Reporting on Violence Against Women

Francisca Vigaud-Walsh, CRS sexual and gender-based violence program manager, reports on her presentation at this week’s Catholic Social Ministry Gathering in Washington, D.C.

I just had the privilege of presenting Tuesday, alongside Sr. Louise Cleary (of UNANIMA International), on violence against women. I talked about sexual and gender-based violence, while she talked about human trafficking – or the sexual exploitation of women and girls.

Once I spoke of the scale of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and how women are being violated, there was a collective gasp. We discussed the root of sexual violence, and other injustices that are perpetrated against women and girls both in conflict and non-conflict zones; the comments of the audience clearly showed an in-depth understanding of the link between violence against women, and gender inequality.

Gender equality does not mean that women and men are the same, but it does mean that their enjoyment of rights and opportunities are not governed by whether they were born female or male. Protecting human rights and promoting gender equality is truly a peace and justice issue; without gender equality, it is difficult to eradicate violence against women.

The audience was also struck by the phenomenon of the exploitation of women and girls for sex trafficking and we discussed how we can educate the American public on trafficking that exists within our own borders. I am sure that they will be reaching out to their peers and informing them of how important this issue is and ways we can coalesce to tackle it.

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