Increasing Militarism and violence against women in Nepal

by Renu Rajbhandari, Nepal

Violence against women continues to be a challenge for post-conflict Nepal. According to available data two cases of rape are reported on average each day. WOREC Nepal, an organization working on violence against women (VAW) registered 1703 cases from August 2012 to July 2013. The survivors face numerous challenges due to the ever increasing impunity and lack of access to justice mechanisms in the country.

Despite this reality, the Government of Nepal has been applauded by the international community for its National Action Plan on UN Security Council Resolution 1325 to effectively address the increasing numbers of VAW in the country. Almost seven years have passed since the signing of Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA) between the Nepal Communist Party-NCPN (Maoist) and the seven mainstream parties for ensuring peace and security. Although peace and security for the people was central to signing the CPA, implementation remains mainly unmet while the parties work to obtain power and maintain control over national resources.

Up to this period, the peace dividend largely remains with the leaders at the central level leaving the larger section of people powerless. Political instability has been used by the political party and the government to continue the culture of impunity. It is very important to note that reintegration of Maoist soldiers into the Nepal army was one among many other agendas such as constitution drafting, transformation of the country socially and economically, and truth seeking and justice for people affected by conflict . However, reintegration of the Maoist army has taken most of the time and has remained one of the highest priorities. This process has contributed to a deeper militarized mindset within society. The militarization process has affected the people’s collective mindset and the government’s priorities have contributed to the culture of impunity, making it difficult for women to access justice. The difficult, complicated and lengthy court process along with discriminatory laws compounded with unchanged attitudes and practices of security, judicial and health services has posed further challenges for women and those advocating for an end to gender-based violence and access to justice.

Similarly, extremist ideas such as demanding Nepal again become an officially Hindu country, the emergence of different religious groups, a faster rate of conversion to religion, and different forms of identity-based politics are being used to maintain the status quo among political parties. This has also contributed to the failure of the Constitutional Assembly (CA) in finalizing a constitution.  This situation has extended to the level that political parties couldn’t come to a consensus for the creation of the government, though they eventually agreed to bring the Chief Justice and retired bureaucrats to form the government. All this has largely impacted women and exacerbated the occurrence of VAW, which remains at the bottom of priorities for the government and the political parties. There is a lack of interest and effort to create the environment for access to justice for women.

Currently, with the announcement of the elections for a new CA, the militarization process has become more visible. There is a consensus and agreement among the political party and government to mobilize the army under the name of maintaining security during the election. This has largely ignored other issues which are key to addressing sustainable peace in Nepal.  Issues related to transitional justice and creation of mechanisms to address violence perpetuated against women during the conflict has not been given space for serious and thoughtful discussion
among political parties or within government.  

In this situation, the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign is a key space for women’s rights activists to bring issues such as investigation of cases of sexual violence against women during the conflict, and unresolved disappearances of their family members. The Campaign gives an opportunity to bring to attention the increased practice of gender-based violence and impunity, as well as the increasing difficulty to access justice by victims.

The question remains: Despite the militarized mindset of the government and the newly elected CA members, who will address these issues that affect women on numerous levels as a priority?

Renu Rajbhandari is a prominent human rights defender and medical doctor in Nepal and has been at the forefront of organizing communities to voice their concerns. She was appointed as National Rapporteur against trafficking in women and children under National Human rights commission and is the founder chairperson of the Women Rehabilitation Centre (WOREC), as well as other groups.

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A Story of an Intervention in Mob Sexual Assaults in Egypt

by Amal Elmohandes, Egypt

Appalled by the sexual assaults that took place in Tahrir Square, and after attending a volunteers’ meeting for Operation Anti-Sexual Harassment (OpAntiSH), an initiative formed by volunteers in response to the mob sexual assaults that started taking place in Tahrir Square and its vicinity in November 2012, I decided to volunteer in the intervention group with OpAntiSH, in preparation for the June 30, 2013 demonstrations, calling for the ousting of Mohammed Morsy and dissolution of the Muslim Brotherhood, changing my mind from my earlier decision to volunteer in the safe houses’ group. The meeting was a part of the comprehensive plan that Nazra implemented in preparation for the June 30 demonstrations, in which mob sexual assaults were greatly expected. A massive response was needed from feminist organizations and others.

