Tomorrow, (Feb. 3rd) the founder of one of Girls’ Globe’s Featured Organizations, Gary Haugen (of the International Justice Mission– IJM), is releasing a new book called The Locust Effect. The book emphasizes the necessity of ending everyday violence if we want to eventually see the end of poverty. As I read through The Locust Effect and Gary’s recounts of people he and those at IJM have encountered in the field who have experienced extreme forms of violence, I am filled with a mix of emotions- mostly sadness, anger, and disbelief. At the same time, I am relieved a book such as this will engage new audiences and inform readers on the debilitating realities of everyday violence.
This week, the Girls’ Globe blogging team will be raising their voices in a conversation about everyday violence, and more specifically, everyday violence against women. Today, to kick-start the conversation, I want to talk about everyday violence and how far reaching its effects are specifically, on women and girls. In The Locust Effect, everyday violence is defined as violent acts (like rape, physical abuse, and trafficking) that have become common, routine, and relentless. We often hear on the news, stories of war-torn countries and the extreme forms of violence civilians encounter, but what we often don’t hear about (and what The Locust Effect points out) are the extreme forms of violence that aren’t tied to a war or conflict, but are simply tied to every day life in seemingly “peaceful” countries. Unfortunately, those who suffer most from the realities of everyday violence are women and girls.
Because everyday violence occurs so regularly, in so many and often rural areas of the world, many instances go unreported. Even in cases that are reported, often, little is done as a consequence or preventative measure, due to lacking legal services and law enforcement (a significant issue The Locust Effect delves into). This also makes it difficult to fully comprehend the size and extent of the problem. However, the World Health Organization estimates
1 out of every 3 women globally, has experienced some form of physical or sexual violence.
I am deeply troubled by this statistic. We see so many programs and initiatives run by credible, outstanding organizations focused on increasing access to healthcare, education, and resources in developing countries, but what seems to fly under the radar, is the stark reality and impact of everyday violence. If a girl can’t walk to school because of the likelihood of being raped or sexually assaulted, what good is the school to her? If a woman can’t run her small business because of the physical and mental implications of domestic abuse, what good is a micro-credit program to her?
Violence seems to be at the forefront of many hindrances to development, especially for women and girls.
I don’t believe there is a simple solution to this problem, but I do believe it needs to start with a conversation. Awareness is the first step toward change.