Let’s put an end to gender-based violence

Rape. One word, one reality that women around the world all share.

Because of our gender, all women have in their mind a fear, a concern, a reality of being raped. It is always a part of us, even if it exists only in our subconscious. Ask a man, getting ready to go out for the evening, what are things he needs to keep in mind. Bet his list doesn’t contain the fear of being raped.

Yes, men are rape victims, but overwhelmingly it is a crime – the ultimate violation of one’s being – that women face in startling numbers.

Rape impacts women and girls of all ages from the frail and elderly to vulnerable infants. Rape is used as a weapon of war and a means to control the majority of the population. Yet even in 2010 rapists are not always held accountable for their actions. We still often focus on what “she” was wearing, where “she” was and whether “she” was drinking.

I have two beautiful great nieces, who are ages 2 and 3. I want them to be able to walk through their life without carrying the burden and the fear of rape. What can we do to make that possible for them and all the other amazing young girls in our lives?

Let’s gather our power, males and females, and put it to work to change the social norms in our community. Let’s not be afraid to rock the boat. Let’s start to talk honestly about gender-based violence and what needs to change to make it stop.

Why do we have to have a specially declared month (April is “National Sexual Assault Awareness Month”) for a crime? Because we need to make it stop. To do so will take efforts by the entire community.

You can take some steps on your own. Examples include:
•Don’t support the objectification of women.
•Discuss song lyrics, music videos, etc., with your children and teenagers, and how some lyrics support violence against women.
•Hold others accountable for jokes and comments about rape, violence against women and the objectification of women.

For more suggestions, see HAVEN’s Facebook page. You can find out other ways you can help by checking out the Michigan Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence Web site.

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