Survivors of sexual assault, photographed by Grace Brown for the Project Unbreakable blog. The poster reads: “By the time I am done, no one will want you. I will break you.” – my attacker “You work at a sexual assault centre. You should have known better.” – my brother — Photographed in London, ON on October 16th.

Hello and welcome to Tracing the Unspeakable!

My name is Anna Laura Magyarlaki, and I am a student in Economic Policy, based in Kigali, Rwanda.

Growing up as a young girl in Hungary I have experienced many forms of sexism, discrimination and discouragement from my environment, the media and society. I was told too many times that I will have to pretend to be less intelligent than my future partner, that I should dress prettily and learn to cook and I have seen too many examples of women backing out from roles they saw as too dominant or too powerful for a woman. I do not blame my environment for having given me these inputs , – they completely reflect the realities of the Hungarian gender power structure today. However, I do feel the necessity to question and expose them.

Moving on, I continued my studies as a university student in Sciences Po Dijon, France, did an exchange year in Berlin, then returned to France to start my masters. Today, I am writing these lines from Kigali, where I am interning for three months. Trying to keep an open eye, I have travelled and done projects in different parts of the world: volunteered in Senegal and Morocco, started a project on media and national identity in Palestine, met and exchanged with a lot of people. I do not assume that these small travels have permitted me to perceive even half of the reality around me, however they did permit me to analyse and compare the different realities I have faced.

This blog serves as my companion to answer one of the most overwhelming questions I, and many men and women around the world ask themselves. Why is it that there is so much violence directed against women? The World Health Organisation estimates that about 1 in 3 (35%) women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime. Conflicts, wars, and dire economic situations tend to exacerbate the situation, at the same time the world’s most “developed” ( economically and political stability-wise, that is) nations are not devoid of common occurrences of sexual violence. According to a survey done in 2004, 43% of women in the 28 European Union Member States have experienced some form of psychological violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime (European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights).

Clearly this is not just a question of development. Clearly this is not just a question of certain macho cultures. What is its driving force and how could we fight against it? And why should we?

I believe that, sexual and physical violence is just one of the many forms of oppression directed against women. Other forms include economic disadvantage, lower school enrollment rates, or female infanticide.

I also believe that in order to change something we first have to understand why and how it is happening. Many studies and articles have been published on domestic violence,  rape and the situation of women around the world. I will share some of these here, hoping they would reach a wider audience and collecting them so as to form a bigger picture.

I will also use this blog to document the situation of women in different parts of the world, to publish stories, to map the possibilities of rape and domestic violence survivors and to advocate for their rights to proper medical and psychological support.

Thus, the focus of this blog is rape, domestic violence and methods of rehabilitation.

As of October, 2017 I am launching the blog from Kigali, taking the first steps in collaboration with Yvan Christian Ngabiwe, a local journalist at Family Magazine to map cases of domestic violence here, to talk to survivors and relatives and get in contact with NGOs who help them.

I hope, that some day this blog will serve as a database for those, who like me are passionate about these questions, I hope it will be able to honor some of the people and their testimonies and I hope it will shed light on some of the questions we are all asking ourselves.


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