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  • Writer's pictureAshli Akins

A reflection on International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

My Instagram post from November 25, 2019, which is relevant to share here.

Today is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. There shouldn't have to be a "day" for this. But unfortunately there is.

I am both privileged and appalled to work in a space where I am reminded, every day, why this day matters. Privileged because I hold witness to the strength and resilience that women - especially Indigenous women - face. And appalled to witness what is considered "normal," what is simply "dealt with" in silence as a daily reality.

When I speak of violence, yes, I am speaking of the physical and sexual kinds. From the basic to the horrific. From the daily fear and silent precautions taken due to the anticipation of it, to the actual acts themselves. But I also refer to violence that is emotional and psychological and cultural. The kind that is not seen through bruises or rape kits, but that can strip a woman of her voice, power, and dignity. The kind that silences the past, present, and future knowledge that is Woman.

Just this past month, I was faced with this form of oppression head-on. Reminded of what happens when language and gender rights are defended in theory, but suppressed in practice in ways that are scary and powerful. Deafening even.

I am both honoured and ashamed to have been both witness and victim in my lifetime, both loud defender and silent bystander. I am constantly learning about where I fit into this conversation. Some days I have the strength to fight loudly, while others I have the strength to breathe quietly.

Thank you to the women, men, and people who continually ask the tough questions. Who acknowledge that yes, in fact, these are realities for so many in the world. That no, you do not know everyone's full story (nor have the right to know). And that yes, we collectively (all genders) are the answer to why This Day may not need to exist some day in the future.

Photo by Ashli Akins in the Sacred Valley of Peru. Working with the Illariy Ch'aska Women's Collective @mosqoyperu @insidenatgeo @universityofbc


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