Between 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and Human Rights Day on 10 December, UN Women will hold 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, a global campaign to mobilize people to take a stand on this pressing issue under the theme Orange the world: End violence against women and girls.
Some types of violence against women—mainly child marriages, human trafficking, acid burning, and dowry-related violence—are more commonly found in parts of Asia than any other place in the world. In 2013, a survey conducted among 10,000 men in six Asian countries revealed that 26% to 80% of respondents had perpetrated physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence in their lifetime, and half the men who admitted having raped a woman committed the act for the first time when they were only teenagers. The majority of these cases remain unreported. UN reports state that over one-third of women (35%) has survived physical violence, most commonly from an intimate partner, and up to 38% of murders of women are by an intimate partner.
In addition to the mental, emotional, and physical trauma brought about by violence against women, some societies —particularly in small, tight-knight communities in Asia—pose an additional risk of stigmatization and retaliation. Women are sometimes even blamed because of how they dressed, or allegedly acted to “tempt” the perpetrator.
These facts and figures can make people feel helpless. However, it is reassuring to know that as the situation worsens, individuals and organizations are working harder to improve it. ADB is supporting this effort by financing health projects to assist female survivors of violence, urban transport infrastructure designed with violence prevention features, and capacity-building programs on women’s legal rights. Each of us can take a bold step towards ending violence against women, and here are 10 ways you can help:
- Educate yourself. By learning more about the problem and what is being done to address it, you can meet like-minded people and join different activities as part of the growing movement.
- Work with young girls and boys. Values formed during childhood are likely to be carried out through adulthood, and teaching young children about gender equality and mutual respect.
- Choose words carefully. The words we use shape the world we are in. Expressions like “take it like a man” and “run like a girl” perpetuate beliefs that doing anything “like a girl” is an insult, while doing anything “like a man” shows courage. Campaigns such as #LikeAGirl and This Girl Can promote the idea that doing something “like a girl” can equate to strength.
- Research anti-violence policies at work or school. Learn where you can report cases, and what services and safety measures are provided. Share them on your social media accounts or other communication channels such as newsletters or bulletin boards. If there are none, you and your colleagues or classmates can propose one.
- Learn the law. Other than policies in school and the workplace, what are the laws in your country? This can come in handy if you or someone you know experiences violence.
- Speak up. If you see a relative or friend suffering from an abusive relationship, speak to her about it in private and let her know you are there for her. If you are a survivor, share your story online or in forums to encourage others to seek help.
- Take a self-defense or martial arts course. In Jordan, a young woman named Lina Khalifeh founded SheFighter Studio, the first self-defense studio in the country designed to empower women both mentally and physiologically through self-defense techniques. Find out if there is a facility near you that offers similar services and invite your friends to take classes with you. It will also be a good physical exercise.
- Contribute to advocacy groups and campaigns. Contributions can come in the form of monetary or in-kind donations, or volunteer work.
- Join the conversation #OrangetheWorld. Share your thoughts about ending violence against women using the hashtags #orangetheworld and #16days from 25 November to 10 December.
- Share your #OrangetheWorld photo, story, or video. Post a photo of yourself (with your family or friends, if you wish) wearing orange and post it on ADB’s gender equality Facebook page. You may also post a short comment, story, poem, picture, painting, short video, meme – anything that symbolizes what the issue means to you. The best post will win a prize.