I recently got into a heated conversation with someone about the global impacts of gender based violence (GBV). The person I had the conversation with confidently believed that GBV is overly exaggerated, and that it is ‘NOT AS BAD’ as what social media makes it out to be. At first, I was reluctant to engage with someone, who in my view was clearly ignorant. However, the nature of the conversation was so triggering that I had no choice but to fully engage. As the conversation went on, I found myself expressing just how gruesome GBV truly is. I even highlighted one or two expert evidence that confirms the ever increasing rates of violence against women and girls across the globe, and I pointed out that there are countless lived experiences, shared stories and even confessions that highlights the severity of GBV on a global spectrum. At that point I knew that there was no way I was going to allow anyone to dilute the seriousness of GBV nor was I going to allow anyone to deny GBV the global stage it deserves.
This heated conversation made me realise that GBV has the potential to be denied the much needed global attention it deserves. GBV is a global crisis that warrants immediate and effective action, not only by law enforcers and victims but also by everyday citizens. Experts have revealed that about 736 million women globally (almost 1 in 3 women) have been subjected to intimate partner violence, non-partner sexual violence, or both at least once in their life. Furthermore, data reveals that less than 40% of the women who experience GBV seek help. Additionally, about 15 million adolescent girls worldwide, aged between 15–19 years, have experienced forced sex (forced sexual intercourse or other sexual acts). To add to this, in many countries, adolescent girls are most at risk of forced sex by a current or former husband, partner, or boyfriend, and according to data collected from 30 countries, only 1% of these girls seek professional help. Clearly GBV ‘IS AS BAD’ as what social media makes it out to be, and ignoring this crisis is what creates socially unaware citizens, passive policy makers/law enforcers, and powerless victims.
Although the result of the heated conversation was an outburst of all types of feelings and emotions (fear, confusion, frustration and even outrage), I still felt a great sense of relief for being able to articulate myself well enough to voice my opinions on this matter. This conversation made me realise that societal shifts, social awareness and education regarding GBV starts with me. These are the types of conversations I will no longer shy away from because any form of violence or ill treatment towards women and girls can no longer be ignored. Regardless of how ’emotional’ I may get, I will continue to have such conversations in order to raise awareness about the issues that truly matter to me. This is how I regain my power, this is how I evolve!