“I love you, that’s why I beat you.”
So ends a poem by the Ghanaian writer Mariska Araba Taylor-Darko about a violent spouse and an abused woman who lays the blame of the daily beating on herself.
The poem, “A Beating for Love,” takes special significance this week as many around the world mark the U.N.’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
And in the era of the Me Too movement, the words of former U.N. Secretary Ban ki-Moon still call out: “There is one universal truth, applicable to all countries, cultures and communities: violence against women is never acceptable, never excusable, never tolerable.”
Violence against women and girls, one of the most widespread, persistent and devastating human rights violations in our world today, remains largely unreported due to the impunity, silence, stigma and shame surrounding it, says the U.N. on its webpage “end violence day.” The reality of domestic violence is a plague that affects millions of women, often trapped in a toxic environment they cannot escape.
According to the United Nations Statistics Division, intimate partner violence accounts for the majority of women’s experience of abuse.
Sub-Saharan Africa regions record the highest prevalence of domestic violence, where 65.6 percent of women who have ever been in a relationship experienced abuse by their partner (the global average is 26.4 percent.)
Similarly, in the U.S., around 4.5 million women say they’ve been threatened by an intimate partner with a gun and 45 percent of women who are murdered are killed by intimate partners, according to Everytown for Gun Safety.
In fact, the U.S., Syria, Somalia, and Yemen are among the 10 most dangerous in the world for women, the Thomas Reuters Foundation disclosed. Others are Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, India, and Afghanistan.
As of this year, 41 African countries had ratified the “Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa,” adopted in 2003. Yet Clarence Mwombeki from Door of Hope for Women and Youth Tanzania, addressing the recent NGO Forum in Banjul, pointed out that African women continue suffering despite the protocol in place for almost 15 years.
Gladness Munuo from the Crisis Resolving Center in Tanzania added: “Women and girls continue to face discrimination in marriages, inheritance, access to property and the highest level of sexual and gender-based violence.”
Meanwhile, a federal Violence Against Women Act in the U.S. is set to expire on Dec. 7. Will the Senate act in time to see it renewed?