16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence is an international campaign initiated in 1991 by Center for Women’s Global Leadership. It starts on 25 November and runs until 10 December (International Human Rights Day). UN Women’s activism this year is coordinated under the global theme Orange the World : Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect.
I’d like to shine some light on this issue through one of my short stories, Hazelnut and Potato. It is based on too many true stories, and fits all the global statistics regarding the issue.
- 1 in 3 women have experienced physical/sexual violence.
- Most of this violence is from people close to the women.
- In many societies, it is still a taboo to speak about these issues.
Here is an excerpt of the short story.
When Hazelnut was younger, Father made Mother stay home to watch out and take care of the lovely little one. Now that Hazelnut had been taught to care for herself at home, Mother also joined Potato and Father outside. It was necessary : the rice fields called for all the hands they could get. It was difficult toil. Grab and cut, grab and cut. They only paused for lunch break. They had their lunch out in the fields, underneath the shade of the bamboo gazebo. Hazelnut was not allowed to go out during the heat, so she always stayed at home having her lunch alone.
Potato’s back hardened, and her hands became rough and calloused. At night, Hazelnut would massage Potato’s hands with oil from the white wood trees. Father carefully watched the sisters, while Mother prepared food and various delicious spices.
One particular afternoon, while Mother and Potato were eating lunch, Father got up suddenly without finishing his rice. “I heard a strange sound from our house. There has been rumors of a buffalo gone mad. Hazelnut is all by herself there. I must see that she is alright. I will make sure, and return soon.”
Potato became sick with worry, but Mother said, “There will be nothing you can do against such a large animal, Potato. It is not a small field rat. If there is indeed any danger, let your Father see to it. We must tend to our fields, for the greater danger of the smallest creatures here might destroy all our hard work this season.”
After what felt to Potato like hours, Father returned to the fields.
“It was nothing,” he said. “Perhaps I heard it in my mind. I am getting old. The heat of the sun is getting to my brains, and my back.”
“What about Hazelnut?” asked Potato.
“She is perfectly fine. Perfectly fine,” Father replied.
The complete story is available in the shop. Gender-based violence is too real all around us, especially if you live in a patriarchal society. Please, please, please educate yourself on the topic. If you have daughters, find out how to raise them so that they can protect themselves. Don’t pretend gender-based violence doesn’t exist, or it will be too late when you or your loved one is the next one taken prey.
Visit WHO statistics to understand the actual data on this issue. To know more about the campaign globally, visit the 16 Days of Campaign’s website.