According to the UN’s statistics, 1 in every 3 women has been subjected to violence in her lifetime. The general forms of violence inflicted by partners/non-partners comprise of battering, psychological abuse, rape, sexual harassment, unwanted advances, child abuse, forced marriage, cyber-bullying, and human trafficking, to name a few. The UN General Assembly has designated November 25th as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, for the purpose of creating awareness, strengthening global action and raising the required funds towards this cause.
UNESCO has reported that these unprecedented times of social and health crisis surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic have only made matters worse. There actually exists a ‘shadow pandemic’ – violence against women and girls that has been on the rise since 2020. Women who go through such experiences are faced with physical health issues as well as psychological challenges that may impact every subsequent stage of their lives. Moreover, women who are poor, financially unstable, belong to ethnic minorities, or have any disability are particularly more vulnerable. Goals of achieving global equality and peace can never be achieved unless violence against women is completely eradicated, so that women don’t have to live in constant fear of being violated.
It is deeply sobering to see the extent of evil we are capable of inflicting on our fellow humans sometimes. While we may not be able to change the whole world, it is possible for each one of us to usher in transformations within our own spheres of influence. We could start, as individuals and communities, by listening to and empathizing with survivors of violence. This can build safe judgement-free spaces for them to boldly share their traumatic experiences, and to find affirming communities of people who believe in them and give them the strength to face such a difficult phase of life. Such steps will not only help survivors to overcome trust issues, but will also, more importantly, break the culture of silence surrounding abuse and violence against women. While there are many organizations, some funded by government, set up exclusively for women to report any sort of abuse, the instances where women actually muster up the courage to do this are very few. This needs to change. If we see someone facing domestic violence or even recognize signs of abuse, we must reach out and find ways to help.
Even while we seek justice through appropriate punishment, it is equally important to help the perpetrators recognize abusive patterns and give them opportunities to reform. Simultaneously, we must work on the future generations of men as well, by sensitizing boys from a young age. All of this may seem like an overwhelming amount of work, but we can get there if each of us decides to take conscious steps each day. All this said and done, it is also important to remember that the trauma and mental health issues which the victims suffer often last a lifetime. A beautiful verse in the Bible says, “He heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds.” God, who created the human heart, can also restore it when it is broken. He can heal the deepest pain and cure the wounds which might not even be visible to anyone around. Trust him to come through on this if you give it into his hands. Also, if you need anyone to talk to about any such issues, feel free to DM us. We will listen.