A State of Injustice will never prevail!
My sisters, mothers and friends,
The sentence delivered a week ago by the Superior Appeal Court declaring my aggressor Rufino Licuco innocent is a blow to the struggle by women against Gender-based violence, a men’s war against women. It is a blow to millions of Mozambican, South African, African and women around the World. Paraphrasing from my father Samora Machel “I have lost a battle, but we have not lost the war.”
I and my family trusted the Justice System. I presented irrefutable evidence (including a confession from Rufino Licuco), and testimony from recognized experts who have gave their professional testament to the origin of my injury which is now the scar I carry in my face, the loss of an eye. Rufino Licuco knows the absolute truth, many people also do, but above all God knows. Our Judges also knows. But we live in a country, in a continent and a World where it is easier and more palatable to the men who rule us to believe one of their own. Never a woman. Because no one was around, the only logical conclusion is that I am lying.
When I first screamed and told the health and police agents what had just happened to me, I was alone, terrified, screaming for my life, for help, any help. Screaming for the truth without ever thinking that I would be told that I am lying. But more importantly, without knowing that my horrible experience would only serve to confirm the experience of millions of women around the World. The abuse, not only by those they trust, but by the justice system that purports to represent them.
In the latest judgement by the Court, the continuous contention between women who dare to seek justice and the resolution of cases demonstrate the paradoxes of both the interpretation and application of the law. It is a revelatory example of the glaring shortfalls of implementation of legal frameworks and legislation designed to serve and protect survivors of domestic violence. In the pursuit of justice, the bravery of women to go public with their heart wrenching experiences of gender based violence require the dropping of secrecy, shame and stigma, and the placing of their trust to use the protection of the law and the judiciary system. The law is suppose to be the first and final source of refuge and protection, but as the “Josina Machel Case” demonstrates, the criminal justice system often harms and further perpetuates the suffering survivors of domestic violence face. The Justice system is a betrayal of the trust of the people and a source of encouragement for perpetrators to continue impunity without fear of consequences.
This particular System of Power has already the blood of my Father in their hands, and once again they choose to remain with my blood in their hands.
I want to thank my family for the unwavering and unquestionable support. My friends, colleagues and the thousands of women in Mozambique and around the World who have supported me, believed me, continue to support and believe me, because they see their own struggle in me. Because they know and recognize that mine is the plight of many others. And for that, the struggle against gender-based violence must and will continue. For me, as an activist, A Luta Continua!
I want to ensure the millions of women and in particular victims and survivors of violence that my resolve and determination has been strengthened. This struggle chose me and I will continue using my voice and my face to advocate and fight for the eradication Gender-based violence till my last breath. Together, and only together, we will challenge and dismantle this system of oppression.
With one eye, I soldier on,
Josina Z. Machel