There are times when words are not enough, cannot express the insult to the soul of humanity. Such it is for the gang rape and hanging of those teenage girls in India; such it is for the stoning to death of Farzana by her unrepentant father; such it is for the girls of Nigeria, still missing. Such it is for the daily killing of women in the Caribbean.
But words are what we have, the main tool in our kit to grow the knowledge and outrage to mobilize all of us and our states to take effective action against the perpetrators so that, if nothing else the families of these girls and women get some comfort. That they know that the world has not looked away from monstrous cruelties.
What can we do? What is to be done? So many words already, more than ever before about violence against women and girls. In laws, in conventions, in national action plans, in the media, in poems, in research papers, in posters, on YouTube, in campaigns…. So many words already.
We can go into the development speak about political will, effective implementation of laws and policies, awareness building. And yes it is all needed. But what we must have now, as much as we have always needed it and not got it, is for more of our menfolk to see this as their issue.
We need more of them to organise the marches, make the statements, go as delegations to Ministers of government, call out their friends who abuse women, seek appointments with parliamentarians, refuse to laugh at sexism, obsess about violence against women and girls, about how to stop it without any buts about women raising boys, or being perpetrators or whatever.
We need more men to defend a shared vision of a world intolerant of violence against women and girls, not to be defensive. There are men doing this work already. Praises. Just not enough.
The mind can hardly process what the eyes see in the image of these girls hanging from that tree. Strange and bitter, bitter fruit. Murderous misogyny.
In her Ode to the UN, Maya Angelou ends with these words:
When we come to it
We, this people, on this wayward, floating body
Created on this earth, of this earth
Have the power to fashion for this earth
A climate where every man and every woman
Can live freely without sanctimonious piety
Without crippling fear
When we come to it
We must confess that we are the possible
We are the miraculous, the true wonder of this world
That is when, and only when
We come to it.