In prevention, we work to address sexual violence where it begins: in our attitudes towards and beliefs about relationships, gender roles and societal norms. Unfortunately, while prevention services are absolutely critical in impacting change in the prevalence of sexual violence, they are not always seen as necessary or important . In spite of this, there are some really great organizations from all over the world that focus on treating sexual violence as a widespread epidemic that deserves to be treated not only as a priority, but as an issue of public health and safety. An example of one of these organizations is Together for Girls, a non-profit organization started in 2007. From their website:
Together for Girls works in several countries in Africa, East Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean. They have several different focuses, including conducting national surveys and collecting data on the prevalence and effect of sexual violence on girls, helping to form national action plans, and creating public awareness campaigns.
Spreading awareness about the mental and physical effects that sexual violence causes in order to spur action at a national level is at the forefront of what Together for Girls aims to accomplish. Featured on their website is a list of facts about how sexual violence changes the lives of girls, including increased likelihood of unintended pregnancy, contraction of HIV/AIDS and STIs, depression and substance abuse, and also a decreased likelihood of attending school. They follow up with this statement:
“Societies pay a deep price because healthy, educated women are vital to the health and prosperity of countries. One study has shown that a 1 percent increase in girls attending secondary school adds 0.3 percent in economic growth in developing countries.”
National level initiatives like Together for Girls are invaluable and essential to helping to end sexual violence. If you’d like to learn more about the organization, you can visit their website at http://www.togetherforgirls.org/