Eliminating Violence Against Women And Children
As we celebrate the 16 days long “International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women“, a Human Rights Day of activism set by the UN Women to help advocate and end violence against girls and women around the world. We shed light on the vulnerable children who witness their mothers and sisters being endlessly abused. We look at how much it has affected their lives and mental health. These children never ask to be born, and one thing we must agree on is that every child deserves a happy and stable home. This should and MUST be a right and a promise to every child born.
Children never forget their childhood memories, happy or sad. Especially when those memories happen to be entangled with images filled with unimaginable things that has occurred to both them and their siblings or other family members. Being abused physically, sexually or emotionally, sticks with them for a very long while, even into their adult lives, having a negative impact on their well being. Which will taint the innocence of childhood memories. So many children are traumatised due to abuse and continue to live in silence, surrounded by a community who at times are unable to recognise the tell tell signs or “cry for help”.
One must always be vigilant to help recognise the following behaviours:
- FEAR – Children aren’t themselves when around their abusers. Most times, they are afraid because they have seen first hand what the person meant to love, protect and nurture them is capable of. Becoming reclusive and withdrawn due to the fear of triggering physical, verbal and emotional abuse. Living with that fear factor which prevents them to speak up and have the authentic bond that should come natural to them.
- DEPRESSION- This has to be one of the biggest issues in our African part of the world, where most people don’t believe in it and highly regard it as a “White man illness”. having a “get on with it” attitude, when in fact depression is real and affects a lot of children especially those from abusive homes. We have seen kids growing up and keeping to themselves, crying in corners or being restless for no known reasons. This happens because they do not have an outlet or confidante to confide in and express their inner most thoughts. Believing there might be dire consequences should one choose to do so.
- ANGER- Bottling so much in their little hearts and heads, the cracks start to show. We see Children having very bad tempers, getting into fight, mirroring what they have or are experiencing in their abusive environments. “Troubled little kids” as some are so quick to label them, when what we should be doing is looking at the root cause of their anger and behaviour. Most, if not all of these kids have built up anger as a defense mechanism, as they see people (Mostly women and girls) being abused in their homes and fearing that they too will be next, hence the fighting and tough exterior, when all they are really trying to seek is HELP.
What should we do?
I personally believe there is a lot we can do as a community but one of the most fundamental ones has got to be, having the conversations with children and making them understand how to express their emotions and not be afraid to speak up without fear.
- Having laws and policies that are highly against Gender Based Violence/Violence against Women and letting women know they and their children are protected by law.
- Learning to listen more and judge less towards these abused women and children. by providing a “community support system”
- Believing what they say and helping them get the right help.
- Teach them to understand “self worth” and never settling for less.
- Encourage women and kids to speak up against any forms of violence towards them or others.
This might not solve ALL our problems but it is a start to help create that peaceful, stable environment that we yearn for not only the women but also their children.
Fatou Juka Darboe