In addition to all of our New Year’s resolutions, let us include the resolution to play our part in ending gender-based violence. Everywhere in the world, we see the issue of discrimination, harassment, and abuse against girls being raised time and time again. Here in America, millions are taking a stand to protect girls and women from gender-based violence by fighting for change – for equality and policies that protect. Unfortunately, the voices of women and girls in South Asia are rarely heard. Not only do they not have the ability to stand up for themselves, but advocates for women’s rights are also hard to find.
From a young age, girls are subjected to harassment, discrimination, and violence. Many women in South Asia have experienced and endured sexual abuse from a young age. What’s worse, such abuse can take place anywhere – in schools, streets, public transportation (In Sri Lanka, 90% of women are harassed on public transportation), and at home. Additionally, the ‘protection’ offered at home or at school can often cover up the abuse. Girls are very often viewed as a burden, useful only for marriage. Some families even strive to marry off their girls as young as 10 to avoid paying a heavy bride price. Young girls grow up thinking this way too, which seriously damages their self-worth and their will to thrive. This kind of harassment perpetuates the perception that boys are better than girls and excuses harassment toward girls. This has to stop.
Any kind of abuse, whether it is physical, psychological, or verbal, is unacceptable. Which is why we work with children and their communities to ensure the safety of all girls and boys. Through our Safe Spaces for Children campaign, we educate children to identify good touch and bad touch, when to speak up and work with families directly on issues like children’s rights. We listen with open ears, eyes, and hearts because every girl deserves to be heard. We also work with local agencies and governments to protect girls from sexual abuse and violence.
Love One More is committed to protecting girls in South Asia from all aspects of abuse, in particular tackling the causes of sexual abuse and gender-based violence. We are dedicated to investing our time and resources into creating safe spaces for children to grow up. Every girl deserves the opportunity to live her life and thrive. We all have a part to play and will take every opportunity to help those who cannot help themselves. For our New Years Resolutions, we pledge to continue our efforts to listen and protect young girls, to do our best to ensure their safety and lives free from fear and limitation. Will you join us?