From the Director

Dona Yarbrough

By Dona Yarbrough

Welcome to the first paperless edition of Women’s News and Narratives, a publication of the Center for Women at Emory.

As part of our efforts to go green, WNN no longer will be available in print, but now you will be able to enjoy the same award-winning stories and photographs online, and they will come to your inbox rather than your mailbox. We also hope you like our new look, courtesy of the wonderful folks at Emory Creative Group.

Our theme for this issue is gender-based violence. Often a synonym for violence against women, we might nevertheless also consider practices like the forced conscription of boys and men into military service during wartime as gender-based violence. The United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women (1993) defines violence against women as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.”

The scope of violence against women is nothing short of a global and perennial pandemic. Clinical psychologist Laura Brown has noted that sexual trauma is so common in women’s lives as to be a statistically “normal” experience. I remember a time (mid-teens) when I thought the “one-in-four women have been sexually assaulted” statistic was surely exaggerated, but by my early twenties I had to struggle to recall a female friend who was not a survivor of rape.

The diversity of essays here convey some sense of how gender-based violence shapes men and women, individuals and nations, parental ties and professional relationships. For example, Pamela Scully, a faculty member in women's studies, addresses the theoretical landscape surrounding global gender-based violence as well as Emory’s work with key partners in Liberia to address the nation’s high levels of violence against women. Assistant Director Sasha Smith of the CWE shares her very personal and painful connection to intimate partner violence in the U.S., and African American Studies professor Rudolph Byrd discusses his childhood resistance to violence against women as the beginning of his life as a feminist.

These and the other wonderful stories in this issue attest to the incredible community of scholars, clinicians, and activists at Emory who are committed to ending violence against women. Still, as I wrote in Emory Report in March (see http://www.emory.edu/EMORY_REPORT/erarchive/2009/March/March16/index.htm), since 2004 at least one Emory woman a year has died as a result of gender-based violence. I need only remember this astonishing statistic to know that we need to do even more.