Today is just the beginning of another active year protesting violence against women, a campaign officially marked by the United Nations' International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
"Violence against women and girls is not inevitable. Prevention is possible and essential," reports the UN.
With the United Nations reporting up to 70 percent of women experiencing violence in their lifetime, chances are high that most people have held the trembling hand of a violence victim, answered a phone call in the middle of the night from a frightened friend, driven to an emergency room in a frenzy because a relative was injured, or heard about a neighbor who was beaten. It is an issue that is often silenced. The most common form of violence experienced by women globally is physical violence inflicted by an intimate partner, the UN reports. For more information, visit UN.org.
"This is the time of year we focus special attention on this issue, " said Lee Cutler, NYSUT secretary-treasurer who oversees social justice issues for the union. "All year long, NYSUT helps create awareness about violence against women by hosting international speakers, addressing the issue at educator conferences and having our members help create the lesson plans used by Speak Truth to Power at the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights."
At RFKcenter.org, educators can access lesson plans on people who defend human rights for those most vulnerable: girls who may be kidnapped for the sex trade industry; female farm workers; those living in war-torn nations; or those closer to home who stay in abusive relationships because they are afraid to tell anyone about it, or because they do not have anywhere else to go.
One such human rights defender is Marina Piskalova, who began a violence prevention hotline and now operates a network of 170 crisis centers across Russia and the former Soviet Union through her organization, National Center for the Prevention of Violence.
In the United States, the Violence Against Women Act was passed in 1994 by then-Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, current U.S. vice president, with the goal to improve the criminal justice response to violent acts against women. For more, go to whitehouse.gov
It also established the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233 (SAFE) or www.thehotline.org. Trained advocates provide free help to women who aren't forced to identify themselves and won't be judged.
November 25 was chosen as the day to herald activism toward ending violence to women because it commemorates the Mirabal sisters, three political activists with children and families who were ordered killed by Dominican ruler Rafael Trujillo.