Violence against women is perhaps the most shameful human rights violation, and it is perhaps the most pervasive. It knows no boundaries of geography, culture or wealth. As long as it continues, we cannot claim to be making real progress towards equality, development and peace.
~ Kofi Annan who served as seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations
*Note: The following content could be potentially challenging to read and involves discussion and statistics about violence.
Red Thread Letter #792 from Shiloh Sophia
In honor of International Women’s Day
My article on the biggest global pandemic – a wake up call I was inspired to write based on real statistics and my own thoughts about violence against women.
Free Intentional Creativity Experiences – Two zoom calls with a theme of LIBERATE and a virtual daylong painting class, Soul Sisters. Hosted by Shiloh Sophia, Co-Founder of MUSEA : Center for Intentional Creativity®
Visit Musea Events: www.schoolofintentionalcreativity.org
Painting by Shiloh Sophia: Dancing in the Miracle
This message isn’t an easy read and could be triggering, however I feel it is so important to not turn a blind eye, and instead wake up to our own thoughts around this topic.
If you wish to comment or share with others, you can do so from my Artist Facebook Page.
As I watch the stories about the virus and the panic, created and calmed. As I watch the mobilization of action on behalf of innocent people not getting sick and dying. As I change my entire plan to go teach at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women – I sit in the reality that I know. That while all of this about the virus is important and a wake up for us as a global community… The biggest global pandemic affecting the health of ALL human beings on the planet is violence against women.
Just imagine if we treated violence against women as seriously as the Corona Virus. And why aren’t we, I wonder?
I am asking – if we can mobilize like this on behalf of a virus, then why…why aren’t we willing to pay more attention to the reality that three women in the United States will die TODAY because of violence. And 137 women on average will be killed globally by a member of their own family, according to the Facts and figures: Ending violence against women on United Nations Women (2017). This does not account for other kinds of deaths women experience, by peopley they don’t know.
Update – A few days ago when I wrote this article I sifted through a lot of statistics. There isn’t a standardized way they are written across platforms. I ended up quoting a number, 1 in 3 deaths that was only the United States! When in reality, it is 137 a day, globally, killed by a member of their own family. I apologize and appreciate the opportunity to clarify. I read it, and honestly the 1 in 3 was shocking enough, but it was way worse than I thought and hard to digest the information. Please update this in your awareness.
“Ending inequality means ending ‘global pandemic’ of violence against women” – United Nations Chief
To heal from this, we know we need to wake up. Today my wake up is for women, inviting you to take a look at what’s happening.
As fervent as we have been about checking on the virus, let’s check on our sisters. Will you spend some time today honoring women?
In honor of International Women’s Day I have a request of my community. That you at least KNOW the reality of this pandemic which rages year in and year out against the mothers of the future and their children. I am not asking you to agree with my view. I am, however, asking you to form your own. Do you have one? Maybe today is the day.
As for me, I think violence against women is the most pressing issue, the biggest killer of women and that which prevents union with one another. I also think it is impacting every single area of our lives, from the food to the water to the climate. Women in power often make different choices then men in power make – but wow what a journey we have trying to get our voices heard.
CNN in a recent report says “Nearly 90 percent of men — and women — are biased against women, UN study finds”. Here is the article released 3 days ago.
To get a hold of this – first a few items of housekeeping that often keep women from seeing the reality – because they want to defend men, when this isn’t about men! This is about violence!
Stop telling me you know good men
Every time I talk about violence against women
Stop telling me, women are violent too
Every time I share the reality of systemic abuse
Stop telling me, men are doing their work
Every time I tell you that things are getting worse
Expand your horizon beyond defending the good men you know. Those of us who stand for justice actually know the statistics for what they are. You don’t need to keep defending men to those of us supporting women in getting the support we need.
I am not referring to exceptions. I may not be speaking about your family. Have you never had a violent man in your family? Maybe no man in your lineage was violent. Then teach the rest of us how you did it. As far as sex trafficking, men are the only customers – if they were to stop requesting sex from women and boys and girls – that epidemic of violence would end right now. Yes I know some women, choose it, but without the demand, they would likely choose something else.
Have you ever known a woman who has experienced violence? Most of us would have to say, yes. Have you ever experienced violence as a woman? Many of us would have to say, yes
So what is it, that has women defending the good men, when we aren’t talking about good men? We are talking about violence.
Women who support women, also love men. This isn’t about ‘men’. Our stand is about changing a culture of violence that is thousands of years old.
We are speaking about violence at the level of paradigm. Violence that is profitable as part of culture. Systems that do not offer consistent justice or enforce laws that have been passed to protect us. Headsets that promote power-over structures.
The numbers are staggering, here are just a few connected with those close to us…
- 35% of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence.
- Globally, as many as 38% of murders of women are committed by an intimate partner.
- 200 million women have experienced female genital mutilation/cutting. (often from their family and culture)
- 137 women across the world are killed by a member of their own family every day.
This paradigm is hurting men, as well as women. They are suffering too, but more often than not, at the hands of other men. If a mother was violent, what were her roots?
This a pandemic, that is happening at the level of home, so the change has to start with you, in your own home and family.
Women often know the impact of violence. Men don’t often know how the paradigm of violence against women and gender inequality is hurting their relationship with themselves, and those that they love. The cost of authentic trust, intimacy, union, companionship, kinship and connection.
“Violence Against Women Is The Most Pervasive Human Rights Violation In The World” – Jimmie Carter – see article here.
