Over the past forty years, women have focused much effort on the problem of violence against women and have made great progress.
We have talked openly about our experiences, built rape crisis centers and shelters, advocated for changes in laws, been joined in our efforts by men, and become recognized as part of the international public health and human rights movements. We have also influenced other survivor movements, such as the one working on abuse by clergy.
There is still much to be done. We need to:
- Recognize that violence against women is a risk throughout the life span, and advocate to
- Speak out against the messages in our society that glorify and encourage violence, domination, and exploitation.
- Teach and model nonviolence.
- Intervene whenever we see the seeds or expression of violence against women, realizing that our silence helps to perpetuate it.
- Strengthen family, community, and neighborhood sanctions against violence as opposed to relying exclusively on the criminal justice system.
- Work to maintain a strong network of services for all of us who are at risk of and who have survived violence.
- Insist that our government officials take violence against women seriously and make it a key part of their agendas.
We must pursue our vision of a violence-free world loudly and clearly. Noeleen Heyzer, the former executive director of what is now known as the United Nations Development Fund for Women, describes that vision:
Imagine a world free from gender-based violence: where homes are not broken into fragments; where tears are no longer shed for daughters raped in war, and in peace; where shame and silences break into new melodies; where women and men gain power and courage to live to their full potential.