Preparations also included printing flyers indicating the hot spots in which attacks take place, and distributing them to protesters in the square to avoid them, trainings conducted in First Aid skills and Listening Skills to survivors of rape and sexual assault, and liaising with private clinics for the provision of medical support to survivors. Planning also included the operation of the hotline of the Women Human Rights Defenders Program (WHRDP) and its coordination with OpAntiSH’s hotline numbers for receipt of calls of attacks. Lighting hot spots in coordination with 2 political parties and other feminist organizations took place, and some of Nazra staff members who volunteered with OpAntiSH in various tasks, including the accompaniment of survivors to private clinics and hospitals to ensure that appropriate medical support is provided, provision of psychological support, and Nazra lawyers following up on cases being reported to the police. Nazra’s Executive Director also received calls of hysterical survivors after they were assaulted.

 As the date of the demonstrations approached, I grew more anxious of the sexual assaults that would take place, but focused my attention on the tasks at hand. After learning about the sexual assaults that took place on June 28th, a decision was made for OpAntish (in coordination with Nazra and other groups) to start its operations on June 29th, rather than June 30th as originally planned. In a previous intervention training session I had made a conscious decision to opt for volunteering in Tahrir Square, after expectations were made that attacks in Tahrir would be far worse than those in the vicinity of the Itihadeya presidential palace. An aspect of my role in Nazra was coordinating with private clinics for the provision of immediate medical support to survivors. I would envision the complete scenario in my head: a survivor attacked, taken to a clinic, her feelings, the terror of having a physician examine her, reeling into her private parts and administering medication. I imagined the forceps, the shots, the horror, and as my fear grew, my conviction became stronger. I imagined myself backing out at the last minute, but as some friends kept advising me to change my mind, I grew more stubborn.

I struggled somewhat with whether I should dress as advised by the core group members (a one-piece bathing suit under several layers of t-shirts, and 2 pants on top of each other), and decided to do so after all. When no assaults took place on June 29th, I felt extremely confident and grateful that I did not have to witness or intervene in an attack. When getting anxious about the next day, I quickly diverted my attention by focusing on the victory of the assault-free June 29.

As I woke up on June 30th, I felt the anxiety seeping into my stomach. I secretly wished that the intervention group would be able to save all the survivors from the horror of rape even though we were told during training sessions that we would never be able to save all the women. The application of what we had learned in the trainings would be much more violent than its simulation in a training session. As I assembled with others in preparation for our positions, a phone call was received by a core member that four women were being sexually assaulted. I renewed my faith in God, and as we were making our way through the crowds, I kept thinking of these women while staring at another volunteer in front of me, making sure that I don’t lose sight of her. Moving through the crowds, I was perplexed with the contradiction of the loving and generous spirit of the volunteers, as opposed to the roaring crowds and aggressors we would soon face.

The night was long; going up 12 stories of a building that my colleagues and I were trapped in with the survivors as the violent aggressors tried to break into the building; other women being brought in; searching with a mother for her daughter; waiting with my colleagues for a naked survivor to come through the door so we can dress her; going back into the crowds and reaching for a woman being attacked on the ground while being groped along with my colleague. The woman slipped from under the metal gate of a shop she was pressed against and we lost track of her; a child who couldn’t find his mother; being stationed to keep a look out from the window of the building for any attacks taking place… As I viewed the crowds, roaring, chanting, screaming, waving their flags, I felt disconnected. I was closely searching for any attacks taking place while the crowds below ambivalently cheered none among them aware of the women being sexually assaulted or raped in their midst. I felt a sudden overwhelming surge of disgust, for the reality of these sexual assaults on the ground was far uglier than I thought. On that day alone, 46 sexual assaults, some of which were rape had taken place, and 186 sexual assaults had taken place during the period June 28 to July 7, 2013.

Amal Elmohandes works as the Director of the Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRD) Program at Nazra for Feminist Studies. Before joining Nazra, she worked at the Bi-National Fulbright Commission in Egypt under the Community College Initiative.

Around the World: Men are Finally at Women’s Sides

By Michael Kaufman

For too long, women stood alone. The woman, alone in her kitchen, after her husband beat her. The woman, alone in her bed, after her boyfriend raped her. The woman, locked alone in a room, by the men who trafficked her. The girl alone, harassed by a schoolmate.