The power-over paradigm keeps all of us, easier to rule, from the top down. This kind of system keeps us distracted from what is happening at a larger scale. So consumed with managing our own home, or interacting with our small village issues, that we do not have time to see the big picture of destruction at play.
This is what I see at UNCSW. Thousands of women coming together to speak to other women about their causes. We are consumed with protecting women, meanwhile, those who perpetrate the violence aren’t in the room listening to our stories. This is a pandemic paradigm of violence.
The power-over paradigm keeps women really involved in protecting other women. If women could spend as much time on other topics of risk, our world would change overnight. If men would stop being violent against women, our world would change overnight. Alice Walker asks: “What is it that will open the hearts of the men?”
Yet most of us who are well enough, are wiping the brows of the women we know, as she runs from systems that do not support her. That keeps her life in peril. When will this end?
First, it begins with good women knowing the reality of violence against women. Then the women speak to the other women, men and all genders in their lives and communities.
Here are some of the many statistics you should know if you care to be as informed as you are about the virus. Spend this time today in honor of women.
And if you are brave, share them with men and women in your life. If you are afraid your male or female partner will not want to hear it, that is the place to start. Ask yourself why.
Power-over systems at the top, result in systemic domestic power-over systems in the home. This is through laws, as well as cultures, traditions, beliefs, family patterns.
There is hope. Immediate hope. Right in your own life to begin to wake up and see more clearly the death rate in front of our eyes.
My entire life has been devoted to ending violence against women and children – the form this has taken is waking up the women. The tool I use is Intentional Creativity®. If good women sleep, this will continue to be the most abusive paradigm in an era when we had the most access to healing.
Start with you and your own home.
1. Know your own mind heart and body on the issue well enough to feel into this reality that we are living in. You are not separate from it.
2. Discover your own hidden defense mechanism and be willing to work with it – do you have a hidden bias against women? Or even men for that matter.
3. Be brave enough to educate yourself about the truth so you can speak to it. Most of all find your own truth, hidden beneath the bias and bs we get fed from sources that are not just.
4. Be willing to share with others, in social media and your family what you discover and feel.
5. Do everything you can with children you are raising, or whose lives you are a part of, boys and girls, to educate them about not becoming violent and predatorial themselves. As well as how to protect themselves.
“Until women and girls can live free of fear, violence and insecurity, the world cannot pride itself on being fair and equal”~ United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres
Here’s some of the statistics I’ve shared. Gender-based violence (GBV) or violence against women and girls (VAWG), is a global pandemic that affects 1 in 3 women in their lifetime.
One characteristic of gender-based violence is that it knows no social or economic boundaries and affects women and girls of all socio-economic backgrounds: this issue needs to be addressed in both developing and developed countries.
Decreasing violence against women and girls requires a community-based, multi-pronged approach, and sustained engagement with multiple stakeholders. The most effective initiatives address underlying risk factors for violence, including social norms regarding gender roles and the acceptability of violence.
Facts and figures: Ending violence against women – you can read the full article here.
It is estimated that 35 percent of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or sexual violence by a non-partner (not including sexual harassment) at some point in their lives. However, some national studies show that up to 70 percent of women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime.
It is estimated that of the 87,000 women who were intentionally killed in 2017 globally, more than half (50,000- 58 percent) were killed by intimate partners or family members, meaning that 137 women across the world are killed by a member of their own family every day. More than a third (30,000) of the women intentionally killed in 2017 were killed by their current or former intimate partner .
Adult women account for nearly half (49 percent) of all human trafficking victims detected globally. Women and girls together account for 72 percent, with girls representing more than three out of every four child trafficking victims. More than four out of every five trafficked women and nearly three out of every four trafficked girls are trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation .
Approximately 15 million adolescent girls (aged 15 to 19) worldwide have experienced forced sex (forced sexual intercourse or other sexual acts) at some point in their life. In the vast majority of countries, adolescent girls are most at risk of forced sex by a current/former husband, partner or boyfriend.
Twenty-three percent of female undergraduate university students reported having experienced sexual assault or sexual misconduct in a survey across 27 universities in the United States in 2015.
Eighty-two percent of women parliamentarians who participated in a study conducted by the Inter-parliamentary Union in 39 countries across five regions reported having experienced some form of psychological violence (remarks, gestures and images of a sexist or humiliating sexual nature made against them or threats and/or mobbing) while serving their terms. They cited social media as the main channel through which such psychological violence is perpetrated; nearly half of those surveyed (44 percent) reported having received death, rape, assault or abduction threats towards them or their families. Sixty-five percent had been subjected to sexist remarks, primarily by male colleagues in parliament and from opposing parties as well as their own .
I know this wasn’t an easy read. It never is. But until we wake up together we can’t make changes in our own brain, heart and body. Then our family, then our community and on from there.
I see the hope. I create towards the hope. I work with hopeful women all over the world. The changes are here right in front of us and my faith is strong in our capacity to change it.
I can’t help but wonder if the men knew the price to them was their own relationships….how can they begin to know this truly? First, we have to know the cost to us, as women.
We were supposed to be in New York with tens of thousands of women yesterday. Instead, I am telling you about what matters to me, and what I hope matters to women who are in community with me. Your approach and philosophy may be different than mine, I don’t need you to agree. I am asking you to wake up to your own experience.
Now for a long walk. With every step, a prayer for us.
March 8, 2020 International Women’s Day
Painting by Shiloh Sophia : Gathering the Tribes
Recent Red Thread Letters from Shiloh Sophia: