— Voicing out the silence
By Decontee E. George, Young Professional, YMCA
The challenges of life and war of inequalities are the increasing battle of a girl child. We live in a world that is rapidly growing in increased crime rate and vulnerabilities. While there have been some gains made in addressing these issues, inequalities continue to create limited space for girls and deprive them of their basic rights and opportunities. In the last ten years, world organizations have strived to institute policies like the UN 1325 resolution, “He For She campaign,” SDG Goal # 5 all of which call for the adoption of a gender perspective to consider the special needs of women and girls.
Though violence against women is illegal, the level of domestic violence and sexual assault remain significantly high. The Human Development Index reports that Liberia has a Gender Inequality Index rank of 143 out of 147. According to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), this index is a composite measure to quantify the loss of achievements within a country due to gender inequality. The gender perspective in this article has tended to focus on a girl because they are more structurally subordinated and disadvantaged within existing systems.
As a way of creating a safe space to tackle gender issues, parents and community need to build the emotional intelligence of the girl child to be prepared for the challenges ahead. When you are in a battle with unknown enemies, you would need sufficient information and be fully equipped. Adolescence can be tough enough to get through without questions of sex, sexuality, and sexual identity. But adolescents are humans too — no matter how alien they may seem to their parents at times. Openly addressing the all-too-human questions of sexual development, sexual desire, and the nature of the adolescent’s developing sexual identity are critical. Sharing practical information with and giving good moral guidance to your teenager is a vitally important part of helping your teen understanding themselves. It can help your child avoid devastating, and possibly life-threatening errors and judgment.
In contrast, I refer to this early adolescence as a dangerous period in youths’ sexual development, because of the inter-relationship between sexual, mental and emotional developments. Youth at this age lack such development that is necessary to make wise and healthy decisions regarding their sexuality making them ill-prepared to cope with consequences of sexual activity. The acute consequences of sexual abuse for female victims include physical injury, sexually transmitted infections/diseases (STIs/STDs), and psychological trauma with the added danger of unwanted pregnancy that in some cases lead to abandonment, abortion and or death.
Learn to start a conversation with your girl child without judging her, many at times parents/guidance are so engulfed with working hard to provide their basic needs, send them to expensive schools amongst others and giving daily instructions, but not asking ourselves, how well do you know your girl child, what are the daily struggles she is going through? What is the intention of the way she is dressing? Are you concern about the very short uniforms the High schools are producing our girls’ children? To succeed in this fight of gender-based violence and inequality, the parent needs to stand up from home to keep the girl child disciplined, safe and happy from the onset.
When you compromise her pride and molest her because of fear, ignorance, circumstances, etc, know that she lives in secret pain for life and if justice cannot prevail now because of the system and even perpetrators might be in the position of decision making, this should in no way discourage us. We have made significant gains along the way and we are not deterred, justice delayed may not be justice denied.
Join the fight against violence of all forms against women and girls today. Save our girls and make the community a safe place for them to grow.
Happy International Women’s Day.