Violence remains one of the most pervasive human rights violations perpetuated against women and girls. One in three women will be beaten, raped or abused in their lifetime, and gender-based violence is at epidemic proportions in many of the world's poorest countries.
Sadly, most of these acts go unreported out of shame or fear of retaliation, and the vicious cycle of abuse continues.
To break this silence and help bring an end to these atrocities, I urge you to sign our Voices Against Violence petition today, in honor of International Women's Day. We have a goal of collecting 10,000 signatures to the petition so that we can send our elected officials a strong message that we must call for an end to the abuses that have silenced hundreds of thousands of women and girls.
The aftermath of abuse can be devastating. Even after recovering from her physical wounds, a survivor could face an unwanted pregnancy or contract a sexually-transmitted disease, like HIV. Members of her community or family may shun her. And finally, the memories of the abuse can scar her for a lifetime. Ultimately, violence against women and girls prevents them, their families and whole communities from escaping poverty.
I'm sure you agree that we cannot let sexual and gender-based violence continue to keep women and girls from thriving and creating a brighter future for themselves, their families and communities. Please, add your voice to the chorus calling on our elected officials to make ending violence against poor women and girls worldwide a priority. Together, we can help them break free from the cycle of abuse and poverty.
Helene D. Gayle, MD, MPH
President and CEO, CARE