Violence against women: We must stop ignoring it

Women Deserve Better at the Cambridge Union Society - Devon Buchanan (Flickr)
Women Deserve Better at the Cambridge Union Society - Devon Buchanan (Flickr)

The doctor said ‘this injury is an aberration. Only a birth of a huge baby or a rape cause it’. It was the first time I heard the word. Take me long time to process the information: I was raped by my best friend

The violence against women is not something new to be explored. It is happening since the world began, and it is being fool who thinks that this problem is gone. According to WHO (World Health Organization), recent global prevalence figures indicate that about 1 in 3 (35%) of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime. The UNWOMEN said that an estimated 150 million girls under the age of 18 suffered some form of sexual violence in 2002, and the first sexual experience of some 30% of women was forced. The percentage is even higher among those who were under 15 at the time of their sexual initiation, with up to 45% reporting that the experience was forced.

Women Deserve Better at the Cambridge Union Society - Devon Buchanan (Flickr)
Women Deserve Better at the Cambridge Union Society – Devon Buchanan (Flickr)

Intimate partner and sexual violence are mostly perpetrated by men against women. Child sexual abuse affects both boys and girls. International studies reveal that approximately 20% of women and 5–10% of men report being victims of sexual violence as children. Violence among young people, including dating violence, is also a major problem.

It is wrong who think that this situation is happening just in sub-developed countries. 43% of women in the 28 European Union Member States, including Ireland, have experienced some form of psychological or physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime (UNWOMEN).

The survey on violence against women made by SAFE Ireland in association with the EU Fundamental Rights Agency, Rape Crisis Network Ireland and the National Women’s Council of Ireland reveals that 26% of Irish women – or 394,325 women in 2012 – have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by a partner or non-partner. Almost 31% or 470,157 Irish women have experienced some form of psychological violence by a partner, according to the comprehensive survey, and 15% of Irish women (227,495 women) have experienced physical or sexual violence by a partner.

The phsycological and physical consequences of a sexual abuse can be drastic. Women who have been physically or sexually abused by their partners or by a stranger are more than twice as likely to have an abortion, almost twice as likely to experience depression, and in some regions, 1.5 times more likely to acquire HIV (WHO).

Unfortunately the statistics shows that worldwide, almost 30% of women who have been in a relationship report that they have experienced some form of physical and/or sexual violence by their intimate partner or a family member. The pull quote mentioned above, is the excerpt from an interview with a young architect 23 years, published by the magazine Marie Claire Brazil, where the young woman, whose fictitious name is Rafaela, tells the shocking story of being raped by her best friend.

During the interview Rafaela told how she met Luis (fictitious name) and how they become best friends. Luis and Rafaela used to go out frequently and talk about everything, as real best friends. One night they went to a nightclub to have fun, but as soon as Rafaela finished her first glass of whiskey, Luis went to the bar to buy another one. After few minutes drinking this new whiskey, Rafaela started feeling sick, and vomited. She knows she could not be drunk, but she was feeling dizzy and confused. She asked to go home. Luis as usual helped her. Then, Rafaela explained what happened there.

We went straight to my room. He told me to undress myself and to go to bed. I was totally disoriented, so I obeyed. When I realized he was on top of me. I could not react. I would like to say that I screamed and no one heard me. But I just could not speak. I felt no pain at the time. My memory erased the details. I just remember hearing him say, ‘you’re bleeding”.

I do not remember how I have fallen asleep. I woke up the next morning with the sunlight on my face and a pool of blood under me. Luis was at my side and also had blood in his arms, on his face. I tried to wake him but could not. He grunted, turned to the side and still asleep. I remember showering and seeing the blood still trickling down my legs. I called a friend, who lived with me and slept in the next room. She took me to the hospital.

In the waiting room, when they called me, the chair where I sat was drenched in blood. I fainted. I woke up on the floor with doctors around me thinking I was aborting. How could I not even realize what had happened, I thought the bleeding was the result of three months taking the contraceptive pill. Three days later, still bleeding, I went to a gynecologist accompanied another friend, doctor. The face of astonishment of both examining me was horrible. I had a cut of 10 cm in my vagina. ‘This injury is an aberration. Only a birth of a huge baby or a rape causes it. ‘It was the first time I heard the word. Take me long to process information: I was raped by my best friend (Marie Clare Brazil).

During the interview Rafaela said that considering that it has passed 3 days after the abuse she could not do the drug exam to prove that he drugged her. The hospital that she went on the day after the abuse, let her left without a gynecological exam, and also without a drug exam, so she had no proof.

As soon as I left there, I sent a message to his cell phone: “You are a danger to society. I’m with the injury of rape ‘. He said, ‘If God made me great, it is the fault of the vitamins I took when I was a child’ (Marie Clare Brazil).

The trauma caused in Rafaela is immeasurable, now she is attending frequently appointment with psychologists. She said that she did not prosecute him yet because she is afraid and mostly because she is shamed, her family did not know about what happened to her.

According to WHO violence against women – particularly intimate partner violence and sexual violence – are major public health problems and violations of women’s human rights. And most of the time women feel so vulnerable that prefer to remain silent.

UN says that, “Violence against women is not confined to a culture, a region or specific country or to particular groups of women within a society. The roots of violence against women result of persistent discrimination against women”.

Unfortunately, many thoughts and sexist behaviours places the woman as guilty of suffer such violence. Recently, two young women who intended to go to Peru were found dead in Montañita, Ecuador.

The Young women Marina Menegazzo and María José Coni before they were found dead (Source: Facebook).
The Young women Marina Menegazzo and María José Coni before they were found dead (Source: Facebook).

As soon as their families reported that they disappeared, and after their bodies were found, the effect on social networks and media were negatively surprising. A lot of sexist messages insinuating that they probably had use some drugs, or that it was their fault considering that two girls decided travelled alone, without a men.   Some people said that their parents were the real guilty because they allowed their daughters travel alone.

It is expected that this crime call the public attention to the neglect in cases of violence against women and encourage the fight against male chauvinism, and against this coward issue that it is still present in the world.

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