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"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.

Comments

usha kc's picture

Dear Carlotta,, I appriciate

Dear Carlotta,, I appriciate your views . Being economically dependent means ,being always supressed. I also have experience how economical status play the role to be supressed. Nepalese women also facing the same problem and I think it's universal.

Carlotta's picture

Thank you Usha. I guess we

Thank you Usha. I guess we just have to raise our voices so that girls can get educated and that women get equal opportunities with men so that they will stay in marriages for love, not for any other reason.

Stella Paul's picture

Hats off!

I will be honest Carlotta. I get very annoyed when women always use the term 'they' (they get raped, they are uneducated, they are victims) instead of ever saying 'us'(we are victims, we are in trouble).

I see lack of courage in that. Sometimes I even smell hypocrisy (by not involving themselves, the women are trying be lady Tarzan - the pure, powerful savior of the scarred, powerless ones) and it makes me very angry at times.

And this is where I see your post standing out and I visualize you as someone who has not adopted this hypocrisy and instead has the guts to tell your own story

Hats off to you!

Much love!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

Carlotta's picture

thank you Stella Paul. The

thank you Stella Paul. The bible tells us that "whatsoever you do to the least of my brother, that you do unto me". And during our days as student activism we would shout "Injure one, injure all Comrades!!" So i think we should stand together not have some of us look from the outside.

MaDube's picture

Know it too well

Dear Carlotta

I think I have shared this with you before. I lost a sister to AIDS and so I understand your concerns very well. And yes it starts with financial dependence, which then silences the woman. The husband cheats and she cant confront him. She cant leave because society tells her to stay and face the music and she has nowhere to go to, or at least that is what she tells herself. She cant ask for use of protection because he does not want to and so she does what he wants. It is sad and we are losing so many young lives because of this. Speak my sister and give some of these women hope. You might save lives that could be lost like my sister's.

Carlotta's picture

i have a lot of female

i have a lot of female relatives that have lost their lives or are living with HIV because of this and because society is harsh on those who are not married as well as those who leave their marriages. Time for a change of attitude!

Nezed's picture

Not just relatives and

Not just relatives and cousins.. Nowaday, we have girls been raped by their own fathers! and fathering their daughters children... There seem to be no end to the crime against women. Thanks Carlotta for speaking out... We shall win this war!

I do not aim for Perfection; Just excellence!

Monica Clarke's picture

God bless you Carlotta

Dear Carlotta

I cry so for our children in Africa, our children in the world, when I hear stories like the one you have related. Oh dear Carlotta, I will work and pray that I shall see our African families respect their women as we respect our men when they are honourable and supportive.

I am proud to be your friend in WorldPulse and I hope that we shall meet when (not if) I come back to my home country again.

Lots of loving and keep up your hard work and words.

Monica

Monica Clarke, Writer & Storyteller, bringing human rights alive.
I wish you 'Nangamso', that is: May you continue to do the good work which you do so well.
(A blessing from my ancestors, the Khoikhoi, the first people of South Africa).

Carlotta's picture

Oh thank you so much Monica.

Oh thank you so much Monica. it would be great to see a great woman like you....WHEN you come home.

YAOtieno's picture

Frustration

Hi Carlotta,

Thanks for articulating the issues that we as women face in Africa when it comes to sex and reproductive health. Indeed it seems like we are mostly caught between a rock and a hard place, Your husband cheats, society forces you to stay, if you leave you are rejected. You stay and get sick, society once more stigmatizes you!!! Still we are are not hopeless Pulswire is giving us a chance to speak up and speak out!