Forty or so years ago, women started saying to their sisters: “You will not be alone.” And so, with tenacity and courage, they stared abusers in the face and set up women’s shelters and crisis centers. They researched the problem and questioned the role of the media, religion, and the state
in allowing the violence. They pushed for better laws and training of police. They challenged harmful traditions. They provided a voice for those girls and women who, for too long, had been silenced. 

It took too long, but finally, men all over the world are now saying to our sisters, our mothers, our daughters, our wives, our friends, and to the women of the world: It’s time we stood at your side. And we are realizing that standing up to end gender based violence also means championing better ideals for ourselves.

There were three of us, inspired by the women around us, who started the White Ribbon Campaign in 1991in Canada where I live. At the time, it was unusual for men to speak out against men’s violence towards women. But now, two decades later, this little campaign has spread to about eighty countries. And it’s only one of the fantastic efforts that are now blossoming wherever you turn.

Our awareness-raising efforts aimed at men and boys have spread because women everywhere have said no to the violence. But these efforts have also spread because there are more and more men who want the violence to end. Although far too many men use violence in their relationships, the truth is that in most of the world, the majority of men do not. However, the problem has been the silence of that majority. Because of men’s disproportionate social, political, economic, and religious power, men’s silence amounts to tacit consent.

Recognizing this, many of our efforts are aimed at encouraging men who don’t use violence to speak out against gender based violence to their friends and workmates, and their fathers, uncles, brothers and sons.

In our work, we have learned that positive approaches to reach men and boys are most effective in ending our silence. We speak out in favor of equality between women and men. We speak out for new ideas of manhood that do not include violence. We speak out for better laws and for training of police and judges to implement the laws. We speak out for state support of services for women who are survivors of violence and want to leave violent relationships.

White Ribbon in particular has also spread because it is a campaign that believes that people in their own countries and communities, in their own workplaces, schools and religious institutions, know best how to reach the boys and men around them. No one “owns” White Ribbon. It is an idea and symbol we encourage all boys and men to embrace and make their own.

As a result, White Ribbon campaigns are incredibly diverse: from men in contingents at Carnival in Brazil, to sports teams raising money for women’s shelters, to work with religious officials in Pakistan (some of whom have issued a fatwa against violence towards women), to schoolboys writing chalk messages on sidewalks in Singapore, to leaders of the Australian army speaking out against sexual harassment in their ranks.

Those of us who have been doing this work among men are now also looking not only to raise awareness, but for long-term solutions. For example, our new MenCare campaign focuses on social policy and public education to reach the goal of men doing fifty percent of parenting work, and doing so in nurturing, non-violent ways. We see this as key for ending the cycle of violence and establishing caregiving, and not domination and even violence, as central to our practices and beliefs of what it means to be a man.

Not too long ago, it was only a handful of men here or there who were speaking out against this violence. Now, finally, at last, millions of men are echoing the words of our sisters: “You are not alone.”

Michael Kaufman is co-founder of the White Ribbon Campaign, a writer, public speaker, and long-time activist supporting gender equality. His latest book is “A Guy’s Guide to Feminism.” He is writing a book on international efforts to engage men to end men’s violence against
women, and another book, with Gary Barker, on the global transformation of fatherhood. We encourage you to read his blog at www.michaelkaufman.com. @genderEQ

The UN Women’s Rights Convention – An International Framework for Legislative Reform to Eliminate Violence against Women

by Angelika Kartusch, Austria

In 1979, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), a milestone for the recognition of women’s right to gender equality. To date, 187 states parties have ratified this legally binding instrument, which entered into force in 1981. Discrimination is defined in Article 1 CEDAW and encompasses both direct and indirect discrimination, no matter whether committed by state officials or private persons and entities. Further, states parties are obliged to eliminate gender-based discrimination of women in law (“formal equality”) and practice (“substantive equality”).

Gender-based violence – a form of discrimination
Although the Convention addresses a broad range of areas of life in which women experience discrimination, such as political life, employment, the health system or education, it makes no reference to violence against women. This gap was closed by the CEDAW Committee, the expert body in charge of monitoring the implementation of the Convention, in 1992, when it issued General Recommendation No. 19 on violence against women (GR 19). According to GR 19, gender-based violence (GBV) is a form of discrimination and as such encompassed by the CEDAW’s definition of discrimination in Article 1. GBV is understood as violence that is directed against women because they are women or that affects women disproportionately. GR 19 reiterates the obligation of States to eliminate violence against women committed in the private sphere by acting with due diligence to prevent, investigate and punish such violence and to provide compensation to victims.

