I started a massive online course on Sexual and Gender-based violence (SGBV) with Youth Hub Africa last month, August and trust me, it's been enlightening. Currently, more than 50 student bloggers take the course and for the past two weeks, we've covered topics on gender-based violence, gender roles, sexual harassment and laws against sexual violence. Having learnt a lot and still learning, l believe it's time I educated you as well. Hence, I'd be giving you insights on why you should stand against sexual and gender-based violence.
Gender-based violence (GBV) is the type of violence directed at someone based on their gender. That is, it doesn't just happen by mistake to anyone. It's an intentional act directed at one because of their gender. Sex refers to all your physiological and biological characteristics that make you a male or a female. That is, you are male because you have the gonads, chromosomes and the likes which are different from that of a female.
Gender, on the other hand is not the same thing as sex. Sex might be a platform where gender expresses itself, however, it's very essential to know that sex is not the same as gender. It's rather all the roles, attitudes, feelings and behaviours expected of an individual based on their sex. That is, gender begins where sex stops. Therefore, gender-based violence is the violence directed at an individual based on the attitudes, feelings, roles and behaviours expected of them. For instance, a female is expected to be caring, all loving and still stick to her spouse even when physically, emotionally, economically or sexually abused. She's expected to bear all the pains because it's her 'cross'! Is that supposed to be? That's what the perpetrators of such acts understand that makes them do such continuously. What about harmful practices like forced marriage, sex trafficking, female genitalia mutilation and the likes? All these traditions in the name of culture are so detrimental! You are the judge! Does anyone have to be violent to prove that they are 'man' enough? Whatever makes a man a man and a woman a woman apart from their physiological and biological attributes are as a result of gender. Therefore, gender is learnt. It's taught over time and can be changed. It's changing already. It's not constant like sex.
Sexual violence refers to rape, sexual harassment and sexual assault. It's directed at females because the society believes they are weak, won't be heard or believed and most especially, victim-blamed. Well, all those beliefs were as a result of gender roles at a particular time. But now, with changing gender roles, there's a need to adapt to these roles. There's a need to know what gender equality and gender-based violence are all about. There's a need as an individual to stand against GBV.
Gender-based violence, also known as violence against women appear in many forms as listed above. It's ugly when a man beats up a woman, denies her opportunities or resources, threatens or makes her feel responsible for all his problems, marries a child off and forcefully has sex with her or without her consent just because she's a woman. And I'm always like, is a woman not a human being as well? Does she not deserve the same treatment as the man? Why do we disrespect the women like they are another creature entirely different from the men? Why is that if it's not as a result of gender roles which birth detrimental stereotypes? However, these gender roles are changing and that's why you have to also stand against any form of discrimination against women and girls.
Why don't you stand up for gender equality? You should not entertain any form of gender discrimination in your thoughts, words or actions. As individuals, boys and girls, it's time you didn't endorse harmful practices like forced marriage, female genital mutilation and sex trafficking. Most especially, don't you support sexual harassment in any form of appearance.
Sexual harassment can be verbal (comments about your body, spreading sexual rumours, sexual remarks or accusations, dirty jokes or stories), physical (grabbing, rubbing, flashing or mooning, touching, pinching in a sexual way, sexual assault) or visual (display of naked pictures or sex-related objects, obscene gestures) according to Equality Rights. Obviously, the first is very true in most schools which is wrong. Why would some set of boys sit down and start passing highly ridiculous and offensive comments about the size, shape and the likes on every skirt that passes? Why should we see it as the newest cool? Why is sexual harassment in schools the best way of having fun among the boys? Just imagine if the girls start passing offensive comments about the size of your sex organ, how beardless or tiny or lanky you are... Oh, how could they? That's gross! Really, it's gross? Isn't it time you stopped harassing girls in schools? Why can't a girl walk pass a place without fear of the offensive words the boys would say to her or something? Why don't we all together stand against violence in our schools, homes, workplaces, on the streets and everywhere?
Creating a world safe for all, both boys and girls and men and women begins with you respecting everyone irrespective of their sex or gender. It begins with you giving equal opportunities to both sexes and not denying them of their rights or resources. It begins with you standing against gender-based violence by running after knowledge, not practising any form of discrimination against women and girls and also sensitising the next person on what GBV is about. A world safe from physical, psychological, economical, sexual and harmful practices begins with you. Why don't you create a safe world for all today? Why don't you stand against gender-based violence today?