The M. in S.A.M. stands for ‘MOM’. Stop Abuse Mom!
“When you protect, empower and respect the woman/mom,
you protect, empower and respect the child.” …
It was an isolated moment ruminating when those words flowed unsolicited into my consciousness. Almost instinctively, I felt it go from mind to heart to gut, to my whole being, as if an awakening. And for a bit, I pondered.
In my quest for rhyme and reason for all that has been and for truth, this feeling in the gut was first wonderfully validated by a provision in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) particularly in Article 25(2), acknowledging that "Motherhood and Childhood are entitled to special care and assistance." “Motherhood and Childhood” …mother and child, ‘and’ is defined as a particle which expresses the relation of connection or addition. Article 25(2) too was the first enunciation that a child does have special rights.
A double whammy, I found and gained unqualified and further validation from United Nations Secretary - General 1997-2006 Kofi Annan in his message in the UNICEF’s State of the World’s Children 2007 Report. It reads:
“When women are healthy, educated and free to take the opportunities life affords them, children thrive and countries flourish, reaping a double dividend for women and children. In the 27 years since the adoption of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, much has been done to advance the progress of women. But we have fallen far short of what we need to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Until there is gender equality, there can be no sustainable development. It is impossible to realize our goals while discriminating against half the human race.
As study after study has taught us, there is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women. No other policy is as likely to raise economic productivity or to reduce child and maternal mortality. No other policy is as sure to improve nutrition and promote health, including the prevention of HIV/AIDS. No other policy is as powerful in increasing the chances of education for the next generation. That is why discrimination against women of all ages deprives the world’s children – all of them, not just the half who are girls – of the chance to reach their potential. This is an issue that goes to the heart of UNICEF’s mission: protecting the rights of all children. Among the many issues UNICEF has addressed over the past decade, none is more central to its mandate than the rights of women. “
Ann M. Veneman, Executive Director of United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) strengthens this symbiosis and correlation between women and children: “The State of the World’s Children 2007 reports on the lives of women around the world for a simple reason: Gender equality and the well-being of children go hand in hand. When women are empowered to live full and productive lives, children prosper. UNICEF’s experience also shows the opposite: When women are denied equal opportunity within a society, children suffer. Working within countries to achieve Millennium Development (MD) Goal 3 –promoting gender equality and empowering women– will reap the double dividend of bettering the lives of both women and children. “
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is a UN initiative, eight international development goals agreed upon by all 192 United Nations member states and at least 23 international organizations during the Millennium Summit 2000 seeking to achieve these by the year 2015. Ms. Veneman further states: “promoting gender equality and empowering women, MD Goal 3, will also contribute to achieving all the other goals”. I questioned, “promoting gender equality and empowering women will also contribute to achieving ALL the other goals ?”. I hurriedly retrieved a saved file, “MDGs” to reference, appended in parenthesis the corresponding number as shown and indeed, got my answer – YES, ALL THE OTHER GOALS ! Categorically, “MD Goal 3 contributes to reducing poverty and hunger (MD Goal 1) to saving children’s lives (MD Goal 4), improving maternal health (MD Goal 5), ensuring universal education, (MD Goal 2) combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases (MD Goal 6), ensuring environmental sustainability (MD Goal 7), and developing new and innovative partnerships for development (MD Goal 8)”.
Humbled, this certainly was more than I had expected in my quest for comprehension and truth. In ‘pondering women and children’, I went from connection to correlation to condition/ality. ‘Condition’ is apparent in a last key message from the UNICEF State of the World’s Children 2007: to have a profound and positive impact on a child’s well-being and development, women’s equal rights and influence must be strengthened and enlarged in the political arena, at work and in the home.
No pun intended, it hit home and the very existence of IamSam: domestic violence.
This farthest-from-intentional occupation and quest brought to mind, heart, gut and being certain realities and some rude awakenings:
1) Domestic violence is a learned behavior. It is learned in the home by observation and reinforcement before the age of 10 (fresnosuperiorcourt.org);
2) Children, who grow up witnessing domestic violence, are among those seriously affected by this crime. Frequent exposure to violence in the home not only predisposes children to numerous social and physical problems, but also teaches them that violence is a normal way of life - therefore, increasing their risk of becoming society's next generation of victims and abusers.
3) Generally the responsibility for recognizing abuse rests with the partner of the abuser (in this case, the woman/mother) because the abuser is not motivated to change (Evans, 1992);
4) Women are victims of violence in approximately 95% of the cases of domestic violence. While women do use violence against intimate partners, women's use of violence is distinct from men's use of violence in historical, cultural, psychological, motivational and situational ways (stopvaw.org);
5) Abuse does not happen because of your gender. It happens because you have been unfortunate enough to meet an abuser. Abusive people will be abusive in relationships no matter who their partners are. (droghedarefuge.org)
6) Addressing the human rights of children and women affirms that: Children and women are subjects of rights. In other words they have rights and are not objects of charity (Unicef.org).
Would I have thought the need to ponder connection, correlation and condition/ conditionality between woman/mom and child, women’s and children’s humanity, AND their natural entitlement? Would I have had (a need) to rationalize an instinct as primal as the maternal (instinct)? There is a life as I would have wanted it and there is a life as I was given it (Gire, 2006). TO LIFE ! … because WHEN YOU PROTECT, EMPOWER AND RESPECT THE WOMAN/MOM, YOU PROTECT, EMPOWER AND RESPECT THE CHILD.
Domestic Violence Issues." Fresno Superior Court. Web. 16 Sept. 2010. <http://www.fresnosuperiorcourt.org/family/domestic_violence_issues.php>.
Drogheda Women's & Children's Refuge Centre, Ltd. Domestic Violence. Web. 27 Jan. 2011. <www.droghedarefuge.org>.
EVANS, PATRICIA. The Verbally Abusive Relationship: How to Recognize It and How to Respond. Holbrook, MA: B. Adams, 1992. Print.
GIRE, KEN. Life As We Would Want It ... Life As We Are Given: The Beauty God Brings from Life's Upheavals. Nashville, TN: W Group, 2006. Print.
Institution, By. "Prevalence of Domestic Violence." Home. Web. 1 Sept. 2010. <http://www.stopvaw.org/Stop_Violence_Against_Women.html>.
Institution, By. "Women’s Use of Violence in Intimate Relationships." Home. Web. 1 Sept. 2010. <http://www.stopvaw.org/Stop_Violence_Against_Women.html>.
UNICEF. "Human Rights for Children and Women: How UNICEF Helps Make Them a Reality." (1999). UNICEF. Web. 21 Aug. 2010. <unicef.org/publications/index_5587.html>.