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venerdì 21 novembre 2014
African Women Demand an End to Abuse
"They are stripping us, raping us, killing us and it must stop NOW!". Women and men from countries across Africa attending the 9th Africa Regional Conference on Women Beijing +20 Review in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia vehemently condemn the continuous and unacceptable acts of abuse, violence and discrimination towards girls and women across the continent. We strongly demand an end to these acts of injustice and impunity faced by victims and survivors that are being reported in greater numbers across Africa.
We are appalled and heartbroken that over seven months after hundreds of girls were abducted in Chibok, Nigeria, and despite knowing their whereabouts, the girls are yet to be returned safely to their families. We continue to agitate for their immediate and safe return.
The case of 4 year old Anita Osebe Moi who was gang-raped and subsequently died of physical and psychological trauma in Kisii, Kenya haunts our consciousness.
As reports of women being stripped in public in both Kenya and Tanzania emerged, hundreds took to the streets in Nairobi earlier this week to take a stand against the violations of women's bodily integrity and dignity. Despite local and global media coverage of the campaign and emerging political will to address the issue, the very next day, another incident of public stripping was reported – a testament to the deeply entrenched culture of impunity that pervades our societies.
Another case has been reported in Uganda, of Harriet who was incessantly assaulted by her ex-boyfriend that she suffered a crack in her chest that has refused to heal despite three surgeries.
It is with great sorrow and outrage that we received word of the kidnapping, brutal gang rape and resultant death of 16 year old Hanna Lalango, an Ethiopian school girl that was abducted by five men who attempted to extort her family while brutally sexually assaulting her. Hanna's injuries were so grievous that even attending doctors were hard pressed to contain their horror. Despite Hanna's severe injuries and being in the grips of post traumatic stress causing her nightmares, she nevertheless had the courage to identify some of the perpetrators. Despite her bravery, Hanna is no more, having succumbed to her injuries. The perpetrators of this hideous crime are today before the Court.
There is a clear upsurge in violent crimes being committed against African women in a seeming backlash against progress, feminism and human rights. This is despite progressive regional and national frameworks that are in place – namely; the African Union Protocol on the Rights of Women and the Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa which have strong provisions against violence and discrimination against women and girls.
We as citizens and institutions of conscience, condemn in the strongest possible terms, these horrendous acts which are an affront to our collective humanity. We strongly call upon all actors to recognize and address not simply the symptoms but the causes behind these dehumanizing and cruel acts. The justice system and law enforcement at all levels must commit to preventing these violent crimes, and meting out due justice.
Hanna, Anita and countless others no longer have a voice, their lives having been brutally cut short. If nothing else, this must bring us together in a clarion call to rise up in outrage for our fellow human beings, our sisters, daughters, mothers and wives who are brutalized, abused, tortured and murdered. We can no longer stand idly by, cognizant that the cases mentioned are but a few – with countless more which are unheard, unreported and neglected.
It alarms us that whilst we congregate in the 'corridors of power' 20 years after the progressive Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action for Women's Human rights, the women and girls that we have pledged to protect continue to be victimized with impunity.
The world will no longer hear the roar of our silence, but will hear the thunder of our action.