Why We Say ‘Ozugo’ to Gender Based Violence in 986 words #HearMeToo
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Recent surveys carried out by UNICEF and WHO Confirms that at least 200 million girls living in 30 countries around the world have undergone Female Genital Mutilation and Millions more are still at risk. The 2018 World Bank Group report simply shows that The High Cost Of Not Educating Girls, deprives the world of transformative impact in six major areas being (1) Earnings and standards of living, (2) child marriage and early childbearing, (3)fertility and population growth, (4) health, nutrition and well-being, (5) agency and decision-making, and (6) social capital and institutions. Essentially, not educating girl’s costs countries trillions of dollars (See Full 2018 WBG report here.)
Violence against women and girls is a crime against not just humanity but every pulsating iota of Life. The rates of abuse on girls and women has increased rapidly over the years and the need for awareness, advocacy, relevant policy implementation and healing projects have never been more timely.
More often than not the effects Gender based Violence has had on a girl cannot be seen at face value, but 1 in every 3 women and girls you meet bears in her heart or on her body, the scars of freshly inflicted wounds or festering scabs as a result of physical, sexual or psychological abuse.
She Has A Name…
Every girl breathing is a survivor. From the soft spoken lady sitting next to you, chatting away occasionally starring into the distance, to the one we call strong and independent rocking with laughter betrayed by piercing watery eyes, heavy with stories.
She is your sister, your seat mate at school who returns your grin with a reserved smile; she is your friend, your daughter, the one you should protect, she is your mother, closer to you than your beating heart.
She is beaten, deprived, talked down on and objectified
These girls will become the women with us. These women will become us.
It is time to end this vicious cycle of abuse where,
“We are objects in the eyes of a world that stabs us with violent words, and bruises our bodies with innumerable blows. It threatens us into tyrannical submission, seals our lips with the tape of tradition, and forces us into heart wrenching silence. And in all this, it urges us to wipe our tears, smile, and act like everything's fine.”
Everything is not fine. We are discontented with this status quo. As people whose eyes are open to the suffering of women and girls treated violently because they're perceived as weak, we have come together to say You Survived, You can Dream, You are Beautiful you should not have to carry on this pattern of abuse. Ozugo! It is enough.
Ozugo is the Igbo mothers consolation and empowerment to her wounded child in need of succor. She would say - It is enough, don’t cry anymore.
In commemoration of the 16 days of Activism 2018 from the 25th Of november to the 10th of december 2018. Ozugo kicks off an annual interactive short story campaign to raise awareness on Gender Based Violence and spur on conversations around the topic in girls workshops. We too can Orange the World, we too can say NO! so #HearMeToo
There are a thousand and one ways to say No! Ozugo is our own. Our One story, told in a thousand ways, in less than a thousand words. Each story is told by a friend, a sister, a brother a person with a burden for Change that brings wholesome healing. We speak for all those who have sought for support. A platform to finally set their Voices loose so that healing can come. We are burden bearers, our sister’s keeper. Our names are withheld because when one of us hurts, we all hurt, when one of us rises, we all rise. Ozugo is a unified voice against Gender Based Violence saying "It Is Enough."
Hope (in the void)
We know that the wounds run deep and the pain is piercing. And unless we have been through the abuse and the shame, we cannot claim to know what it feels like. But our arms are outstretched to the girls hurting and in need of relief, of justice. We want to offer a ray of hope to the millions of women and girls who have borne this terror in their bosoms. We want to stir up change, one story at a time.
A plea (to the love that binds us)
We appeal to the world with the words that torn hearts and quaking bodies can barely express. We hold up the struggles of women brutalized, marginalized and shut up in the darkness of silence, as a mirror to us all. Can we not see ourselves in their misery, feel their agony, and urgently rally one another to push back against this grave injustice?
A prayer (whispered from sealed lips)
For too long, victims of gender based violence have stayed out of the public eye. Their sufferings have gone unreported. Taboos and so-called honor traditions have kept them from letting the world know how widespread this evil is. We are moving to end this. We are bringing their travails to light, and offering a lasting way to their freedom and safety as well.
A call (to action)
Our stories are a call to girls and young women in Nigeria to stand up against abuse, to cast aside the traditions that demean our dignity and shut us out of our own destinies. We are arming the next generation of women with the truth, and empowering them with an attitude that's bold enough to look the oppressor(s) in the eye and say, "No! To Gender Based Violence. It is Enough’’
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