Hesperian Health Guides
Working for Change
For change to happen, people must stop thinking of violence against women as something that ‘is just the way things are’ or that is the woman’s fault. Here are some ideas for helping stop violence in your community.
Talk about it
Be careful! In some communities, working against violence can be dangerous.
Talking about the abuse is the first step to changing it. Try to find other women who have the same problems with violent and abusive men and share ideas with each other. Find men who believe that violence is wrong. Make violence something people talk about. Make it into something that people think is wrong.
Set up services to help women who leave
- Set up a ‘safe house’ or shelter as soon as possible. Keep the place hidden and secret.
- Get support from others—especially larger, more powerful organizations. For example, see if there is a network of health organizations in your country that can help. You can also talk with respected community members whom you trust. Get as many men as possible to work with you.
- Help women learn about their rights under the law. There may be special laws about families and violence that women can use.
- Find ways to train women in new skills, so that abused women have a way to support themselves.
What are the pressures that prevent people where you live from doing things that most people believe are wrong? In some places, it is the police. In others it may be the military, the family, or religion. In most places, it is a combination of these things.
Encourage community leaders and other men to speak out against violence against women and to show their disapproval of men who beat women. Try and use all of the pressures that work where you live to keep men from abusing women.
In some countries, women have organized to get laws passed that punish men who abuse their wives. But laws do not always work well for abused women. In some places, the people who are supposed to enforce the laws—especially the police, the lawyers, and the judges— cannot be trusted to help. But if the legal system and the police both work to protect women where you live, try to learn as much as you can about the laws and about women’s rights.
Raise your children to lead non-violent lives. You can work for change at home by helping your children find peaceful ways to solve problems. Teach boys to respect themselves and to respect girls and women.