Notes from RYTHM Foundation
Today’s post is dedicated to the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, which falls on November 25 every year.
In 2011, you would expect women to be liberated, right? Sadly, the truth is senseless violence against women happens, every day. It’s actually one of the most widespread violations of human rights, according to United Nations data. What’s even more shocking is this:
For women between the ages of 15 and 44, acts of violence cause more death and disability than cancer, malaria, traffic accidents and war, combined.
According to research, as high as 70% of women experience violence from men in their lifetime. A World Health Organization study found that the occurrence of violence by a partner varies from 15% in urban Japan to 71% in rural Ethiopia. Most areas fall within the 30-60% range.
In India, 22 women were murdered each day in dowry-related incidents in 2007. In South Africa, a woman is killed every 6 hours by an intimate partner. Just a few days ago, two foreign journalists were sexually assaulted by the police whilst covering the unrest in Egypt. And the list just goes on… more statistics can be found here.
You may think it doesn’t happen in your community, but it seems that the message of violence reaches far and wide. Activist Jean Kilbourne revealed in her video, Killing Us Softly 4, how the portrayal of women in mass media could have a serious impact on society. In advertising, women are often reduced to objects – literally and figuratively – and put in a submissive light. Advertising is so pervasive that we get used to the images we see every day and over time, it becomes “normal”.
For example, we might see a poster where a woman is taken apart like a Lego toy, or a music video with a girl restrained in chains, but we shrug it off because we think it’s just an ad. (Strangely, men are rarely portrayed as subservient.) In the long run, this subtle exposure – or not so subtle, in some cases – could lead negative issues, such as violence, eating disorders, and drug and alcohol addiction.
What can we do to stop the abuse? Awareness and education are crucial. How can we teach our children and those around us that it is never okay to resort to violence?
What’s also important is providing support to the victims of violence, who often feel alone, helpless and hopeless. For someone going through it on her own, the aftermath can be just as much of a nightmare. Here’s an interesting and informative speech by the executive director of AWARE (the Association of Women for Action and Research) about date rape and a victim’s harrowing experience. If you know someone who is a victim of abuse, or suspect they may be, do something.
Interested in helping? Check out the United Nations Say No to Violence campaign – it aims to achieve five key outcomes by 2015, including the adoption of national plans to prevent, address and punish all forms of violence against women; as well as the establishment of support systems for victims.
Join in the fight to protect mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends all over the world.