My high school alma mater is denominational so every year we would go to Susamachar Presbyterian Church for an annual Christmas service. One year, the school invited some children from a home founded by Form Four students as part of the Young Leaders Program. There was one little girl I will never forget. She was a pretty thing with brown skin in a baby doll dress. Indeed she was a baby doll with a beautiful smile. It was like sunshine and you couldn’t help smile back. She was such a happy child.
The school had some toys for the little guests because it was a Christmas service after all. When it came her turn to receive, she leapt off the pew and threw her arms around the student who presented it. That’s when I saw them and drew my breath in shock. Cigarette burns up and down her little arms. I did all that I could not to cry. She glowed with irrepressible jubilance hugging the toy. Her joy almost made you forget them, almost. It wasn’t long before shock became anger. Who could do something like that to such a beautiful child? I was told that it happened during her infancy and she has no memory of it. I was also told that it happened when she still lived with her parents.
Today, November 25, 2011 is the World Health Organization’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. As a result, the Center for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL) will be launching the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence Campaign which will end on International Human Rights Day (December 10). This year, the theme is Home to Peace in the World: Let’s Challenge Militarism and End Violence Against Women! If there was ever a perfect time to get involved it’s now.
The very least we can do is to use the following hashtags to raise awareness on Twitter for the campaign’s duration:
- #VAW means Violence Against Women
- #GBV means Gender Based Violence
- #IDEVAW means International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women
Opinionated, Caribbean women like me are following Simone Leid, founder of The WomenSpeak Project on Twitter and Facebook. She’s going to be sharing information throughout the whole campaign. I’ve never been a victim of violence but think of that sweet child from all those Christmases ago. She wasn’t an anomaly. There are millions of girls and women being victimised all the time, all over the world. Like all secret crimes, awareness is the key. We must look out for our women because life without them is not worth living.