One in every three women and girls will experience physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime. If you are like me, those were just mere words. One month ago I just didn’t care!
Today, those exact same words stir something deep inside of me. Now, when I hear the stories or the statistics of victims, I imagine the girls; I hear their voices; I can picture their faces and feel their pain.
Suddenly, I’m aware that while the rest of us are busy being ‘men’, more than 1 billion women and girls in our world will be abused, raped or denied their rights to be human simply because they were born as women. Millions of girls and women are experiencing pain, or will experience pain, because of norms and behaviour that we as men take for granted and because socially and culturally these behaviours are accepted.
One month ago I didn’t know these things. Within a week, three passionate and amazing colleagues from London's Tearfund office in Teddington led me and 25 others through a process of self-awareness, self-examination, self-appraisal and empowerment.
Through carefully and skilfully facilitated sessions, we ‘saw’ the evil of SGBV in the human stories we heard. We learnt how, due to cultural norms and values, gender-based violence deprives women and girls of a life of dignity.