The United Nations kicked off its annual 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence on 25 November 2020 with the theme, “Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!” Even before the Coronavirus pandemic hit earlier this year, the figures surrounding gender based violence were staggering, but the lockdown saw a fresh wave and an alarming increase in reported cases of violence against women and girls worldwide. Gender-Based Violence is any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women. This includes threats of violence, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private (UNECE, 2020).
Violence against women is a total violation and disrespect of women’s human rights, their dignity and their person. It results into lifelong emotional physical and sexual trauma, illness and more often than not, death. Gender Based Violence includes, but is not limited to physical abuse (battering), sexual and psychological violence, marital rape, female genital mutilation, forced and early marriages, femicide, trafficking. Statistics show that women are more likely to abused by a member of their family, than by a stranger. Why are you not angry? Around the world, 1 in 3 women have experienced or will experience physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime, mostly by an intimate partner (WHO, 2020). Why are you not angry?
Now you have seen the statistics, you have read heartbreaking stories, you’ve seen the scars now you’re wondering what to do, how to help and you’re asking “what’s next?” That anger you’re feeling is good and valid, now channel it doing something useful and into making a difference. So let’s breakdown this year’s theme:
One very important thing you can do to help fight violence against women is provide funding to organizations dedicated to combating VAWG. You can always use Google to find such NGOs within your community. For this article, I took the liberty of listing some Nigerian organizations that are making significant impact on issues concerned with sexual and physical violence against women:
1. Stand To End Rape (STER)
Since 2015, STER, a youth-led social enterprise advocating against sexual violence, headed Ayodeji Osowobi, has been fighting sexual violence by providing prevention mechanisms, and supporting survivors. The important work STER has done over the years has been intense and inspiring. They have provided counseling sessions, advocated for rape survivors, constantly reiterated the need to end stigmatization of survivors. Please support STER and the work they do by donating to the cause. Their website is standtoendrape.org.
2. The Consent Workshop
The Consent Workshop was formed by Uche in July 2018 after an online revolution asking sexual abuse survivors to voice their thoughts and name their abusers. The Consent Workshop constantly fosters important dialogue on our cultural attitudes towards sex. Their goal is to upset rape culture, thereby allowing youths to make healthier sex positive decisions by providing education and resources. To find out more information on the work they do and how to support them, please visit theconsentworkshop.com.
Other organizations you can support by donating include; UN Trust Fund to End Violence
against Women, Women at Risk International Foundation (WARIF), The Mirabel Center, Save The Children, Beyond FGM, Plan International, UNHCR, WHO, Daughters of Eve, among others.
Governments around the world are beginning to take a stand against violence against women by making laws and implementing policies, but are these enough? Are they moving fast enough? These are important questions that we must ask, and should be asking our elected representatives in office.
We have seen organizations that we can donate to, now we also have the collective responsibility to share this information on our social media and to family and friends. Another way to respond is by creating safe spaces for women and girls. In our offices, homes and social spaces, how safe are women? When you witness a person being abusive, how do you respond? When a woman summons the courage to share her story, are you empathetic enough? A number of key things need to happen;
Countries around the world must recognize violence against women and girls, as a
significant human rights issue and commit to finding solutions. We can do our part by
reaching out to elected reps and keeping the pressure on them.
– We need the international community and major global corporations to open their purses. Fighting violence against women requires funds and that’s where these corporations come in.
– All survivors of GBV must have proper access to healthcare, counseling support,
including therapy. Access to shelter and safe housing must be a priority.
– Local and community leaders need to host community-level dialogue, educating men and boys, to change harmful cultural practices, attitudes, and behaviors concerning the rights of women and girls.
– Abolish Harmful Traditions
Harmful and dangerous practices like FGM, child marriage have no place in society and need to be abolished. These practices have devastating and often fatal impacts on the lives of girls around the world. There’s need for rural families to be educated on the facts and impacts to help end these practices.
– No means No. Resist the urge to victim blame, and reinforce that rape is never the
– Educate yourself on violence against women; learn the facts, how to help and what to do.
– Believe survivors.
– Speak out and speak up against all forms of violence.
– Always ask for permission before and during physical or sexual contact with someone.
– Encourage grass-root advocacy. Organize, Plan, Educate.
– Banish harmful phrases like, “boys will be boys,” and “man up” from your vocabulary.
– Social Media Activism. Make a lot of noise using your different social media platforms.
It helps, it works.
Whatever information you need, you can always obtain from the internet these days, but we still have a long way to go on collecting data related to gender based violence. Let’s mobilize, organize and fund our communities so we can end this pandemic of violence against women for good. If you can, research and collect and collate data on every level to highlight the magnitude of violence against women and girls. If you cannot, contribute and amplify the work of those involved. Government and international bodies must release funds to enable proper collection of data related to violence.
Data must be based and separated by relevant factors. Most importantly, data collected must be made public so as to increase awareness on violence against women and girls.