Yesterday I went along to UNIFEM's annual International Women's Day (IWD) lunch which, each year, raises vital funds to help women in countries less fortunate than ours. The IWD theme for 2009 is "Unite to End Violence Against Women."
One in three women will suffer some form of violence in her lifetime. Yesterday's guest speaker, Fozilitun Nessa was born in Bangladesh in 1981. In 1999, Fozilitun was the victim of an acid attack after refusing to marry her neighbour, whom she barely knew.
Fozilitun was admitted to DhakaMedical Hospital for many weeks and underwent five reconstructive operations. Although doctors have advised her to continue these painful surgeries she has decided not to, as she believes what happened to her was not her own mistake, rather her own fate.
Fozilitun has been instrumental in raising awareness about this pervasive violation of women’s rights, through her work with the Bangladeshi Acid Survivors’ Foundation where she is now a Board Member. In 2007 there were over 187 people who suffered acid attacks, the majority of whom were women, often under the age of 18. Fozilla is determined to bring these women out of the shadows and help give them hope for the future.
It saddens me that violence against women is so prevalent - and not just in third world countries. One only has to read the police notes from the recent attack on Rhianna by Chris Brown to know that it is universal. I take heart from the fact that there has been such a massive cry of outrage and shock - and the fact that Chris Brown will be blacklisted by the town that made him a star.
You can read more about how UNIFEM is working to end violence against women, and join the campaign, here.
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