THE RULE OF LAW
My vision for my life is to use my skills to open the pandora's box of unreported incidents of gender based violence (GBV). I want to expose the enormity of the problem, so that governments will be compelled to create fair, strong, objective laws and judicial systems, and to ensure that they have adequate mechanisms in place to enforce the Rule of Law.
I imagine a world where each country has an accessible, independent and transparent legal system with laws which everyone, including the government, follows, and where every person feels empowered to step in when they witness assault and abuse.
How do we realise this vision in a world where GBV is one of the most chronically under reported crimes, as most cases of domestic violence are not reported to the police?
From a world where one in every four women experiences domestic violence in her lifetime; where 30% to 60% of perpetrators of intimate partner violence also abuse children in the household; where boys who witness domestic violence are twice as likely to abuse their own partners and children when they become adults? (www.ncadv.org/files/DomesticViolenceFactSheet(National).pdf)
How do I fulfil my vision in the here and now, starting in my country, S.Africa, which is dubbed the 'rape capital' of the world; where every 17 seconds a woman is raped and it is estimated that a woman born there has a greater chance of being raped than learning how to read; and where more than a quarter of men admit to raping someone? (http://www.change.org/petitions/south-africa-follow-words-with-action-ag...)
When the Domestic Violence Act was amended in S Africa a few years ago to increase the amount of help available from police and the courts, the government said that there was no money to provide shelters for abused women and children. Our local police station commander who was asked to protect women when they went to collect their belongings from violent partners, said that 'the police don't have the time to act as a taxi service' for women and children.
If things are to change, then the world needs to hear about the 80% of incidents of abuse which do not get reported. We need to collect figures about the When, Where, How and to Whom.
I would like to start collecting such data through mobile phones. S.Africa is a good place to start, for mobile phones are 'in the hands of everyone ….96% of the country's population being covered by mobile telephony', according to mobileactive - and that was in 2006.
My dream can become a reality as a VOF Correspondent. We can compile these figures, we can map them out with the help of applications on Web 2.0 and ensure that they are splashed across the headlines of the world, through portals and into halls of power.
I know that I have a lot to learn, but there are some things I already know. As a lawyer, I know a bit about international law, which is binding upon nations. My longterm vision is that together we can make changes to that law, so that all nations will be forced to uphold the Rule of Law to ensure the extinction of GBV through parliament, the police, political structures of prevention and social structures of protection.
As a VOF Correspondent I shall learn about available United Nations platforms, procedures and campaigns, about treaties and charters, which can be accessed to amplify the voice of the women from the ground up.
And I shall be supported with tracking of trends, which feed into the Database of Violence Against Women, where we shall be encouraged to continue to collect, use, disseminate and analyse data.
I shall be shown how to strengthen the UN Secretary General's “UNiTE to end violence against women” campaign, to find opportunities for exchange of experiences and good practices and influence policy.
And I shall learn how to find the money, through organisations such as the Violence Against Women Trust Fund, and other organisations which support the implementation of existing laws, policies and action plans that address violence against women and girls.
My vision is to be the media correspondent who keeps the spotlight on GBV until it is eradicated from our world.