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We can end violence against women—together

Thursday 22-11-2018 - 09:28

Ahead of the UN’s 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence, NUS Wales Women’s Officer Chisomo Phiri explains why tackling violence against women must continue to be a national priority.

Trigger warning: domestic violence and sexual violence.

25 November to 10 December marks the UN’s 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based violence.

During the 16 Days, women and allies around the world will be coming together to call for an end to violence against women and girls once and for all.

Despite the bravery and determination of women in the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, some people think that violence against women is already a thing of the past.

But let me give you some statistics.

Since 2014, 241 women in Wales and England have been killed by a partner or ex-partner. On average, that’s 2 women a week.

An estimated 35% of women worldwide have experienced physical or sexual violence at the hands of a partner, or sexual violence at the hands of a non-partner.

Some other national studies estimate that up to 70% of women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime.

Research by NUS suggests 1 in 7 women students have experienced sexual assault or violence on campus.

Other research by NUS suggests that 4 in 10 women students have experienced at least one instance of sexualised behaviour from staff.

Pretty sobering numbers.

But I’ll bet you that not one woman reading this is surprised. Because we know this stuff. We live it.

During the 16 Days of Activism, we say: no more.

We must take every opportunity we get to listen to the experiences of women. We must celebrate the diversity of women’s voices. And we must take steps to put an end to violence against women once and for all.

That means putting in the resources – the money, the time, the people – locally and right across Wales, at the scale and pace needed to meet this challenge.

Because, let’s not be fooled: this is still a challenge.

Let not one of us rest until the scourge of violence against women is a thing of the past.

In truth, it’s difficult for me to find an adjective which sufficiently describes what I think of violence against women.

But let’s say this: it’s abhorrent.

Not only is it abhorrent in and of itself. That much is self-evident.

Not only does it destroy women’s lives, their sense of self, and their families.

But it also holds women back – socially, in terms of their career, and in terms of their education.

I want to be clear that no woman should have to forgo her education because of violence.

Every woman has the right to an education. Every woman has the right to safety. Every woman has the right to her life.

There is no one who has the right to take that away from women. There is no one who has the right to tell women what to wear. There is no one who has the right to objectify women, and worse, without repercussions.

It is not controversial, radical, political, or partisan to suggest that no woman should live in fear of, or with the reality of, violence.

Violence against women does not discriminate. If you’re a woman, you know that you could experience harassment or violence at any time.

It is only women who will lead the fight to put an end to this once and for all. So that is what we must do. We can, and we will, end this – together.

Download the NUS Wales 16 Days of Activism toolkit

This blog is an edited version of a speech given by NUS Wales Women’s Officer Chisomo Phiri at the National Federation of Women’s Institutes Wales Candlelight Vigil on 20 November 2018.

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