The Sound of Silence
By Rebecca Gummere
The day before Thanksgiving was a sunny day in the High Country, but Women in Black and OASIS, Inc. joined with other community members to remember the darkness many women continue to endure as victims of abuse and violence.
Since 1981, activists around the world have observed Nov. 25 as a day for calling attention to the global problem of violence against women and girls.
The date was chosen in memory of the three Mirabal sisters, political activists in the Dominican Republic who were brutally murdered on Nov. 25, 1960.
In 1999 the UN officially designated the date as the "International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women" with the adoption of Resolution 54/134 by the General Assembly.
According to the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), violence against women is a "global pandemic."
Worldwide, up to 70 percent of women experience domestic or sexual violence from men during their lifetime.
Women and girls make up 80 percent of the estimated 800,000 people exploited through human trafficking every year. And rape as a method of warfare continues to affect millions of women and girls, leaving survivors traumatized, often pregnant, and many times suffering from severe internal injuries.
In the U.S., one-third of women murdered each year are killed by an intimate partner, and each year domestic violence costs an estimated $5.8 billion in health care, mental health support, and lost productivity.
Additionally, 83 per cent of girls aged 12 to 16 experience some form of sexual harassment in public schools.
Women in Black is an international peace network started in 1988 by Israeli and Palestinian women protesting Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. Locally, a group stands in silent protest every Friday at noon as a way to promote peace and justice. OASIS, Inc. is a private non-profit agency, serving survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Along with Women in Black and OASIS, others joining in the demonstration came from faith communities, from the university, and from mental health agencies, and included two men. Reactions from passersby ranged from curious stares and nods to waves and a few enthusiastic "thumbs up."
"Violence against women is found in every culture around the world. It is one of our most pervasive global problems, yet it is preventable," Vice President Joseph Biden in an official statement released from the White House in observance of the day. "On this 10th anniversary of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, I urge all American to join with the international community in calling for an end to these abuses."