Sexual violence refers to any act or attempt to act out sexually on another person by force. This seems easy enough to understand, right? Wrong. The world needs every aspect of this topic to be broken down, piece by piece, until the last crumb of information makes sense, but the baseline is, sexual violence involves unwanted acts carried out by one or more parties to another party or parties.

It is an umbrella term for a wide variety of unconsented actions involving sexual intent or procedure; rape, sexual abuse, sexual assault, molestation, public groping, harassment, mutilation, child marriage, etc.

Sexual violence can happen to anyone anywhere, at any time. Regardless of age, gender, sexuality, culture, physical ability, health condition, race, social class, education level, financial standing or even biological class (animals can be sexually violent or can be victims of sexual violence as well).

An elderly person could be raped by a gang of looters during a war. A little child could be molested by a relative or neighbor. A pregnant woman could be groped on her commute to work. An heir to a political dynasty could be sexually stalked by a friend. A house servant could be manipulated into relations with their boss. A student could be forced to give physical favors to a teacher.

Sexual violence can be physically, mentally and emotionally hurtful, even to the extent of the victim becoming a perpetrator. Therefore, it is important to educate and discuss this serious issue with everyone; how to identify it, what to do if or when it happens and most importantly, how to fight against it and seek justice for victims.

Rape, molestation, mutilation and verbal harassment are common realities we see and hear about on most days, so much that we’ve started giving excuses for them and tagging them as normal everyday struggles. We even give excuses for the perpetrators and blame the victims because they should have been tough enough to deal with it, or avoid it.

Undoubtedly, we need to have more frequent conversations about these unpleasant norms of victim blaming, victim shaming and general ignorance of the discomfort and insecurity such acts cause.

In addition, we need to urgently act by signing petitions, lobbying our leaders to put proper laws in place and implement policies that will punish abusers and their accomplices, seek justice for victims and provide safe spaces for them during the healing process.

We must stand up against sexual violence. We must educate ourselves. We must unlearn these insensitive norms. We must stand together and protect one another. With #GirlsNotWives campaign, we say NO to child marriage and sexual violence… Not just by talking but also by doing.

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