Post by Tanzin Bhuiyan, WAVAW Board Director
I am running for and supporting WAVAW Rape Crisis Centre at this year’s Scotiabank Half Marathon and 5K because even in 2017 gender inequality and its consequences, like rape and violence, still exist. Progress has been made, but there is still so much more work to do in the fight to end sexualized violence.
I was born in Bangladesh, a small and poor country in South Asia – often difficult to find on the map. As a child, I was exposed to all forms violence against women – social, economic, cultural, and physical. One memorable incident was when I was eight years old. I witnessed a man’s public violence against his wife and it still gives me the chills.
The fact that he acted without fear, that she was clearly in pain, and that no one interfered despite her clear request for support would forever shape my views on gender inequality and its significance. The image of a crowd of people just standing there watching sticks with me as I think of all the survivors who have been let down by our society’s legal system, media, schools, and communities. It was as if everyone watched feeling sorry for her, thinking: “She must have said something”, “Maybe she deserved it”, “It’s their personal matter, I don’t want to interfere,” and the list of excuses went on as I observed the many faces staring at what was happening. I was scared for her then, and continued to stay scared for all the women in my life. Even at eight, I felt awful at not being able to help her. While women are still facing (and resisting!) this kind of violence around the world, at age 30, I know there is so much we can do to support women and have their backs as we work to prevent violence and to seek healing and justice in its wake.
That incident stayed with me and shaped who I am today. I told myself I would fight for women’s rights to equality and a world where all women are free from violence. I have carried that value with me no matter what country or city I have lived in.
It turns out that incident would be the first of many I would continue to hear and read about. And it wasn’t just in Bangladesh. No matter where you look in the world, inequality and inaction on violence against women is of deep concern. I find that often times here in Vancouver there is an attitude that violence against women just doesn’t happen. Unfortunately, it does. Chances are, a woman you know has been raped, sexually assaulted, or abused.
We all have a part in ending violence against women, and I hope that on June 25 you’ll join me in walking, running or donating to WAVAW Rape Crisis Centre. WAVAW provides support and healing to all women who have experienced any form of sexualized violence, and works with the community and youth to develop leadership for prevention of future violence.