From the “F” word, Feminism, to standing up against the violence that 1 in 4 women experience across the globe, 16 days of activism covers it all.

According to the UN Women, ”From the 25th of November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to the 10th of 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.” This international campaign originated from the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute coordinated by the Centre for Women’s Global Leadership in 1991, and is still actively spreading awareness.

Sexual harassment and domestic abuse are the most comon forms of gender based violence worldwide.

It aims to educate women and girls on their rights, so they can protect themselves or someone else if they face violence. Violence has many forms and in the recent years, campaigns like #MeToo, #TimesUp, #Niunamenos, #NotOneMore, and many more, have been successful in bringing forward many unheard voices from the victims of violence. Sexual harassment and domestic abuse ranks as one of the most common forms of violence that women and girls are facing on daily basis.

Every year 16 days of activism has a new theme, and this year their theme is “Orange the World: #HearMeToo”. Under this campaign the policy makers and survivors of violence are communicating through local and international events to bring forward stories, and work together to prevent violence.

Social media has been another great platform of communication for this campaign, as many victims and survivors shared their stories under the official campaign hashtags such as #OrangeTheWorld or #HearMeToo. You do not need to of had experienced violence to support a victim, which is why many people are contributing their stories surrounding this topic. The aim is simply to make people around them aware of the horrors that many women go through on a daily basis.

Social media has an immense impact, both in a good and in a bad way. People on the Internet can be kind, and can show great support. Yet there are people who mock a person’s trauma, which is why another theme being covered under this year’s 16 days of activism is “Sexual Harassment is not a joke”. Victims of sexual harassment are often accused of lying, simply because they cannot always prove the incident of violence. This leads to many victims being afraid of speaking up regarding their experiences. It is hard enough thinking about their traumatic experience, and it takes great amount of courage to talk about it. Despite this, social media has been a great platform for the brave ones who stand up and tell their stories. There has been a great deal of support across platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

If you are able to educate even one person on the global impact of violence, a greater change will be set in motion.

Education plays a major role in the violence that women face. Women are refused the right to education, and the majority of them do not fight it. Due to the lack of education, women are not regarded in many fields, which leads to the on going culture of patriarchy. There is a content pattern of male dominance, which ultimately leads to violence against women and girls.

Domestic abuse is another issue many women still face, and, in some cultures, it is not even considered the crime that it is. In South Asia, when girls talk about it, even amongst their family members, they are asked to stop and never talk about the abuse they went through in the name of honour. Honour is used as an excuse because telling the truth about domestic violence can bring shame to the family. But how come they don’t think to stop the violence in the first place?

Domestic abuse is a global issue. Just in England and Wales over 1 million women are victim of it. According to the Office of National Statistics, “An estimated 1.9 million adults aged 16 to 59 years experienced domestic abuse in the last year, according to the year ending March 2017 Crime Survey for England and Wales (1.2 million women).” Some women stay in toxic and abusive relationships due to cultural pressure, or simply because they afraid to do so. In England and Wales, the BBC reported, “From January 2016 to July 2018, there were 7,034 arrests, but only 1157 cases ended with someone being charged.” Campaigners say that this data is extremely alarming for women, but sadly this is only 1 area of worry when it comes to violence against women and girls.

I can continue about the vast types of violence against women that are reported all across the world, and the stories of strong women who have not just survived it, but also come out stronger. Violence against women, and the threat of violence, are the main barriers to women’s empowerment and equal participation in society. What can we do as a community to help prevent violence? After all, prevention is better than cure. Here are a few answers I stumbled upon.

1: Empathy.

Until we don’t understand what their story represents, or what their journey has been like, we will not fully support them. Understanding their position and their hardship is the first step to helping anyone who is facing or faced violence.

2: Awareness.

Many cases go unnoticed, undocumented and therefore, unsolved. Starting with firstly educating ourselves on some of the cases of violence that women and girls go through, and then spreading awareness about it. Awareness can be spread through a simple social media post, or even a text message. Violence is a serious crime, and a violation against human rights. Any act of gender -based violence can lead to physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women. If you are able to even educate one person on the global impact of violence, a greater change will be set in motion. I have even seen many artists on social media who have illustrated for this change and in support of the victims, which is another medium you can spread awareness through.

3: Change.

Change starts with one. Along side spreading awareness, we should also have zero tolerance for violence around us. If we see anything that counts as violence we must stop it. By doing this we will be able to change someone’s life, and maybe even save a life.

4: Listen.

You can also make a difference by simply listening to someone in need, and encouraging them to seek help as well. Being a shoulder to cry on can provide great support for a victim of violence.

Violence is a global issue that millions of women have to go through each day. It needs to be stopped, and we are the ones who can make it stop by being actively involved in campaigns like #HearMeToo, and through helping anyone who may be in need. We live in a time where we are drowning in news and information, which is why it is more important than ever to never let such causes fade away. One step forward for our support can save a life of someone who has no hope left. We can all do something, no matter how small, to help eliminate violence against women and girls.

Categories: Features

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