wealth and power, men and boys then go on to make all other relationships in society to fit this pattern of distribution of wealth.
To validate and enforce this unequal access to power and wealth, the family, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, African traditional religious beliefs and virtually all religions and political systems to a smaller and greater extent all preach, practice and enforce moral codes and cultural practices that reproduce this inequality and sustains girls and women as inferior beings to men and boys.
This system of organising production of wealth and society is called “capitalism” – it is founded on private power, private greed and violence. To keep this system intact and hope to win the struggle for equality between girls and women, and boys and men, and therefore eliminate violence and the killing of girls and women by boys and men, is to wish for the impossible.
In those societies in which women originally were dominant and more powerful than men and boys, slavery, colonialism, capitalism and imperialism smashed them and placed them beneath men and boys.
As we struggle to stop violence and killing girls and women, let us also think about how to abolish the current system in which our human society is based on the killing of girls and women – capitalism!
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