culture and religion
Opinion

Day 10 of 16: Culture and Religion as Safe Haven

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As we draw closer and closer to the sixteenth day of #16Daysof Activism, I thought to look at something important. That is, how our culture and religion have created a safe haven for perpetrators. I remember having explained the evil of gender based violence gatekeepers, but I wanted to take further. Because, most often our culture and the religion are syndicates that protect gbv criminals.

The idea for me to talk about this came about when a friend of mine and I were discussing the impact of the activism. We had noted a few faults that seem to never want to be changed. One of them being that a lot of the work done is targeted to those in the urban areas, and not much effort is done in rural areas. And in rural areas is where you will find a lot of GBV victims.

Culture and its effect on gender based violence

A 2015 report by Health Policy Project noted that

women were generally hesitant to label acts they considered “normal” as GBV such as wife battering and verbal abuse.

That statement alone speaks volumes. The research was done in areas such as Chitipa, Karonga, Mchinji, Mangochi and Zomba. Our rural areas are the truest conservatives when it comes to culture. Unlike the urban areas that have a blend of the Malawian and the Western, people in the rural areas still hold true to theirs. Regardless of the dangers that it brings to their human rights.

Read more on #16DaysofActivism

In the many tribes that make the country, and the subcultures, there are somethings that merge them together. One of them being the need to discipline a woman so they become more obedient to the man. Or, if I may say, they are very patriarchy oriented.

Our culture puts the man above the woman in many ways. Decision making is reserved for the man, so is the control of basic needs in the household. Women are taught from an early age to be well disciplined and to obey the man of the house. Disobedience comes with grave consequences. Which is where GBV comes to play. They are so ill-treated, but that is what they refer to as ‘normal’.

The other issue I will highlight are the initiation ceremonies that are so common in rural areas. These are mostly known as “chinamwali”. They are a danger to both girls and boys who are mostly forced to encounter their first sexual activities as a way of proving that they are grown. Most are molested and raped in the name of these ceremonies. But again, it is mostly seen as normal to a point that young girls and boys wish to attend their own ceremonies. What mostly comes after these ceremonies are forced marriages to the girls and conceiving at young ages.

Again, just flaws in our culture.

Religion and its effects

Just like the way our culture, religion is set up in a patriarchy way. Recently, we have seen religious leaders condemn any social injustice but rape or gender based violence. Religion plays a big role in the life of people. However, it also shelters a lot of gender based violence perpetrators. It has also done well to manipulate the following to keep them hidden.

Often times, we hear about the religious leaders being the actual criminals. Some have raped, molested and physically abused children and women. However, they use the same scriptures to justify their actions. And in the end, are not brought forward to let justice take its course.

It is also the same scriptures used that constantly remind women as being inferior. And having the need for them to be obedient to the men. Creating a space for men to abuse them.

To conclude on culture and religion

Having a culture and religion that justifies abuse is creating a heaven for perpetrators. Their actions are constantly backed by the two. They are sheltered by these two ways of life, thus creating a life that caters to gender based violence.

That is why you have women and men in the rural areas believing that some of the things regarded as GBV are normal. These is all due to the culture and the religion that has shaped their thinking. And in a way, manipulated them into thinking the abuse they endure is normal.\

Comments on the topic are welcomed. Just write down below and let the conversation continue.

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