“He beat me for a year, he would beat me with a belt, wiper sticks, and an empty trash can.
Every time, I would cry and beg him to stop, but he never did” says Nisreen.
Growing up in Basra, Nisreen dreamed of pursuing an education, even though girls were not expected to complete high school.
Nisreen was forced to drop out of high school. When her relative from Baghdad suggested that she marry his son. She did not complete the education that would allow her to get a decent job, she was financially dependent on her husband. Nisreen is not the only one who is subjected to physical violence and keeps silent!
There are women who also believe that husband violence towards them is justified!
What if Nisreen continued her studies and got a Job?
She could have had totally different life!
Women’s education is a crucial condition for women’s empowerment, a woman who is educated is much more aware of her rights in first place to fight for them and not to accept or normalize any kind of violence. Education equips women with more skills and knowledge that qualify them for better job opportunities and financial independence as 85% of women who leave an abusive relationship return. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, a large percentage of women who have returned to a relationship attribute their inability to handle their finances as a major contributing factor.
The first map above shows the literacy rates by country, and the circles highlight the percentage of violence against women. We can clearly see that in countries where literacy rate is low, the percentage of violence against women is higher. The map also shows that Africa has the lowest literacy rate.
When we look at the graph of early marriage by region, we note that Africa has the highest rate of early marriage. Most likely, women married at an early age could not continue their education and this could be a reason for the high level of violence against women.
A woman’s awareness of her rights is so important to women’s empowerment that when we look at the percentage of women who think a husband is justified in beating his wife and compare it to the literacy rate in the scatter plot, we find a strong negative correlation between the two “as the literacy rate increase, the percentage of women who believe a husband is justified to beat his wife decrease”
In conclusion, education is an important factor in women’s awareness of their rights and in reducing violence against women by providing better opportunities for women to have a job and be independent.
We recommend and suggest governments and international organizations to ensure that women have access to quality and appropriate education by implementing policies that mandate female education. This will increase their awareness of their own rights and increase their participation in jobs that will affect their independence and the interest of society as a whole.
Now, do you want to know what happened with Nisreen?
Nisreen’s aunt visited and suggested that she enroll in Women for Women International’s program (develop programs to provide skills, knowledge, and resources that create sustainable change for women )to give her some time away from the depression she felt at home.
With the support of the women in her class, Nisreen recognized that what was happening to her was not right. “My confidence grew, and I decided that I wanted to take action. I finally found the courage to tell my brothers about my husband’s beatings. I told them that I wanted a divorce.
“With my improved situation and the ability to earn income, I feel more confident now to face life and the future.”