It feels surreal, sometimes, when I discuss violence with groups of women.
Not only surreal because so many of us have experienced it, but surreal because it is 2016 and it beggars belief that a day about eliminating violence against women is still necessary.
Violence has always been used as a tool for power, and when it comes to women they are always the ones who are most affected by violence.
- Women are twice as likely to experience domestic violence than men.
- Women are approximately 88% of rape victims in England and Wales.
- 2 women a week are killed by men.
And war is still the playing field of men that women are on the brutal and sharp end of. From Japanese Comfort Women, to the Chibok Girls, the methods change but the reasons do not: power over and subordination of women.
As a Trustee of a women's centre, I am brought face to face with violence against women. We run free domestic violence counselling, and facilitate the Freedom Programme. We work with Victim Support and we've even started making links with local schools, including a boys school.
The violence taking place against women in the UK is an example of the patterns we see across the world. From removing economic power, self esteem and confidence, to removing dignity and freedom and at its most fatal, removing life.
International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women doesn't dismiss the men in the world affected by violence. Instead it brings to the fore the way that violence against women is a multi faceted, ever present global problem that all governments need to tackle.
The fact that I consider myself lucky for having only ever been assaulted once shows in itself how ingrained violence is in our world and in western culture. It maybe surreal, but that is why in 2016 we still need an International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.