International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women

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November 25th is International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women.

The day serves as a powerful reminder of the global extent of the headline issue – violence against women. Although seldom seen in headlines, violence against women is a scourge of pandemic proportions; cruelly scarring the lives of up to 35% of the world’s women. 35% – it’s worth saying again. Now, take a minute to reflect on what that statistic means when considered in human terms. It means that millions upon millions of mothers, sisters, daughters, wives, girlfriends….. have experienced violence during their lifetimes. How does that make you feel?

It is hardly surprising that this mass of misogynistic hatred has moved UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to spell out his disgust for such cowardly acts. “I welcome the chorus of voices calling for an end to the violence. I applaud leaders who are helping to enact and enforce laws and change mindsets. And I pay tribute to all those heroes around the world who help victims to heal and to become agents of change .”

Change is of paramount importance – the global incidence of physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner range from a LOW of 15% in Japan to a scandalous high of 71% in Ethiopia. As if that was not shocking enough – 17% of Tanzanian women, 24% of rural Peruvian women and 30% of rural Bangladeshi women report that their first sexual experience was forced. This is a tsunami of human suffering that is destroying countless lives, razing hopes and dreams to the ground and scarring the future indelibly.

The flood of horrific information keeps coming; women who are physically or sexually abused are 1.5 times more likely to contract a sexually transmitted disease. Such violence leaves scars, both physical and psychological that lead many to turn to alcohol and drugs in search of some respite from their memories. The scars grow deeper and deeper – and they live on through generations. Behavioural problems are more pronounced among children who grow up in violent households. Children, absorbing every little detail of their surrounds, are more likely to experience or commit violent acts in the future. They are also more likely to die young.

International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women is part of a year round series that on the 25th of each month urges people to wear orange to show their support for women who have to endure this barbaric medieval reality. We urge you to do the same and play your part in consigning this collective shame to history.

Resources:
http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs239/en/
https://www.un.org/en/events/endviolenceday/

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