Tracking violence against women and girls

Dear Editor,

“Violence against women isn’t cultural; it’s criminal. Equality can not come eventually; it’s something we all must fight for now. Violence against women can end only when the abusers get punished.” Samantha Powers 

We are gravely concerned that the culture of silence, intimidation and abuse will continue, if nothing is done. Equally, we are frustrated, and sick to our stomachs, of witnessing our women being beaten, dragged, kicked, punched, slapped and brutally attacked.

“Violence against women is perhaps the most shameful human rights violation, and it is perhaps the most pervasive. It knows no boundaries of geography, culture or wealth. As long as it continues, we can not claim to be making progress towards equality, development and peace.” Kofi Annan

Once a year, we observe International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women held on November 25, a day designated to commemorate the brutal killing of the Mirabal sisters, political activists in the Dominican Republic, back in 1960, later adopted by the UN in 1999 to cover all forms of gender-based violence.

Despite global awareness and their best efforts, it is not enough. We must observe it every day. The reality is violence against women and girls is an epidemic and has reached an endemic proportion in our country; and the senseless criminal violence against women and girls must stop.

The attacks against women have become frequent and brazen. No longer do abusers hide behind closed doors; instead, they have become emboldened. The blatant disregard for human life is, at worst, inconceivable and, at best, dangerous.

The abuse, harassment and attacks of women is a reflection of systemic misogyny and sexism within our society. It is immoral and unjust, and must not be tolerated. Every woman has the right to live free from violence and discrimination.

How many times must we hear cries from survivors, voices of advocates and activists? How many times must a family lose a loved one to violence? How many children have to grow up motherless? What must it take to get our full attention?

We can not let the next generation of girls grow up in a climate of fear and distrust. Attitudes and behaviors must change. Abuse is preventable. Start by teaching our boys and girls how to love and respect each other.

Today, I am calling on the government to fund an ongoing, high-profile, expert-informed awareness campaign on men’s violence against women and girls, highlighting and challenging all forms of abuse – from sexual assault to street harassment, stalking, and domestic and intimate partner violence.

Violence against women is an everyday reality. Act now, always and forever, before it’s too late!

Prevention is better than cure, so let’s treat violence against women like the public health crisis it is.

Shervonne Hollis

advocate and founder, 242 Domestic Violence Support Network, Inc.

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