Siatta Scott-Johnson
Posted March 27, 2013 from Liberia

Have we ever thought that violence against women can cause HIV infection? Different types of violence against a woman can cause her to become HIV-positive and because of her HIV-positive status, more of the same types of violence can be inflicted upon her. The root cause of this situation is the imbalance of power in relationships between women and men, girls and boys. There is an urgent need for communities to start advocating for a balance of power and the benefits for everyone. It is time we rethink power—your power, my power, who has it, how it is used, how it is abused and how power dynamics between women and men can change for the better. The power we can have together. The power we have to learn and become aware, to support others, to create change for safer, healthier relationships and communities. We have the power to prevent violence against women and HIV infection. Not all men use their power over women, but most do. They do this because our silence as a community. Maybe we think it is okay because we rarely ask: Is this violence acceptable? Should men be using their power over women? It is now time we start asking these questions; time to challenge and expand people’s perceptions of power. We all have experienced a lack of power in our own lives— it could be in our families, in the community, at places of work, during conflict or civil unrest etc. We all have the ability and the responsibility to use power with justice and fairness. Why are we silent? Are we afraid of what might happen if we start talking about power? Are we afraid of finding an imbalance of power in our own relationships? Are we not sure how to talk about power? Do the power relationships in our community feel too difficult to change? Does the work seem too radical—too far from the comfortable list of topics we can raise in the community? In our relationships?

We know that people rarely change when they feel forced or threatened. Change happens when people see the benefits of that change—otherwise what is the motivation or incentive to do something differently? Change takes time and commitment. It isn’t until we identify a problem that we start to sense a need to change something in our lives I hope this piece of work will burst out ideas for sparking new energy and activism in your violence or HIV prevention work, ideas for creating a new comprehensive approach to addressing the violence against women in your community and personal lives. Foster social movements for change in your neighborhood, communities and personal life. It might stir things up, make us a bit uncomfortable—because only when we feel uncomfortable and some unease will we consider how things could be different.

Just by reading this, you’ve proven yourself a person of action. You will see all the power and assets you already have for creating change. BRAVO!!!!!

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