I still remember the cold Tuesday night two years ago when two guys followed me on my way home from school. I left class thinking about homework and wishing the bus stop was closer in this brutal winter, until a mocking laugh pierced my train of thought and my steps instinctively shifted into high gear.
It was my first semester of college, a new start and a new journey in life, a semester where thoughts of who I am and what I want in life were all that occupied my mind. After the two guys grabbed me and pushed me against a wall, the thought of being safe started running in the back of my mind. A thought which never existed now became a voice filled with anger.Anger with thirsty young men and inhumane human beings.
It took me two years to share this with anyone. Part of it was because of not wanting to verbalize the inner trauma I had and the other part was the little light of hope in me that not all people are this hideous.
Vice President Joe Biden addressed the need for a cultural change towards violence against women at the 10,000 Women Initiative at the World Economic Forum on Wednesday. The Huffington Post co-hosted the event and the subhead of the coverage on its website said, “Biden noted that economic progress is not possible unless women feel secure.”
The speech he delivered is fascinating and on-point. He also cited the Violence Against Women Act he championed in the Senate in 1994. He said it is the proudest thing he has ever done and he hopes it brings change to society.
“The most cowardly men I know are the ones who know it’s happening, but do nothing because it’s not good for them,” Biden said.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one in three women worldwide have experienced violence in their lifetime. That is, physical and/or sexual violence.
Biden addressed business leaders and yes, I understand, they are talking about economics, but why does the subhead of The Huffington Post say for “economic progress” violence needs to end? No. Violence against women needs to end. Period. Not for economic progress and not for the marketplace but for the sake of humanity.
Article 3 in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and the security of person.” It is a basic human right for women to be safe on this planet.
The physical and mental problems are endless after facing violence. Organizations such as WHO provide a list of all the effects possible, naming them one by one. Great. It is needed for research, studies and so on. However, when we get to a point where the circumstances are mentioned to spread awareness and when we link women’s health to the economics progress it becomes a problem.
We need to name out all the negative outcomes of violence to spread awareness? We need to teach kids not to hit one another because it will mess up their psychological state and well-being? Where is our common sense of abusing some another person is just plain out wrong?
Violence is not just physical or sexual. Verbal abuse is the powerful unseen stabbing sword which creates turmoil with an echo of the abuser’s voice.
Even mild forms of verbal abuse like sending someone a text saying, “You know this world is getting rotten. I thought you would be one of the last to be like that,” is not okay. These words and acts linger and develop an inner wound which touches the psyche.
Remember the little light of hope I mentioned earlier? Let us be aware of what we say and do and let us make the light brighter.
“I think we have a real chance to have a cultural change,” Biden said. “No means no. Yes doesn’t mean yes if you’re drunk and can’t say yes.”