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It is a great disgrace that we, as humans, somehow became immune to heinous acts of sexual violence. In fact, it is devastating that we still have to raise awareness about sexual assault, violence, abuse and rape. It seems that, regardless of globalisation, of increased information mobility and education, these heinous acts are repeated in every corner of the world.
Last week, the world witnessed two interesting events: the awarding of Nobel Peace Prize to Nadia Murad – a Yazidi Iraqi woman who survived sexual violence by ISIS – and the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court – America’s highest court of justice. What these events represent are rather sad and sickening facts regarding sexual violence in all its forms in the world.
Nadia Murad survived ISIS’ continuous and brutal sexual violence after she was taken captive following the ISIS attack on Northern Iraq in 2016. Being held as a sex slave for three months, Nadia Murad became a victim of the use of sexual violence as a tool and weapon of conflict and war. As a survivor, a hero, rather than a victim, she became an icon who spoke up against the brutality of not only ISIS but the sexual abuse of women in times of conflict and wars. In 2016, she became the United Nations first Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking.
On the other hand, Brett Kavanaugh, an American Judge nominated by President Donald Trump, holds a tenure position as a Supreme Judge at the highest court of justice in America. Last week, at the Senate Judiciary Committee, Dr. Christine Ford testified before the committee regarding the repugnant acts that Judge Kavanaugh committed in high school. Judge Kavanaugh has a problematic past of systemic abuse of women – both verbal and sexual. The Kavanaugh case contributed to the #MeToo movement highlighting the shared experiences of women across America and the world who have experienced at least one form of sexual violence.
Despite the testimony, despite the investigation, despite the constitutional lobbying, and despite the overwhelming number of people opposing the nomination, the American congress voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination. Today, America has an alleged sexual perpetrator as its supreme court judge.
What distinguishes the two events lie in the strength, empowerment and heroism of Nadia Murad and the alleged immoral corruption of Brett Kavanaugh.
The two events also tell the world two different stories. Nadia Murad tells the world of how the traumatising experiences and negative stigmas that cultures carry onto victims of sexual violence is not to be belittled. Instead, women should speak out and hold strong together to put an end to violence against women in all its forms. But America told its women a totally different story by nominating an alleged sexual abuser to the Supreme Court.
America told the world at large that the justice system does not care and will not care. That the experience of women and the allegations regardless of investigation are not to be taken seriously. Last week, America did not only silence Christine Ford. Rather, it silenced all women.
- According to the United Nations, 35% of women in the world have experienced some type of violence (physical and sexual).
- More than 1 in 10 girls worldwide (that is 120 million girls) have experienced intercourse or other forms of sexual assaults at least once in their life.
- Women, worldwide, abstain from seeking help. Less than 40% seek help, and out of those, most seek help to family and friends. Less than 10% of those seek the help of police or other authorities.
- 1 in 6 women in America experienced attempted or completed rape.