Education, empathy, action needed to stop gender-based violence

Gary
Gary Kean
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CORNER BROOK  In Akua Anyemedu’s home country of Ghana, recent legislative changes have made it easier for people to be held accountable for physical and mental abuse.

Akua Anyemedu from Ghana, who is in the tourism studies program at Grenfell Campus, Memorial University, discusses gender inequality and gender-based violence at the university campus Tuesday afternoon. The talk is one of a series of events organized by the Western Regional Coalition to End Violence during February, which is Violence Prevention Month.

But she says it’s up to each and every person to advance the cause of preventing gender-based violence wherever it occurs.

The tourism studies student at Grenfell Campus, Memorial University explored the global issue of gender-based violence Tuesday afternoon as part of Violence Prevention Month.

The talk was one of a series of events planned throughout the month of February by the Western Regional Coalition to End Violence.

Attended by about two dozen people, mostly fellow Grenfell students, Anyemedu discussed how gender inequality is at the root of most violence directed at women by men. Examples can be found in the workplace, in the realm of education, in cultural or religious practices or, as in some cultures, even before a girl is born in the cases of violence directed at women known to be carrying a female fetus.

Yet, the role of patriarchy is not the lone factor that leads to violence, she noted. There are other societal pressures and factors, such as alcohol abuse or relationship stresses, that can precipitate violence.

“No one factor means someone will commit violence,” said Anyemedu.

Gender-based violence is not only directed towards women, she said. People who are gay or who simply don’t conform to the socially accepted definition of male or female can be a target.

The important thing, she said, is for anyone who is on the receiving end of abuse, or who is aware of someone being hurt needlessly, to break the silence. In addition, Anyemedu said people in general need to educate themselves more about this issue and need to be more empathetic towards those who have experienced abuse.

Gender-based violence is a crime and a human rights violation, she said, that is not just an issue for men or for women in isolation.

“It’s a humanity issue,” said Anyemedu.

Still, it is predominantly men who perpetrate gender-based violence. Anyemedu issued a challenge for everyone, particularly men, to take a stand against any sort of gender-based violence, no matter who the victim is.

“As a man, showing support for gender-based violence prevention does not mean you’re gay or les of a man,” she said. “Frankly speaking, I believe it makes you more of a man.”

The Western Regional Coalition to End Violence has three more events planned for this week, including an interactive booth at Grenfell from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday focusing on engaging men and boys to be allies in the effort to stop violence against women.

On Thursday, there will be three “1 Billion Rising” events, which invite women and their supporters to take part in a zumba session and to listen to special messages that will empower and motivate the effort to end violence against women. There will be two events at the Humber Community YMCA at 9 a.m. and at 5:15 p.m., and the third event will be at Immaculate Heart of Mary School at 5:30 p.m.

On Saturday, there will be a snow sculpture-building event as part of the Corner Brook Winter Carnival outside the Women’s Centre at noon.

For more information, including a full schedule of more events later in February, visit the coalition’s Facebook site at www.facebook.com/WesternRegionalCoalitionToEndViolence.

gkean@thewesternstar.com

Twitter: WS_GaryKean

Organizations: Western Regional Coalition, Humber Community YMCA, Mary School

Geographic location: Corner Brook

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