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For the Millions of Hushed Voices

From her home in Cameroon, Shekina urges President Obama to pass IVAWA to liberate women from what she calls a subtle and brutal form of slavery.

"Our imaginations cannot thrive when the world gives a deaf ear to the raging acts of violence that are perpetrated against us day and night."

Shekina

Dear President Barack Obama and Secretary Of State Hilary Clinton,

It is a rare privilege for a human of my gender and caliber to be given the opportunity to raise a voice to the leaders of the great and admirable land of equal opportunities. I speak not only for myself but for the millions of other women who would otherwise be hushed to silence. Our minds and bodies have for ages suffered under the yoke of unchanging cultures that have left us hopeless and in tears.

Please dry our tears by passing the International Violence Against Women Act.

President Obama, one of the first times I listened to you, I found reassurance in these words:

“The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.”

Equality and freedom are far-fetched ideals for the women of Cameroon. Every evening in my village, my thoughts are preoccupied by the heart-throbbing cries of battered women amidst the sounds emanating from mortars pounding the evening meal, and with thoughts of teenage girls living in fear of how painful their next breast ironing session will be. My heart bleeds when I think of how difficult it has been for me and many other women to get the little education we have acquired and how seemingly impossible it is for us to get more.

I think of 30-year-old Beatrice. When she lost her husband, she sat and slept on the bare floor for one month, was not allowed to shake hands with people, take her bath, have a change of clothes, and was asked to drink the water that was used to wash her husband’s corpse.

She was later forced to marry her late husband’s brother who died of HIV a year later. Beatrice was again obliged to undergo widowhood rituals for another year. Today she is HIV positive and very ill. She has no job nor property and has six orphans to care for.

With the increase in death rates over the past years due to HIV/AIDS, there has been a rise in the number of women who undergo ordeals like Beatrice’s. Widowhood in the Western Highlands of Cameroon is measured at approximately 33.3%.

As women, we desire to emerge from our relegated positions to the corridors of decision-making. We desire to be given more opportunities for learning; to be liberated from the clutches of negative cultural norms; and above all to join our imaginations with our fellow men for the common purpose of making a prosperous world.

President Obama, I regard you as the world’s number one evidence of the fact that giving a chance for equal opportunities is giving a chance for progress.

Our imaginations cannot thrive when the world gives a deaf ear to the raging acts of violence that are perpetrated against us day and night. Passing the International Violence Against Women Act would be equal to abolishing a subtle form of slavery that has existed from time immemorial in all parts of the world, keeping the destinies of millions of women in chains.

It is my dream to see a world where women are seen as humans and not sub- humans; where women shall utilize their full potentials and not regard themselves as mere objects of pleasure. It is my prayer to see more women in decision-making positions in my country and in the world.

The IVAWA is a panacea to the world’s most dangerous ailments because women are those most affected by HIV, climate change, war, floods, and famines.

I respectfully appreciate the time you have taken to read this letter and thank you for taking the lead in addressing the issue of violence and oppression which women in many countries face every moment of their lives.

Yours faithfully,

Shekina
Bamenda, Cameroon

About 16 Days Campaign

This letter is part of a special campaign to support the International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA). Throughout the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence (November 25 - December 10), World Pulse is partnering with Women Thrive Worldwide to gather women's testimonies from around the world. These letters will be bundled and sent directly to US President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and other key US senators, urging them to pass I-VAWA.

Comments

jadefrank's picture

For Beatrice, for women everywhere

Dear Leina,

Your letter is breathtaking. I don't think that many people are aware of the realities that women like Beatrice face. I was so deeply moved by your letter - pained by Beatrice's treatment from her community, yet thankful that our world has women like you who can give voice to the women who cannot - so that we can together end this slavery and so women can claim their rights and take an active role in righting this wronged world. I am turning 30 this December - same age as Beatrice. My sister Beatrice - we speak out for you.

Thank you for speaking out and for sharing your story.

