No, of course not! And yet so many mothers don’t believe their daughters’ stories about violence, abuse and maybe less severe physical but more psychological offences, such as being yelled at or insulted and harassed. Part of the reason is the misogynistic and victim-blaming culture in which we live.
25 November is International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women
According to the UN, almost one in three women have had these experiences, sexual harassment not even counted in.* And in crisis times, like during the Covid-19 pandemic, this number goes up.
Honestly, talking to friends and acquaintances, we think that every woman in the world has been exposed to some kind of sexual and non-sexual violence at some point of their lives.
Women and girls are most likely to experience this violence in a marriage or with an intimate partner. But what about fathers, uncles, choleric bosses or certain male colleagues? Whether they are patronizing or just act paternalistically, make discriminating jokes or abuse their power over our careers, they do affect our lives strongly.
Where do women and girls turn to whenever they experience violence? Hopefully to teachers and bosses themselves, but the institutions and companies they work for need to act on these reports, have procedures to follow and tools to fight this kind of discrimination, such as firing colleagues that acted harmfully.
Communities should provide preventative anti-aggression training for both men and women. And the time-honoured excuse of “Me? I’m a women’s champion, after all I have a wife and daughters” needs to be understood as the hollow argument it is. Being a ‘family man’ can come with little sleep and a lot of responsibility, but it doesn’t immunize men against stress, prejudice and bad choices.
Several new anti-abuse apps have been invented to help fight domestic violence, and they should be advertised everywhere, such as the “HeHop” app developed in France.
These apps are good – but women using apps to manage men’s behaviour and stay safe is not a real solution: we need men to be part of the solution and change their behaviour.
How can we help our friends when they experience violence in their relationships?
Some people argue women are weaker than men, so they cannot do anything against violence. But are they really? So many girls and women are witty and empathic, they’ll sense if something is wrong and even predict actions before they happen. If they were better trained in defending themselves, wouldn’t that help prevent them from being victimized in the first place?
What do you think?
We would like your opinion on what we can do in order to turn our world into a better and safer place for girls and women.
If you are interested in putting in more work, join our workshop on Dec 18th (details will follow), apply here: email@example.com
*Facts and figures: Ending violence against women | What we do | UN Women