The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is an annual international campaign that kicks off tomorrow on 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and runs until 10 December, Human Rights Day. I sometimes question the whole idea of having set days for us to reflect on issues – as surely every day should be a day where we take a stand against gender-based violence? Nevertheless, having a focus forces us to reflect and think, and hopefully to also create change out of that reflection.

Over the next 16 days on social media I am going to use images, poetry and video to highlight some of the injustices of gender-based violence and to promote work being done by some great organisations to tackle it. I wanted, ahead of this focused period of time, to also encourage anyone reading and engaging to remember that gender-based violence happens in every society. Being part of the solution is recognising that this isn’t an issue ‘over there’ or just an issue for women. Men, women and people from all sorts of different cultural perspectives need to engage in order to create change.

Today’s image comes from my time working with All We Can – a charity I will speak more about later in the 16 days. I cannot reveal the identity of the woman, but pictured is a Rohingya refugee woman I spent time with in May this year. She had married in the refugee camps of Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh. Her husband had, like most of the refugees, been through trauma in Myanmar. At the start of their marriage she spoke of him being very kind to her but as time went on he became increasingly angry and frustrated with life in the camps. He started to take out his anger on her, at first shaking her and eventually hitting her and causing broken bones. She had finally decided to walk away from the situation and sought help and counselling in the camp from one of All We Can’s humanitarian aid partners working in the women’s safe spaces. Often people think of refugee camps as places of sanctuary, in some ways they can be, but gender-based violence can be a huge problem in these settings. It is vital women have places they can seek help. To find out more about All We Can’s work in this setting visit their website.

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