Much love,
Jade

Leina's picture

Dear Jade,

Dear Jade,
Thanks for going through my letter with keen interest.I feel elated to know there are hearts that care about what women in forgotten areas of the world are going through.
Much Love
Leina

Judith Walker's picture

Letter to President Obama

Dear Leina,

I hope you will send a copy of this wonderful letter to Michelle Obama, too. This may help ensure that President Obama sees and reads it. And read it, he must!

Thank you for so eloquently stating what the world has ignored for so long. Thank you for your voice!

Judy

Judy

“I am only one. But still I am one. I cannot do everything. But still I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.” – Edward Everett Hale

Leina's picture

Dear Judy,

Dear Judy,
I am grateful for the time you took off in reading this.Please help me know how I can send it to Michelle Obama too.
Thanks
Leina

Dearest Leina,

Emie also brought up the suggestion of sending the letters to Michelle Obama in addition to the President, Secretary Clinton, and key US senators.

I think this is a great idea, and I will be putting together a separate package of letters addressed to the First Lady. So please know that your letter and your voice will reach her as well!

Love,
Jade

Leina's picture

Thanks Jade,

Thanks Jade,
I am happy you are making efforts to make our voices heard.I`d be happy if the American First lady knows about the plight of women in Cameroon.Thanks Jade for your support.

With Love
Leina

Daydri's picture

Thank you

so much for sharing this
and raising my awareness

my heart and hopes go out to you
strength, courage and change,
deidre*

Leina's picture

Dear daydri,

Dear daydri,
Thanks for the encouragement.We are comforted to know women all over the world are with us in this struggle.
Peace

frederica Maima David Gibson's picture

i am not sure, if it is late!

yvonne! Your letter to the president of the world could make the difference.. It is amazing , how time passes so soon..we are talking about gender violence gender equality women empowerment. When we are standing up for our rights. Yet men stay continued to play the games. We need the inner discipline. look right in the back! Cote d'ivoire, our women will sooner or littler be the victims.. Merry christmas to all. Let's pray for the world. Frederica.

Y'ello,
This my new email address freddiegibs@yahoo.com
note that freddygibs is no longer my email address as it was hacked,
Frederica,

Leina's picture

Dear Frederica,

Dear Frederica,
We continue to pray for a day when we shall no longer be seen as competitors with our dear men but as collaborators for the sake of the development of our planet.Thank you for finding this letter worth reading.
In solidarity

Leina's picture

Dear Frederica,

Dear Frederica,
We continue to pray for a day when we shall no longer be seen as competitors with our dear men but as collaborators for the sake of the development of our planet.Thank you for finding this letter worth reading.
In solidarity

gritona's picture

women's voices

Men have been claiming and too often been granted "superior" powers. In truth women are stronger, better, wiser and are determined to become the people who set the agenda for this world. The peaceful world men have never allowed, and cannot imagine.

We must stop honoring men's claims.
We must also insist upon meaningful actions from the men who claim to be our leaders until they can be replaced.

"President" Obama has been and continues to be and will be until he is stopped the world's foremost abuser of women.

Ask the women of Afghanistan
Ask the women of Iraq
Ask the women of Palestine
Ask all the women in the Global South

Do not be deceived by pretty speeches. Or by any "laws" or resolutions he may sign or agree to.
Please understand that before the ink is dry he will order another air strike against the women of Afghanistan and Pakistan. An attack by unmanned robotic drones.
he will say he is killing some imaginary enemy.
but under the bombs, targeted for death, are women and children

pauli siemering

jazzyjax's picture

women's voices

So where do we go to really have our voices heard if the most powerful man in America can not hear us?! Sending the letter to Michelle is a most viable idea; will she read it and do something!!?? Prayer is a mighty warrior! I stand with all of you as we come against this enemy!!! May God show us the right people to contact. I have only ready about the atrocities against women and chilren and went on a global exchange trip to east and west Africa in 2002. I am involved with several ministries to aid women and children stateside. I hope to be a voice for the voiceless....abuse of any kind.... wherever and whenever the opportunity arises! I have powerful contacts in areas of Africa to help make a difference. I stand with all of you! Jaxie Julian

JazzyJax

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