I have the opinion that the work and voice of human rights and civil rights activists has been compromised by the political happenings in our country. The love for money and lacking of knowledge of what to do has contributed to this lack of focus and zeal to be active.
I have always echoed the need for people especially those working in Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs) or Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to be sober and focused on the work they are meant to do. The problem is that organisations like Non-governmental Organisation Co-ordinating Committee (NGOCC), Women for Change and others that claim to be speaking and representing the views and interests of women and young people are consumed by selfish motives and ambitions. As I said political happenings have also glued most of these so called civil right activists to money.
Why do I say so. I have being following what has been happening in terms of gender based violence(GBV). I don’t know about you but I think our NGOs are more focused at talking about politics than our community or rather things happening in our society. The question is why? For me it is either our social movement has no idea what to do or say or they probably have compromised positions.
In the past six months we have seen two men killed by their wives. We have also see a wife being beaten by her husband. We have also seen a woman putting sand in another woman’s private parts in full view of other people. Now I hear there is a woman who has been beaten and sexually assaulted by men. I have not seen the video and I don’t intend to see it. Otherwise it will bring more sadness to my eyes. However, from what I have heard and read I think it is a sad thing to see.
In a country where all women activists and NGOs are just interested in money than what they should do, things like these are prone to happen. Where is Women for Change? Where is NGOCC? Where are all these organisations who claim to support the plight of women and youth? In my opinion this is what happens when you support a party that has its running mate for a wife and woman beater. You are in a dilemma. I know a lot of people and organisations who were an inspiration for a lot of young women and young people in general. But they are quiet. I think we all know the reason why.
I will be very interested to hear the position of the United Party for National Development (UPND) on this issue. I would like to hear the position of all those NGOs who are having meetings with the UPND about issuing statements against the ruling party and all those parties who don’t agree with UPND. You call yourselves human rights or women right advocates but you don’t say anything. You know that condemning the beating of women is condemning the choice of someone’s running mate. CATCH 22.
That act of those men abusing that said woman should be condemned by everyone regardless of what or who is involved. If the two women who allegedly killed their husbands are in court these fools should be arrested too.
I also want to point out something. I have also noticed that these issues are usually treated on sex, political or religious lines. For me it doesn’t matter who the victim or the oppressor or abuser is. What matters is that they are human beings. And they should all face the same treatment or justice. It is not a war for men against women. I think this mindset ought to change. If a woman like in that video is abused women and men alike should condemn the act and call for justice. This change of mindset should be worked on. The said CSOs have a big job to do in this regard.
I have also noticed that people are more interested in bringing the culprits to justice than helping the victim to go through the shock. As much as the act was evil and those fools needed to be arrested. I feel people are more interested in bringing people to book than helping the victims to come out of the stupor. People are only interested in sharing videos and pictures of victims not knowing that this may further hurt the victims themselves or their loved ones.
Also in the case of the lady in the video. I think she is traumatized and probably pressing charges is the last thing in her mind. If our NGOs are not all turning into opposition political activists they will realise that that poor lady needs proper professional counselling than pressing charges right now. The police will come in to do their job.
We are all together in this but I still think women and youth activists are a big let down, Social media campaigns are important but I still think traditional way of activism has more impact.
The author is a PhD candidate in Political, Gender and Transnational Studies at the International Postgraduate Centre at Goethe University Frankfurt.