World AIDS Day 2017: Women Breaking the Silence

Remember Silence = Death?  Research has shown there is a direct link between the the shame, stigma, secrets and trauma women experience as a result of sexual assault and the quality of women’s health, including their vulnerability to HIV.

We demand an end to sexual harassment, assault and violence against women now!

“The shameful comments about our bodies, the disrespect of our ambitions and intellect. The belief you can do anything to a woman? It is cruel. It’s frightening. And the truth is, it hurts. It hurts.” —Michelle Obama

Turn on any television, radio or computer and you will witness an avalanche of stories about women victimized by sexual harassment, assault and violence. The attack on women’s minds, bodies and spirit has risen to epidemic proportions.  Hostile policy impacting women’s sexual and reproductive health services, pay equity and economic opportunity has become almost a cultural norm.   But women survivors in record numbers are breaking the silence of shame, stigma and fear to rise up against these social injustices and the coming tsunami will change the political and social landscape. Women have been calling out predators in the news rooms and boardrooms, at the White House and the Court House, from Hollywood to Congress and every institution in between.

“You may write me down in history with your bitter, twisted lies. You may tread me in the very dirt, but still, like dust, I’ll rise.” These lines from Maya Angelou’s iconic poem “Still I Rise” have never been more relevant nor have they resonated as deeply in so many women’s lives as they do today.

There is a reckoning coming.

It began with the Women’s March, a worldwide protest on January 21, 2017, to advocate legislation and policies regarding women’s rights as human rights and other issues, immigration reform, healthcare reform, reproductive rights, the natural environment, LGBTQ rights, racial equality, freedom of religion and workers’ rights. The recent 2017 election was a watershed moment for women in politics, as women candidates scored big wins up and down the ballot.  And 2018 is primed to be even more of a revolutionary year for women’s empowerment with the alignment of political and social determinants such as healthcare reform, tax reform, mid-term elections, the International AIDS Conference and continued focus on anti-women behavior. The only question for those individuals and groups who have been part of the movement for gender equity and justice is “will you be a part of this powerful wave or left in the wake of its impact?”

We agree with these words from former President Barack Obama, “You can judge a nation, and how successful it will be, based on how it treats its women and its girls.” —President Obama. 7:41 AM – 23 Jan 2014.

Yes, we’ve come a long way baby, but we have much more further to go.