Ed­u­ca­tion shift needed for gen­der vi­o­lence to end

A Bahá’í per­spec­tive

Sunday Express - - LEADER - Flora Teckie

As we com­mem­o­rate from 25 Novem­ber to 10 De­cem­ber “16 days of Ac­tivism Against Gen­der-Based Vi­o­lence”, we need to re-ex­am­ine – in the light of jus­tice – the be­liefs and prac­tices that con­trib­ute to­wards the op­pres­sion of women and girls and per­pet­u­ate vi­o­lence against them.

Vi­o­lence against women – with its se­vere im­pact on their phys­i­cal, psy­cho­log­i­cal, so­cial and spir­i­tual well-be­ing — is one of the most wide­spread abuses of hu­man rights.

Abu­sive prac­tices against them have been, and are still be­ing, jus­ti­fied in the con­text of cul­tural norms, re­li­gious be­liefs and un­founded ‘sci­en­tific the­o­ries’ and as­sump­tions.

The ef­fect of the per­sis­tent de­nial to women of full equal­ity with men, in the fam­ily set up or in some be­lief sys­tems, sharp­ens fur­ther the chal­lenge of deal­ing with vi­o­lence.

Our in­di­vid­ual and col­lec­tive com­mit­ment, de­mand­ing ac­tion and ac­count­abil­ity from the au­thor­i­ties on their com­mit­ments, are all nec­es­sary.

It is the Bahá’í view that “Along­side crit­i­cal changes in the le­gal, po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic ar­chi­tec­ture slowly tak­ing shape, the de­vel­op­ment of in­di­vid­u­als’ moral and spir­i­tual ca­pa­bil­i­ties is an es­sen­tial el­e­ment in the as yet elu­sive quest to pre­vent the abuse of women and girls around the world”.

A com­mit­ment to the es­tab­lish­ment of full equal­ity be­tween men and women in the fam­ily, work place and in the so­ci­ety will be cen­tral to the suc­cess of ef­forts to erad­i­cate vi­o­lence against women and girls.

There is also need for fun­da­men­tal shift in ed­u­ca­tion to erad­i­cate such vi­o­lence.

The Bahá’í Writ­ings state: “The world of hu­man­ity has two wings — one is women and the other men. Not un­til both wings ARE EQUALLY DE­VEL­OPED CAN THE BIRD flY. SHOULD ONE WING RE­MAIN WEAK, flIGHT IS im­pos­si­ble” and “the hap­pi­ness of mankind will be re­al­ized when women and men co­or­di­nate and ad­vance equally, for each is the com­ple­ment and help­meet of the other”.

Greater fo­cus should be placed on pre­vent­ing vi­o­lence

Fo­cus should si­mul­ta­ne­ously be placed on deal­ing with gen­der-based vi­o­lence and with equal, if not greater, at­ten­tion on pre­vent­ing vi­o­lence.

De­spite ma­jor ad­vances in the last few decades, the fail­ure to de­crease the level of vi­o­lence, con­firms the short­com­ings of the pri­mar­ily re­ac­tive ap­proach and the need for greater fo­cus on pre­ven­tion of vi­o­lence.

Ap­pro­pri­ate laws, and the mech­a­nisms de­vel­oped for their en­force­ment, although very nec­es­sary, seem to have lit­tle im­pact on erad­i­cat­ing gen­der-based vi­o­lence.

There is clearly a need for us to fol­low moral and spir­i­tual prin­ci­ples. These fa­cil­i­tate the shift in our val­ues re­quired to put into prac­tice gen­der equal­ity and jus­tice to­wards all.

In one of its state­ment the Baha’i In­ter­na­tional Com­mu­nity says: “Ef­forts to erad­i­cate the epi­demic of vi­o­lence against women and girls must pro­ceed from and be re­in­forced by ev­ery level of so­ci­ety — from the in­di­vid­ual to the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity.

How­ever, they must not be lim­ited to le­gal and in­sti­tu­tional re­forms, for these ad­dress only the man­i­fest crime and are in­ca­pable of gen­er­at­ing the deep-rooted changes needed to cre­ate a cul­ture where jus­tice and equal­ity pre­vail ….

In­deed the in­ner and outer di­men­sions of hu­man life are re­cip­ro­cal — one can­not be re­formed with­out the other. It is this in­ner, eth­i­cal and moral di­men­sion which now stands in need of trans­for­ma­tion and, ul­ti­mately, pro­vides the surest foun­da­tion for val­ues and be­hav­iour which raise up women and girls and, in turn, pro­mote the ad­vance­ment of all of hu­mankind”.

Leg­is­la­tion is needed to lend prac­ti­cal ex­pres­sion to the equal­ity of men and women when deal­ing with the par­tic­u­lar in­jus­tices which women face.

A pro­found ad­just­ment in hu­man­ity’s out­look is nec­es­sary, guided by the spir­i­tual prin­ci­ples to erad­i­cate vi­o­lence. “In­deed, it is in the recog­ni­tion of the one­ness of the hu­man fam­ily that hearts will soften, minds will open, and the at­ti­tudes of men and women will be trans­formed.

Ed­u­ca­tion should pro­mote gen­der equal­ity and jus­tice

An im­por­tant way to pro­mote jus­tice, equal­ity and co­op­er­a­tion is through ed­u­ca­tion. such ed­u­ca­tion, how­ever, should be a com­bi­na­tion of in­tel­lec­tual and moral ed­u­ca­tion, aca­demic knowl­edge and spir­i­tual guid­ance.

With­out ac­tively pro­mot­ing moral and spir­i­tual de­vel­op­ment, in ad­di­tion to sec­u­lar ed­u­ca­tion, we can­not cul­ti­vate the virtues that are at the heart of any ef­fort to pro­mote equal­ity, co­op­er­a­tion and so­cial co­he­sion.

In the Bahá’í view “vi­o­lence arises from ig­no­rance — the fail­ure to un­der­stand such fun­da­men­tal re­al­i­ties as the one­ness of the hu­man race and the mis­taken no­tion that force is the only hon­OURABLE WAY TO RE­SOLVE CON­flICTS.

Ed­u­ca­tion — moral, ma­te­rial and prac­ti­cal — is there­fore not only a fun­da­men­tal right but a prac­ti­cal ne­ces­sity in to­day’s world. Any at­tempt to curb so­ci­etal vi­o­lence that does not ed­u­cate in­di­vid­u­als to over­come gen­der prej­u­dice will cer­tainly fall short”.

Any ef­fec­tive ef­forts to end vi­o­lence against women and girls re­quire a part­ner­ship be­tween men and women. Like­wise re­spon­si­bil­ity for the change that will bring about gen­der equal­ity rests with both.

Mea­sures to cre­ate vi­o­lence-free fam­i­lies and so­ci­eties will be short-lived if it does not in­volve early train­ing of boys.

Part­ner­ship with men and boys is im­por­tant, be­cause un­less men refuse to ac­cept laws and prac­tices which dis­crim­i­nate against, and hu­mil­i­ate their daugh­ters, sis­ters, wives, and moth­ers, the change will not be pos­si­ble.

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