Join Friends of Pambazuka

Subscribe for Free!



Fahamu Bulletin Archive

News about our programmes 30, Sept. 2014

Donate to Pambazuka News!

Follow Us

delicious bookmarks facebook twitter

Pambazuka News Pambazuka News is produced by a pan-African community of some 2,600 citizens and organisations - academics, policy makers, social activists, women's organisations, civil society organisations, writers, artists, poets, bloggers, and commentators who together produce insightful, sharp and thoughtful analyses and make it one of the largest and most innovative and influential web forums for social justice in Africa.

Latest titles from Pambazuka Press

African Sexualities

Earth Grab A Reader
Sylvia Tamale
A groundbreaking book, accessible but scholarly, by African activists. It uses research, life stories and artistic expression to examine dominant and deviant sexualities, and investigate the intersections between sex, power, masculinities and femininities
Buy now

Global NATO and the Catastrophic Failure in Libya

From Citizen to Refugee Horace Campbell
In this elegantly written and incisive account, scholar Horace Campbell investigates the political and economic crises of the early twenty-first century through the prism of NATO's intervention in Libya.
Buy now

Queer African Reader

Demystifying Aid Edited by Sokari Ekine, Hakima Abbas
A diverse collection of writing from across the continent exploring African LGBTI liberation: identity, tactics for activism, international solidarity, homophobia and global politics, religion and culture, and intersections with social justice movements. A richness of voices, a multiplicity of discourses, a quiverful of arguments. African queers writing for each other, theorising ourselves, making our ...more
Buy now

China and Angola

African Awakening A Marriage of Convenience?
Edited by Marcus Power, Ana Alves
This book focuses on the increased co-operation between Angola and China and shows that although relations with China might have bolstered regime stability and boosted the international standing of the Angolan government, China is not regarded as a long term strategic partner.
Buy now

How Europe Underdeveloped Africa

To Cook a ContinentWalter Rodney
Rodney shows how the imperial countries of Europe, and subsequently the US, bear major responsibility for impoverishing Africa. They have been joined in this exploitation by agents or unwitting accomplices both in the North and in Africa.
Buy now

Pambazuka News Broadcasts

Pambazuka broadcasts feature audio and video content with cutting edge commentary and debate from social justice movements across the continent.

AU MONITOR

This site has been established by Fahamu to provide regular feedback to African civil society organisations on what is happening with the African Union.

Perspectives on Emerging Powers in Africa: December 2011 newsletter

Deborah Brautigam provides an overview and description of China's development finance to Africa. "Looking at the nature of Chinese development aid - and non-aid - to Africa provides insights into China's strategic approach to outward investment and economic diplomacy, even if exact figures and strategies are not easily ascertained", she states as she describes China's provision of grants, zero-interest loans and concessional loans. Pambazuka Press recently released a publication titled India in Africa: Changing Geographies of Power, and Oliver Stuenkel provides his review of the book.
The December edition available here.

The 2010 issues: September, October, November, December, and the 2011 issues: January, February, March , April, May , June , July , August , September, October and November issues are all available for download.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.

Features

Deeper issues in violence against women

Nidhi Tandon

2013-03-07, Issue 619

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/features/86496

Bookmark and Share

Printer friendly version


cc J C
Victim protection is a critical response measure, but women need to address systemic issues. They need to challenge systems that undermine their ability to participate in decision making and their control over resources

‘The first and greatest violence is the systematic exclusion of people - a great number of people - by society. From this violence other violence directly and indirectly flows. Where you exclude, you must establish instruments to control those who are excluded so that they don't invade the peace of those who have access to opportunities and wealth." - Father Bruno Sechi, cofounder of the National Movement of Street Boys and Girls

Over the past few decades, women’s rights campaigns have focused on addressing the more obvious manifestations of violence against women. This includes domestic abuse, rape, femicide and the victimization of women during war time. The ‘solutions’ usually revolve around legal rights and recourse, policing, rape crisis centers and physical and psychological help for victims.

While it is imperative that women are protected from violence and that victims of violence are healed, we need also to engage with the underlying issues that cause the break down in values that respect and dignify men and women. In spite of a long history of fighting for human rights, the rights and assets of the poor are under siege in the face of agro-industrial investments, food-stress and climate change on a broad macro level. As these threats become more entrenched, the violence that women face will rise.

ONE OF THE UNDERLYING CAUSES IS THE STRUGGLE FOR SCARCE RESOURCES

When natural resources become scarce and livelihoods threatened, tensions along ethnic, racial and religious lines are intensified. More often than not, women are direct victims of these tensions as male/female inequalities are further magnified and suppressive gender roles reinforced. Men and women in rural settings experience climate change very differently because of their roles/ responsibilities. In Kenya, poverty associated with drought affects school attendance, with more girls withdrawn from school than boys. In Uganda, the food crisis associated with climate change has been linked to higher rates of early marriage for girls; they are exchanged for dowry or bride price. These ‘famine marriages’ make them vulnerable to sexually transmitted infections and related reproductive complications. When food becomes scarce, girls are fed last and least; the weakest and most vulnerable perish from malnutrition; mothers watch their infants die. These are all forms of violence.

