Violence against women and girls is one of the most prevalent human rights violations in the world, including in Eswatini. It affects every woman and girl irrespective of their economic status, race, religion and age, yet it remains masked in a culture of silence. Survivors of violence can suffer physical or mental health consequences, unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections and even death. We have seen a lot of women and girls dying on the hands of abusers and it is time we call an end to femicide. With COVID-19, the situation has been exacerbated and we have seen an increase in cases that have been reported on daily bases through the media, police and NGOs.
It is appalling that a majority of women and girls are abused this way in Eswatini. It’s hard to think about something else when there are such serious causes to fight for on behalf of women in the country. According to the UN report, In Eswatini, gender-based violence is a persistent challenge, disproportionately affecting women and girls with approximately 1 in 3 females having experienced some form of sexual abuse by age 18 years, and 48 per cent of women reporting to have experienced some form of sexual violence in their lifetime.
Women deserve dignity, respect and equality. No one should be exploited by anyone, anywhere. Everyone should have the opportunity to flourish. Perhaps one can think it’s naive to think that such a simple statement can change anything, but to us it matters. And we will keep saying it over and over again.
As we continue to Rise to end violence against women, it is imperative now for us to expand our understanding of women’s oppression and exploitation in the context of capitalism, colonization, racism, imperialism, environmental plunder and war. We have been compartmentalized and divided for too long. Our Rising must now connect our specific oppression to the common universal humanity that binds us all. This is no less than a way of life, a way of seeing, and a way of being in the world. It is not one day that we rise, but every day that this consciousness must rise in all we do.
According to Monique Wilson, One Billion Rising Global Director- “As a global movement, we are collectively coming into the time and space where we can no longer end violence against women, without looking at all the intersecting issues and layers of this violence, as well as what violence towards women and girls means in this context, and ensuring that these are all equally centered and made visible in our efforts”
What we can do?
In all the positions we hold in Government, our communities and work places, we are placed in the unique positions to also be advocates against violence to women and girls. As we are trying to recover the economy of the country, let us be reminded that violence against women limits their chances to participate freely and equally on economy growth. We must build a generation that will dismantle the culture of violence. The justice system’s response to gender based violence needs to be improved. After so many cases of violence that have been reported, women dying on the hands of abusers, we still see a lot of cases where survivors are denied justice.
Special About One Billion Rising
What is special about One Billion Rising is its positive energy and inclusiveness. It’s about creating solidarity. Every year thousands of people gather at events in Eswatini to share stories, confirm their commitment to end all types of violence against women and girls, and join together in high-spirited dance. We have seen women who leave an abusive partner, a rape survivor taking the stage and telling her story after years of silence, a man whose eyes are opened to rape culture and who pledges to living a life dismantling it, girls watch their mothers reclaim their space and young boys dancing in the streets calling an end to violence against women and girls.
About One Billion Rising
One Billion Rising is the biggest mass action to end violence against women (cisgender, transgender, and those who hold fluid identities that are subject to gender-based violence) in human history. The campaign, which launched on Valentine’s Day 2012, began as a call to action based on the staggering statistic that 1 in 3 women on the planet will be beaten or raped during her lifetime. With the world population at 7 billion, this adds up to more than ONE BILLION WOMEN AND GIRLS. We rise through dance to express joy and community and celebrate the fact that we have not been defeated by this violence. We rise to show we are determined to create a new kind of consciousness – one where violence will be resisted until it is unthinkable.
We cannot beat fascists, rapists and climate deniers on their terms. We will never be that cruel, discompassionate or murderous. We cannot let ourselves be changed by or sunk in their cynicism, hatred, divisions and destruction.
What we can do is remember we are the many and we can raise the vibration through action, art, connection, imagination and love.
Solidarity remained the focus of One Billion Rising, Joining the emergence of other anti-women, anti-people leaders around the world, we saw mass OBR global risings with other social movements as well as deep and ongoing engagements creating a vigorous solidarity and dynamic energy to a rising resistance everywhere. This included the advocacy of women’s rights, the protection and defense of indigenous lands and the rights of indigenous peoples, discrimination and racism, environmental plunder and destruction, corporate greed, economic violence, poverty, war and militarisms.
One Billion Rising