I remain silent no more

Today is the International day against violence against women.

In Belgium, the campaign today was focused on rape and called ‘Ik zwijg niet meer’/’I remain silent no more’. Every day in Belgium over 8 women get raped.  Each day… A hallucinating high number… And this of course is not the actual number, as many women remain silent and don’t go to the police to rapport on what happened to them.

Research shows that 9 out 10 people that get raped, don’t rapport this to the police for various reasons and thus suffer alone, in silence and without the rapist being tried for his crime.

© Wendy Marijnissen

© Wendy Marijnissen

© Wendy Marijnissen

© Wendy Marijnissen

While I was in Pakistan two year ago, I worked on a story on rape victims and their families that I named ‘Because I’m a girl’. In Pakistan, 85% of the women face some sort of gender based violence and rape is one of the biggest taboos around. Women get blamed for being raped and often have no place to go.

Because I’m a girl – Rape in Pakistan from Wendy Marijnissen on Vimeo.

Female police stations were established to deal with the increasing incidents of violence against women and complaints of police excesses against women arrested or
investigated by male members of the police department. Yet in reality the Women’s Police Station are not working the way they should.
For instance the all-women police stations were stopped from registering cases in 2002 and so defeats the purpose of women coming to a female police station to register their rape. This situation is only slowly changing and good intentions often go to waste.

© Wendy Marijnissen

© Wendy Marijnissen

There is still lots of work to do, not only in countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan, but in Belgium and the West too. So each day we have to keep speaking up and talking about violence against women and speak against violence to other human being in general.

I’m leaving this post with a project that really has grabbed my attention and which I think is extremely powerful.

Project Unbreakable. This project was conceived to increase awareness of the issues surrounding sexual assault and encourage the act of healing through art. Featured are over 2000 images of sexual assault survivors holding posters with quotes from their attackers. And great about this website is that it doesn’t only feature women, but men as well.  The words on the posters are sickening and horrible to read, but the women and men holding them are so powerful. By sharing this website and their messages I really hope that this will help breaking down walls and help to break the silence against violence.

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