Championing healthy relationships

and sexual wellbeing

Ending Violence Against Women: A Story of Hope and Change

Once Upon a Time...

…there was a girl called Sarah. She was a vibrant, creative, and confident girl, with big dreams. Sarah's laughter could light up a room, and she was a ray of sunshine for everyone who knew her.

Until she was assaulted.

Sarah's story had a dark twist. She became a victim of violence at the hands of someone she trusted. It began slowly and infrequently, but quickly escalated to be a regular and terrible occurrence. Sarah was devastated.

Yet, instead of letting the darkness consume her, Sarah chose to become a beacon of hope for others by talking about what had happened to her and encouraging others to do the same.

The Shocking Reality…

…Sarah's story isn't an isolated incident. Violence against women is a global epidemic that affects millions.

According to the World Health Organization, about one in three women worldwide (1) has experienced either physical or sexual violence including harassment or human trafficking in their lifetime.

That's a staggering number, isn't it? And most of this violence is by their intimate partner.

Think about three women who come to mind, that you know. Now imagine that one of them is being violently abused. Statistically and tragically, it’s likely that that is true; that one of them already has been the victim of violence or is being abused now.

But Here's the Good News…

…While the numbers may be daunting, the good news is that change is happening. Across the world, individuals, organizations, and governments are coming together to protect women and girls.

One shining example of this change is the Nehemiah Project in Zimbabwe which empowers both men and boys to champion women as being of the same value as men, rather than objects of sexual obsession. The Shining Star project holds workshops for women and girls to educate them on their human rights, and Zimbabwean law and support them to get legal advice about gender-based violence. They also work with teen mums many of whom have been victims of sexual abuse.

In fact, all our ACET organisations seriously discuss violence and attitudes against women with everyone they work with. ACET Nigeria holds workshops for men of all ages to challenge the “normal” role that women are expected to play in Nigerian culture.

The South African team is working hard to educate young people about how to build positive relationships and report negative ones. They want to protect young girls from horrendous sexual abuse from ‘sugar daddies’ who live locally and regularly manipulate the girls for sexual favours.

ACET Ukraine run courses challenging toxic masculinity in schools, prisons, and youth detention centres.

The Power of Education and Awareness

Education and awareness are key players in eradicating gender-based violence. Schools, community centres, and social media platforms are becoming platforms for dialogue, where individuals of all ages can learn about consent, healthy relationships, and how to spot signs of abuse and coercion.

The more people talk about it and act on it, the closer we get to ending violent abuse.

Legislation and Support Systems

Another hero in this story is the legislation aimed at protecting women.

Many countries have implemented laws and policies to prosecute perpetrators and support survivors. Hotlines, shelters, and counselling services are now available for women in need.

These safety nets provide a lifeline to those trapped in abusive situations, giving them both the courage and the strength to break free.

Your Role in the Story

So, what can you do to be part of this change?

A lot, actually! Start by educating yourself and those around you.

Be a compassionate listener when someone shares their story. Know the number of local helplines for violence and abuse and where your nearest crisis centre is. Never hesitate to offer if someone needs help. Wear orange for 16 days (starting on the 25th of November) to raise awareness of gender-based violence.

The "Orange the World" campaign, led by the United Nations

Every year, from November 25th (International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women) to December 10th (Human Rights Day), iconic landmarks light up in orange, symbolizing a united stand against gender-based violence. It is like the world is sending a massive, radiant love letter to all women, telling them they are valued, cherished, and protected. Support organizations working tirelessly to eradicate violence against women.

Remember, even the smallest act of kindness can have a massive ripple effect.

In Conclusion

Sarah's story, though marked by darkness, serves as a reminder that resilience and hope can triumph over adversity. It's a story that's still being written, and you are part of it. Together, we can ensure that every woman's story is one of strength, love, and empowerment.

Let's continue this conversation, and let's make the world a safer place for all the “Sarahs” out there.

 

1. Devastatingly pervasive: 1 in 3 women globally experience violence (who.int)