LibLink: Lynne Featherstone on eliminating violence against women and girls

On the occasion of her first visit to Zambia and the UN Day for eliminating violence against women, Lynne Featherstone writes on Huffington Post:

Physical and sexual abuse of women is a global scourge, that transcends borders. From the UK, where one in four women will be the victim of domestic abuse in their lifetime to Zambia, where 47% of women have suffered gender-based violence. Much has been done to improve the plight of women but, in Zambia as elsewhere, cultural norms are often still a barrier to change.

As the UK government’s ministerial champion for tackling violence against women and girls overseas, I feel a great sense of responsibility. Changing mindsets and preventing violence before it starts is crucial. And there is evidence of progress. In Zambia, the government has created a new Ministry of Gender this year. A new Adolescent Girls Empowerment Programme will provide mentoring and ‘safe spaces’ to 10,000 vulnerable girls. Such developments are hugely welcome and we must grasp this chance to garner more global support.

You can read the full article here.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist in Newbury and West Berkshire. As part of the Liberal Democrat Voice team he helps with photos and moderation on the site, as well as occsionally contributing articles. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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5 Comments

  • Richard Dean 26th Nov '12 - 4:24pm

    This looks like a mistake. The UK government simply shouldn’t have a “ministerial champion for tackling violence against women and girls overseas”. That’s not a **UK GOVERNMENT** job.

    While we certainly should be strong action to prevent violence everywhere, we’re not colonial rulers any more. So this is a job for an international body, not for the UK government. Indeed, UK government action could well just help entrench these very bad problems.

    People in other countries have their own cultures, history, social arrangements, opinion leaders, etc, and we need to respect that. Change won’t come by us forcing the issue, but by them freely deciding to change. Bullying people to change won’t work, providing help when asked might.

  • Simon Bamonte 26th Nov '12 - 6:08pm

    @Richard Dean: “People in other countries have their own cultures, history, social arrangements, opinion leaders, etc, and we need to respect that.”

    No, we often don’t need to respect that. In Saudi Arabia, ethnic minorities are essentially treated like slaves, and their human rights are denied on a daily basis. In Afghanistan, the Taliban we are fighting against happily stone women to death who dare to venture out without a Burqa. In certain African nations, people with severe mental illnesses and albinos are seen as “evil spirits” are are often persecuted or killed. In China, the most disgusting abuses of animal rights take place every day. In Uganda there is a new law which will place homosexuals in jail for life. Hell, we now have councils in the UK who have taken a light stance of female genital modification because “it is their culture”.

    I see nothing about those practices which you describe as “their culture” which are worthy of my or any Liberal’s respect. I agree with you that we are no longer colonial rulers and that it is not our government’s job, but that of NGOs to change. Our culture is, of course, not perfect. But I refuse to respect any “culture” that treats certain classes of humans as unworthy of life or equal protection under the law simply for who or what they are.

  • Richard Dean 26th Nov '12 - 6:34pm

    Simon. Then you are doomed to failure. You cannot change a culture by refusing to understand it.

  • Simon Bamonte 26th Nov '12 - 6:45pm

    Understanding a culture is different from respecting them, @Richard. I understand why the Taliban want to kill women who don’t cover up: they think it’s a fundamental part of their religion. They think their “god” wants women who show their face and hair in public to be killed. I do understand this, but I’ll be dammed if I will ever *respect* a culture that treats 50% of their population as sub-human.

  • Richard Dean 26th Nov '12 - 9:56pm

    I doubt very much if that is what motivates the Taliban.

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