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
Perpetrators of violence often walk free, and crimes go unreported as women avoid ‘justice’ systems that punish victims instead of the perpetrators. Emi in Tunisia laments of a Tunisian woman who was arrested and charged with public indecency after being gang-raped by police officers.
Upasana Chauhan of India submitted stories about three gang rapes in Haryana state that occurred within a span of 20 days. In these instances, public figures immediately blamed the victims, suggesting girls should avoid going out late and wearing jeans. “It isn't that [law enforcement] can’t see the solution,” writes Upasana. “It is that they can’t see the problem.”
The problem is huge—it is inequality for women across every level of society. In India, that inequality often begins at birth where preference for sons persists, causing girls to grow up without a sense of worth—or to be denied the chance to grow up at all. Gender inequalities extend to education access and to women’s representation in politics and public life, all of which curtail women’s chances to escape violence.
Kabukabu Ikwueme slams the many traditional courts throughout the African continent that do not include any women, and which routinely “deny women equal opportunities before the law.”
“While we wait for our government to get their act together, we can protect our little ones,” says Chioma Agwuegbo who hails from Nigeria, where 13 bills are pending on the rights of women and children.
Like Chioma, the grassroots women leaders in the World Pulse network do not appear to be waiting patiently for institutions to change on their own. They are busy shaping the next generation and changing patriarchal attitudes at the community level. Education and training–at every age group–emerged from this campaign as a leading solution to ending violence.
“Women need to learn from childhood how to value their dreams and their psychological health,” writes Asma Asfour of Palestine. “They need to feel that their dreams and hopes are in safe hands.”
Family and community leaders also need access to educational resources to become agents of change. “In families, literate women can prove to be the most influential and radical sources of socializing modern peace-building attitudes,” adds Ali Reza Yasa, another male ally from Afghanistan.
Some contributors wrote about the need for sex education so that girls and women are empowered in their bodies. “There is a need to carry a wider effort in educating every member of the community to know his or her own rights,” says Ruun Abdi of Somalia.
And these women aren’t just talking—they’re doing. From Sudan to Vietnam, they are making use of the arts through street plays and drama as a vehicle for education and lasting solutions. They are leading community education projects like Gender Danger in Cameroon which trains communities to prevent violence, in this case in the form of breast ironing. They are creating the opportunities they never had, like Gladys Kiranto who ran away from home as a child to escape female circumcision, and who now provides community-led advocacy and a safe haven for young girls.
Not Without Men
Women who participated in this campaign spoke loud and clear that prevention efforts need to include men too. “Let us not only empower girls, but also talk to our boys about self-awareness and self-respect,” writes Emms from Namibia. . . .