If you could plan a strategy for protecting the women of a country, what would it look like?
Let’s say the leaders of a country asked you to help them construct a strategy for protecting women because they are getting a significant amount of pressure from both the international community and the internal women’s groups to stop the violence and murder of the women in the country. Where would you start? Perhaps the best way to begin such a daunting task is by first assessing the situation to better understand the depth of the job ahead of you.
You think to yourself that this will be an easy assignment and shouldn’t take much time at all. After all, the population of this country is pretty small. How difficult can it be to find ways of protecting 400,000 women?
You begin the assessment and find that women in the country are incessantly sexually harassed (on the streets and on the job), subjected to endemic domestic violence, raped without ever seeing justice, forced into sex slavery with little hope the government will rescue them, working as domestics without any legal safeguards, and murdered so frequently that not even the most heinous of slayings are remembered two weeks later.
You find that this dire situation for the women of the country is socially embedded from years of callous maltreatment and government inaction. Even worse, you find that even the very leaders who asked you to help them protect the women of the country are guilty of some if not all of those vile actions against women.
You also find that although there are laws in place to protect women, the police seldom enforce those laws and the women are reticent about going to law enforcement officials for help for various reasons, which include law enforcement’s shoddy investigative work and reluctance to act on reports of violence against women. You discover most rape cases never see a courtroom and those that do seldom see justice.
The situation is dismal and overwhelming, but now that you have your stomach-churning assessment in hand, you must decide on a plan of action to present to the leaders who want you to find ways to protect these women. However, it is vital that you find ways of implementing the undertaking of this important matter that will be accepted by the general population. Otherwise, all of your hard work to protect the women of this country will be in vain.
You decide to look into what the leaders are presently doing to see if these methods can be implemented into your stratagem. As you browse through recent newspaper articles for the past six months, you are shocked to read some of the actions of the leaders regarding the welfare of the nation’s women.
You find that when a group of women decided to rescue four girls from being sex slaves, the government offered little or no help or protection and, in fact, had various agents in the field that made the group’s efforts even more difficult.
You find articles about rape allegations that are not acted upon by law enforcement and there seems to be no one at the top who cares enough to demand justice.
You take a deep breath and say to yourself, “Let me check more recent articles because surely these leaders are actively pursuing the protection of women this very month.” You find instead that the leaders plan to bring in music groups with lyrics that explicitly promote rape and violence against women. Another singer is a known paedophile.
Feelings of confusion swirl in your head. How can it be that the same leaders who say they want to protect the women of the nation are openly acting in a manner counter-productive to the stated goal? Being the optimist that you are, you decide to not make a rash decision about whether the leaders are indeed genuine in their desire to protect the nation’s women.
Instead, you continue to read up on more articles before coming to any hasty conclusions. This is when you stumble across allegations that a minister’s son brutally beat a young woman. She has a battered face and hospital record to prove the violence. When you read this, you think to yourself, “This is the perfect opportunity for the leaders to show they care about the welfare of the nation’s women.”
With hopes high, you search to find more articles about this recent event. You find this is not the first time the minister’s son has been accused of beating this girl. In fact, the entire relationship seems to be marred with domestic violence.
Your search also revealed that the minister’s son has a record of feeling entitled and acting belligerent – even towards the police about five years ago. You are curious as to how the leaders will react to this situation, so you continue to read more articles and ask around to find out more. It seems that instead of ensuring the well-being of the abused young lady, the leaders themselves are victim blaming and spreading reports counter to what the woman reported to the police.
This couple should have received help from the leaders a long time ago. They should have separately received counselling and guidance on how to have healthy future relationships. After all, if the leaders cannot help one of their own sons change his violent ways, how do they expect to help the rest of the nation?
It seems the minister’s son was arrested and then released from custody. You shake your head. This looks very bad on the leaders. A dark realisation hits you. These leaders are not serious about protecting women.