Men must see women as equal part­ners

Pretoria News - - METRO - FLORA TECKIE For more info visit tsh­[email protected]­hai. org.za; or call 083 794 0819.

THE 16 days of Ac­tivism Against Gen­der-Based Vi­o­lence – ob­served in­ter­na­tion­ally, from Novem­ber 25 to De­cem­ber 10 – is a re­minder of the need to re-ex­am­ine, in the light of jus­tice, the be­liefs and prac­tices that con­trib­ute to the op­pres­sion of women and girls, and per­pet­u­ate vi­o­lence against them.

Vi­o­lence against women and girls, one of the most wide­spread abuses of hu­man rights, is un­for­tu­nately a fact of life for many women, every­where. Abu­sive prac­tices against them are jus­ti­fied in the con­text of cul­tural norms, re­li­gious be­liefs and un­founded sci­en­tific the­o­ries and as­sump­tions.

The ef­fect of deny­ing women equal­ity with men sharp­ens the chal­lenge of deal­ing with vi­o­lence.

It is a re­quire­ment of jus­tice that ev­ery­one is treated equally and with dig­nity.

But this has of­ten not been the case when deal­ing with women – one half of the world’s pop­u­la­tion.

In the Bahá’í view, there is a need for a com­mit­ment to the es­tab­lish­ment of full equal­ity be­tween women and men in the fam­ily, in the work­place and in so­ci­ety, for the suc­cess of ef­forts to erad­i­cate vi­o­lence against women.

There is also a need for leg­is­la­tion to lend prac­ti­cal ex­pres­sion to gen­der equal­ity.

Ac­cord­ing to the Bahá’í writ­ings: “Women and men have been and will al­ways be equal in the sight of God.

“End­ing vi­o­lence against women and girls re­quires com­mit­ment to and ob­ser­vance of moral and spir­i­tual prin­ci­ples… recog­ni­tion of our one­ness, the one­ness of the hu­man race, is the key to over­com­ing our prej­u­dices – whether gen­der-based, racial or re­li­gious – that fre­quently lead to dis­crim­i­na­tion and vi­o­lence…

“If the treat­ment of women were scru­ti­nised in the light of this eth­i­cal stan­dard, we would doubt­less move be­yond many tra­di­tional, re­li­gious and cul­tural prac­tices.”

For gen­der equal­ity to be­come a re­al­ity, there must be a shift in the val­ues, out­look and con­duct of men and women.

The prob­lem of vi­o­lence can­not be re­solved un­less men value women as equal part­ners.

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.”

Ap­pro­pri­ate laws and the mech­a­nisms de­vel­oped for their en­force­ment seem to have had lit­tle im­pact on erad­i­cat­ing gen­der-based vi­o­lence. Most poli­cies fo­cus on the prob­lem of vi­o­lence rather than its preven­tion.

Our in­di­vid­ual and col­lec­tive com­mit­ment, de­mand­ing ac­tion and ac­count­abil­ity from the au­thor­i­ties on their com­mit­ments, are all nec­es­sary to end gen­der-based vi­o­lence.

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… to pre­vent the abuse of women and girls around the world.”

Vi­o­lence against women and girls de­grades the vic­tim and the per­pe­tra­tor. A pro­found ad­just­ment in hu­man­ity’s out­look is nec­es­sary, guided by the be­lief in the one­ness of hu­man­ity and the con­sid­er­a­tion of univer­sal val­ues and spir­i­tual prin­ci­ples.

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