Will Jean Adukwei Mensah lead the Me Too Movement to say NO to Domestic Violence? – Owula Mangortey asks

I am a Citizen.

I am writing “from the figment of my imagination,” as alluded to by the Electoral Commission of Ghana on 26th January, 2020.

I rise to ask if Jean Adukwei Mensah, the EC Chair, will lead the Me Too Movement to SAY NO TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE.

I have profound respect for three kinds of women: kayayei (female porters), peasants, and intellectual women.

Borrowing from Chinua Achebe, I will say that intellectual women are the biggest single group of oppressed people in the world, and if we are to believe the Book of Genesis, the very oldest.

May be they are not alone. There are others like kayayei, market women, women trotro mates, fishmongers, rural female peasants, urban poor women, black women every where, women among ethnic, religious minorities and castes in all countries.

My immediate concern is domestic violence suffered by intellectual women in Ghana.

The most obvious practical difficulty is the magnitude and heterogeneity of the problem.

There is no universal conglomerate of the oppressed.

The oppressed live in each their own hell.

The Rich also cry. The Intellectual also cry.

My friend Jean Adukwei Mensah is a lawyer. She has a public life as Chair of the Electoral Commission of Ghana.

I have stated elsewhere that she exhibits the psychological effects of domestic violence.

Will my friend seek help for her insecurity and paranoia which manifest in her official duties?

Man, at all levels, can surprise by his capacity for nobility as well as for villainy. It is built into the core of man’s free spirit.

Society is an extension of an individual. The most we can do about the psyche of a problematic individual is to re-form it.

Will any responsible psychoanalyst aim to do more? For to do more, to overthrow the psyche itself, would be unleashing insanity.

For the uninitiated, domestic violence is abuse by one person against another in an intimate relationship including marriage, cohabitation, dating or relations within the family. It is noted as one of the most common forms of gender- based violence in the world.

I wish, hope and believe that my friend’s domestic life will always be blessed with peace, harmony, progress and prosperity.

But, she like so many intellectuals who are Judges, Lawyers, Doctors, Professors, Pharmacists, Church Leaders, Bankers, Human Resource Experts, Politicians, Business and Corporate Executives, my wish and hope for their welbeing are far from the reality.

Inspite of their commitments as knowledgeable persons to social justice and peace, they seem reluctant to hear and respond to domestic violence in society and even among their ranks.

It seems an enormous and overwhelming task of breaking silence to domestic violence within the kraal of intellectuals.

It seems there is a tremendous pressure to minimize and/or deny domestic violence because those bystanders who bear witness are caught in a crisis of conscience and/or conflict between the victim and the perpetrator.

In a Ghanaian society which is traditionally patriachal, all the perpetrator of domestic violence does is to appeal to bystanders to see, hear and speak no evil, because it is normal for a man to discipline his woman.

In the absence of a strong movement for the human rights of Intellectual women, the active process of bystanders bearing witness inevitably gives way to an active process of forgetting or ignoring.

So, among our intellectual women, domestic violence repression, dissociation and denial are becoming phenomena of Ghanaian social and individual consciousness.

Which bystander can boldly say Jean Adukwei Mensah suffers the psychological effects of domestic violence?

And will Jean Adukwei Mensah boldly admit or acknowledge she suffers domestic violence?

I recognize that over the years, some of our women have been providing leadership in the drive to stop violence against women.

On a global scale, the UN held its first world conference on women in Mexico City in 1975, leading to the formation of UNIFEM and the declaration of a Decade for Women (1976- 1985).

Two additional conferences were held in Copenhagen (1980) and Nairobi (1985); and all these organizational efforts raised up violence against women for universal visibility and activism.

There have been several platforms for political, economic and cultural actions regarding womens rights and welfare.

One of the largest global conferences, involving over fifty thousand participants, was held in Beijing in 1995 on the theme ” Equality, Development and Peace.”

This was followed five years later by a Special Session of the UN General Assembly entitled “Women 2000: Gender Equality, Development and Peace for the 21st Century” (“Beijing + 5”); the UN Headquarters in New York hosted the “Beijing + 10” (2005) and “Beijing +15” (2010) conferences.

In 2005, the World Health Organization initiated a program on “Gender, Women, and Health,” which published an eye-opening study of over twenty-four thousand women in ten countries, with recommendations for prevention and intervention of sexual violence as a pervasive and serious global health problem.

Not to be left out, the International Criminal Tribunal in June, 1996, defined rape as a war crime in its own right.

Amnesty International also advocated within the United States for an International Violence against Women Act, first introduced in Congress in 2009 and reintroduced in 2010, to mandate efforts by the U.S. State Department and USAID to end violence against women overseas, and to to provide resources for such efforts by NGOs.

Additionally, celebrity talk show host Oprah Winfrey has given support and worldwide publicity to local organizations fighting violence against women.

So also has actress/ playwright Eve Ensler been effective in telling the stories of women across the globe in their own words.

In Ghana, several years of advocacy by CSOs led to the enactment of laws that protect women’s rights and outlaw violence against women.

My friend Jean Adukwei Mensah is a lawyer and must be aware of the provisions in the 1992 Constitution that prohibit discrimination based on sex; the 1998 Criminal Code Amendment Act; and legal amendments that criminalized certain harmful traditional practices such as widow rites, female genital mutilation; and the Domestic Violence Act 207.

Who will lead the Me Too Movement to stop all forms of violence among my highly respected intellectual women?

To be fair, and again borrowing from Chinua Achebe, I will say that in the matter of arguing about victim/perpetrator of domestic violence, those who would see no blot of villainy in the beloved oppressed nor grant the faintest glimmer of humanity to the hated oppressor are biased partisans.

Will you lead the way Jean Adukwei Mensah, Chairperson of the Electoral Commission of Ghana, to say NO to domestic violence?

She who feels it knows it all.

Owula Mangortey
2nd March, 2020.

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