In the United States, there are more than 10 million victims of domestic violence every year. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and it’s a time to focus attention on this important issue. Oct. 20 is #PurpleThursday and the official day to wear or display the color purple in an effort to raise awareness about domestic violence.
Domestic violence is defined as a pattern of behavior that is violent and controlling and can include physical, emotional, psychological, sexual, or financial abuse.
Many of the women artisans we partner with at my online fair trade shop, The Little Market, are victims of domestic violence. We work with artisans in 18 countries, from the United States to Guatemala to Bangladesh. I’ve been able to travel with my close friend Hannah Skvarla, with whom I co-founded The Little Market, to meet with many of our artisan partners.
Several of the women have shared about their own experiences as victims of domestic violence. We’ve also learned that as women begin to earn their own income, domestic violence rates decrease. When women are given sustainable opportunities, especially when working at home and taking care of their families, they are working toward a better future.
The Little Market’s artisan partners share our commitment to fair trade principles, which include supporting safe and empowering working conditions.
As an example of the impact of fair trade, our artisan partner Wakami promotes economic initiatives in rural villages in Guatemala to help connect more than 500 women with a larger marketplace. The artisans make beautiful, delicate bracelets, like this purple and silver wrap bracelet. (Purple is also the official color of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.) Due to the income generated from these bracelets, many of the women artisans report that domestic violence in their home has gone down, and they earn greater respect from their spouses as they contribute to household income.
There is something all of us can do to stop domestic violence—whether it’s wearing purple to show solidarity this month, choosing fair trade products that empower women around the world, or supporting friends or family who are experiencing abuse. The most important thing we can do is not stay silent.
Here are some resources for more information on domestic violence against women:
- National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
- National Network to End Domestic Violence
- Human Rights Watch
- Domestic Violence Awareness Project.