Girls’ Tribunal on Violence: Bearing Witness to Girls’ Activism

On March 5th, during the UN’s 57th Commission on the Status of Women, the Loretto Community partnered with the Working Group on Girls to host the very first Girls’ Tribunal on Violence. This tribunal coincided with the priority theme of this year’s commission, which highlighted violence against women and girls.

It was both a challenge and feat of true progress to organize this tribunal of girls’ voices. Organizers brought together 9 girls from different nations to give their personal testimonies of real cases of violence which have impacted their lives.

In front of a panel of jurorists, these girls called for an acknowledgement of gender violence and real change. Sitting on the panel of jurorists and sharing the mutually exclusive goal of ending violence against girls was; Dan Seymour, UN Women’s Deputy Director of Programmes and former Chief of UNICEF’s Gender and Rights Unit, Faith Nenkai Metiaki, student activist at the University of Nairobi and a former UN youth Delegate to CSW, Prince Zeid R’ad Zeid Al-Hussein, permanent representative of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to the United Nations and former Jordanian Ambassador to the United States, and Abigail Disney, filmmaker, philanthropist and activist based in NYC and producer of “Pray the Devil Back to Hell” and the PBS film
series “Women, War & Peace”

The Tribunal consisted of three panels focused on Media-based Violence, Violence in Schools and Violence in Communities. In the Media-based Violence case, witnesses, Emma and Annemarie, from the SPARK Summit gave testimony to the dangerous personal and societal impacts of highly sexualized and violent images of girls and girlhood in the media industry. In the case presentation and jurists’ comments and recommendations, the importance of media literacy was discussed and concrete examples of how to ‘talk back’ to the media were offered.

In the case of Violence in Schools, Arawela from PLAN Finland, Nicole from the Girls Scouts of the USA, and Angelica from the Feminist Task Force in El Salvador, witnessed various forms of violence they and their peers face in a school setting. They spoke out about how girls around the world are suffering from violence such as ethnic-based bullying in school, taking passive roles in dating relationships and being subordinated, and the rampancy of gang related sexual violence against girls in El Salvador. The witnesses shared their own stories of how they are working to alert other girls and bring changes to their peers, teachers, parents and communities to end both physical and psychological violence against girls.

The last case, Violence in Communities, was delivered by 4 girls of different backgrounds. Ussula from The Grail, Mozambique, Celia from Loretto Community, Mexico, Julia from Girls Learn International, USA, and Thais from The Grail, Brazil witnessed cases of violence against girls in their communities. Witnesses reported how they had undergone domestic violence, interpersonal, collective and structural violence in their communities, and deprivation of sexual rights for being LGBT.
As one of the witness, Celia, said “violence is everywhere”. Unfortunately Celia couldn’t attend the Girls Tribunal since her visa was rejected by the U.S. government, more concerned that she might find a way to stay in the U.S. permanently than with what she had to offer by her powerful testimony. Such select discrimation further proved Celia’s own words.

We all realize the importance and necessity of speaking out and making our voices heard. At this Tribunal girls did just that. They stood up and claimed their right to be protected from all violence and with empowered unity they declared that they would not stand for it any more – perpetrators of violence beware! It looks like the time of the
girl has finally come!

For photo of the event click here.

Reported by FTF Staff

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