Acclaimed actor Patrick Stewart has made an impassioned speech before UN delegates and women’s rights campaigners saying more must be done to tackle domestic violence against women.
The actor, famed for his roles as Captain Picard in Star Trek: Next Generation, Professor X in X-Men, and his diverse stints in the theater, stood up before officials at the Diplomat Ballroom at the UN Hotel on International Women’s Rights Day and pounded the podium as he intoned:
“One…two…three…four…five…six…seven…eight…nine. Every nine seconds in the United States a woman is assaulted or beaten.
“… Violence against women is the single greatest human rights violation of our generation. This is a call to action—not an act that will make things better in six months or a year’s time, but action that might save someone’s life and someone’s future this afternoon, tonight, tomorrow morning.”
Stewart has previously discussed how as a child he witnessed domestic violence in his own home, and said at the event he became “an expert” at getting between his violent father and his mother.
“The truth is my mother did nothing to deserve the violence she endured,” Stewart added. “She did not provoke my father — and even if she had, responding with violence is not an acceptable way with dealing with conflict.”
Stewart was hosting the launch of the global “Ring the Bell” campaign, a worldwide effort that was first started in India in 2008 that calls on one million men to make a “concrete, actionable promise” to end violence against women. The campaign has seen surprising success in India where the campaign, backed by Breakthrough, has gained momentum and wider support despite having limited funds and exposure, to the point where Breakthrough now boasts having reached more than 200 million with its PSAs and trained more than 15,000 youth leaders.
It is hoped that this powerful message, that men have the power to stop domestic violence, will become a global phenomenon that, between March 8, 2013 and March 8, 2014, will see a million men pledge to make a difference, whether it be by refusing to take a dowry and therein interrupt the cycle that treats women as property, or challenge the rituals that treat women as though they are less deserving of autonomy than men. There are many other promises that can be made, and you can find out more here.
The event, which coincided with International Women’s Day and the 57th session of the Commission on the Status of Women at United Nations headquarters, saw 200 assorted actors, activists, politicians, filmmakers and musicians attend.
Don McPherson, a former NFL quarterback who is now a notable feminist, backs the campaign and is quoted as comparing the fight to end violence against women to the battle against racism, saying, “White people confronted white people to fight racism. Men need to confront men.”
Sir Richard Branson and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also recorded messages to support the event. You can watch Sir Richard Branson’s message below:
Image credit: kenfagerdotcom.