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The Loud Message of the Silent Witnesses of Domestic Violence

Ziua Internațională de Combatere a Violentei Împotriva FemeilorFor many Romanian women, domestic violence is more than a breaking news title, it’s the reality awaiting at home. The silence tied to this type of abuse often turns women into sad numbers of abuse victims that lose their lives or suffer without anybody knowing of it.

For the past 14 years, this harsh reality is the main driver for the Association for Gender Liberty and Equality – A.L.E.G – that is organizing a street event on 26 November called “The silent Witnesses’ Watch”.

From 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10 December, Human Rights Day, there are 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence.  A.L.E.G. sends an open invitation to journalists, public institutions’ representatives and the large public to take part in a silent watch with a powerful sounding message that supports women’s right to a abuse-free life.

The symbolic lighting of candles brings an homage, but also a ray of hope in a future where we no longer close our eyes whenever seeing the signs of abuse in our neighborhoods, the streets or even in our homes, in which we’re no longer careless or intimidated by shame or fear.

???? The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women was designed in honor of the Mirabal sisters, political activists from the Dominican Republic that were beaten to death on 29 November 1960.

Why the need of this kind of event in Romania, in this day? 1 in 3 Romanian women is the victim of domestic violence at least once in her lifetime and over 90% of the aggressors are male. The red silhouettes that will greet you at the street represent women that have lost their live to domestic abuse. Each tells the story of a local case of violence.

A lot of Romanians carry the belief that this type of abuse only happens in poor households, and is an attribute of uneducated people. Reality begs to differ: as we speak 1 of 10 women suffers from domestic violence every year, and it has nothing to do with status, ethnicity, religion or the socio-economic context. Another deeply rooted belief many Romanian families share is that those violent behaviors are normal, if not even justified. Usually, women are fighting for their safety as well as of that of their kids facing the aggressor, their family, society & other people’s opinions, as well the complicated justice system, all by themselves.

Behind these numbers there are real people, behind closed doors there still is suffering that should not leave us quiet any more. A proactive public attitude, as well as finding the courage of your own voice before it’s too late, are the main takeaways of the stories told by the silent witnesses of domestic violence that great you on 26 November in Sibiu.