Visible and invisible violences against women’s bodies! (by Surafel Wondimu)

A few weeks ago, an Ethiopian news site – Fana Broadcasting Corporation – posted a news item here,  about the case of a young man who took his girlfriend’s life claiming that he saw her with another guy. The news item cites that the court sentenced him to eight years in prison. The following is a short reflection piece  from one of the  members of the #ArifWond circle (Good Men project) in Ethiopia, questioning fragile  masculinities that lead to such heinous acts.

  1. What does it mean to be human for certain people like women?
  2. What made it possible for MEN to go and inflict injuries on women’s bodies and what made it so simple for them to decide whether a woman should live or die?
  3. Do we really attend to discursive violence that MEN cite to naturalize their heinous acts : ” kinat yizogn/yizot new (i was jealous/he was jealous), “genzeben sitibelagn/sitibelaw nora” (she’s been using my money all along), “lemn ke lela wond gar ayehush/tayech” (why is she seen with another man), “mekina  gezichelat/geztolat” (i/he bought a car for her)?! “belaye/yu lay hedech”, “ej kefinj yazkuat/yazat” (i/he caught her redhanded), … “enam debedebkuat” (and so i beat her), “aynuan atefahut” (I took her eyes out), “gedelkuat” (I killed her) … yemilu yehasab sirichitoch ena ye kifu kifu adragotoch(such spreading of ideas and cruel deeds) which are embedded in and supported by patriarchal system from which we, men, have been enjoying various kinds of dividends un/knowingly)?
  4. Who serves justice to women in the world (in a country) whose political apparatuses are historically built and controlled by MEN (with all their universality and particularity) who manipulate, co-opt, or oppress the women questions?
  5. What makes it so natural to witness such kinds of multilayered violence against women and resort immediately to the business-as-usual kind of daily life that shows the dreadfulness of the banality of oppression?
  6. What about other kinds of violence – economic, political, social, and cultural – which complicate the positions of women in our societies, in this world?
  7. What should men do to unsettle this kind of men’s world? To rethink our privileges and live a different kind of humanity?

Surafel raises many points of reflection that we ask you our readers to ponder upon and engage in  answering. What’s the role of Ethiopian men in addressing visible and invisible  violence against women? The same can be asked of men in other African countries! What are you doing to nurture positive masculinities? #ArifWond
Surafel Wondimu Abebe is from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He is a PhD candidate in the Theatre/Performance Historiography Program at the Department of Theatre Arts and Dance, University of Minnesota.   He is a Mellon scholar at ICGC (2013-2016), who also won the August Wilson (2012/2013) and the Doctoral Dissertation (2016/2017) Fellowships in Minnesota. Surafel  obtained his BA degree in English and MA in Cultural Studies at Addis  Ababa University where he served as a lecturer and assistant dean in Humanities.  A researcher at the Institute of Ethiopian Studies, Surafel is a public intellectual who traverses intellectual, performance and media spaces.

  1. Thank you surafel for such thoughtful reflections. I particularly like very much what you said about men enjoying social dividends by discourses that justify our violent relations with and acts on female bodies. A person or a group of people who do not question their privileges and take them as natural state of things are menace to themselves and society. Violence is not perpetrated not just by commission but also by omission. Thank you so much again for helping us reflect on this.

    1. Thank you, Sime. I wish you would elaborate your ideas of “commission” and “omission” as they are so interesting and will enrich the discussion. Given that you are a kind of person who is conscious about every move you make in the gendered, sexed, classed, raced … space, I want to hear more.

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