Today is recognized as International Women's Day. I hope you'll take a brief moment out of your busy day to ponder what that means to you. Think about your mom, sisters, aunts, grandmothers, cousins, and girlfriends. For me and many others, today is an opportunity to focus on the struggles, disparities, and inequities that persist for women. It's also a time to join forces to help end violence against women and girls.
Did you know that girls aged 15 to 19 years old account for 50% of victims of sexual abuse worldwide? Are you aware that within the last decade, the trafficking of women and children for sexual exploitation has become a critical concern? The sex trade is not just something that happens outside of our borders. It is going on here as well. Be aware, and be forewarned.
If you've been victimized, abused, attacked or violated, the unfortunate truth is that you may live with those scars forever. I know from personal experience that it can be difficult to recover a sense of peace, security, personal empowerment and self-worth after such an experience. But recovery of your self is possible. I've managed to get to the other side of my fears and humiliation, but I don't take this newfound serenity for granted. Now I've become an advocate for women. I'm passionate about doing what I can do to elevate women and girls to the status and respect level we deserve.
Violence against women can and must be prevented. There are some very basic ways that each of us can help. Go to the www.Womenshealth.gov website for more information. In the meantime, be aware of abusive, violent, manipulative behaviors, and seek to protect yourself from them. The following basic rules-of-thumb may seem like no-brainers, but nevertheless, worth noting.
If you hear evidence of, or are a witness to domestic violence, CALL THE POLICE.
Be supportive to a friend or family member who may be in an abusive relationship. Encourage them to seek professional help - and assist them in their efforts to get out of harm's way.
Volunteer your time at a shelter or organization that helps survivors of violence.
Teach your children to respect others. It's critically important to break the chain of violence...teach your boys to respect girls and women. Set a good example for them to follow.
Take a self-defense class. Stay out of high-risk areas and high-risk situations. Protect yourself.
Be an activist. Speak out.
I wish all of you - men, women, boys & girls, a happy International Women's Day. Namaste.
Follow Cheryl Saban Ph.D. on Twitter: www.twitter.com/csaban