From where I stand: Balla Mariko

Date: 15 November 2016

Balla Mariko. Photo: UN Women/Gaoussou Cherif Haidara
Balla Mariko. Photo: UN Women/Gaoussou Cherif Haidara

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In Mali, violence against women has reached a point that we couldn’t have imagined before. We are burying our sisters today, tomorrow it could be our daughters.

We are witnessing husbands murdering their wives, and going unpunished. What’s worse is that sometimes, even medical professionals, police officers or judges ask, what had the woman done? As if there is a way to justify her life being taken.

Breaking the silence around this issue is urgent, and we have to support women so that they can speak out. No father or mother should encourage their daughter to stay in an abusive relationship and suffer in silence. How is her death better than a divorce?

Stopping this injustice starts with men.  Men need to be responsible for their own actions and understand that they don’t own women, they are not superior to women.

Recently, along with other young men and women who believe in gender equality, I organized a popular march against domestic violence in Bamako. This led to the creation of the HVC (Halte aux Violences Conjugales) Collective—a nation-wide network of men and women working to prevent domestic violence.

Changing people’s mindsets and behaviours will take time, but it has to start somewhere. It starts with us.”


SDG 5: Gender equality

Mr. Balla Mariko, 40, and a father of two young daughters and a son, is a member of civil society networks working to promote human rights. He is also a member of the newly established Halte aux Violences Conjugales (Halt to Domestic Violence) Collective. UN Women engages with the organization in its efforts to advocate for women’s rights. Mr. Mariko’s work contributes towards Sustainable Development Goal 5 on gender equality and its target on ending violence against women and girls.

Read more stories in the “From where I stand...” editorial series.