By Jeshua Bardoo
According to the World Health Organization, “about 1 in 3 (35%) of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime”.
Under article 1 of the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment, and Eradication of Violence against Women, a convention which St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) has ratified, “violence against women shall be understood as any act or conduct, based on gender, which causes death or physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, whether in the public or the private sphere”. Moreover, according to article 3 of the aforementioned convention, “Every woman has the right to be free from violence in both the public and private spheres”.
In SVG, violence against women perpetrated by other men is a serious issue. Sometimes the news is so tragic that it shocks us to the very core. Furthermore, we may have witnessed a female friend, family member or stranger suffer violence at the hands of another man, or if you are a woman reading this, you may have experienced violence at the hands of another man in SVG.
In the midst of all of this violence, some people may be trying to find a reason to blame women for the unfortunate things happening to them. “Is it somehow a woman’s fault that she was killed by a man?” “Is it somehow a woman’s fault that she was abused by a man?” “Is it somehow a woman’s fault that she was raped by a man?” “What did that woman do to cause a man to do what he did to her?” These and other similar questions may cross our minds.
Does a woman somehow deserve to be killed, abused or raped by another man? No, she does not! In the absence of evidence to the contrary, if we are doing such, we need to stop blaming women for violence perpetrated against them at the hands of other men. We need to cast the blame where it belongs, on killers, on abusers, on rapists, on the perpetrators of violent acts against women, and if they are men, we should hold them accountable. If a woman or girl is reading this article, please know that it is NOT your fault that you were abused, raped or suffered any form of violence at the hands of another man.
Women and girls are human beings with human rights and fundamental freedoms. It is not enough for women and girls to be educated about what they should or should not do to protect themselves from violent acts at the hands of men. Men and boys also need to be educated to not kill, abuse, rape and/or commit violent acts against women. Men and women should work together to end violence against women in SVG.
Jeshua Bardoo is a 2019/2020 Vincentian Chevening Scholar studying international human rights law at Brunel University London.
The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].