It was through a song i have heard too many a times that drawn me back to recall its origin. when it was composed, by the then a former colleague of mine, the song described the feeling a daughter had toward a mother who suffered regular violence from the husband; the experience of being taken out of the school to join the many women garment factory workers to earn income to support the family; the harsh working condition women workers faced (and continue to face these days) under poor working environment and vulnerable working condition and often abusive and violent; the many vicious cycle of violence that as woman growing up in this society, face on the daily basis.
Song performed @ One Billion Rising 2018
by The Messenger Band. Video by author.
The artistic way that the song was performed, depicting the trauma as victim of violence push away and yet it pulls back upon them, haunting them from time to time - The Messenger Band revitalises that powerful memory once again.
There were many more stories being re-told through role play, songs, discussion, and questions and discussion among some 300 audience - many of whom are youth from universities and social workers - of the event at Chenla Theatre. However, there is something I was hoping to get featured during the afternoon. I wanted to share it but by all means this reflection could reach few readers who bother to spare their time for the note.
We have more than enough means to know and hear firsthand experiences of the cause of violence, the consequence of it at individual, family, community and as society and the cost it takes to fix the hole in the victim head and heart throughout their lives.
The audience discussed how change needs to take place systematically, individually, collectively; how law and regulation needs to be passed to prevent alcohol consumption; how patriarchal system rooted in Cambodian society needed to be uproots and every woman be recognised as a human being; how the victim shall get access to counselling services and psycho-social support and network from friends, family, community…. The list could go on…
I am not arguing that those lists are not important, of course they are… but as a participant at this very event, I would like to see how we take the experiences back home and how we could put it into practices.
For change starts with one step, one action, one determination
If we truly believe in change that we hope to see, how do we then see ourselves in the context and as actor of change?
If we were to be in the position of the perpetrator who raped the disabled girl, would we took a different action knowing the end result that this criminal act cause such adverse impact on a person’s life…
Will a declaration by a man – perceived as good man and - which got too much attention and recognition - be the solution… maybe?
Will the government passing the law preventing alcohol (sell? Consumption?) be the solution to curb the root cause of violence… maybe?
Or is alcohol truly the root cause of violence happening in our society…? As the MC/moderators pushed back, there are other men who drink but don’t commit violence….
And how will we suggest the many other laws, covenants, CEDAW, treaty that Cambodia has passed and been a signatory to could be truly enforced to seek justice for the victim, whether it is the woman, man or child victim of violence?
If we could take one moment, to put ourselves in the position of the victim, the mother, the father, the grandmother and societal members whose the story features their flaw and what they could have done… what action will we take to mend the wrong to be the right?
And that is the question that I hope the audience take home as a key ask, that their individual action is truly powerful to change the situation to be better, to contribute to eliminate violence against women, girls, children and any other person in society.
|The One Billion Rising Performance featured at least four times during the afternoon, |
each time with a few more dozen dancers joining it.
Photo by author - 11 February 2018