By Beth Morrison, HAVEN CEO
I don’t like mosquitoes and I have to admit the whole West Nile problem has me a bit freaked out. I am glad that health officials, scientists and others are working diligently to come up with solutions to the problem, and to decrease the incident rate of this scary and sometimes fatal disease.
You may not be aware, but the mosquito and malaria epidemic is one of the analogies cited in the violence against women movement. The story goes that a community had an extremely high incident rate of malaria and they gathered together to find a way to decrease the rate. First they sprayed the grass, common areas, yards and woods of the community with minimal results. Next they treated water sources with again minimal results. After trying a few more techniques, the realization came that they were just reducing the risk of a mosquito bite but if they really wanted to eliminate mosquitoes and therefore malaria, they needed to remove the source. They needed to literally drain the swamp for true prevention and elimination.
As we approach eliminating violence against women and children, we too must “drain the swamp.” We must put real concentrated efforts at addressing the root problems in our society and exploring why the violence occurs in the first place. We must tackle the long-standing societal norms and culture of misogyny, oppression and sexism as a start.
Just like the West Nile has recently been labeled an epidemic, we must treat violence against women and children as an epidemic and commit adequate resources to its eradication. More women and children will die or be harmed, physically and emotionally, from abuse this year than those impacted by West Nile. Don’t they deserve the same attention and resources?
For a start, let’s get politicians to set aside their own personal and party agendas and pass a “real” VAWA . And then let’s start to look at the dollars and programming needed to provide true prevention efforts. Let’s work on making eliminating violence against women and children a top priority in our country and around the world.
It is a big and daunting but if we can position an army to combat mosquitoes certainly we are up to the task of saving the women and children in our lives too.