Did you know that 1 in 3 women and girls experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime, most frequently at the hands of an intimate partner?
Did you know that 1 in 2 women killed worldwide are killed by their partners or family?
Did you know since COVID began there are an estimated 15 million more cases of domestic violence for every three months of lockdown?
Did you know there are over 40 million slaves being held across the world today? That 71% of all human trafficking victims worldwide are women and girls, with 3 out of every 4 trafficked for sexually exploitation?
These are staggering statistics. Violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread and devastating human rights violations in our world today. For most, it is easier to turn away from the issue because it is too depressing to contemplate, or because it is something that happens to ‘others’, or because the magnitude of the problem is so much bigger than any one individual, we feel powerless to create any kind of change. But power can be a beautiful thing. It grows in number and strength the more we face the very thing we feel compelled to turn away from. We all have the power to create change. While our individual efforts may sometimes feel small and insignificant, collectively our actions have enormous power.
The work that Mel and organisations like Freedom 2 are doing is invaluable. Every human being deserves the right to be free, to have a deep sense of self-worth, and to have choice and power over their bodies and lives. The very best thing we can do to prevent violence and trauma is to raise children with as much love as possible. If we were to raise an entire generation of children full of love and hope, the world would be a very different place, for it is hurt people that hurt people. We must teach children empathy and an understanding of the ‘other’. It is our differences that make us beautiful and unique, and our shared experience of being human that unites us.
For those who have already experienced trauma, we must support and empower them. To help heal their trauma and give them back their power, for it is those who have suffered the most who can be the greatest force for change.
I will end this post with two beautiful quotes. The first testifies to the strength of the human spirit, the second to how we help put an end to the pain and suffering of our fellow humans.
Now, every time I witness a strong person, I want to know: What darkness did you conquer in your story? Mountains do not rise without earthquakes.
We need to stop just pulling people out of the river.
We need to go upstream and find out why they’re falling in.
Leanne Duffield is a UK-based Australian and Founder and CEO of Happy Larder Co., an ethical tea company that puts people, planet and profit at the heart of everything it does. Happy Larder Co. donate their profits to grassroots organisations supporting female survivors of human trafficking and domestic violence. Leanne is also Founder of Good Life Hub, a coworking space in West Berkshire opening early 2021, has a BSc (Honours) Psychology First-class Honours, and is Chair of The Oxford Circle and Chair of the Board for International Growth and Development at the Inspiring Leadership Trust.