By Victoria Covert
No matter where women are, they face high rates of violence despite class, race and religion.
This horrible truth was made bare by Marla Jaksch, assistant professor of women’s and gender studies, at a lecture on Tuesday, Feb. 5, sponsored by the Haitian Student Association.
“Globally we can look, and women have made great strides … but they are not equal to men,” Jaksch said.
The pronouncement is timely, as the HAS focuses on bride burning, which is a horrific practice in which the groom and/or his family kill the bride because the dowry was seen as too little. This, along with the recent Steubenville and India rape cases as well as any number of unreported or under-reported incidents involving gender-based violence towards women, shows that, despite great efforts, violence and bias towards women is prevalent.
One effort to raise awareness about violence is 1 Billion Rising, a grass roots organization working on a global level to promote social action against the exploitation and abuse of women. Through an uplifting video presentation, the organization calls the people of the world to action to protest worldwide violence against women.
The message the organization sends is that together humankind is stronger than one who stands alone. This Valentine’s Day walkout is intended to be the beginning of social change. It is aimed to raise awareness of violence against women and inspire both men and women to advocate for social change.
“I am really thankful that H.A.S. was able to organize this event, it is perfect timing with 1 Billion Rising coming up next week and The Vagina Monologues,” Jaksch said.
While asking the audience to do their part to raise awareness and prevent violence against women, Jaksch joked that she took the time to present this lecture regardless of the fact that she is due to give birth at any moment.
Delivering a strong presentation and deftly funneling the crowd’s energy toward being proactive, Jaksch was both an educational speaker as well as an example of a woman to be emulated.
At the end of the lecture, Jaksch urged the audience to participate in 1 Billion Rising on Valentine’s Day, and explained that the protest doesn’t have to be “angry.” In fact, it can be anything from a walkout to a dance party. The idea is simply to come together, raise awareness and promote social change.
Darline Ceus, freshman sociology major, said that in order to do her part to stand up against domestic violence, she would “write letters to victims of domestic abuse to encourage them to stay strong and keep going.”
Far from wallowing in the old trope of women’s victimhood, the lecture encouraged women to embrace the power that they find when their voices are joined as one.