Violence against women: Progress in some parts of the world, violations continue elsewhere

LatinaLista — It was no coincidence that President Obama signed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) the day before International Women’s Day, whose theme is violence against women. The expanded version of the Act is an important milestone in recognizing the rights of women, whomever they are, to be protected and guarded against domestic violence and sexual assault.

President Barack Obama signs Violence Against Women Act, Interior Department, Washington, March 7, 2013.

Now the VAWA protects lesbian, gay, immigrant and American Indian victims from violence of all kinds. It should be a matter of no time before these women and men also feel empowered, like other American women, who have benefited from the original VAWA signed into law in 1994.

Because of the VAWA, “the rate of sexual violence against women and girls age 12 or older fell 64 percent in a decade and has remained stable for five years.”

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for women in other parts of the world.

According to the United Nations:

  • Up to 50% of sexual assaults are committed against girls under the age of 16.
  • Globally, 603 million women live in countries where domestic violence is not yet considered a crime.
  • Up to 70% of women in the world report having experienced physical and/or sexual violence at some point in their lifetime.
  • Over 60 million girls worldwide are child brides, married before the age of 18…

And though women in the U.S. can rest easier knowing that whatever violent act is committed against them justice will be sought, women, as close as across our southern border, don’t have that same ease of mind.

In Chihuahua, Mexico, it’s reported that drug cartels involved in human trafficking have created concentration camps where kidnapped women are either kept or forced into sex 30-40 times a day, with little hope of escaping.

While it’s harder to influence the depraved minds of criminals, campaigns to reach men and boys discouraging the use of violence against women and girls are easier to enact and effect change — if the men and boys listen.

One campaign is known as Ring the Bell. Launched in 2008, the campaign goes global this year striving towards a goal of reaching one million men to make one million promises — to take concrete action to end violence against women.

The only way women, the world over, will achieve peace in their lives is if men see them as equals and that their rights are as important as the rights of men. This year, UN Women is releasing a specially recorded song to serve as “a rallying cry to inspire listeners to join the drive for women’s rights and gender equality.”

Titled “One Woman,” the song is sung by 25 international artists who sing about the solidarity that exists among women and how through that solidarity women can overcome the violence that still threatens too many in this world.

One Woman

In Kigali, she wakes up,
She makes a choice,
In Hanoi, Natal, Ramallah.
In Tangier, she takes a breath,
Lifts up her voice,
In Lahore, La Paz, Kampala.
Though she’s half a world away
Something in me wants to say …

We are One Woman,
You cry and I hear you.
We are One Woman,
You hurt, and I hurt, too.
We are One Woman,
Your hopes are mine.
We shall shine.

In Juarez she speaks the truth,
She reaches out,
Then teaches others how to.
In Jaipur, she gives her name,
She lives without shame
In Manila, Salta, Embu.
Though we’re different as can be,
We’re connected, she with me

We are One Woman,
Your courage keeps me strong.
We are One Woman,
You sing, I sing along.
We are One Woman,
Your dreams are mine.
And we shall shine.
We shall shine.

And one man, he hears her voice.
And one man, he fights her fight.
Day by day, he lets go the old ways,
One Woman at a time.
Though she’s half a world away,
Something in me wants to say.

We are One Woman,
Your victories lift us all.
We are One Woman,
You rise and I stand tall.
We are One Woman,
Your world is mine
And we shall shine.
Shine, shine, shine.
We shall shine
Shine, shine, shine.
We shall shine.
Shine, shine, shine.

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