We must think of better ways to advocate against social ills


The pain and agony that came watching this story threw everyone into shock and anger.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Reading the recent saddening case of rape, torture and murder of Velvine Nungari got me thinking about possible ways that this can be prevented in the future.

It made me question the approaches we are using to advocate against social ills such as child abuse, sexual harassment, gender based and domestic violence, racism, discrimination, female genital mutilation, rape, murder and human trafficking.

The pain and agony that came watching this story threw everyone into shock and anger amid calls for justice. The overwhelming love and solidarity saw the authorities intervene.

This has been the most common approach to advocacy against such vices and crimes as observed in campaigns such as Black Lives Matter, anti-FGM, anti-gender-based violence and anti-xenophobia drives. This has often yielded results in the time that it trends. However, it’s more of curative than preventive.

This kind of advocacy is “trigger-based” and only occurs when everyone is hyped by the story thus provoking us to take responsibility and advocate against it.

Soon enough, we forget and resume our daily routines. As the popular quote by Mark Twain goes, “habit cannot be tossed out the window; it must be coaxed down the stairs a step at a time.”

What we tend to forget is that the time such cases dominate media headlines is the opportune moment to run advocacy campaigns to change the society.

We can do this through peer-to-peer conversations, social media posts, memes, poems, songs, print media articles, TV and online documentaries.

According to the science of habit formation, habits are more often influenced by small, specific acts as opposed to big robust goals. The power in bringing these topics into our daily conversations is in the fact that they influence our immediate actions.

Repeatedly, information sinks into our subconscious minds, informing our daily activities and eventually become character.

This, for sure, is what can transform the negative mind-set that is inherent in society.

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