The Power Is in Your Hands

The power of human touch is profound. Many studies have documented the immeasurable emotional and physical benefits that come from touch. It is also a form of communication that is fundamental in our development beginning at birth, most often used to show love and compassion.

That loving touch was no doubt something that Sanaz Nezami received from her adoring family throughout her life. But it was NOT present in the blows her husband inflicted on her causing massive head trauma that left her brain dead. Just weeks after locating to the United States to begin a doctorate program, Sanaz lost her life and the world lost a remarkable woman with many gifts to share.

The homicide of Sanaz Nezami has sent ripples across the small community of Marquette, Michigan that will last a lifetime. She was a generous and smart young woman that was loved by her family - who craved lovingly touching her even as she lay dying. Even in her death she continued to give to others. I'm sure in addition to her family there are many friends and colleagues on multiple continents mourning her loss.

This is not an isolated incident. Violence against women is a worldwide epidemic that should outrage you. When violence against women exists it is a violation of human rights that directly impacts each and every one of us. Regardless of whether the violence occurs next door or thousands of miles away. It harms families and communities and comes with enormous social and economic costs.

When half the world's population is at risk of injury or death, how can we look away? Sexual violence of young girls, around the world, should be of concern to each of us. Young people, male and female, are the future and such violence literally robs each of us of hope and peace. As citizens of the world, we must speak out against such violence.

Around the world there is amazing work being done by groups large and small. Women and men coming together to work on ending the oppression of women. Here in Michigan, a group of dedicated professionals have banned together to take a deep look at homicides in their local community and how by working together they can have an impact. There are international groups, national groups, statewide coalitions, and local organizations, such as the one I lead, who have made deep commitments to end violence against women and girls.

As we begin 2014, I urge you to resolve to learn about this epidemic and find your niche in bringing it to an end. There are many ways to help ensure the voices of victims are heard, including:

· Holding others accountable when they disrespect women and girls.

· Speaking out against harmful legislation (and that list is long), and urging legislators to not discount the voices of their citizens.

· Providing funding to support the work of system change and effective prevention education activities.

Lastly, remember that the physical connections you make should always convey love and leave the person on the receiving end feeling safe. Click here for more ways to do your part.