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Some simple suggestions to tackle violence against women and children

While it is important to have proper legislation in place, I find some simple and innovative actions quite effective. For example, women of a particular community got together and decided to establish secret "watch" groups on each street. Homes in which abuse occurs are identified and an anonymous note is delivered saying something like: "We know there is spouse-abuse (or child-abuse) taking place in this home. Stop NOW or face the consequences." Usually, the note provides an address where counselling could be obtained free of charge. If the abuse continues, the photo of the abuser is printed on a flyer and distributed in the community. The abuser is warned beforehand that his/her photo would be published. This type of action is not fool-proof and can backfire if not handled carefully. However, it does work in many instances.

In my opinion, vigilant communities can stop some forms of abuse and violence against women and childen, even those that are deeply embedded in so-called "traditions" and "cultures". But, for this to happen community spirit must prevail. As such, my first recommendation to UN Women is to go back to basics...working with women and men to form strong community-based organisations/groups/cells with a sense of purpose.

This is my first entry in my Journal. I hope to be enlightened on this and many other subjects by members of PulseWire



On the face of it I like this concept, Merlin, because I believe community can be a powerful tool of support for individuals, and I also believe that the entire community is impacted by the ripple effects of violence in people's homes. However, I worry about the potential for this approach to backfire, which you spoke of. The scary thing is that an abuser often takes out all his/her life's pressures on the abused, and when the community puts pressure on that person, he/she may well blame the victim: "Who did you talk to? Yeah, they think they can tell me what to do? Do you agree with them? do you? do you?" This can escalate into more abuse.

So, in some sense, the neighbors may find themselves playing God with that woman's life and safety. How do they mitigate that? Does she have any say in this intervention? If she doesn't, is it possible that by robbing her of her voice, they are re-victimizing the victim? I'm not saying I totally disagree with the community intervention approach, and I realize that many victims are so beaten down they won't speak up for themselves unless and until someone else does. However, I think this is an important question to consider, and I'm wondering your thoughts, or anyone's thoughts on this aspect of the problem.

In any case, I appreciate your concern and that you have the courage to speak out on this important topic.

nazrag's picture

I agree Merlin, not a bad

I agree Merlin, not a bad solution. But women must be strong in their thinking as well as actions. Abuse in all forms must be confronted but not alone, a group tied by a common goal could be the best solution to help a victim deal with abuse, the abuser and find solutions.


jadefrank's picture

Thank you

Dear Merlin,

Thank you for participating in this campaign, by using your voice and speaking out for women worldwide. Your letter is beautifully written and your voice is powerful!

In the coming weeks, we will compile your letters and share your voices with the GEAR Campaign, who have been working closely with UN Women to ensure the inclusion of civil society groups, and through the PulseWire community, grassroots women leaders, as they set their agenda. We will also be sending your letters directly to Michele Bachelet and other senior leaders of the newly formed UN agency, to demonstrate the effectiveness for sourcing opinion, knowledge and needs from the global grassroots women's movement through our online community. Through this, we hope to open a portal for our community to have a direct line of influence within the UN Women agency.

I will keep you updated on the progress of our campaign!

In friendship and solidarity,

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