Violence against women is never ok. As a survivor of domestic violence, I feel it is important to speak about this subject. The following is a collaboration between Nightwolf’s Den & ActionAid Australia
Around the world, up to 70% of women experience physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner at some point in their lives (World Health Organisation, 2005). That’s a shocking figure.
But violence against women extends far beyond the hands of an intimate partner.
There are many forms of violence and sexual violence against women that can affect both women and girls throughout their lives. These include, but are not limited to the traditional practice of female genital mutilation, early marriage, sexual slavery, rape as a weapon of war, forced abortion and forced pregnancy.
What is behind violence against women?
At the root of most violence against women is an entrenched and uneven power relation between men and women. In many countries around the world there is still blatant discrimination in law, policy and decision making that strengthens this power imbalance. There are also more hidden and underground forms of discrimination that are justified under the cloak of tradition and culture.
Violence against women can be deeply entrenched, but it can also be circumstantial such as in areas of conflict where rape and abuse of women are often used as a weapon of war. Up to 500,000 women were raped, for example, during the Rwanda genocide in 1994.
But violence against women can also happen in a more subtle manner. Whether it is verbal, physical, sexual abuse or threatening behaviour, it can have a devastating impact on the life of a woman or a young girl. Women who experience sexual or physical attacks often carry deep and lasting physical and emotional scars and experience feelings of guilt and shame. Even worse, they are often ostracised from their families and communities following the attack.
What can be done?
Safety and protection from violence is a human right. Change needs to come from law and policy makers, but also from grass root level awareness and education programs to challenge entrenched attitudes towards women and the power imbalance between men and women in many countries around the world.
There are a number of initiatives around the world dedicated to empowering women and helping stop violence against them. ActionAid Australia, for example, supports a number of grass roots women’s organisations in central and northern Africa to help women regain their dignity, safety and human rights. Women are powerful forces for change. If you’d like to join the fight to ensure women’s rights, there are a number of things you can do. Whether you help raise awareness or want to donate, charity organisations and women’s rights initiatives around the world will be buoyed by your support. Every voice makes the message stronger – violence against women must stop.
ActionAid Australia is an anti-poverty agency that works towards eradicating poverty and injustice. ActionAid’s work addresses issues such as poverty, hunger and women’s rights. Violence against women is a gross violation of female human rights, and ActionAid is committed to helping stop all forms of violence against women.