where there is a will there is a way
Over the years three issues have touched my heart dearly, the abuse of women in marriages, abuse of girls and the silence over these issues. I could not get over the reason why my mother stayed with my father even though he was unfaithful. she had many opportunities but stayed and lived a bitter life, holding on quietly as she had been taught, I wish she had thought about her life and her happiness. When I got older, I understood why she said nothing. This was a society that lashed out at people who spoke out and once divorced you are stigmatised. blame is on the woman and many suffer silently like my mother. The final straw was when a colleague committed suicide because of her husband’s infidelity. She did not speak out and when she sought help in the church they told her she had a senior position and could not be divorced though the husband had moved out. the family felt there was no sense in her moving out at her age. There was nowhere to go. No one was offering help but a prescribed silence. The answer they said was to bear her burdens like a woman by keeping quiet.
I was touched by the story of my neighbours niece, an orphaned five year old girl who was raped by her fathers’ friend because she wanted food. The man was not in jail regardless of the evidence, he was bribing the police. The investigation insinuated that there was provocation by the girl which led to the rape but how does a five year old innocent girl provoke a 54 year old man. Many girls are abused by family members and what hurts is that women are responsible for keeping these matters secret. In many cases of abuse women interfere with the law and perpetrators go free. the women lack empowerment and when they report cases they withdraw them because of fear and dependency.
I wanted to help women get a voice. I started working with pupils at my school to educate them on gender issues and abuse. Counselling sessions I had with the girls proved a lot of unreported abuses. I realised change begins with the women and it has a trickling down effect and will transfer to the girls.
My vision is to see a world were women take responsibility for their lives, speaking out about their problems and abuse. Women need to be empowered socially and economically to fight stereotypes and inequality.
VOF inspired me because I felt that the problems women face are universal and when we share ideas, we share and shape the future.my vision is for women to have a place of hope where they are not judged but listened to. A support structure to discuss their problems, access help twenty four hours a day, get support and counselling whilst networking with other women, get life skills, education and a chance to create their destiny. Through VOF our voices will be heard.