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Cassandra Clifford
Executive Director and Founder of BTFF

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Ending Violence Against Women and Girls

Last week on Sunday, November 25th the world honored the International Day to End Violence Against Women, which culminated in many events to bring awareness to the fight against gender-based violence across the globe.   The day, which has kicked off events over the last week, was established by the United Nations in 1999 and was first observed in 2000.  Objectives of the awareness day include: strengthening local, national and international work around violence against women, providing a forum in which organizers can develop and share new effective strategies, demonstrating the solidarity of women around the world organizing against violence against women, and creating tools to pressure governments to implement promises made to eliminate violence against women.

Violence against women and girls affects all cultures and occurs in every city around the globe, taking many forms -- domestic violence, rape, child abuse,  female genital mutilation/genital cutting, dowry murder, honor killing, sexual exploitation/trafficking/slavery, female feticide, and discrimination.  The 2011 U.N. report on violence against “women estimated that up to 70 percent of women experience violence in their lifetime.” According to the World Bank data, “women aged 15-44 are more at risk from rape and domestic violence than from cancer, car accidents, war and malaria.” 

As an activist and human rights writer who runs an anti-human trafficking organization working with survivors and moonlights managing  a Krav Maga (self-defense) studio, where I both train and instruct, I have come head on with the many faces of violence and the survivors who fight daily to win back their power.  Along the way I have not just met abused women and girls, but also the countless men who seek to restore their faith and trust, protect and empower them.  I have been lucky to spend much of my life surrounded by men who support and fuel my independent nature, but I too have been a victim of violence.  Even though my story is old and short I know that such instances both big and small forever change you.  Therefore while ensuring support and understanding for survivors is key - it is the secondary key- for preventing violence and breaking gender barriers that fuel gender-based discrimination and violence are the main key to breaking this vicious cycle that plagues the globe from small rural villages to large industrialized cities - that will once and for all unlock the chains that bind survivors and continue to fuel the cycle of violence.

The root to breaking the cycle of violence is target men, not just to empower women to stand-up, defend and protect themselves against gender discrimination and violence.  Changing the perception that gender violence is a woman's issue is a must to see that generations  of inherited bias and violence come to an end -to end violence against women we must seek to prevent it in all forms.  Real men don't rape, beat, or abuse women and girls -they educate, empower, support and honor them.

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