This story is part of World Pulse’s Campaign to End Violence Against Women.
World Pulse believes that women's stories, recommendations, and collective rising leadership can—and will—bring an end to gender-based violence. The EVAW Campaign elicits powerful content from women on the ground, strengthens their confidence as vocal grassroots leaders, and ensures that influencers and powerful institutions hear their stories.
GLOBAL: Ushering an End to Gender-Based Violence
From across the globe, grassroots voices joined our Digital Action Campaign, proving that women not only bear the brunt of the world's violence—they are holding the solutions.
In a hospital room in Nigeria, recovering from a beating perpetrated by her husband, Olutosin Oladosu resolved that her daughter’s fate would differ from the last three generations of women in her family.
In the UK, Nabila Sharma put pen to paper, breaking the silence surrounding a childhood marred by sexual abuse at the hands of her imam.
In Afghanistan, Ali Shahidy’s concern for a sister trapped in an abusive marriage challenged him to flip the script and reject the violence he grew up with—violence he once perpetrated himself.
These voices join a chorus of over 150 courageous women and men from 38 countries who contributed to World Pulse’s Ending Violence Against Women Digital Action Campaign. They are survivors and witnesses to the violence that affects 1 in 3 women worldwide—and they signal our greatest hope for change.
As these women and men speak out on a topic that is all too often cloaked in silence, taboo, and isolation, there is an urgency to their voices. They paint a horrific picture of women tortured, killed, intimidated, and harassed in shockingly brutal ways. But they also offer glimpses of hope and strong recommendations for a way forward.
The solutions are there. Just look to Olutosin, who after leaving her abusive marriage, is now raising her daughters and mentoring 70 girls in her community to value themselves and break cycles of violence. “If I refuse to be the voice, my daughters would remain voiceless,” she says.
Look to Nabila, who became a nurse and a chaperone so she could protect other children, and published a book on her experiences.
Look to Ali, who has escaped the paradigm he was raised in and is now leading workshops to help men own their responsibility for violence and become allies for women.
Identifying the Issues
Submissions to the campaign confirm that rape, domestic violence, and abuse of women and girls happen everywhere: in homes, in streets, in schools, in legal and judicial institutions, in workplaces, in places of worship.
“The place is different,” writes Nilima Raut from Nepal, “but the issue remains the same.”
Submissions from Kenya, Sudan, Nigeria, and the Gambia paint a ghastly picture of rampant female genital mutilation in the region. In Cameroon, body modification shows up differently: Mothers seek to delay their daughters’ sexuality by ironing their budding breasts with hot stones. In India and parts of Africa, cultural traditions target widows with violence and stigma. Acid violence threatens women in Bangladesh. In Nepal and India, accusations of witchcraft provide another scapegoat for gender-based violence. Sex trafficking across borders thrives in secret in many parts of the world, as does the forced marriage of young girls. And conflicts and humanitarian disasters leave women vulnerable to heightened violence of all kinds.
If we want solutions, “It’s time to go global with this issue,” insists Neema Namadamu of Democratic Republic of Congo.
Changing the Laws
There are places where certain types of violence against women, such as marital rape or child marriages, are not yet illegal. Making these abuses official crimes is a step in the right direction, but women in the World Pulse community say that too often existing laws are not enforced. Briarose Marguerite D'silva writes that in Bangladesh, the only country with specific laws against acid violence and regulating the sale of acid, women continue to be burned. . . .