Sometimes, the women who fight for us, need other women to fight for them.
I wondered what it must be like to be buying water to quench your thirst and your entire world changed. The news articles stated that you were buying water when you were arrested. I wondered what made you step out to buy water at that time of the day. Did you want to use the water to cook that day? Was the water to wash something at home? I wondered what happened when the very few that fight for us need someone to fight for them? Do we start the fighting? Do we find ways to bring you back?
I secretly wished you and the others would have stayed home, tucked in your bed with a laptop on your knee typing up appeal letters and legal statements, but I know that just isn’t you. See, women like you fight when no one else is fighting, scream when everyone is too tired to, fight with your last dying breath, you do, because that is who you are; a fighter for rights. I don’t think you were scared when they came to arrest you. Actually I think you held your head up high, with every drop of remaining water dripping down your arm, you held your head very high because you knew justice had to be served in Egypt and because you knew you had done nothing wrong. The rights of others needed to be protected; it was part of what you did as an African women’s human rights defender.
The violation of the rights of women in Africa cannot be swept under a rug and forgotten about. Yet every day the women who fight for our rights, continue to be threatened, battered, at times killed and in this case locked up in jail for 3 years. These women who fight for the most oppressed they themselves have no guarantee of their safety or their lives being protected, but they fight. The particular strength and power such women utilize within their communities to protect other women is what makes them unique. They have no fear, because they have put aside any form of selfishness, to fight for every woman whose rights have been denied.
The women like Yara Sallam and her colleagues who are now jailed for protesting the anti-protest law in Egypt are one more example of the women most women are too afraid to be. They bear the brunt of every whip, every abuse, every sentence the state will do to bruise women and sometimes even try to silence them. But their spirits never die, their voices never go silent. Even while they are in their jail cells, women write for them, fight for them. Because you see even the women who fight for us, need others to fight on their behalf as well.
Moiyattu Banya is a Native to Sierra Leone, a Digital Mover and Shaker, Feminist and a Writer. She currently teaches women studies courses at Temple University in the United States and also does international consulting with Social Enterprises in West Africa. She is Founder of Women Change Africa. Moiyattu is part of the African Women’s Development Fund’s (AWDF) Community of African Women Writers. Click here to learn more.