A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE AND THE RAPE OF WOMEN IN THE CONGO [1]

Under King Leopold II the Congo Basin saw ‘some of the worst frontier violence in modern times’. The country was pillaged and looted on a grand scale – organized violence aimed at coercively extracting labour from indigenous peoples to meet the growing demand for rubber. This violence included executions, mutilations and cutting off the hands of those men who refused to work in plantations. Some 120 years later, rape victims in eastern DRC are being forced to work in mines producing the gold, coltan, tantalum, tungsten and tin ore for jewelry, mobiles and laptops. [2] Some 1,152 women are raped every day - it is part of the coercion of men and women into submission to work against their will. While the Congo is an extreme case, it does suggest that as long as its natural assets are pillaged by corporate greed we can hardly expect women and men to be protected from rape and slavery at the individual level.

INSTITUTIONALIZED VIOLENCE AND WOMEN’S RESISTANCE AGAINST IT

Deeper causes of violence are embedded within the institutionalized structures of commodity production and exchange within the capitalist system. This violence has been meted out against both men and women with forced colonial production systems.

The land-based campaigns followed by the murders of, for example, Chico Mendez in Brazil (1988) and Ken Saro Wiwa in Nigeria (1995) are evidence of the extremes of violence. Against these institutionalized violence, people (women more often than men) have organised resistance through protracted protests, mobilizing collective action locally and internationally. In some instances, women’s groups have been successful in preventing further damage to their local eco-systems and livelihoods. The Niger Delta Women for Justice, for instance, brought together international activists, in solidarity with Nigerian peasant women, and numerous grass roots organisations, to stop the gas flaring activities of five oil companies in the country - AGIP, Chevron, Mobil, Shell and Texaco. In January 2006, Nigerian courts ordered Shell to stop the flaring of natural gas. Since the late 1990s, there have been repeated efforts to stop gas flaring, oil spillages and blowouts in the oil-rich Niger Delta.

In March 2008, peasant women mobilized against agri-business in favour of the Brazilian people’s food sovereignty. Nine hundred women, members of Via Campesina in Rio Grande do Sul, occupied 2,100 hectares of monoculture eucalyptus plantations belonging to the Swedish-Finnish transnational company, Stora Enso to reclaim their access to the land.

WOMEN RESPOND VIOLENTLY TO VIOLENCE AND VIOLATIONS

As the methods and avenues of violence intensify, violence perpetrated by women will also increase.
Some of this violence is self-inflicted or forced by circumstances. Women, for instance, will go to greater and riskier lengths to feed their children. The increasing numbers of women in prison in Zimbabwe, for example, is one indicator of the life-turning events that lead women into situations of violence and criminal behavior (for example cattle rustling). Self-inflicted violence includes selling blood, organs and body (and daughters) for cash, and in the worst case scenario, committing suicide. Women in India take a stand against the corporate takeover of their lands, at gunpoint.

HOW CAN WE ADDRESS STRUCTURAL VIOLENCE? ORGANISE, ORGANISE, ORGANISE

Structural violence refers to a form of violence based on systematic and institutionalized ways in which a social structure or institution ‘kills people’ by preventing them from meeting their basic needs. Structural violence inevitably produces conflict and often direct violence, including family violence, racial violence, hate crimes, terrorism, genocide, and war. [3]

Victim protection is a critical response measure, but women need to address systemic issues. They need also to challenge the system that undermines their ability to participate in decision making (exclusion) and their control over resources. They need to take direct action against structural violence that marginalises and steals the dignity of the poor – men and women. They need to fight every manifestation of violence against them, whether from their men or from the system. They need to organise, organise, organise.

* Nidhi Tandon is originally from East Africa and is based in Toronto, Canada where she works as an independent consultant. Nidhi is a social activist, animator and writer working with women and with marginalized communities to raise their voices in a globalized economy.

END NOTES

[1] http://goo.gl/K3BNb

[2] Interview Prof Wamba Pambazuka News 405, 2008. Also see http://www.congocalling.org/act/

[3] http://goo.gl/VVMXb

* BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS

* Please do not take Pambazuka for granted! Become a Friend of Pambazuka and make a donation NOW to help keep Pambazuka FREE and INDEPENDENT!

* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.


Readers' Comments

Let your voice be heard. Comment on this article.




↑ back to top

ISSN 1753-6839 Pambazuka News English Edition http://www.pambazuka.org/en/

ISSN 1753-6847 Pambazuka News en Français http://www.pambazuka.org/fr/

ISSN 1757-6504 Pambazuka News em Português http://www.pambazuka.org/pt/

© 2009 Fahamu - http://www.fahamu.org/