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Mind the gap!

Wednesday 25th August 2010

Francine Caruana, our Nkabomer from Malta, talks about the still-existing disparities between the sexes and about human rights education through the arts.  


Arresting!  Soul Searching!  Speaks Volumes! 

One sees the insensitivity of the male towards the female sex and the arrogance in the overbearing way he expresses his “might is right” attitude.  His gestures clearly show that he must silence the woman – his fist is his might; his left hand is his right to batter.  Sexual and gender-based violence – constituting grave infringements of human rights – cut across continents, countries and cultures.  Most societies prohibit such violence but the reality is that too often it is covered up or tacitly condoned.  But silence is not an option! According to the Russian writer Nadezhda Mandelstam, “It is better to scream.  Silence is the real crime against humanity.”  Such offences should not pass unnoticed.  Justice should be done with both perpetrators of such offences and also with their victims.  The images on the mural are set against the outline of a globe illustrating the universality of human rights for, as proclaimed in the United Nations Charter, human rights are for all human beings, regardless of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.  They are inherent to the human being and thus cannot be denied. 

This is the whole idea behind the wall mural, painted by the Malta Human Rights Summer School participants, an annual joint project between the Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies and 80:20 Educating and Acting for a Better World.  This ten days summer course with the theme of Crimes Against Humanity and Human Rights brought together 14 participants from Armenia, Malta, Jordan, Egypt, Albania, Georgia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ireland, Germany, Morocco and Nigeria, all coming from a different background, be it diplomatic, academic and international NGOs.  It was an extremely enriching experience.  Apart from broadening my knowledge about human rights, during these ten days I also learned a lot from the other participants, about their own experiences and the hurdles they had to face within their own societies, some of them being witnesses to full-scale conflict zones.  It also helped me to discover myself and realise how lucky I am to be living in Malta – a small but peaceful country – where my basic rights are respected and not downtrodden. 

Wall murals are an effective way of educating the people about human rights and crimes against humanity, the latter confined to genocide, mass murder, systematic torture, and atrocious acts of warfare and terror.  Murals are all about visual forms – instead of historical word narratives – that tell a story about atrocious acts and past events, thus creating another form of memory to inform the next generation of such acts and their dangers.  Consequently wall murals serve as a bridge between the past and the present.  Because wall murals are based on images rather than writing, they leave space for personal interpretation and encourage man’s thinking process which would then ultimately lead the community along the road to change. 

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