Breaking the silence

25 Nov

From November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10 December, Human Rights Day, activists from all over the world join the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence campaign. 



The numbers are horrific. One out of three women experience gender based violence in their lifetime. According to a recent UN report, 19 per cent of women between 15 and 49 years of age said they had experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner in the 12 months prior to the survey. In 2012, almost half of all women who were victims of intentional homicide worldwide were killed by an intimate partner or family member, compared to 6 per cent of male victims.

The stories behind these numbers are even more horrific. And yet, they are often left untold. The majority of cases are never reported to the police. Being a survivor of ‘domestic’ violence myself, I still remember the mix of fear, shame and pain that made me keep my mouth shut for years.

And you wanna know the weirdest part of all? When I finally did start talking about what had happened, many years after I’d left my abusive partner, people were telling me not to. That it ‘wouldn’t be good for my public profile’ as a politician. That I ‘must have asked for it’. That ‘women like it rough’.

There still is a taboo on discussing gender based violence, especially intimate partner violence. But with the #metoo movement gaining momentum accross the globe, I am hopeful that more survivors of intimate partner violence feel safe enough to share their stories. Because we need to break the silence before we can break the chain of violence.




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