In the chaos and turmoil of 2020, I learnt the value of one thing – Choice. COVID is all about Choice. The choice to wear a mask. Choice to sanitize and/or wash your hands. Choice to socially distance or not. Choice to lockdown or not.
Each decision with a consequence, but regardless of the outcome, my fundamental human right to make a decision was never taken away from me. As I reveled in the power of ‘Choice’, so many of my sisters were silent victims of the Shadow Pandemic. The Shadow Pandemic comes from the rise in physical, sexual and emotional violence and harassment of women across the world as communities battled the COVID pandemic in lockdown. Stripped of protection during quarantine because they were locked up with the very individuals who tormented them. Stripped of a Voice when protective services were unavailable.
Don’t get comfortable with the thought that this issue does not affect you. One in 3 women are violated in their lifetime so take a look around you and do the maths because so many sisters are silently suffering. So what can you do, you may be asking? Well we have to CHOOSE to break the silence. We have an opportunity to create a future without violence against women and girls. This is a problem with a solution and I’ll tell you how.
1. Learn: Understand the real issues of Gender Based Violence. From tormenting and taunting young women because of their fashion choices to marital rape and sexual violence – the breadth and scope of this pandemic will make you realize how violence has become so acceptable and hidden within traditions, culture, advertising…
2. Understand the Dynamics: GBV is all about Power and Control. With COVID additional issues have contributed to the spike in cases; money constraints, job security, stresses, mental health due to confinement just to name a few…
3. Understand the Support Structures: Know who to call when a girl or woman you know is in danger. Be informed on the important details like access to shelters, access to legal representation etc…
4. Break Your Silence: Use your fundamental human right to choice by choosing to speak up and speak out. Choose not to turn a blind eye to violence. Choose to be a voice for those without.
Be your sisters keeper. Choose Her.
Emily J. Nemapare
Co-Founder of SisterTalkZW & Marketing & Communications Executive