"In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends." Martin Luther King Jr
The issues I am most sensitive about are AIDS, child-rape, cultural injustices and women’s financial dependence on men. The biggest challenge to creating change where these issues are concerned is the deafening silence from society as well as victims’ fear to destroy marriages and family bonds, fear which ends up muzzling them.
Because most African women are financially dependent on men, they find it hard to stand up to them especially when it comes to their reproductive health. A woman who knows that her husband is promiscuous will not be able to negotiate for safe sex for fear of getting divorced which would result in financial difficulties. It is because of this lack of negotiating power that women find themselves contracting HIV, even when they were aware that it could come their way because of their husbands’ errant ways.
I always tell the women close to me that when they suspect promiscuity on the part of their husbands they should insist on safe sex and HIV tests. Most of them agree but they say they would never be able to do that. Our African culture and Christian religion dictate that a woman be subservient to her husband but I do not see the point of being subservient it is going to lead you to an early grave. Women are also afraid of losing their status in society if they get divorced so they would rather suffer in silence than risk being frowned upon for being divorced. It is very hard to try to reason with a woman who believes that things are exactly how they should be.
My sister has an emotionally abusive husband and is unemployed. I encouraged her to create employment for herself since she is very creative. Now she makes such lovely things for interior décor and even though she is not a millionaire yet, she told me that getting a little income has given her her voice back and she does not have to grovel to her husband anymore for money.
Countless girls are raped by their relatives and people keep quiet about it to avoid shaming the family or the perpetrator going to jail. My orphaned cousin got raped by our uncle. Instead of people reporting him to the police, they sent her to live with an aunt in a different town. I felt the injustice but I felt incapacitated to do anything since the elders in the family ensured no-one breathed a word of it. I have never stopped feeling guilty for being silent and I have not stopped resenting my uncle. I feel that by being silent, we all raped her. I could have made an anonymous call to the police.
I see Pulsewire helping to spread the word in encouraging people to assist abused children, encourage women to stand up against promiscuous husbands so that they do not continue to be infected by HIV and leave behind helpless children. When people begin to talk about something, it ceases to be taboo.