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Pass The International Violence Against Women Act.

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Dear President Obama,

Women in my community,country and the world continue to suffer.This is a summary of a true story-of what i experienced and is experienced by other women every day:

I was only 25.My son was 5 and my daughter 3 when my husband died.This became the beginning of a continuos tragedy-endless abuses for me and my children along the years.This was in August,1999.

After the burial of my husband i thought i would continue with a "normal" life of a widow,but that was never to be.

One morning,in December of 1999,at around 10:00am my brothers-in-law,accompanied by their wives,stormed into my house.They were 3 couples so they made a total of 6 and also accompanied by their three eldest sons.This made 6 men and 3 women.They demanded that i give them the title deed for my parcel of land that my husband had left behind.I told it was supposed to be in my custody and there was no way i was going to release it.They said i was not entitled to it because of two reasons-that i never brought the land with me when i came here to be married and that the relationship between me and them was over now that my husband had died.

Two of the men tied me up with a rope and started beating me up with big sticks.The rest of the group went into my bedroom.They broke my suitcase and took my husband's death certificate and title deed,left me still tied to the tree outside my door and left.

The children came out of their hiding place and my 5 year old son then came and untied me,using a knife to cut off the thick rope.He left me sitted there since i could not walk or move so they started crying around me.Later on they spotted a passer-by who came over and took me to the nearest public hospital.I requested this man,who was just a passer-by and unknown to me,to take my children to my sister's home meanwhile.So the children walked beside the bicycle as this man pushed me to hospital.

I was hospitalised for one week.After my discharge from the hospital i went and reported to the local chief.He was a member of the same family.He referred me back to the people who had molested me! He said that i had to go back and seek audience with my brothers-in-law before he could take up the case.I did so and they said if i wanted any audience with them then i had to be inherited first.(The true meaning of being inherited in this community means having sex with another man after the death of one's husband,regardless of whether you love him or not).

Meanwhile my sister was under pressure on the other end.Her husband said there was no way he was going to feed these children along with his.So i had to take my children back with me to the place i call home for i had no options.

When i got there i found my bedding,including the mattress missing and many of my other household items.I decided to talk to one of them to call them back so we could negotiate if i could come back and stay peacefully in my house without further attacks.

When we sat down they said that the top condition was for me to be inherited.I told them this was not possible as i had been tested when in hospital and found HIV Positive.They said this was a lie and i was only being uncooperative.They had already brought an inheritor who was waiting all along to do his work.This is a man who was married to two women and they left because he used to participate in the killing of anybody who was found "guilty" of any offences in the village.I refused.

When i went to the river to fetch water he brought his clothes and left them in my house.It was taboo for me to remove them as this meant he had booked the place and so nobody else would occupy it.I carried the clothes back to his home.

When i came back home the whole village told me that this was taboo and warranted me death togther with all my children.Later they said that they gave me a maximum of 3 months to live since i had double reasons to die: Performing what was taboo and being HIV Positive.They then said that henceforth i was not allowed to farm for i was going to die.

This was in the year 2000.I said i would continue with my life-farming inclusive.My eldest brother-in-law tilled my land without consent.He came for me in the evening.I ran into the house and locked myself in.He broke down the door,literally placing it down.He stormed in and properly beat me and slashed my hand with a machette.

His son sympathised with the situation and took me to hospital.I stayed there for two weeks and got stitches on my hand too.When i came from the hospital i could not go back to my house for it had no door.So i decided to go and stay elsewhere in a single room that is mud thatched.I then got myself work as a house-help.My children then started going to school in this new environment.

When i went to check on my house after a month i found all the ironsheets of the roof peeled off by my brother-in-law and had used them to build his own house,which stands to date.

10 years down the line,i still live in problems away from my own home.Justice was never realized.My title deed still remains in the hands of my in-laws.My children go to school and my son will finish his final year of high school next year.I still have no house.

If i was a man,it would be different.Women have no voice in my community.Now it is upto me to see how i can build which is not possible right now.They have vowed never to return the title deed before i put up a house.

Many women around me suffer the same.Mine is only a single case.We need justice.I don't seem to be able to get it without money to bribe the corrupt authorities.I need somebody to listen.

12 years since the death on my husband,nobody has been taken to book.I suffer out with my children because a woman has no say.

Afline.

Comments

Sarvina's picture

Hi Afline, Thank you so much

Hi Afline,

Thank you so much for writing this powerful letter. It is so sad to read your letter. I cried coz of reading it..your brothers-in-law are so bad. I understand your feeling, you must be difficult to meet all these problems thus I am so glad to hear that you are able to send your children to school. I am sure your voice this time will be heard globally. Wish you best of luck!!!

Love,
Sarvina

Regards,

Sarvina from Cambodia
VOF 2011 Correspondent

Afline's picture

Thank you,Sarvina

I feel confident to know that there are other women standing beside me and feeling with me.My children continue to go to school as my violators enjoy their free daily lives.I am sure when we raise our voices there shall be a change.

Thank you Sarvina.

Love,
Afline.

Breese's picture

With admiration...

