How you can help end violence against women

Orieanna had been tense all day.

It started when yet another fight with her husband ended with him slapping her before leaving the house. She absent-mindedly touched her tender cheek as she tried to remember the last time a day went by without them screaming at one another – at least the days when he bothered to come home at all.

As she was struggling with yet another task, her 7-year-old seemed to swoop in simply for the purpose of trying her patience. Tears and anger welled.

Danilo had always been difficult. Daily spankings didn’t seem to make any difference. They only seemed to deepen his resolve to pester Orieanna into rage. Her resentment toward him grew as his performance in school and his attitude toward her continued to slide downhill.

Orieanna turned to see Danilo doing exactly what she had just told him not to do.

Anger boiled over. She grabbed Danilo by the throat and squeezed. Within seconds, she knew she had crossed a line and let go. She and Danilo each ran to different parts of the family’s small Peruvian home.

It’s a vicious cycle

Abused woman

The World Bank estimates that 70 percent of the world's women will experience violence in their lifetime.

Domestic violence is a common problem worldwide, but it is especially prominent in societies with traditional beliefs that devalue women. The World Health Organization reported in 2006 that 69 percent of Peruvian women had been abused. That’s just the reported cases.

It creates a vicious cycle.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services documents that abusive parents often have experienced abuse during their own childhoods. In fact, one out of every three abused and neglected children will eventually victimize their own children.

Like Orieana.

There are laws in Peru to protect women and children from domestic violence, but many cases go unreported. Maybe Orieana’s mother was afraid of retaliation if she reported that she and her children were abused. On top of that, she most likely would not be able to afford legal fees to follow through with a complaint.

So Orieana grew up thinking violence was normal. And so has Danilo.

FH helped Orieanna’s family recover

Orieanna and her children

Orieanna and her family were helped by FH's program to end domestic violence in Peru

Two Food for the Hungry (FH) staff began visiting Orieana at her home. They told her about God’s love for her. They explained how God expects parents to value and love their children. They spoke about the harmful effects of violence in the lives of the children and in the family.

Orieana tearfully shared about her own sad and violent childhood.

Heart broken, the two FH staff members often prayed for and with Orieana. Their emotional and spiritual support gave Oriena the courage to participate in a family violence program that FH sponsored. As Orieana slowly learned to manage her anger and to discipline with love, Danilo’s behavior both at home and at school improved.

Orieana asked her husband and family for forgiveness for the way she had previously handled her anger. And the daily violence in her home has ceased.

International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

November 25 is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, a day set aside by the United Nations for governments and institutions to bring attention to scope of the problem.

African mother and children

Violence against women creates a vicious cycle of abuse.

The World Bank estimates that 70 percent of women worldwide will experience some sort of violence in their lifetime. The World Bank also reports that women aged 15-44 are more at risk from rape and domestic violence than from cancer, car accidents, war and malaria.

Domestic violence is only one way that violence negatively impacts women and their children. Rape has been used as a tool of war for centuries.  The goal is to humiliate the opposition, terrify individuals and destroy societies. And it works.

Here are the atrocities against women for just two modern day conflicts, according to the United Nations website for the International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women:

  • Between 250,000 and 500,000 women were raped during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.
  • Between 20,000 and 50,000 women were raped during the conflict in Bosnia in the early 1990s.

That same website reports that many cultures, especially in Africa and South Asia, force young girls into early marriage and sexual relations for which their bodies are not yet ready. The practice causes many health risks, including exposure to HIV/AIDS. It also limits – or ends – their school attendance, forcing them and their children into a life of crushing poverty.

Other forms of violence against women and girls reported on that UN website include:

  • Murder by a husband for the dowry her family offers as a marriage gift,
  • Execution for having been raped, engaging in premarital sex or the mere accusation of adultery,
  • Human trafficking – between 80 percent of the 500,000 to 2 million people who are trafficked annually for prostitution, labor and slavery are women and girls.
  • Female infanticide – predominant in South and East Asia, North Africa and the Middle East, this is the practice of killing baby girls for the crime of not being a boy.

What you can do

You can help FH in our efforts to end the many forms of violence against women by becoming educated about the worldwide pandemic of violence against women and by praying, taking a stance and giving financial gifts to both local and international charities that deal with all forms of violence against women.


About Karen Randau

A native of the southwestern U.S., Karen uses her blog posts to put into action her passion for helping people be all that God intended them to be. She is able to do this through her role in the Food for the Hungry communications department of the Global Service Center in Phoenix in two ways. First, she helps people understand the plight faced by impoverished people in developing nations. Second, she brings light to the successful ways Food for the Hungry is helping people.

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