Despite all the work, laws, and awareness campaigns to protect women from some form of violence, the statistics remain grim. According to unwomen.org, 35 percent of women have experienced physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence, or sexual violence by a non-partner—yet less than 40 percent of the women who experience violence seek the help of any sort.
Keep those figures in mind during International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Designated every November 25 by the United Nations General Assembly in commemoration of the brutal 1960 murder of the Mirabal sisters of the Dominican Republic by the evil dictator Rafael Trujillo, the International Day brings to light the violence women continue to endure, so that actions may be taken to prevent and finally put an end to this injustice. (Read: ‘A World Without Mothers Is a World With No Future’ – Pope Francis)
And while men are usually the perpetrators of these acts of violence, there are also men committed to protecting these women from harm. Here are three men who advocate for the elimination of violence against women.
Patrick Stewart Speaks up Against Domestic Violence
The star of the Star Trek and X-Men franchises was aged seven when he served as his mother’s shield against his father’s wrath. The elder Stewart, a veteran of World War II and one of the last to be evacuated from Dunkirk, suffered from a post-traumatic stress disorder and took his anger out on his wife.
“I knew exactly when the shouting was done and a hand was about to be raised,” Patrick told The Guardian. “I also knew exactly when to insert a small body between the fist and her face, a skill no child should ever have to learn.” (Read: Liza Soberano and Gabriela Youth: Here’s What You Need to Know)
In 2007, Stewart became one of the celebrity supporters of the UK domestic violence charity Refuge. “I do what I do in my mother’s name, because I couldn’t help her then,” he said at an event in 2013, “Now I can.”
Raul Roco Authored Laws That Protect Women
According to a 2007 story by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, the all-female group Soroptimist International Manila was looking for a guest speaker to invite to its 30th anniversary, one “who was known for championing women’s causes, had contributed to the women’s struggle, and had affected the lives of millions of Filipinas in a positive way.”
The person who fit the bill: Raul Roco, the former congressman, three-term senator, secretary of education, and two-time presidential candidate whose bills prioritized and protected women’s rights. (Read: Women’s Rights Around the World: How Far Have We Really Come?)
Roco was the man who authored the Women In Nation Building Law, the Nursing Act, the Anti-Sexual Harassment Law, the Anti-Rape Law, and the Child and Family Courts Act. Such landmark laws prompted Soroptimist organizers to give him a title that stuck: “Honorary Woman.”
For his integrity as a public servant, Senator Roco (who passed away in 2005 from prostate cancer) earned another title: “The Best President the Philippines Never Had.”
David Schwimmer Fights for Victims of Sexual Abuse
Growing up, the actor who played nerdy paleontologist Ross on Friends first learned about sexual harassment from his mother, a young and attractive lawyer making a name for herself in family law. “She was subjected to sexual harassment and a lot of discrimination, chauvinism and sexism—by judges, other lawyers, even clients,” he told nbcnews.com.
But the turning point came when a former girlfriend admitted to him that she had been sexually abused as a child by a family member. (Read: Barbie honors strong, independent women in new collection)
Driven to help innocent victims of sexual assault, he sits on the board of directors of The Rape Foundation, whose mission is to support comprehensive, state-of-the-art treatment for victims of rape, sexual assault, and other forms of sexual abuse, says its website. He also directed the 2010 film Trust, about a couple coming to terms with their teenage daughter’s abuse in the hands of an online predator.
“I’m the father of a six-and-a-half-year-old daughter,” he said in a 2018 interview. “If I’m going to do something about this for future generations, now is the time.”