Tackling the Culture of Silence

picture-2A Culture of Silence, or the conspiracy of silence, is the idea of a situation or issue not coming to light due to the fear of an array of repercussions. In other words, people stay quiet about an issue instead of voicing their concerns because they are afraid of how they will be treated if they do.

In this years sessions for the Committee on the Rights of the Child at the United Nations, the idea of the culture of silence was discussed. The committee, whose purpose is to monitor the human rights of children in various countries, was concerned with the major challenges of silence.

Although the culture of silence is applicable to a variety of societal issues all around the world, specifically in two southern African countries, Zimbabwe and Zambia, there is a big issue concerning child abuse. Although reporting the abuses seems like the obvious solution, the challenge with this remains in the fear of social rejection.

The delegations of both Zimbabwe and Zambia mentioned that the majority of child offenses occur within the family environment. Children are less likely to report cases of abuse in order to protect the “breadwinners” of their family. Specifically for young girls, widespread gender inequality and discrimination still exists, which would lead them to be ostracized and rejected by society.
The empowerment of young girls and young boys needs to be encouraged through awareness and anti-discrimination campaigning. Stronger societal support for women and children would decrease the dependency on the “breadwinners” of the families and hopefully lead to an increase of reporting of abuses and ultimately lower cases of abuse all together.

Kate Harold ERI Intern

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