13 Reasons to Make Violence Against Women Unacceptable

We’ll start with the bad news.

  1. Violence against women affects everyone. When women are unequal and unsafe, they cannot fully participate in society. Only when everyone is safe in public and private, can women, men, children, families, homes, neighborhoods, workplaces, communities, institutions, economies, ecosystems, and nations truly thrive.
  2. Violence against women is rampant. 35% of women worldwide have experienced physical and/or sexual violence. Look around whatever room you’re in: that’s about 1 in 3 of the women you see. Violence against women (VAW) takes countless forms, from domestic abuse and dating violence to online and street harassment, sexual harassment at work, rape as a weapon of war, bullying, reproductive coercion, forced and early marriage, stalking, and more. (For global stats, see UN Women.) And then there’s the always-hovering threat of violence that leads women to adjust their walking routes, carry pepper spray, watch friends’ backs at parties, avoid public transportation, stay inside or offline, or tell their daughters not to wear heels in case they have to run. All of the above interfere with women’s everyday ability to live, go, do, work, love, thrive, and just be.
  3. Violence and discrimination against women and girls are human rights violations. The underlying causes of violence against women are inequality and discrimination. A life free of violence and discrimination is a basic human right, one that every person and child deserves. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights establishes that:
    • All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
    • Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
    • No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
  4. Violence against women is everywhere. Violence is one expression of women’s unequal status. It varies in form and degree across cultures and countries, but persists worldwide.
  5. Violence against women is expensive. The annual cost of intimate partner violence alone in the U.S. alone exceeds $5.8 billion, including both medical costs and lost productivity. Violence against women has been shown to reduce countries’ gross national product.
  6. Violence against women hurts men and children. And leads to more violence. Witnessing violence in one’s home is the strongest predictor of violence in one’s adult and intimate relationships.
  7. Violence and discrimination against women is often seen as normal, not a big deal, a private problem, or the fault of…women. That’s what’s happening every time a woman is blamed for “getting herself raped.” (Welcome to “rape culture”—the norms that emerge when people and institutions tolerate, shrug off, or justify rape.) That’s what happened when the NFL punished players more harshly for possessing pot than for committing domestic violence. That’s what happened when many men surveyed in Delhi said women bring street harassment upon themselves (ICRW, 2013). And that’s what Dean Obeidallah means when he says: “A woman is attacked once every 15 seconds in this country. If women were doing this to men, we’d have gender profiling, we’d want terror alerts, we’d be going crazy.”

And now, the good news.

  1. Ending violence against women will help end violence against everyone. We stand against all forms of violence and discrimination. And in fact, all are interconnected. Violence against women—and gender-based violence in general—fuels and is fueled by virtually all other societal ills and inequalities. They’re the same issues that drive bullying, homophobia, anti-trans* discrimination and violence, and more. We see preventing violence against women is a key entry point for addressing them all and promoting all humans’ human rights.
  2. Violence against women is preventable. Mallika Dutt: “Violence against women is staggering in scale. It is also one of the easiest things to stop. We don’t need to create a new vaccine or a new technology. We just need to act. We can start in our homes and our schools by teaching kids to respect boys and girls. We can demand enforcement of laws that protect women and punish offenders. We can speak up in our workplaces, fraternities, congregations, and schools. We can use social media to challenge bullying and promote human rights. The power to change the world—for women, for girls, for everyone—is in our hands.”
  3. There’s never been a better moment. Men and women from Delhi to Dallas are—now more than ever—realizing their responsibility and power to end violence against women and standing together to do it. Awareness and momentum, among civil society, government leaders, the media, and more, have never been stronger: in the U.S., in India, around the world. This is a moment we can seize together.
  4. When we end violence against women, everyone wins. We believe that the norms and cultures that cause and continue violence against women hurt us all. These norms include limiting, damaging notions and models of the “right” way to be a man or a woman. The more we challenge and dismantle those norms, the more we are all safe, free, and able to be our best and realest selves.
  5. A world in which violence against women is unacceptable is a better world for all. Build that world with us. Join the Breakthrough Generation.

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