Standards for legislation to address violence against women according to CEDAW
While GR 19 is as such not legally binding, it is a source of authoritative interpretation of the Convention and, through its list of recommendations, provides a comprehensive framework for state legislation to eliminate GBV and provide adequate and effective protection to all women. To this end, GR 19 calls upon states to establish criminal sanctions, civil remedies and effective complaint procedures and remedies, including compensation. The implementation of existing laws should be strengthened gender-sensitive training of judges, police and health workers, the establishment or support of services to women victims, such as shelter and counselling, or the evaluation of existing measures as to their actual impact in preventing and responding to GBV.

Since the entry into force of the Optional Protocol to CEDAW in 2000, which introduced an individual complaints procedure for women victims of violations of the Convention, the GR 19 has further guided the development of the Committee’s jurisprudence in assessing complaints addressing violence against women. For instance, the Committee held that the lack of restraining or protection orders to protect women from violent family members (case A.T. v. Hungary) or to protect victims of sexual violence from re-victimization, following the release of perpetrators from detention (case S.V.P. v. Bulgaria) violated the Convention.

In T.P.F. v. Peru, the CEDAW Committee has addressed a complaint regarding the lack of legislation to regulate access to therapeutic abortion, resulting in hospitals arbitrarily deciding on requirements and procedures. The Committee found that Peru had violated CEDAW by failing to put in place an appropriate legal framework to enable women to exercise the right to therapeutic abortion which would guarantee them legal security, for example through providing a mechanism for rapid decision-making and a right to appeal.

Effective implementation of anti-violence legislation
As regards the implementation of existing legal frameworks, the Committee in the cases of Gökce v. Austria and Yildirim v. Austria underlined that the adoption of laws in itself is not sufficient to fulfil the obligation under the Convention: laws must be effectively applied by authorities that adhere to the standard of due diligence. In both cases,the failure of the public prosecutor’s to arrest the perpetrators, even though the authorities knew or should have known that the women concerned were in serious danger, constituted a breach of the standard of due diligence. Further, the Committee also dealt with claims of discriminatory interpretation of laws by the judiciary. For instance, in Vertido v. The Philippines, the defendant was acquitted of rape charges because the judge based her judgment on discriminatory and stereotyped myths about male and female sexuality and the behaviour expected from a “typical” victim, which led the judge to favour the credibility of the defendant over the victim (). The Committee found that the state had breached its obligations under CEDAW. A violation of the Convention was also found in Jallow v. Bulgaria: a civil court, rather than protecting the complainant and her daughter from domestic violence, issued a protection order against her in favour of her violent husband, relying exclusively on the perpetrator’s statements. Further, the criminal justice authorities failed to undertake timely and suitable investigations into the reports of domestic violence made by the complainant.

Conclusion
The CEDAW Committee’s GR 19 has brought violence against women, including domestic violence, into the scope of the Convention. As a result, violence against women has become an issue of growing importance in the Committee’s jurisprudence. Indeed, in a number of individual complaints, the Committee found violations of states parties to prevent and respond to violence against women and used the opportunity to further specify the respective obligations under the Convention. This development is particularly interesting, given the fact that the actual Convention did not mention violence; it demonstrates the dynamic nature of human rights which are not static, but evolve over time, reflecting cultural and social developments.

*This article was originally posted in a longer format here: http://www.wave-network.org/sites/default/files/Fempower23_engl_150713_WEB.pdf

Angelika Kartusch is an expert in women‘s human rights, trafficking in women and violence against women, with longstanding experience in research, training and project coordination. She has worked with several non-governmental and international organizations. In 2012, Angelika joined WAVE (Women against Violence Europe) as the manager of the project “Strengthening Health System Responses to Gender-based Violence in Eastern Europe and Central Asia” implemented in partnership with UNFPA.

Cincuenta años de guerra e impunidad contra las mujeres objetivo de violencia sexual

por Patricia Guerrero, Colombia

En cincuenta años de conflicto armado nadie sabe verdaderamente cuantas víctimas de violencia sexual VS y violencia sexual basada en género GBSV ha dejado el conflicto interno armado en Colombia. Muchos de los crímenes penales internacional ni siquiera existían hace veinte años. El Estatuto de Roma de la Corte Penal Internacional refleja en su articulado, la barbarie de los crímenes de género en la lógica jurídica que reclama la convención, el estatuto,  el tratado o el protocolo, después del genocidio, la tortura, la desaparición forzada, o la violencia sexual contra las mujeres.

