BY JOSEPHINE IGBINOVIA
While the world celebrated Valentines Day a couple of days ago, women the world over did something eccentric: wearing a touch of red, they rose, danced, walked out and demanded an end to violence against women and girls. The unifying mantra was “Rise for Justice” though, in various countries, the event tagged ‘One Billion Rising’ highlighted sub-themes that portrayed the struggles of women in terms of nationality and continent.
While thousands of events reportedly took place worldwide with street protests, the global campaign also trended on social media with women and girls dropping revolutionary remarks and uploading pictures of themselves with the one hand ‘I Arise’ signal. One of those tweets that caught Feminista’s fancy was by Toyin Saraki, former First Lady of Kwara State, who wrote: “I rise because #VAW is injustice, I rise because #VAW is discriminatory, I rise because I say NO to #VAW #1billionrising”
A year ago, during the first day of action of the campaign, campaigners in 207 countries rose and danced to highlight the widespread nature of abuse, emphasizing the United Nation’s assertion which estimated that at least one in three women is beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused by an intimate partner in the course of her lifetime. Worldwide, it is estimated that one in five women will become a victim of rape or attempted rape.
This year, the campaign has shifted its focus to demand justice for victims of violence. Eve Ensler, author and founder of the campaign, in an online report, said the campaign was designed to unite local needs with a global support network.
She said: “It’s easy to feel alone and isolated. What global solidarity does is to create energy around these campaigns, which are self-directed and autonomous. This campaign has become “unstoppable”. It started in the community but it has invigorated the women’s movement and brought coalitions together with a real impact in every direction.”
A centre idea behind the choice of date for the campaign, according to sources, is to get the world to stop and think about love- love and respect for mankind which rationally should include women.
Spain moves to restrict access to abortion
If a proposed law presently being pushed by Spanish Members of Parliament, MPs, is eventually endorsed, women and girls in Spain will have to either retain unwanted pregnancies or employ the services of quacks if abortion becomes inevitable.
The bill which has faced heavy criticisms from women groups in the country since it was tabled last December by the governing People’s party was a couple of days ago voted by the MPs for advancement in a secret ballot initiated by the Socialist Parliamentary Group which sought to abort the move.
Widely attacked by women’s groups as a step backwards, the changes will make abortion illegal except in the case of rape or when there is a risk to the physical and mental health of the mother. Any woman wanting an abortion would require two doctors to verify these circumstances.
Last week saw hundreds of Spanish women walk into regional government offices demanding that their bodies be entered in commercial registries, normally reserved for cars and airplanes. Activists explained to confused bureaucrats that they wanted official certification that their bodies belong to them.
EU condemns Afghan law that would silence battered women
In less than two weeks, women in Afghanistan may face battering with unabated impunity if President Hamid Karzai does not veto a law which would restrict prosecutions for domestic and child abuse.
The draft which has been described by the European Union as a backward step while activists warn there are few days left to stop it from coming into force, is implied in a new criminal prosecution code which will bar relatives from testifying against each other. In effect, this will put justice out of reach for victims of domestic violence, forced marriage or child abuse.
A final draft was completed last week and has been sent by parliament to President Hamid Karzai, according to an international diplomat who is following the progress of the legislation, a report by the Guardian UK says.
Under the Afghan constitution, if Karzai does not veto it within 15 days, the law will come into force by default.