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Today's blog post is by Kuro Tawil of Kuros! In this piece, he reflects on the scope of sexual assault issues in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness & Prevention Month.
April. A month where we pause, and reflect upon one of our nation's biggest and least acknowledged issues: sexual assault. A month where we hear stories from survivors, raise awareness about the realities of these issues, and work towards addressing them on a national scale.
Yet, at times we can lose sight of the overall scope of this issue... how widespread and prevalent sexual assault really is. It is not confined by geographic borders or political boundaries; it is not confined to socio-economic status or race... it is occurring in every city, in every state, in every country on this earth.
The United Nations (U.N.) estimates that worldwide, one in four women will experience a sexually-based attack at some point in her life. The U.N. also estimates there will be eight billion people on this earth by 2024, less than 10 years away. Meaning that if the statistics are accurate, of all the women on earth in 2024, nearly one billion will experience a sexual assault in her lifetime. One billion... That's more than three times the entire population of the United States.
So sexual assault is an issue that, on many levels, is one of biggest issues our generation and even global society will face... yet on a world scale, the majority of governments and political leaders wholly ignore it... as has been the case for most of recorded history; and as we have seen time and time again, ignoring a problem only makes it worse.
So what can we do towards bringing an end to a problem of this magnitude?
Well, the first step is realizing that sexual assault is an issue that is larger than any one of us individually. This is going to take a team effort and an approach from multiple angles, because we all bring something different to the fight. We need people working on raising awareness just as much as we need people working on counseling and rehabilitation, or working towards making changes in the government. We are all pieces in the much larger puzzle, each one of us equally important and necessary to making changes on a larger scale.
For us, we focus on addressing sexual assault before an attack occurs. Being from Texas, we believe that the right to defend oneself is an unalienable human right and through Kuros! we provide pepper spray as a free self-defense option to women who otherwise wouldn't have access to it. While pepper spray is legal and sold in many countries, it is not economically attainable to the 1.4 billion people across the globe living in poverty; and in many developing countries, this extreme poverty coupled with a lack of government oversight has lead to a very dangerous situation for hundreds of millions of women. As one woman told us on our recent trip to Africa, "We are not safe anywhere. We get attacked in the streets, we get attacked in our homes, we are being turned into victims." Women are in desperate need of immediate physical protection.
So while our allies in this fight are protesting to raise awareness or providing rehabilitation services to survivors, we will keep arming one woman at a time. Together we can make changes to the social and cultural landscape of this issue – we just have to work as a team and realize that it will take time and effort from all parties involved. There is an ancient Chinese proverb that goes... "the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step"...or for us, a single can of pepper spray.