Thursday, May 13News For London

Million Women Rise March addresses the issue of violence against women

Violence against women is still an ongoing issue in today’s world. On March 7th from Hyde Park to Trafalgar Square, over 3,000 women from all over the country took part in the annual Million Women Rise march in hopes of promoting awareness that women are still being abused.

By Tara Mearsheimer and Qiwei Wang

One Woman, One Body, One Song, One Love/ copyright: connect culture

Founded by Sabrina Qureshi, the march highlights the main issues women face and how very little is done to address these problems. “With the decimation of the women’s voluntary sector, many of us already feel that we don’t have much more to lose. But we won’t be silenced. We become diamonds under the pressure; we don’t break and we will continue to protest peacefully,” says Sabrina.

Femi Otitoju, presenter of MWR explains what the group does in order to inspire women. “These women have come together, literally from all over the world. We have women from Sudan, Darfur, Italy, as well as the north of England all coming to tell their stories, to share their passion, and to support each other in our aim of ending violence against women.

“What we want to do is to inspire women, they need to understand that they are not alone, that their efforts are recognized. We want men to know that we won’t tolerate ongoing war against us and our bodies. So today, a million women rise.”

According to Women’s Aid, less than half of all domestic violence incidents are reported to the police. While the majority of abusers are men, domestic violence can happen to anyone no matter what ethnicity, race, religion, sexual orientation, or class. The estimated cost is over 23 billion pounds per year, including state costs and the amount paid to employers for human suffering.

While many people think leaving is the best option, there is no assurance that the violence will stop and “the period when a woman is planning or making her exit, is often the most dangerous time for her and her children.” The Department of Health states that over 750,000 children a year witnessed domestic violence.

Reality in the UK 

  • 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence at some point in her life.
  • Two women are murdered every week by their partner or ex-partner.
  • One incident of domestic violence is reported to the police every minute.
  • Only 5% of rapes reported to the police result in the perpetrator being convicted in court.
  • 250 cases of forced marriage are reported each year.
  • Up to 1,420 women per year are trafficked into the UK for sexual exploitation.
  • Over 20,000 girls could be at risk of Female Genital Mutiliation (FGM) in the UK.

“Unity is strength; the voices of many are louder together than a single voice.” -MWR (Million Women Rise)

In 2014, the Home Office published an action plan to end violence against women and girls in the UK. The plan is set out to protect victims throughout early domestic violence protection orders, give local commissioners information on how to deal with violence against women and girls, and make sure that other programmes are implemented such as: modern slavery, gang-related violence and exploitation of women, and sexual violence against young people and children.

Despite various efforts in both the UK and worldwide, there are still many challenges women face today. “There are many governments across the world that won’t put women’s issues on the agenda,” Femi explains. “The challenges that women face in their own home with their own partners, female genital mutilation, and just domestic violence on a day-to-day basis.”

Melanie Jeffs, the manager of the Nottingham Women’s Center voiced her opinion on what she would like to see in the future. “What we would like to achieve from this is being able to recognize that women’s rights are human rights, and there’s still a long way to go.”

“We’ve been celebrating International Women’s Day for over one-hundred years, but we still have women being oppressed and subjugated all around the world, so there’s still some work to do.”

Watch this video of the event and how participants think of this issue: