Of all the problems on the planet, one of the most preventable is violence against women. VAW has nothing to do with building green, nothing to do with access to clean water or good medicine, and even tsunamis are beyond influencing human on human aggression.
Violence against women is something that affects us all and can insidiously influence our lives and our society.
When addressing this issue, we’re talking about our mothers, sisters, daughters, cousins, and friends. We’re taught at a young age not to hurt each other, but somehow “acceptable” levels of anger, abuse, and perversion enter our mainstream consciousness everyday, and get acted out upon females across the planet.
Recent statistics cite the following: In Canada, 62% of murdered women died at the hands of their partners; in Peru, 33% of the women are abused by their partners; more than 90 million African women and girls are victims of female sexual mutilation; in Zimbabwe, domestic violence accounts for more than 60% of murder cases that go to high court; four million women are trafficked annually; in America, a girl or woman is harmed every 90 seconds; globally, at least one in three women and girls has been beaten or sexually abused. That’s ONE IN THREE!
We must learn to leave these tendencies behind. Too often, what we learn at home, we bring with us into the world. Boys who witness their father’s violence are 10 times more likely to commit violence against women in their lifetimes. I’m not saying this is just a man’s problem. This is something we ALL need to be vigilant about and work to improve.
In a recent article by Byron Hurt, “Why I Am a Male Feminist“, he recounts a workshop he attended on gender violence. The group leader asked, “Men, what things do you do to protect yourself from being raped or sexually assaulted?”
Not one man, could quickly answer the question. Finally, one man raised his hand and said, “Nothing.” Then the program leader asked the women, “What things do you do to protect yourself from being raped or sexually assaulted?” Nearly all of the women in the room raised their hand. One by one, each woman testified —-“
In the upheaval of recent events in the middle east, news reports are full of stories of innocent citizens being raped at the hands of soldiers on behalf of the government. This is essentially, institutionalized violence.
And lastly, I must mention Phyllis Chesler, who is a tireless campaigner for anti-violence with regard to women, and who speaks out constantly on the issue, most recently for Women’s History Month when she highlighted the ongoing plight of women subjected to honor killings.
Gender-based violence IS mostly men’s violence towards women and girls, but it can also be Woman’s Inhumanity To Woman and male on male aggression in the form of bullying, acting out against homosexuals, sexual abuse, etc.
Each of us has the power and responsibility to speak out against violence of any kind and help create a world where people can build lives without the threat of being hurt. Each of us, men and women alike, must force ourselves to stand up and take notice, and say No— No more aggression! We have other things to worry about, and better fish to fry.
If you have the choice in your life to surround yourself with peace, appreciation, happiness and joy, or aggression and violence, what would you choose? Choose the right life. Take notice, and call out to refuse small acts of unacceptable aggression. Don’t participate. Just shout it out into the open, and say ,“This is unacceptable” and, “I won’t perpetuate this.” That’s SO POWERFUL and something each and every one of us can do, weekly, daily, hourly.
When I think of re-framing motherhood, I think of every mother striving to create peace and safety around her -– to the best of her ability, and removing herself and family from husbands, boyfriends, societal or family situations that are violent in anyway. Of course this is not always possible, and I recognize this — but until we consistently take a stand, the problem persists. Collectively, we can and must change the energy surrounding ‘acceptable‘ levels of violence, period.
Bio: Joy Rose, is the MediaMom™ and President of Mamapalooza Inc., working to amplify the voices of women, through the MamaBlogger365 initiative. In addition she is the Founding Director of the Museum Of Motherhood. As an advocate for ‘Feminist Family Values’, she is the proud parent of four beautiful children, and two high-strung dogs. She’s also proud to be the APRIL Feature Story at MotherhoodLater.com.
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