I was convinced that nobody was going to protect me

9 December 2018

Faced with poverty, the burden of caring for many children, and fear, Ghalia waited years before she ended her silence and broke the cycle of domestic violence.

“I used to feel fear and loneliness, and I was convinced that nobody was going to protect me.”

Fleeing the horrors of domestic violence, Ghalia had to spend at least one night on the street with her children.

Nearly 60% of all women survivors of violence choose to remain silent rather than ask for support. Those who do speak up mostly talk to their family and friends rather than official competent authorities like the police or hospitals. For years, Ghalia was one of those millions of silent women. She says that women survivors of violence need lots of courage and persistence to break this vicious circle.

“While I finally managed to expose what I had been through, fear controls many other women who prefer silence because they are convinced that if they speak out, they will not have protection”.

Law 103-13 that was recently enacted to protect women from violence and stipulated harsher penalties against abusers. UNFPA, the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency, contributes to strengthening the effective enforcement of the law through promoting and supporting legal and executive frameworks within the context of the Moroccan Constitution and Morocco’s international commitments related to fighting gender-based violence and all types of discrimination.

UNFPA also supports the provision of basic services to survivors of gender-based violence and supports their access to such services including quality social services necessary for their empowerment. Indeed, Ghalia’s access to a center for gender-based violence survivors allowed her to reclaim control over her life once again.

“Listening to stories of other survivors of violence opened my eyes to the necessity of confronting violence.

Ghalia joined other women survivors at the centre and, together, they formed a support group to help each other as well as other survivors.

“We established the ‘we became activists’ group to provide protection and social support to gender-based violence survivors”.  

The multi-function Al Bathaa Centre works on empowering female survivors of gender-based violence and enabling them to become agents of change. UNFPA supports Al Bathaa Centre to capitalize on its experiences and lessons learnt from the centre’s different interventions with women survivors of violence. The centre supports women’s ability to break the silence and seek legal, vocational, social and psychological support.

Liberated from her fears, Ghalia is now on a mission to demand the rights she was originally denied for all women.

“I dream about a day when all women who survived violence will regain their dignity, live in safety, and become liberated from fear and want”.