International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women 2010
November 25, 2010
At least one out of every three women around the world has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime, and the abuser is usually someone she knows. Violence against women is one of the most widespread violations of human rights, and, like hunger, its root lies in deeply entrenched gender inequality.
Women in villages worldwide are up against enormous odds -- not the least of which is gender-based violence such as dowry murder, acid attacks, honor killings, rape, sexual harassment and abduction. Yet, they find the courage to step forward as leaders. Khusboon Khatoon, one of our partners in India, is an example. She was married at age 12, widowed early, and is now an elected representative on her village council.
After participating in The Hunger Project's Women's Leadership Workshop, Khusboon undertook a survey of households in her constituency to learn about the effects of domestic violence in her community. Her survey revealed: 20 women had been abandoned and returned to their maternal homes; 20 women had gone back to their maternal homes and then returned; seven women lived alone; three women had committed suicide by swallowing poison; two women had set themselves on fire and died subsequently; and one woman had jumped into a well with her children. Only three women had maintenance under Criminal Procedure Code CRPC 125 (a law requiring a monthly allowance). These cases had been suppressed, and none of them had been registered with law enforcement agencies.
After discovering this, Khusboon organized a three-day legal training for 45 women on their legal rights and on domestic violence. Khusboon also convened a Gram Sabha (general assembly) to hear the case of a deserted woman. This is notable, as these issues are never taken up in these fora. Khusboon has resolved many domestic violence cases, and she has even brought some cases to the District Courts. Now, people in her constituency call upon her to resolve matters of domestic violence.
The Hunger Project's highest priority is empowering women, like Khusboon, to be key change agents in their communities. Wherever we work, our programs aim to support women and develop their capacity to build better lives for themselves, their families and their entire communities.