More than anything, I believe that a person's life and health, honor and dignity, inviolability and security are of the highest social value. These rights and freedoms are eternal and imperishable. People, who don't admit existence of the prevalent violence in the world, don't notice that the world goes dark in the night.
One in three women globally has suffered intimate partner violence including physical and sexual attacks. Nine out of 10 rape victims in the world are female.
Not every woman has been sexually assaulted, but every woman has been taught the fear of rape. There is a big specter of violence that women face in the world. This violence touches all parts of the world. It doesn't depend on race, ethnicity, sexual identity, social status, class, religion or age; any one of us can be the next target of an incident. It is an enormous and dreadful problem, and also a global one. Women shouldn't have to have live with this constant fear. It cannot last forever! This must change!
Take Back the Night (TBTN) serves internationally as a representation of courage and determination, as a collective voice for people to demand a world in which human's bodies, minds and spirits are not targets for violence. We proclaim protection against and prevention of neglect, abuse, and exploitation. We strive to create safe communities and respectful relationships through awareness events and initiatives. The Take Back The Night Foundation seeks to end sexual assault, domestic and dating violence, sexual abuse and all other forms of oppression.
The first international Take Back The Night event occurred in response to a series of sexual assaults and murders in Europe. Over 2000 women, representing 40 countries, attended the event. TBTN began in the United States in the late 60's and early 70's at college campuses and metropolises and later the events expanded even more, establishing TBTN as a force of empowerment.
Since then Take Back The Night events have been held by colleges, universities, women's centers, YWCAs, rape crisis centers, community centers and other organizations dedicated to ending sexual violence. TBTN is intended to be peaceful and underscores sexual safety by creating an environment of solidarity and support during our events.
Today Take Back The Night events occur around the world, all over the United States, Canada, Latin America, Europe, India, Japan, Australia, and all other corners of the globe. The Foundation offers support and legal assistance to around 250 countries and territories.
International chapters of TBTN have been instrumental in expanding the identity of the organization and have made enduring cultural contributions in their respective nations. For example, The Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centers declared the third Friday of September an evening for Take Back the Night marches nationwide and Australian women's protests against sexual violence are held on the last Friday of October every year. The United States Army military base in Japan conducts Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention Programs in April in observation of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. They encourage all soldiers, civilians, family members and MLC Soldiers to attend a range of activities including a Community Resilience Seminar, Mock Trial School Event, free movie night, and even a "Take Back the Night BBQ" with The Army Community Service and Family Readiness Group. If one military base with limited resources and space can make such a difference, I imagine what we are capable of together!
Take Back The Night educates the public about the attitudes and behaviors that perpetuate sexual violence. It offers an opportunity for survivors of abuse to join with other survivors of all races, cultures, backgrounds and experiences to combine the strength of their voices in demanding an end to violence.
In today's world, being female often means being sentenced to a life of deprivation, abuse, exploitation, inequality and oppression. I believe that all women have certain unalienable rights that cannot be stolen under the guise of ingrained cultural stereotypes.
After all, we don't have luxury of ignoring this enormous problem of modern times. We cannot hope for a better future, we must create it by ourselves by demanding it with our actions and solidarity. We deserve a better, safer world, and Take Back The Night offers people of all the world's countries a platform to create one together.
This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post and Take Back the Night in conjunction with Sexual Assault Awareness Month. To learn more about Take Back the Night and how you can help prevent sexual violence, visit here. Read all posts in the series here.
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-866-331-9474 or text "loveis" to 77054 for the National Dating Abuse Helpline.