Showing the world the power of women’s voices
The Washington Post
February 27, 2012
Plates clinked in the background while the buffet was being set up, and a woman from Kenya took the microphone and described the night that police arrived at her home to find her beaten and bruised by her husband. “Can’t you two just work it out among yourselves?” the officer asked, before leaving.
And so the horrors unfolded, even as the Caprese salad was served.
The saddest thing about this hotel conference scene?
“All across the globe, our stories are the same,” said Berline Vaita, the Kenyan abuse survivor who was attending the World Conference of Women’s Shelters at National Harbor on Monday.
I went there to see the amazing array of front-line advocates, thousands of women from Ecuador, Mexico, Nepal, Denmark and at least 90 other countries who are here for a four-day conference that only happens once every four years.
I braced myself to hear the flesh-and-blood stories behind the staggering worldwide statistics on domestic violence, affecting about 1 billion women who have been “beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused by an intimate partner,” according to the D.C.-based National Network to End Domestic Violence, which organized this year’s event.
But abuse isn’t limited to villages and foreign countries. The folks at the conference did some eye-bugging when they heard about the way a bad suburban divorce in the United States can turn into a living hell when an abuser has technology on his side.