One Billion Rising Demands End to Violence Against Women
Photo Credit: screenshot, YouTube
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One billion girls and women - one in three on this globe, will face violence to their personal bodies. This violence is a global travesty. It exists everywhere that we can see.
It is time to put this sexual violence in a globally articulated collective view so that we all can fully see each other.
It is time to recognise that violence against women and girls is and remains a major political challenge of the 21st century, alongside racial, economic and gender tyranny.
Sexploitation, exploitation, disrespect, disregard start in the intimate realm of private embodied life and extends to the public realms of the economy and the state through the violence of war. Because the problem is structural and systemic, a multi-pronged coalitional global movement is therefore needed. In this instance, One Billion Rising (OBR) stands against imperial structural domination in all its forms.
The many faces of violence
Violence has its many faces. Many of them are protected through silence and shaming. Other kinds, like warfare, are normalised as inevitable. Militarism is also a form of sexual violence that de-humanises us all.
The women of the Philippines resist this militarism. And, after the devastating and violent cyclone that left millions homeless and thousands dead, have said that, "They will be bigger and stronger than the storm." With entire towns wiped away and many of their Islands missing, they stand against the violence of "man-made" weather.
Still, the UN and other international groups say that thousands of women and girls in the Philippines remain at high risk for rape and sexual assault as the islands attempt to recover and rebuild. Environmental disasters - floods, hurricanes, tsunamis, and earthquakes - open the doors to further violence especially against women and girls in places like Haiti, when lives become unmoored.
Women rising everywhere
Women and girls in Guatemala, El Salvador, Ecuador and throughout America Latina are finding reconciliation after decades of sexual violence in their civil war(s). Marsha Lopez Calderon says that women, and men who support them, are finding through education and legal realm greater rights for women to their bodies. They stand against the shame and fear and call for public reckoning. This begins to create a "justice" that matters.
Kushi Kabir who has worked for land rights, and women's rights with indigenous people in Bangladesh's rural villages for decades, embraces One Billion Rising as a global action to mobilise these struggles for justice further. The established commitment to autonomous movements throughout 1,300 villages empowers OBR activism. The activism here is directed towards an accounting of the 200,000 women raped in the 1971 war; and a demand for justice for Kalpana Chokma, an abducted anti-militarist indigenous young woman who remains missing since 1996. The most marginalised of the marginal are put in full view in these struggles.
OBR, as a global action for justice, is dedicated to full inclusion and the overlapping needs of humanity. It stands against the violence towards women and girls by simultaneously standing forth for the protection and preservation of the earth's soil, water, air, mountains, and so forth. Different women's actions across the globe today demand AIDS treatment and prevention; a change in legal rights and rape law in India; rights to education in Afghanistan; finding the disappeared in Argentina and Chili; rights to abortion almost everywhere.
Other mobilisations recognise the rights of hundreds of thousands of indigenous women in Peru who were illegally sterilised during the Fujimori regime. There are OBR actions against sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape by US farmworkers and members of the US military. There are demonstrations across the globe against the sex trafficking of women and girls in Mexico, the Balkans, and South-East Asia.