Dear Afline,

Yours is a powerful story of hardships far too many women have also faced. When I lived in Zambia as a young girl, I heard similar stories about women and families when the husband died. But your story also demonstrates of courage, resilience, and determination. Against all odds, you managed to survive, take care of your family, and put your children all the way through high school.

The widespread inequality and injustice faced by women is a moral, economic, health, and human rights problem. It is detrimental to the greater community where it takes place. By not empowering women, a great resource for economic and social development is wasted.

Women hold great responsibility and importance in society – as caretakers of children, wage earners, community organizers, etc. There are countless examples of women like you who devote their time, energy, and resources to further education and development of their families and communities. Despite this, they continue to be disenfranchised, discriminated, abused, and exploited worldwide.

The International Violence Against Women Act is a great step towards recognizing the need to address this issue, and taking action to protect and support. It will initiate a more centralized, organized effort to protect women’s rights, and make it a foreign policy concern incorporated into the scopes of work of development assistance programs. This will provide more incentive to and/or requirements for governments and organizations receiving aid to enforce justice and support programs at the local as well as national level.

The statistics of rates of gender-based violence are grave, vast, and hard to grasp (according to Amnesty International, one in every three women worldwide has been physically or sexually abused), but it’s personal stories like yours that touch the heart. But these stories not only need to be heard, they need to be acted upon.

I commend and admire you for your strength.

-Breese

Afline's picture

Breese,

It is true that we need to get protection and support.We as women also need to be empowered in every possible way.I have personally undergone abuse,and i know how much suffering it can cause psychollogically even many years after.

Thank you for the support and encouragement.

Best-
Afline.

Tasher Rye's picture

Your strength is remarkable...

Dear Afline,

Your story is a profound and heart-wrenching account of the suffering you have endured which brings light to the very sobering reality of continuous violation of human rights, committed against women in many countries across the globe. Despite the drastic tribulations encountered, you have managed to provide for your children, give back to your community, and speak out to stop these violence's from reoccurring. For that I honor you for your strength, and commend you for your bravery.

Although the statistics alone are astonishing, it is stories like yours which illuminate the very real and horrific existence of the monstrosities we are facing against women world-wide. Women hold important roles in society, as care-takers, wage earners, and community decision makers, and their voices must be heard throughout. Often the deeply embedded threads of gender-based discrimination in some current social-economic and political structures, are hard to grasp across borders. Bringing voice to woman's abuse though accounts lived by survivors, captures the inhuman treatment of the oppressed, and effectively brings awareness to stop the violent and wide-spread war on woman's rights.

Passing the International Violence Against Women Act would draw attention to the existence of abuse against women worldwide. Gaining momentum, it would also provide a platform to assess the effectiveness of violence prevention measures and programs, current and future. Establishing woman's educational programs, public education campaigns, and changing community attitudes towards gender will receive international attention on the political agenda when this act is passed through congress. This necessary step will be celebrated when actualized, and is only made possible by the voice of women like you speaking their truth.

Your story has touched me personally. And your experience will pave the way for much needed change.

Warmly, and with admiration.

-Amanda

Afline's picture

Hello Amanda-

I would love to share with you once more that this change is much needed,and long overdue.This will bring more transparency and the lines will be clearcut.Before this,women will continue to suffer different forms of violence,and we don't need this any more.

Thank you for all the support.

Much love-
Afline.

Afline's picture

Hello Marcie,

Thank you.Even though we are abused our lives must continue.There should be a way to stop this form of violence so that women can lead lives free from abuse and intimidation.

Thank you for the support.With unity,i am sure we shall make it.

In solidarity and love-
Afline.

chelseadee's picture

Strength

Affine,
It no country in no place will it ever be okay for the abuse of a woman. While your past is painful and these peoples crimes unforgivable please continue to be a strong voice take there abuse and turn it into your own power. I have been through the american version of domestic abuse and found my voice in being strong against these abusers and lifting up my voice. Their attempt to push us down has only led to the rise of our spirits. I appreciate you and your story and my prayers are with you today and everyday and with the women of the world who face such dehumanization. These evil people will try and take away your humanity but let your soul be strengthened by your hardships. Thank you and Bless you

Afline's picture

It is true

that when we are oppressed our spirits rise.I am saddened to know that you,and many other women have experienced hardships in different forms.
Thank you for your prayers and support.I look forward to a world where women will not suffer any more,for any reason.

Be blessed,
Afline.

jadefrank's picture

IVAWA update

Dearest Afline,

Thank you for participating in the IVAWA letter writing campaign and for sharing your voice and your personal testimony with President Obama, Secretary Clinton, and members of the US Senate on the urgency of ending violence against women.

We sent copies of your letter in packages, along with your fellow PulseWire members', to these key decision makers, and I am excited to announce that on December 15, the International Violence Against Women Act was approved by the Foreign Relations Committee! Our voices were effective in supporting this bill!

Next step for the bill: Get passed by the Senate and House by the end of the year. I will keep you updated!

In friendship and solidarity,
Jade Frank

Online Community Manager
World Pulse

Afline's picture

hi Jade

Thank you for your comments,we shall share more concerning my life and to help in letting out the voices of women and girls.Thank you once again for the support.I also wish you A MERRY CHRISTMAS and A HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Warmest regards,
Afline.

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