Do we know what violence looks like? If I asked you to describe violence, you would likely say something like, one person striking another, maybe describe a vicious beating or perhaps make mention of the rape or murder or terrorism that you recently saw on the news. But when was the last time you actually witnessed violence? When was the last time you “experienced” violence? Most of us in North America don’t know violence as anything more than just a word or a description – NOT as a way of life – not as a daily reality or daily threat. Yet for millions of people, real people with names and faces and families and children; for them this is their reality. This is the face of violence, and if you ask “what does violence look like” this could mean different things to different people, but I think the only place we can really look to is with the victims. This is NOT about the perpetrators, but rather the victims. Theirs are the stories that matter.
In the “developing world,” criminal justice systems are also just developing.
According to the United Nations, 4 billion people live outside the protection of the law. That means that their public justice systems – their police, courts, and laws – are so broken, corrupt and dysfunctional, that there is nothing to shield their citizens from violence. No defense. No protection. Nothing to hold back violence. Not just the violence that makes the headlines like war or genocide—but common, criminal violence. And some of the statistics are simply staggering.
Along with an estimated 36 million people forced to live in slavery every day, there are NEARLY 2 MILLION CHILDREN WHO ARE EXPLOITED IN THE COMMERCIAL SEX INDUSTRY. FOR MILLIONS MORE, SEXUAL VIOLENCE IS A PART OF CHILDHOOD. If these numbers don’t shock you and break your heart, that’s ok because I think you are not alone. Until I was introduced to the work of International Justice Mission only 3 years ago these statistics and stories were nowhere in my consciousness. When I learned of the work they are doing and of the need, joining the fight became a commitment that would change my life. A commitment that said that anyone vulnerable facing violence has a right to be protected and that any of us calling ourselves martial artists MUST be on the front lines stopping the hand of the perpetrator that would carry out such evil acts.
In my recent trip through Uganda and Rwanda, I saw extreme poverty but I also met amazing people and through them saw a hope and willingness to make their own life better, never asking for handouts but rather opportunity.
Let me ask you, if your family was in need and you went to your friend or neighbor, would they help you? Would they stand and fight with you in the face or violence?
If my family or I was at risk from an attack or some form of violence, could I call on you? There are millions of innocent children and adults at risk that need us. With a global crisis of violence like this I would like to think that someone could call on all martial artists in the world to unite to eliminate this enemy and they would come running to the rescue. We CAN beat this! We can change history?
We are building partnerships with other NGO’s like Poor Women’s development network. They are seeking a partnership with Martial Arts for Justice where we can offer empowerment training, counselling and self-defense basics to this amazing group of women. Besides the ability to defend oneself, we know how much confidence comes from this kind of training that can ripple through their entire lives. The beneficiaries here are 3000 women at risk and 600 kids, close to or already homeless; these 3000 women are living with other people (at least 7 people per family who are the indirect beneficiaries, which means that the total number of the indirect beneficiaries is 21,000. Friends and fellow martial artists, we can be at the forefront of changing history, please consider joining the fight and become an alliance school – for more info contact firstname.lastname@example.org