Did you know that consensual marriage is part of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? Child marriage is a violation of human rights that must be stopped. Let us end child marriage together.
The Zonta Club of East Auckland Area, District 16, partnered with a local organization to raise awareness of ending child marriage.
The club, along with Shakti, a women’s refuge organization, installed a display at a local library.
The Zonta e-Club of West Africa, District 18, unveiled a new advocacy project during the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence.
The project, “Orange the World: Men Against Rape” calls on men to take a stand against attitudes that normalize rape culture, child marriage and all forms of violence against women and girls.
The Zonta e-Club of West Africa is asking men to fill out a form to show their support.
The form, in part, reads: “There is overwhelming evidence that the majority of sexual assaults are perpetrated by men against women. However, not all men are perpetrators! In fact, some men are victims and the majority of men have never raped or sexually assaulted anyone. For decades, men have been left out of actions geared toward the elimination of rape and other forms of violence against women but, at Zonta e-Club of West Africa, we are looking to change this by giving men an opportunity to speak up as advocates for women’s rights. To this end, we invite you to add your voice to our 16 Days of Activism Campaign. Show the world that you stand against gender-based violence!”
On 25 November, the Zonta Club of Burg Staufenberg/Giessen Area, District 28, organized a ceremony in Giessen’s main church.
During the event, attendees heard four reports from women who were victims of violence.
This was followed by a short period of meditation and words of condolence spoken by a cleric. The singing of the gospel choir increased the feeling of empathy and compassion. At the end of the ceremony members lit candles in memory of all women who have suffered violence in the city and in the world. The church, along with other prominent buildings, was illuminated inside and outside with an orange light which made the whole even more of a spiritual experience.
Zonta Club of the Black Hills, USA, District 12, created a display, “What Were You Wearing?” that incorporates sexual assault survivors’ experiences with clothing similar to what each person was wearing when assaulted.
“‘What were you wearing?’ is a question rape and sexual assault victims are often asked and infers that somehow victims are to blame for their assault,” said Mary Kaiser, chairman of Zonta’s Advocacy Committee. “You wouldn’t think in 2019 it would still be an issue, but it is. So many sexual assaults go unreported and part of it is the victims feel guilty. The assaults are the perpetrator’s fault only.”
The “What Were You Wearing?” display fights back against victim-blaming and raises awareness about gender-based violence. The display shows that sexual assault can happen to anyone, anywhere, Kaiser said.
The survivors’ stories are real. Most are culled from a similar display in Montana and from online research, Kaiser said. One story comes from a local Zonta Club member. The Salvation Army Thrift Store in Rapid City donated clothing that Zonta club members used to replicate the survivors’ descriptions of what they were wearing, Kaiser said.
“There’s everything from a teacher’s business wear to a child’s pajamas,” Kaiser said. “We really wanted to … point out that it doesn’t matter what the victim was wearing.
“The response has been overwhelming,” she said. “Victims are so grateful for shining light on this issue. Usually, when sharing what they were wearing and sharing their stories of (assault), they felt like they were blamed. The response has been extremely positive.”
The Zonta Club of Dhaka I, District 25, hosted a discussion focused on ending child marriage in a school near Dhaka on 30 November as part of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence.
The discussion was conducted in partnership with the Ayna Foundation. Students from Aim Model School presented a skit on child marriage and shared their thoughts on getting married at an early age.
The Zonta Club of Cradle-Coast, Australia, District 23, has put shoes and personal stories into more than 20 shops on the Coast as a way to bring awareness to gender-based violence.
Each shoe, which could be a high heel, flat, boot or sandal, had a survivor’s story with it.
“We should always challenge the ‘myth’ that the way a woman dresses somehow suggests ‘asking for it’ or ‘inviting’ discrimination, violence or abuse,” club secretary Karli Franks said.
The displays are part of the Walk in My Shoes project, started by Zonta clubs in South Australia.
Women survivors of male violence wrote their stories, which were then published in a booklet.
“We hope these stories inspire those experiencing domestic violence or supporting someone who is, to seek help and support. Our aim is to raise awareness of the fact that abuse and violence can happen to anyone in our community; it doesn’t discriminate.”
What would you do if a girl you know is one of the 650 million women and girls who were married as children? By 2030, nearly 1 billion girls and women will have been married as children. Help us stop this number from rising.
Did you know that because of child marriage, we all lose out? When the potential one-third of girls in developing nations is cut short, everyone is affected.
The decline in child marriage is still slow. To end child marriage in Nepal by 2020, an accelerated effort is required. Zonta supports the Global Programme to End Child Marriage, which is working to end this harmful practice in 12 countries by promoting the rights of adolescent girls to avert marriage and pregnancy and enabling them to achieve their aspirations through education and alternative pathways. Join us in ending all violence against women and girls.