RWA Madagascar: Connecting GBV and UNDROP

GBV is a worldwide phenomenon which, contrary to all expectations, affects all social classes, all categories and all age groups. It may manifest itself in different ways, but the symptoms are the same in every corner of the globe. To better understand the scope of this global problem, let\’s first define it. 

Gender-based violence (GBV) is violence committed against a person because of his or her sex or gender. It is forcing another person to do something against his or her will through violence, coercion, threats, deception, cultural expectations, or economic means. Although the majority of survivors of GBV are girls and women, LGBTIQ+, boys and men can also be targeted through GBV. Although GBV affects everyone, men and women alike, the latter are still the most vulnerable, and even more so those who live in a rural environment and even more so those who are in the midst of adversities such as discrimination against them as women as a result of cultural and religious practices, from birth to death.

Recurrent forms of violence against women include land-grabbing, as women do not have the right to own plots of land, but have to work for their land as mere workforce: their right to be free and equal is denied as well as their right to land and other resources. 

UNDROP highlighted those key points in its articles, namely in article 3 and article 17 knowing the injustices inflicted on women over the centuries placing them as second-class citizens, especially the rural ones, who suffer because they are held responsible for providing for their families.

Moreover, societal arrangements have meant that women are unable to make their own decisions about their lives, and constantly need to be assisted by men. So, their right to have an opinion and to express it is simply violated: under no circumstances can they choose a husband when they want, nor the number of children they want; their role is limited to reproduction and not decision-making.

In all aspects of life, rural women pay a heavy price even though they have the possibility to own a piece of land. For example, in the major mining and infrastructure projects, such as motorways in Madagascar, which leave them at the mercy of investors and multinationals taking away  all their belongings and put them in a situation of total destitution, trampling on their right to a decent income, livelihood and means of production, the right to water and adequate sanitation since they normally should be consulted about decisions affecting them, but this is not the case.

Being overlooked, those persons have to put up with the social, economic and environmental effects of these major projects, such as teenage pregnancies, school dropouts, rape, and any other hardship impacting on their well-being and mental health. At any level, women’s opinions are given credit, and there are typical culture patterns qualifying them as weak vessels, bound to only take care of the house chores, and their families; if they ever dare to affirm themselves; they will be banned from families and society condemning themselves to a solitary life. At a global level, violence perpetrated on rural women is in a way or another linked to land -grabbing, discriminatory cultural practices and beliefs. Thus, we really need to implement efficient and accurate strategies to address those old-age issues for a better future for our daughters.

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