Recently someone told me that love hurts. It made me think, and I have come up with a conclusion.
Love doesn’t hurt. Fists hurt. Words hurt. Fear hurts. Loss (of love) hurts. Unwanted, unconsented sex hurts. What we say and do to each other hurts. But love, in and by itself, is innocent of hurt.
It’s Valentine’s Day. A day of roses and heart shaped everything. Hallmark is victorious and red.
Some 40,000 flower workers in Ecuador and over 100,000 in Colombia are working to grow, harvest, and package the flowers we will buy at our local deli and supermarkets. According to the International Labor Rights Forum, more than half of them are women, and forced to give proof of sterilization to be hired. In Ecuador, 55% of the women workers are sexually harassed and at least 19% will be forced to have sex.
Love doesn’t hurt, but apathy does.
In Kyrgyzstan, 11,800 cases of kidnapping of women and girls are reported every year, because some men find it acceptable to kidnap and forcibly marry a girl whom they begin to fancy.
For 140 million women and girls, reaching puberty and having sex will hurt, a lot, as they would be circumcised, sometimes by the time they turn nine.
Walking home at night or taking the public transportation shouldn’t hurt. But for countless number of women and girls around in the world, the daily commute is a time of humiliation and sexual harassment. Millions of women and girls wish that walking on the streets did not hurt.
Loving a woman shouldn’t hurt. But in Cape Town, South Africa, 10 lesbians suffer “corrective rape” every week. In the United States of America, better protection for LGBTQ survivors was one of the issues that stalled the re-authorization of the Violence against Women Act last year.
So this Valentine’s Day, 14 February, I want to skip the roses and join one billion women and men who are rising to dance, sing, speak out and demand an end to violence against women and girls.
I want to talk about love that doesn’t hurt or disrespect, coerce or threaten, break our spirits or wound our bodies. It can be flash fried, slow churned, fulfilled, lost or unsatisfied love. But it cannot, and does not, exist in violence and disrespect.