Aborto forzado, embarazo forzado, esclavitud sexual, prostitución forzada, violación (rape) como genocidio etc., hasta hace muy poco fueron reconocidos como crímenes penales internacionales. Colombia hace parte del Estatuto de Roma y este, como los demás tratados que reconocen y protegen los derechos humanos incluido el DIH forman parte del bloque de constitucionalidad y son de superior jerarquía que la legislación interna. En todo caso prevalecen sobre la legislación nacional.

En Colombia han sido las víctimas, las sobrevivientes, las organizaciones de mujeres, las defensoras de derechos humanos de las mujeres y otras organizaciones democráticas, quienes con el apoyo de la Bancada de Mujeres del Congreso de la República, han logrado elevar a la categoría de ley la persecución de la violencia contra la mujer[1]

La investigación, persecución y castigo para los responsables de violencia de género y la violencia sexual en razón del conflicto interno armado siguen siendo el reto para la Fiscalía General de la Nación. En más de 15 años como defensora de las víctimas de violación sexual y desplazamiento forzado[2], ni uno de los más de 130 casos que hemos denunciado ante la Fiscalía General de la Nación ha obtenido resultados. Las investigaciones han sido archivadas o suspendidas por falta de pruebas. 100% de impunidad respecto de los casos de la Liga de Mujeres Desplazadas[3].

La Corte Constitucional ha reclamado a la Fiscalía General de la Nación justicia para nuestros casos así como para cientos de casos más de mujeres desplazadas que han sido víctimas de violación sexual (Auto 092 de 2008[4]) por todos los actores armados en el conflicto: paramilitares, guerrillas y fuerza pública. Sin embargo la respuesta de la Fiscalía sigue siendo descoordinada, parcial e inconsistente y la impunidad no ha sido superada sino que por el contrario, las victimas desconfían del sistema judicial, pues sus derechos como víctimas han sido reiteradamente violados. Ellas han sido re victimizadas al ser expuestas a contar los hechos N número de veces ante diferentes funcionarios públicos, no tiene una asistencia psicológica permanente y calificada que les permita superar el trauma y el estrés post traumático sino todo lo contrario, sus versiones son puestas en tela de juicio y muchas de ellas han debido desplazarse nuevamente por el estigma social y otras, por temor a la persecución de los perpetradores en ocasiones miembros de sus propias familias.

Un reciente informe se seguimiento a estos casos denominado ‘Acceso a la Justicia para las Mujeres Víctimas de Violencia Sexual’ [5] del cual hizo parte la Liga de Mujeres Desplazadas y el Observatorio Género Democracia y Derechos Humanos, hace un extenso recorrido por los obstáculos institucionales, entre los cuales la falta de una política pública de mujer y género es evidente en la Fiscalía General de la Nación así como la falta de un tratamiento diferencial de las víctimas; la falta de garantías de acceso a la justicia destacándose la desprotección, la visión restringida de la VS en conflicto armado y los graves obstáculos en la atención en salud.

Son cincuenta años de guerra e impunidad contra las mujeres.

Patricia Guerrero, Fundadora de la Liga de Mujeres Desplazadas y del Observatorio Género Democracia y Derechos Humanos/Abogada feminista defensora de Derechos Humanos.


[1] Ley 1257, 4 de diciembre de 2008 Por la cual se dictan normas de sensibilización, prevención y sanción de formas de violencia y discriminación contra las mujeres, se reforman los Códigos Penal, de Procedimiento Penal, la Ley 294 de 1996 y se dictan otras disposiciones en respuesta a las exigencias de la CEDAW y Convención Interamericana para prevenir, sancionar y erradicar la violencia contra la mujer.

[2] Lo que entre otras cosas me ha colocado en una situación de riesgo extraordinario desde el año 2002 por lo cual la Comisión IDH me ha otorgado medidas cautelares desde el 2009.

