One Bil­lion Ris­ing: Op­pos­ing vi­o­lence against women

Rappahannock News - - EDITORIAL & OPINION -

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 pover­tys­tricken. 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, www.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.

BARB KA­VANAGH

Washington

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