Today is International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.  It honours the millions of women around the world who live in fear.  Fear of the emotional and physical violence of their partners.  Fear of sexual violence by men they know or by strangers.  Fear of being killed, often by the men who should love and cherish them.  It honours the female children and young girls who are emotionally, physically and sexually abused in their own families, or who are exploited by the vile perpetrators of the trade in online images of children being raped.  And in 2020 the fear is heightened by the isolation we are all living in as a result of the Covid pandemic, where violence can be more hidden and more severe.

At One in Four we know that many men and boys are also be subjected to sexual violence and are also part of the huge systemic abuse of power and control that happens in plain sight across the world.

The International Day is also a call to action for all of us whose lives have not been contaminated by this level of fear.  Individually, it calls on us to not be passive bystanders but to act when we see or suspect that all is not well.  It asks us to reach out to family members, friends and strangers when we see something that makes us uncomfortable, or to seek advice from an agency like One in Four as to what to do.  At a societal level, today is a call to action to governments.  Where is the adequate funding for services for women who need refuge, advocacy and support?  Despite many significant improvements recently, why is it still so difficult to access the criminal justice system for redress and protection?  And why are the myths about domestic and sexual violence still so prevalent?  And how many more women will have to die or be severely traumatised before we finally tackle these crimes that are so common and continue to happen right under our noses?


Maeve Lewis