Jaywalking the Freeway from Fear: The Rights to Safety, Love, Life and Freedom

by Bernedette Muthien, South Africa

In 1993, the year of the germinal UN conference in Vienna, the first President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, affirmed that all freedoms (and hence oppressions) are interdependent. This speaks critically to intersectionality, the study of the interactions of multiple systems of oppression, and its intersections with privilege. Intersectionality influenced South Africa’s groundbreaking Constitutional equality clause, which guarantees the rights of all peoples.

Vienna was a groundbreaking intersectional moment too, affirming human rights as a universal standard and emphasising the indivisible, interdependent nature of human rights, specifically in response to the historic divide between civil and political rights on the one hand, and economic, social and cultural rights on the other hand.

Intersectionality shows how categories such as gender, race, class, ability, sexuality and other forms of identity interact in myriad ways, contributing to systematic societal inequity. Classic conceptions of oppression in society, such as racism, sexism and homophobia interrelate, creating a web of subjugation.

While we are familiar with victims suffering violence, we often forget that witnesses suffer vicarious trauma, and that most perpetrators are themselves survivors of violence, including gender-based violence, that violence and discrimination often stems from insecurity and fear, rather than a lustful nature, no mirth intended.

Of less concern are the labels or issues we are still forced to deal with, like widespread gender-based violence that has not diminished over decades of feminist activisms and progressive legislation and policies. Of greater import are the approaches taken, the imperialist or colonial gaze, how we conceptualise issues, how these lenses shape/d activisms.

This includes the narrow LGBTQQI discourse, European letters completely ignorant of and sidestepping ancient same sex practices on all continents, including woman to woman marriage across Africa. Ifi Amadiume and the late Audre Lorde famously argued whether these women had romantic-sexual relations, Audre’s argument, or whether it was entirely about property relations and ensuring succession, Ifi’s contention. This ancient practice was almost entirely eradicated by colonial Christianity, yet it still persists, especially in rural areas, across East, Central and West Africa.

Of equal concern is the classification, led by the global North, of the rape of lesbians, ostensibly due to their sexuality, as a “hate crime”. This divorces so-called “curative” or “corrective” rape from its rootedness in gender-based violence and an analysis and challenge of Patriarchy, effectively deradicalising a revolutionary moment.

The presumption by feminist scholars and activists, especially those entrenched and aptly rewarded in euro-formed discourses, of the primordialism of patriarchy is another point of vexation to those of us from ancient indigenous societies that still remain matrilineal and women-centred, despite centuries of colonial and capitalist depredations. Matrilineal societies, still existing across the continents of the world, tend to be socially and gender egalitarian, with deep-rooted conflict resolution practices and hence less violent. The matriarchal Iroquois of North America’s precolonial Great Peace of the Haudenosee are said to have gifted the United States with the foundations of their Constitution. What can we learn from these nonviolent egalitarian peoples, their complex histories and ways of being? In as much as we study the League of Nations and the social welfarism of Scandinavia. Even as we smartly don the business suits, modern offspring of military uniforms, so necessary for our advocacy and scholarly endeavours, do we hear Audre Lorde’s admonishment of the complexities of employing the master’s tools to dismantle the master’s house?

The silofication of our discourse and struggle speaks to a weakness of the global imagination. We need to indigenise our struggles. We need to use language that is familiar to local peoples the world over, so that tyrannical patriarchal leaders cannot say our practices are un-African or un-Russian, because they are indeed indigenous and we have been doing it since time began. With indigenous knowledge we can more effectively resist the flood of fundamentalist Christians from North America and Europe recolonizing our continents, aided by despots more interested in scapegoating marginalised communities than in addressing issues of socio-economic justice.

We need to note that violences are structural-cultural, and due to Patriarchy, women are at the centre of this war on our bodies and minds. While we focus on choice, autonomy, desire and pleasure, we need to remember that we need socio-economic-cultural rights to be truly free.

As the founder of the Black Consciousness Movement in South Africa, brutally slain by Apartheid securocrats during the 1970s said in a speech in my Mother City of Cape Town: “The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.” And we all know Bob Marley’s song, “none but ourselves can free our minds…”

Bernedette Muthien, scholar, a poet, and an activist. She co-founded and directs Engender, an NGO which works in the intersectional areas of genders, human rights, justice and peace. Over 20 years, on all six continents, she produced 170 publications and conference presentations, some of which have been translated from English into other languages, including Dutch, Flemish, French, German, and Italian. Follow her @BerneMuthien