OPINION: Prof. Jane Naana Opoku Agyemang screamed at GENDERCIDE, and I wept

I wept as Prof. Naana Jane Opoku Agyemang screamed loudly at GENDERCIDE, in her horror at "the most despicable act of lynching of a 90-year-old-woman at Kafaba in the East Gonja Municipality of the Savanna Region."

NDC running mate, Prof. Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang

"I condemn in the strongest terms this barbaric act which has left me, like many I can imagine, deeply sad, indeed," Naana Jane screamed!

I repeat: I wept!

I am aware that in recent years, Non- Governmental Organisations , Faith-Based Organisations, Governmental Bodies and other Agencies have not been effective in bringing attention to the critical problem of violence against women and girls in our society.

What has been our national response?

I call violence against women and girls GENDERCIDE, because the term is critically helpful in raising the alarm because it sticks a pointed finger at the problem for what it is: AN INTENTIONAL EFFORT TO HARM WOMEN AND GIRLS BASED ON THEIR GENDER!

In Ghana, as in other parts of the world, there is a systematic effort to oppress and violate women for political, social, financial, religious and other reasons.

In my view, connecting the term GENDERCIDE to other forms of genocide helps to underscore the seriousness of the problem and the need for response from all levels of society.

We all know that the underlying causes of violence against women and girls are deeply rooted in our cultures, and I dare scream that the scandal of this violence is syptomatic of a PERVASIVE AND DEEP MISOGYNY!!!

How come we seem to close our eyes to the number of girls and women who have to undergo the brutal practice of female genital mutilation, sex-trafficking, widespread rape, forced labour, acid burnings, widowhood rites, and other forms of domestic violence?

We all know the list of the reprehensible acts is long, and the targets are mainly women and girls.

And do we ever pause to consider that such women and girls are our daughters, sisters, aunties, mothers, spouses, rivals, concubines, grandmothers and leaders?

The lynching of the 90-years- old woman in the Savannah Region is not an isolated case in the history of such occurrences.

But it raises several questions:

What are the nature and roots of the violence?

How do the violence that 90 years old woman and other women and girls experience a sympton of larger cultural, spiritual, economic and political conditions in our society?

How do we respond as a community, society and nation (and avoid minimising the issue to a so-called crack homicide Experts assembled by Ghana's Inspector-General of Police)?

From this perspective, the first step for the whole society and nation is to become educated about the extent of the problem, and subsequently to engage in continuous resistance to the cultural, economic, political and religious systems that continue to support GENDERCIDE.

However, this is only a first step.

As Naana Jane's scream echoed, I reflected on the bigger picture of GENDERCIDE in the Political Spectrum of Ghana.

I continue to meditate on the prospects of the choice of Prof. Naana Jane Opoku Agyemang as a Vice-Presidential Candidate of the Opposition National Democratic Congress in upcoming December 7, 2000 General Elections, especially in the light of a redefining and repositioning of WOMEN at the table of decision making in Ghana.

I hope the choice of Naana Jane bodes well.

However, in the euphoria of her elevation to a potential first Female Vice President of Ghana, I wish to fire my first warning shot!

I am against any form of assigning to WOMEN the role of a fire-brigade after the house has caught fire and had virtually being consumed.

I am against giving the same or similar role which traditional society gave WOMEN of intervening only when everything else has failed.

It is not enough for WOMEN, like those in the Sembene film to pick up the spears abandoned by their men folk.

In my view, it is not enough that WOMEN should be the court of last resort because the last resort is a damn sight too far and too late.

I am against that refined New Testament idea that came to Man to turn WOMAN into the very Mother of God; to pick her up right from where she had been since Creation, and carry her reverently to a nice corner pedestal.

Up there, her feet completely off the ground she will be just as irrelevant to the practical decisions of running affairs as she was in the bad old days.

The only difference is that Man will not suffer any guilty feelings; he can relax, sit back and congratulate himself on his generosity and gentlemanliness.

As our people say, a wise man agrees with his wife and eats lumps of smoked fish in his soup. A fool contradicts his wife and eats lumps of cocoyam.

By: Owula Mangortey (Odumase-Dodowa)

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