Why fight against sexual violence must be a collective effort

I t has been established that sexual violence is a huge societal problem and as such, it is time for a holistic approach being advocated as cure to be fashioned in a way that everyone will know that they have a role to play. This is because at present, the mindset of people towards it is that it is the work of a few who are tagged as feminists and usually seen as extremists against.

It is however a fact that for any meaningful success to be recorded, everyone in the society needs to lend a voice for the few advocates to be heard. It should be a collective effort if the fight against sexual violence will be won Indeed, the society as a whole needs to jump on board the campaign against sexual violence. Everyone has a role; young, old, boy, girl. It is a battle that cuts across gender, age, status or religion. Each individual has a part to play before success can be achieved.

All voices must sing the same tune and at high pitches too, because sexual violence is fast becoming a norm that if it is not curbed it will be seen as a way of life by future generations. For the narrative to change, the voices must be louder and efforts must be collective. Everyone must be an agent of change through sensitisation and reorientation in their little corner. Little drops, they say, make an ocean.

If this menace is not seen as a societal challenge and faced headlong by all, no public or private space will be safe for the people, especially women and young girls who are now subjects of predatory fantasies by perverts.

Majorly, for the societal effort to succeed there is need to involve two dimensions. Two classes of people must join the campaign, the children and youths because they must be caught young before they become set in their ways and also hold the belief that it is not their problem until it happens to them or someone close. Also, men should be an integral part of the campaign against sexual violence because once they lend a voice, the message will move far. This is mainly because the upbringing and culture of many is permissive of abuses from men but if fellow men rise, they will be more receptive to the message.

It is a challenge for all as its effects cut across various spheres of life and ultimately affect not only the victims but people around them. While feminists and child advocates as well as nongovernmental organisations are doing a wonderful job and have indeed put the issue on the front burner of public discourse and there is now more public awareness than years back, there is need for collaborations and more hands to reach the adamant who hold on to permissive culture with inhumane bias.

The effects of sexual violence or abuses are too telling on the society than to leave it for women and few advocates alone to tackle. It requires the attention of all and a systematic and planned collaboration between different segments to make a difference.

No one should be overlooked or relegated as unimportant because each individual has a sphere of influence. Consequently, involving groups hitherto exempted or overlooked, like youths and especially, men of all ages, will hinder progress.

Patriarchy is a major challenge that allows sexual abuse to thrive because the society gives men the power to behave in certain ways that encourage sexual abuse. So, when men see their peers talking about such issues, it has more effect and they are more likely to be receptive to such messages than when it comes from women who are usually mislabeled and seen as asking for too much, being too forward and lacking in submission as dictated by religion or culture and treated like bad women who will mislead other women.

Men do not have to keep quiet until it happens to someone close to them. A stitch in time, they say, saves nine. Men are major stakeholders because they have women in their household that may become victims at the workplace or in school. For a campaign to succeed, everyone has a role to play.

The incontrovertible fact is that many men in the African society need to as a matter of importance unlearn some bias and religious tenets that were part of their upbringing and which reinforce sexual abuse. Men cannot afford to be silent as they can also be victims directly or indirectly.



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