Last weekend, the Zonta e-Club of West Africa ended the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence with an appearance at an empowering event organized by the African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF) and Drama Queens Ghana, a feminist political theater organization in Ghana.
The event, held on 7 and 8 December at the AWDF Resource Center in Accra, was in three parts. Each night started with the showing of documentaries (child brides in Tanzania and Trokosi in Ghana), a stage play and an open forum/discussion with the audience on the types of violence women encountered in the documentaries and theatrical piece.
Two documentaries were shown—“Bride Trace: Fighting Tanzania’s Child Bride Tradition” and the BBC’s “My stolen childhood: investigating Trokosi in Ghana.” This was followed by the play, an excerpt of Ntozake Shange’s 1975 choreopoem: “For colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf.”
The event was attended by both the young and old, men and women, as well as professionals from the Ark Foundation/Shelter who work with battered women.
The Zonta e-club of West Africa highly commends the work of AWDF and the Drama Queens Ghana for empowering women, challenging the status quo and breaking the silence on topics once considered taboo, and keeping the conversation going. The club looks forward to collaborating with them in the future.
“Bride Trace: Fighting Tanzania’s Child Bride Tradition”– It is against the law to marry underage girls, however many parents in Tanzania continue to follow the ancient tradition of marrying off their girls (sometimes 11 years old) for cows. The punishment by law is 30 years in jail, but there continues to be some resistance against the law.
“My stolen childhood: investigating Trokosi in Ghana”– this documentary explores one of Ghana’s oldest traditions of sending young girls to serve priests; a form of atonement for the sins of other family members. It tells the story of a young girl who was sent to live and work with a priest in his shrine but was later freed.
A heated/ intense discussion session
Following the documentaries and the play was an intense Q&A and discussion session that gave the audience the opportunity to talk openly about the harmful practices. Individuals took turns to speak, sharing their knowledge on gender-based violence and most importantly, questioning such harmful practices.
The president of the Zonta e-club of West Africa, Joyce Dzide-Tei, used the opportunity to condemn gender-based violence and highlight the incredible work/efforts of Zonta International over the years. She informed the audience about Zonta’s signature project for the biennium – ending child marriage and emphasized that child marriage is a horrific and criminal act and all must ensure that perpetrators of such acts are brought to book.
She also intimated that no cultural practice, no matter how glorious or justified in the eyes of a particular culture should be promoted at the expense of human rights and in this case, the right if young girls. It is absolutely unacceptable. She concluded her contribution by encouraging family and friends to support victims and survivors not only by listening and consoling but encouraging them to press charges.