On reflecting on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women which is today, I think back about Fatima Tupa'i - a young mother in Samoa who was beaten to death by her husband while she slept next to her two kids. There are too many tragic stories like this in our small region and it must stop!
Recently I listened to a young North Korean woman, Yeonmi Park who spoke at the recent One Young World Summit in Thailand, but it was speech at the Summit in Dublin 2014 that captured the worlds heart and highlights why in this day and age we require the observation of this day. Internationally observed days like the day for the Elimination of Violence against women provide us all with an opportunity to critically reflect on our own lives, but more importantly to look outside that box and to see and understand how others live and experience theirs. Yeonmi literally had the audience in tears with harrowing tales of life under the repressive North Korean regime and her perilous escape to freedom.
Here she speaks about being brainwashed; of seeing executions; of starving; of having to watch her mother being raped; of burying her father on her own at just 14; and of threatening to kill herself rather than allow Mongolian soldiers to send her back to North Korea.
I cannot even begin to imagine or fathom what these experiences must of been like, and so on this day and on every other day I will continue to acknowledge and salute her strength and resilience, as a symbol of hope and a beacon of light for all other women across the world who find themselves in similar circumstances. Yeonmi is a survivor.
I pay tribute to and pray for those who died in vain; and those who will continue to lose their lives in vain unless we as a global community tackle this issue of addressing and eliminating all forms of violence against woman. I hope we all pause to reflect on this during this years White Ribbon Campaign.