This blog is part of the 16 Days of Activism to End Gender Based Violence, which runs from November 25th through December 10th, 2014. The 16 Days of Activism are an international campaign that highlights violence against women as a human rights issues and calls for the elimination of all forms of violence against women. Throughout the 16 Days, Amplify will be featuring one blog each day from youth activists who sit on our International Youth Leadership Council and Girl Engagement Advisory Boards.
by Mai, Member of the Girl Engagement Advisory Board
Despite governments’ efforts to protect human rights, gender based violence is still common globally. Consequently, one out of every three women, one out of every four girls, and one out of every four boys worldwide have been or are likely to be subjected to physical or sexual violence. Women’s subordinate status to men in many societies, along with a general acceptance of interpersonal violence as a means of resolving conflict, makes them vulnerable to violence from all levels of society.
The impact of gender based violence is devastating. Women who are victims can suffer from health problems and diseases such as HIV, coupled with lifelong emotional distress and mental health problems. Children who are victims also suffer from poor physical and mental health, and are likely to be perpetrators of youth violence in the future. Also, recent studies have proven that children who have been subjected to violence are 9 times more likely to become involved in criminal activities.
However, the effects of gender based violence are not just on women and children. Because gender based violence is epidemic, it affects families, communities and economies. When children, especially boys, witness domestic violence, they become twice as likely to abuse their own partners and their children in the future and so the cycle continues. This cycle has a major effect on the economy. As a result of intimate partner violence, $4.1 billion are spent on direct medical and mental health services annually. Also, victims lose many days of work that are equivalent to 32,000 full time jobs. In addition, the cost of child maltreatment in one year is $124 billion.
Gender based violence is a violation of human rights that most societies encourage rather than discourage. Girls grow up to have low self esteem believing that men are superior to them which leads to even more violence. We must work to end this violation and ensure that every girl is free from violence and exploitation and is supported by enforced laws, strong and adequately resourced child protection systems and her community. So, are we going to wait until someone we know is hurt to take action and speak up?