Part I — Empowering Young Women
Women have always been oppressed, and they still are today. The first step to initiating social change is to create awareness. All that young women know is what they are shown. If they are told that their only life option is a domestic one, that’s all they know. That’s why it’s important that there are leaders who create social awareness to let young girls and women know that they can choose differently.
A successful example of this can be shown through Denise Dunnings efforts in Malawi. By creating social awareness, she started a movement against young girls being married before 21 years of age. One important factor in Dunning’s program is that she raises leaders in the local community to help spread the message. There are older Malawi women who are also involved. This is even more effective for young girls to see older women from their community giving them support.
Yvette Mulongo grew up in the Democratic Republic of Congo. With help from the United Nations Population Fund, Mulongo has coordinated the implementation of medical assistance and neonatal care. They also provide young women with medial rehabilitation from sexual violence. Rape is used as a tool of war in the DRC, and sexually transmitted diseases outbreaks can be detrimental to the woman population.
Part II — Holistic Approaches to Stop the Violence
Ultimately most of the reasoning behind most acts of sexual violence, especially those committed in developing countries, is due to the way that women are viewed. In the case of Boko Haram, women are seen as subservient. The men of Boko Haram see the women they kidnap as objects for their own pleasure or to satisfy their own needs.
Many of the emotional trauma sexual assault victims experience in developing countries are the very similar to what victims experience in Western countries. There’s a pattern of victim blaming, as Rachel Jewkes pointed out in her article “If they rape me, I can’t blame them.” Women all over the world struggle with these feelings. Another example was addressed in Katherine Wood’s article, “He forced me to love him.” Often times young people equate love with sex as if they are the same, and victims of sexual assault are often left feeling confused after they are attacked.
The difference between women residing in Western countries, is that there are more resources and opportunities for them to receive help than women in developing countries. Support groups and education initiatives are some of the best ways to prevent sexual assault.
That’s why it’s so important for women in developing countries to receive education about rape and sexual assault.