Thanks for raising your voice

Y

A candle looses nothing my lighting another

Carlotta's picture

Thanks very much Y for saying

Thanks very much Y for saying it even better than I did. The sad thing is when we say 'society' we are also talking about women who take a very active part in persecuting some of their own, instead of being supportive.

zoneziwoh's picture

Carlotta, i deeply lack words

Carlotta, i deeply lack words to express my sincere feeling about the situation. you have raise a very important point and it is absolutely the truth. as much as i agree with Stella Paul's remark on this issue of the " other " which i believe is her argument but again, you know in this social science world, we are taught to write in the 3rd persons. and more often than not, we apply those principles in most of our writing journals. Permit me share with you a personal experience, and even up to now - it truly puts in a high level of confusion at time. Like I said in my VOF 2, I had a college background in Pure Science, later on, I diverted into Social Science and later on into Social Science (Political) + Feminist actions/theories. Now, in the pure sciences, it is assumption, language is not an issue, we are more interested in formulas and principles. That is not a great problem per say - now in the social sciences, goodness! i was told not to use words like 'I, me..etc.' but in the feminist school, I am told to use "i, me..etc" my sister, i tell you, when do i use I and she? When both my social sciences and feminist theories are interlinked. so this is really a serious problem in academics and it may raises sensitive feelings at time.

That aside, let me react to your article. I think, there is something to be done about this act. I have always believed that women economic empowerment is a source route to ensure that women participate and their voice be heard. But as you know our patriarchs will definitely misinterpreted the concept of women's economic empowerment for threatening and insecurity against the men.

this is a beautiful and rich essay. Thank you so much for sharing your story.

Stay Blessed

Zoneziwoh

Blog: http://zofem.blogspot.com/

facebook: Zoneziwoh

twitter: @ZoFem

Carlotta's picture

Thanks Zoneziwoh. I

Thanks Zoneziwoh. I understand your predicament on whether to use first or third person narrative. At the top of this page are the words "No one speaks for me. I speak for myself". So do not worry about the background you are from, just write from your heart, Dear, whichever way. And thanks for finding some value in my article. Best wishes for week 4.

fem4femmes's picture

Talking out loud...

Dearest Carlotta,

Your words are loud and powerful today! I think that we have each experienced moments of stunned silence when our voices were necessary... that burden is heavy and nearly impossible to unload. We have all had moments that do not live up to our desired integrity, but it is our ability to bear that and use that extra weight to strengthen us that determines our true dignity.

And so I want to honor you and express my pride at hearing the clarity of your voice today. It is never too late to speak and make a difference!

Singing & shouting out loud with you today!!

marissa

"I am the flicker, flame, butterfly ablaze who wants to fly in search of mythical rainbows beyond the rain." ~ Ana Castillo

Carlotta's picture

Oh. thanks so much for the

Oh. thanks so much for the lovely response, Marissa. I really do appreciate it.

Gertrude Bvindi's picture

I identify

I identify with your article, i was unable to get out of an abusive relationship because i was financially dependent on him. I knew nothing else and noone else, and after all i had gone through with him i felt noone else wanted to be with me, and that noone would accept me if i ever left him. To be ruthlessly honest, right now, he come back and goes, but i think i now have more control over what happens. I am working and have an income, it not much,but its money i make for myself. I have also realiesd that making a decision to stand up for yourself can only but bring progress in anyone's life.

Gertrude Bvindi

Carlotta's picture

Thanks for the comment. Abuse

Thanks for the comment. Abuse is bad in any form but sometimes it's probably what jump-starts women to realise they are capable of and deserve much more. We should work at making women stand on their own feet before the abuse even comes.

gaurav.nakhare's picture

Dearest Carlotta, Wow! Your

Dearest Carlotta,

Wow! Your article is a real eye-opener, and I salute your strength in being able to relate to personal instances. I hope that you continue on the path to 'talking about this till it ceases to become a taboo'.

Keep up the great work!

Gaurav Nakhare
WP Listener

Carlotta's picture

Thank you Gaurav for you

Thank you Gaurav for you comment. i hope to continue writing even after the competition has come to an end. I have learnt so much from the ladies here as well as from myself through writing.

mrbeckbeck's picture

Wow

Wow Carlotta, what a wonderful piece.

Thank you for sharing your very personal testimony here with us. It is nice to see your courage and vision for a world where people can move beyond fear and silence.

Once people feel free to speak, and are heard with compassion, they are healed. Together we grow stronger.

Thank you again, and I look forward to watching your work here on PulseWire.
Best,
Scott

Scott Beck
World Pulse Online Community Manager

Carlotta's picture

Thanks a lot Scott, i

Thanks a lot Scott, i appreciate your reading, it makes me want to write more. You will continue to hear from me and i hope to grow in my writing.

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