One in three women globally will be a victim of violence during her lifetime, according to United Nations data. At first glance, we want to rationalize this data and attribute it to foreign cultures such as Afghanistan, India or the Congo – places recently reported by the media where such egregious acts as genital or facial disfigurement, or gang rape of a mere child, have taken place.
Unfortunately, the developed world – including the U.S. – is not immune from indictment. The data applies to us as well. About the time of this publication, a trial is commencing in Ohio where a few teenage football players are accused of gang raping a 16-year-old girl. Social media is ablaze with disparaging commentary regarding the victim, only secondarily addressing the disturbing aspects of the violence itself.
Today (Feb. 14) has been designated V Day, a day of international awareness of violence against women. This movement was seemingly started many years ago by acclaimed author Eve Gensler, of “The Vagina Chronicles” fame, with the simple objective of raising awareness of this troubling state and, of course, ending it. The United Nations itself has had a similar global campaign running since 2008.
Unfortunately, violence against women knows no sociological or economic boundaries. None of us are immune – affluent women suffer rape or physical abuse as much as those who are poverty-stricken. And all of us, men and women alike, can make a difference with even just one statement insisting on mutual respect for individual liberties.
For those especially motivated by the disturbing data or the cause celebre of this holiday, a donation to our own SAFE (Services to Abused Families, safejourneys.org) in Culpeper would be helpful – the UN data suggests it is overwhelmingly insufficient to just deal with this issue locally. Those interested in the international effort to bring an end to violence against women, domestically and abroad, can gain further information by visiting onebillionrising.org.