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Be the Voice

Rose Cassy (Global Fund for Women)WARDLEY D. BARRY-IGIVISA

An entry in the 2016 Crocodile Prize

Be the voice
When silence dominates and ignorance
Shoves cottons down the throats of your fathers;
And fear cripples your mothers’ vocal chords;
And your weeping child is choking for breath
Desperately on the portals of death.
Stand up and sing a song or speak some words.
Carve them on wood; scribble them on papers;
And paste them on walls — nail them on a fence.
Be the voice.

When no one speaks and all lie in pretence,
Be the voice.
Climb to the top of the highest mountain,
And shout across the halls of valleys deep.
Let your echoes skip above soaring trees.
Let them spread their wings and glide with the breeze.
Let them arouse the kumuls in their sleep,
And bring music to garamuts again.
Be the voice;
For life, for love, for living. Take the chance.

Bear the burden, but entertain no pain.
Mortify your horrors and chase your dreams.
Be the voice
That rises when everyone’s falling down,
And soars higher when everyone’s standing.
Run in the morning and fly at evening.
Hold your pride. Wear your belief as a crown.
Be the voice
Rising above uninterrupted screams,
Where warriors of truth and justice are slain.

Wipe from your eyes the tear. Peel off the frown.
Bury your remorse in the garbage pit
— Justice favours the determined and brave.
Be the voice
That offers to the poor a second chance;
That gives to the downtrodden vengeance.
Be the voice
That gives freedom to the banned and the slave.
When threatened with fines or coddled with meat,
Even then, parade your cause around town.

Be the voice that money cannot silence;
And scheming politics cannot correct;
A voice that knows its heart and its own head.
Look at the people around you. Can you
Be their voice?
Be their voice.
And as needle is to the pole, be true.
In the end, justice makes hearts warm with glad-
ness, and truth makes the whole world its subject.
My friend, be the voice that makes a difference!



“All women—we all are fierce. We have all the same rights that men do” - Rose Cassy

Rose’s husband abused her for almost 20 years of their marriage. After decades of emotional and physical suffering, Rose took her husband to court and won her case against him. He was fined for his abuses and warned to stop his violent behavior. This victory empowered Rose, and she wanted to help other women in similar circumstances win their right to freedom from violence. She joined Global Fund for Women grantee partner Voice for Change, which works in rural communities in Jiwaka in Papua New Guinea to fight for women’s rights and safety, and stop gender-based violence and harmful traditional practices like polygamy.

Rose now escorts other women to court, providing moral and legal support for women testifying in cases of domestic violence and polygamy. In these situations, Rose often finds herself face-to-face with a woman’s abuser, and she stands up to him on her behalf. “Many women don’t know their human rights, the laws of the country, or how the courts work and how to access justice,” says Rose. “That’s why violence against women is a national issue. Violence against women is a normal thing.”


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Wardley Barry

Rose Casey, one word - courageous. To be the voice of abused women in a society where such ill treatments have become commonplace is something. Thanks Keith for connecting her endeavour with the poem.

Michael, poetry sure is a powerful voice. Though it is not always direct, the message is always profound and provocative. It makes people think and moves them to act. I'm glad that through poetry I can be the voice of myself and for others. On a personal note, I find poetry therapeutic.

Michael Theophilus Dom

I could not get to sleep. So I made some tea, set-up my laptop in the dining room, opened up my email to find this news article from The Guardian waiting for me.

Call it the hand of God, call it coincidence in the way the world moves today. It was an inspiring and galvanizing read.

Here it is.

‘Poetry is a perfect form to challenge human rights abuses’, by Shami Chakrabarti

The former director of Liberty explains why she feels poets are able to give such powerful voice to defend against oppression.

She mentions that the poetry of witness has long compensated for censored or corrupted news media when truth must be spoken to power.

Shelley claimed that “poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world”, and his work must have moved more people than a host of dry regulatory codes.

These days, human rights are under threat the world over – in Britain, Europe, and further afield. They have few friends in power, whether in politics, corporations or conventional media.

Surely, this challenge creates a new opportunity and purpose for poetry, for it is this medium above all others that so connects our inner and outer voices; both a quiet conscience and a call to arms.

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