From 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10 December, Human Rights Day, the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign is a time to galvanize action to end violence against women and girls around the world.
The date of 25 November was chosen to commemorate the Mirabal sisters, three political activists from the Dominican Republic, who were brutally assassinated in 1960 during the Rafael Trujillo dictatorship (1930-1961)
This is a day that I can truly identify with as it is something I can speak about from first hand experience. It is not a third world problem. It is just as prevalent in our first world and since it happens to one in 4 women in Australia it has happened to someone you know. It is not just a WOMAN’s ISSUE and it cuts across all socio-economic boundaries. Men of the World, even if you are one of the lovely ones who would NEVER commit such an act, there is also a one in four chance of it happening to YOUR wife, YOUR daughter, YOUR sister, YOUR Friend, YOUR Girlfriend and these days even YOUR Grandmother.
As we all sit in front of the TV tonight the likelihood it is happening within a 2KM radius of you is about 80%.
Here are some stats from the website.
- 35% of women and girls globally experience some form of physical and or sexual violence in their lifetime with up to seven in ten women facing this abuse in some countries.
- It is estimated that up to 30 million girls under the age of 15 remain at risk from FGM/C, and more than 130 million girls and women have undergone the procedure worldwide.
- Worldwide, more than 700 million women alive today were married as children, 250 million of whom were married before the age of 15. Girls who marry before the age of 18 are less likely to complete their education and more likely to experience domestic violence and complications in childbirth.
- The costs and consequence of violence against women last for generations.
Here are some stats from AUSTRALIA
The vast majority of dangerous, abusive and violent behavior that occurs in the privacy of people’s homes is committed by men against women. The most recent information on violence in Australia comes from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Personal Safety Survey (national survey of 16,400 adults in Australian aged 18 years and over) conducted in 2005. The first issue of this survey was conducted in 1996. The 2005 survey found:
- Just under half a million Australian women reported that they had experienced physical or sexual violence or sexual assault in the past 12 months.
- More than a million women had experienced physical or sexual assault by their male current or ex-partner since the age of 15 (some women may be counted twice if they experienced both physical and sexual assault).
- 37.8% of women who experienced physical assault in the 12 months before the survey said the perpetrator was a current or previous male partner and 34.4% said the perpetrator was a male family member or friend. Most incidences of physical assault against women in the 12 months prior to 2005 were committed in a home (64.1%).
- 33.3% of women had experienced physical violence since the age of 15.
- 19.1% of women had experienced sexual violence since the age of 15.
- 12.4% of women had been sexually abused before the age of 15, compared with 4.5% of men, between 1996 and 2005. There was an increase in the reporting of sexual assault to police from 14.9% to 18.9% between 1996 and 2005 and there was an increase in the reporting of physical violence to police from 18.5% to 36%.
- 64% of women who experienced physical assault and 81.1% of women who experienced sexual assault still did not report it to police. The proportion of women aged between 18 and 34 who reported experiencing physical violence has decreased but the proportion of women who reported experiencing physical violence after 45 increased over the same period. The percentage of women who reported that their children had witnessed partner-related violence either from a current or ex-partner was lower than in 1996.
- The majority of violence against men is committed by other men. Of men who reported that they had experienced physical violence in the 12 months before the survey, 73.7% said that the perpetrator was a male.
We are all often a little judgemental about domestic violence. The fact that it is even called DOMESTIC violence as opposed to out-and-out VIOLENCE is almost giving it an excuse up front. Many people often think ” for God’s sake, why don’t they just leave?”. There are so many reasons that if you haven’t been through it you could never understand, so you should be supportive, not judgemental.
Woman against women violence
In some cases it is actually women committing the violence against each other due to cultural beliefs and the lack of education.
This includes Female Genital Mutilation or selling your daughters into prostitution or murdering daughters when they are born.
The “cultural keepers” of the practice vary as well. Among the keepers in different settings may be excisors, older women in the family or culturally designated groups of women in the community and in some cases even male barbers.
To make sure that people conform to the practice, communities have put strong enforcement mechanisms into place. These include rejection as marriage partners of women who have not undergone FGM, immediate divorce for unexcised women, derogatory songs, public exhibitions and witnessing of complete removal before marriage, forced excision and instillation of fear of the unknown through curses and evocation of ancestral wrath. On the other hand girls who undergo FGM are provided with rewards, including public recognition and celebrations, gifts, potential for marriage, respect and the ability to participate in adult social functions.
HERE is my Story
My own story is that I was in a relationship with a man I met while I was sailing around Australia. The man in question was a local powerhouse, which is probably what attracted me to him in the first place. Due to the fact that I was living on a boat at the time of meeting this man, circumstances probably put me in a live in domestic relationship far quicker than would have normally occurred. I am rarely stupid and have always thought of myself as a strong, intelligent, independent woman and always thought it could NEVER happen to me, I would NEVER be a victim. A number of people warned me about the man, including his recently separated wife, but I just ignored it for that age-old, stupid woman’s reason, “but I love Him”. If I had dollar for every time I have heard a woman say that as an excuse for putting up with unspeakable behaviour, I would be a multi-millionaire. Anyway, this man suffered from bipolar and I unfortunately suffer from “Florence Nightingale” syndrome. I have always believed I could fix anyone, that there was a solution to everything.
The violence started non physical. Just little things, criticisms about the meal I had just cooked, the way I looked, my behaviour when we were out. Very subtle, very masterful undermining of your self-esteem. Just waking up with someone who you went to bed with happy and the first words he uttered were “I am going to kill myself today” was a form of violence, because you love someone you start to wonder what you could do to help, how could you fix him. After many therapy sessions I learnt that this was just another form of manipulation. But everyday it wore away a little of the core of who I was..
After about 5 months it turned physical. It was just the once and for me the “but I love him” no longer worked, so I was out of there, literally running for my life the next day. It is almost impossible to describe what it feels like to have a great big man, that is absolutely manic, that no reason can reach, beating you up, kicking you in the stomach, screaming at you like a mad man. Nothing can describe the fear and vulnerability, along with the associated pain. You lose a piece of yourself that you never get back. You actually really do feel like you are partly to blame. If only I had listened to his wife who had also run for her life. In some way, you also, in the back of your mind think, the poor thing, he can’t help it he has a problem. Therapy session helped because I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life not liking men, feeling like a victim. I couldn’t go to the police because as I said this was a small town and this man pretty much owned the local police. It didn’t work for his wife.
The next day I packed my dogs and the car and went to stay with a friend who happened to be a nurse in Townsville. He tracked me down there so I went to Cairns. It took me another 12 months before I could return to my friends in Sydney because I was changed and they would have all expected me to be the same person I was when I left. The one good thing to come out of it was that it did cure me of my Florence Nightingale complex. I am far more discerning now and I still really like men. 🙂
This is not a story I tell often, not because I am ashamed but because I try to concentrate on the all the great positive great things that happened in my life.
I tell it today to try to give other women the courage to share their stories. Let’s make people aware that this is something happening everywhere to women from all walks of life all over the world.
The Link to the Official UN sites toolkit for what you can do is below.
Make sure you wear orange tomorrow or for the next 10 days.
Women share this link with your husbands, sons, friends, workmates.
You can take an oath with White Ribbon Below. I love this organisation because it is about men acknowledging that whilst it is not about saying I am nice I have Never hit or raped a woman and never would, but owning the fact that these actions are mainly committed by men and it is men who have to stand tall and not tolerate these actions among other men. If one in 4 women you know is a victim, that means that at least one in four men you know is a perpetrator.
You can join their THUNDERCLAP