“Girls have been made to believe that they need someone to survive.”
These powerful words came from one of the commentators in the short documentary, SASA!, a film about women, violence and HIV/AIDS.
Sasa is Kiswahili for “now.” As in now is the time to take a stand against women’s violence. And we need to make this change now.
SASA! tells the powerful story of Josephine and Mama Joyce, two women from different countries, but in similar situations. Beaten, abused, pushed down, and left HIV positive by the men they married.
As young women, they were made to feel powerless and told they wouldn’t be happy unless they were with a man—even a man who abuses them.
Their situations are not isolated cases; globally, at least one out of every four women is beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused during her lifetime.
One out of four.
Gender based violence (GBV), is a pervasive public health and human rights issue throughout the world. GBV consists of sexual, physical, emotional and/or financial abuse and is manifested throughout the life cycle.
Furthermore, this type of violence against another human being has negative health consequences.
In Mama Joyce and Josephine’s situations, they were both left HIV positive. Josephine’s husband slept with other women, and when she brought up the use of a condom, he beat her. And even though she protested, he forced sex on her. Adding salt to the wound, her in-laws blamed their son’s death on her. Mama Joyce’s husband left her and his second wife, leaving Mama Joyce to take care of her ailing “co-wife.”
But these women remained strong. They became leaders in their communities, hold support groups, and encourage other women who are in similar situations.
USAID, through the Global Health Initiative, is fully committed to preventing and responding to gender-based violence. Interventions work with both men and women to address the multiple factors at various levels that fuel the issue, and we are looking to help make a change in these women’s lives now.