There are campaigns and movements across the world dedicated to raising awareness of violence against women. But beyond raising awareness, what actual action takes place? What are the tangible effects?
There is one thing we need to understand clearly: patriarchy is an enemy to both men and women. Men need to be saved from patriarchy just as much as women. If we are able to defeat patriarchy, both women and men will gain.
“The root of much abuse is child marriage. It has taken a considerable amount of time for people to understand that, and many souls have suffered unimaginably as a result. There is definitely greater awareness now, but it did not happen easily. We must continue to make sure no one allows it to happen.”
Women in the workplace make sense. According to the World Economic Forum, companies with a strong track record of gender diversity are 15 per cent more likely to have higher earnings than their peers. The Fortune 500 companies with the highest representation of women on their boards significantly outperform the others.
Two out of three Bangladeshi women are forced to deal with some form of violence during their lifetime. This can be domestic violence, rape, acid attacks, trafficking or sexual harassment, these being the most prominent forms. If you are a woman, chances are you, or someone you know have already faced harassment or some other form of violence.
According to a nationwide study conducted in 2013, about 87 per cent of women in Bangladesh are abused by their husband. A recent report by BRAC’s community empowerment programme (CEP) revealed that eight out of 10 violence perpetrators are men. Thus involving men is crucial if we want to eradicate violence against women. In 2013, BRAC for the first time initiated a project to engage men as partners to reduce violence against women by changing their attitudes.
Every morning I am woken by Hawa. In Bengali, hawa means breeze, but that’s not what I am referring to. I’m talking about my part-time domestic worker called Hawa. Hawa migrated from Mymensingh to Dhaka with her mother and sister in 2009. They came to Dhaka to work as domestic workers to provide for their family, while the men in their family stayed back in the village. Hawa never went to school. She cannot read or write.
“When you lose your face, you lose the whole world,” said Feroza Begum with tears in her eyes. “[People] always turn around to look. Some kids shout, some follow, some hide.” Feroza is a survivor of acid violence. But her courage and strength through her hardship is what has earned her the title of joyeeta, the Bengali word for winning woman.
With the progress we are making in development, one would think that violence against women would by now be a thing of the past. On the contrary, it is proving to be an epidemic. One in three women will experience violence during her life simply because she’s female – that amounts to one billion women in the world. One Billion Rising is a global campaign, created by American playwright and feminist Eve Ensler, to call for an end to violence against women and girls.
Yesterday from the Philippines to Dhaka to South Sudan to New York City, BRAC staff, volunteers, clients, interns and supporters participated in One Billion Rising, which invited women and those who love them around the world to "WALK OUT, DANCE, RISE UP, and DEMAND" an end to violence against women.
A huge number of media photographers piled into a seminar arranged by BRAC’s Safe Citizenship for Adolescent Girls Programme, “MEJNIN” on the September 13th, 2011. Due to the congestion caused by press personnel, it was difficult to spot the notable guests.