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Synopsis of the V-Africa Summit: One Billion Rising to End Violence Against Women in Africa

Synopsis of the V-Africa Summit: One Billion Rising
to End Violence Against Women in Africa

Everyday a girl child or a woman is crying because of the pain she is going through. She has been betrayed by the adults she trusted most, the one she loved and believed in. Nobody seems to hear her cry, noticed that she is sobbing from a deep emotional lost. She has lost hope in life. She is not safe at home, on the street, in the institution or society at large. She has been labelled, her image tarnished, she has been silenced, yet no one seems to care about the perpetrators. It is the plight of girls and women in such situations that is a concern for many women’s rights activists and young girls who have found their voices and are Rising and speaking out to put an end to violence against women.

In the last week of August 2012, representatives from 18 African Countries converged in Nairobi, Kenya, to regain their voices, rise up to the challenge that they can no longer be silenced. They have regained their confidence that they are not victims of violence against women but survivors with dignity and courage.

V-Day in the bid to rise up to the challenge that violence can no longer be condoned, with support from Skoll Foundation created the space for African women to kick start the One Billing Rising Event scheduled for 14th February 2013. This is to tell the world that while it watches and perpetrators of evil butcher, maim, rape, mutilate, and kill women and girls one by one and in groups, those who survived will no longer keep quiet. The One Billion women and girls are Rising up and those who belief that having a vagina is not a crime are joining them to tell the world that they shall sing, dance and stay strong together to end Violence perpetrated on them simply because they have a Vagina. Forgetting that it is Vagina that gives pleasure and it is the route through which human beings enter this world. The V-Africa Summit made it possible for women to share their stories, regained self confidence and motivated to show love and care for each other. Women have inspired girls and girls found hope.

It was a forum that revealed that when men hear Vagina Monologue, they think pornography but just to realized that it is the statements of abused women, who have been raped, sexually abused, forced into sex slavery, those who have been subjected to Female genital Mutilation, those who hated what men did to them so much that they no longer trust any man to have sexual pleasure or love. The Vagina Monologue makes men to realize that they have not listened, showed love, care and trust to women and girls. It makes men to realize that in fact they have to rise up to show that they care about the sufferings of their mothers, sister, nieces and neighbours.

V-Day Founder, Eve Ensler beliefs in African Women and men to uproot sexual violence that destroys women’s bodies and dignity and noted that V-Day is a movement expanding to end violence against women and for women to regain control over their bodies, whether at home or in the workplace. Patriarchy has to be dismantled and the gate keepers re-oriented to realize that they can reshape the world by speaking out to protect the vagina from all forms of sexual violence.

Dr. Isatou Touray, Executive Director of GAMCOTRAP was amongst the African women activists who share the work of their organizations. She shared experience on the work her organization is doing with survivors of FGM are dealing with culture and religion in echoing the voices of women to end isolation and to consolidate women’s solidarity.

One of the Expert Gynaecologists and V-Day Godfather, Dr. Denis Mukwege of the Democratic Republic of Congo reported that rape has been used as weapon against women. He highlighted that “women’s security is at risk when rape is used as a war strategy for our enemies to give in.” With his 15 years of experience as a gynaecologist, Dr, Mukwege has report that after 12 years of his service, forty thousand (40,000) women have been treated from rape. Indeed women’s bodies have been used to settle disputes, yet the survivors of such inhumane acts are forced to silence to protect family honour and name, or society at large. It is okay for men to rape girls and women, but it is immoral for women to tell their story of how they have been raped in public.

Other powerful presentations were made by women’s rights activists and how they have been coping and strategising to protect women from Violence and abuses. It was an opportunity to share the stories and experiences of victims and survivors of violence and all forms of brutalities affecting women and children in conflict and war situations as well as in traditional settings like the home, office and community.

The V-Africa summit made it possible for women and girls to realize how solidarity and unity of purpose can bring political gains for women. Women have to realize the power of their numbers and support each other and impose political will on men and leaders to end the sexual atrocities vetted on women and girls.

As we are rising to say no to FGM, forced and early marriage, rape and all forms of sexual violence whether it takes place in the bedroom, the backyards, on the street or an institution, there are many more untold testimonies. Do not look far; it could be your daughter, sister, niece or even your mother who have been quiet for so long because of how she suffered rape, sexual abuse, effects of FGM and you have never stop to think it is possible. Rise up and say “I have found my voice and I have the courage to say no more sexual violence.”

Indeed, the participants of the V- Africa Summit made a declaration to remind their leaders that so many Conventions and Protocols have been signed and it is time to Rise up and take action to protect women and girls, for they are equal citizens and deserve to be protected from all forms of violence especially those targeting the Vagina as a weapon and a site to settle disputes, whether for power rooted in culture and tradition, political or economic power.

Prepared by GAMCOTRAP

September 4th 2012