International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

From Ohh Now News Desk

The planet Earth is now inhabited by 8 billion human beings. As of 2021, 3.905 billion of this population are women. Despite being a vital half of procreation, despite being an object of worship in many religions and despite contributing significantly in both paid and unpaid work sectors, women continue to be at the receiving end of brutal violence and apathy.

While many accuse women of playing the “victim card,” it is a sobering reality that 81,000 women and girls were intentionally killed last year. It is estimated that more than five women or girls will be killed every hour in 2021 by no less than a member of their own family. It must be noted that many victims of violence have gone unreported too. 

According to data collected by WHO, about 1 in 3 women have been victim to either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime. This means women are not safe within their own homes either. In developing and under-developed countries, female foeticide and selective abortions make even the womb an unsafe place.

Globally, a staggering 15 million adolescent girls between the ages of 15 and 19 have experienced forced sex. As of 2018, for every ten victims of human trafficking, almost five were reported to be adult women, while two were girls.

These statistics confirm that women and girls face physical, sexual, and psychological violence on a daily basis, no matter which part of the world they live in or what culture they belong to.

Shame and stigma perpetrated by patriarchal values ensure that women do not get the help or security they deserve.

COVID-19 gave rise to a shadow pandemic of violence against women, as the pandemic exacerbated the abuse of women behind closed doors. The women were left with no option but to escape their abusers in this scenario.

Amidst rising clamour against human rights movements and feminist ideology, there has been a backlash against women’s rights organisations, and attacks against women’s rights activists have increased.

It is, therefore, crucial to join the campaign to eliminate violence against women today. The theme of International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women 2022 is: UNITE! Activism to End Violence against Women & Girls.

The UNITE! campaign will be launched today, on 25 November and will continue till 10 December, when International Human Rights Day is observed. The 16-day initiative, which the UN Secretary-General and UN Women lead, aims to prevent and eliminate violence against women and girls across the world. Efforts will be made on a global scale to raise awareness, promote advocacy, and create opportunities for discussion on challenges and solutions.

Each individual can play a role in preventing VAWG. As Sima Bahous, Executive Director at UN Women, says: “Behind every femicide statistic is the story of an individual woman or girl who has been failed. These deaths are preventable – the tools and the knowledge to do so already exist.”

The first step is to support and invest in strong, autonomous women’s rights organisations and feminist movements.

Further, it is critical to count every victim and compile data on gender-related killings systematically. Governments and lawmakers should actively improve understanding of the risks and drivers of femicide to ensure effective prevention of VAWG and formulate more effective criminal justice responses.

The UNODC (UN Office on Drugs and Crime) and UN Women have developed a framework to provide standard statistical definitions and categories to help countries in measuring and counting all types of gender-related killings of women.

The health sector of nations can contribute through:

  • Advocating to make violence against women unacceptable and addressing VAWG as a public health problem.
  • Providing comprehensive services, sensitisation and training for health care providers, in order to respond to the needs of survivors holistically and empathetically.
  • Preventing recurrence of violence through early identification of women and children, who are survivors of violence and providing appropriate referral and support.
  • Promoting egalitarian gender norms as part of life skills
  • Providing comprehensive sexuality education to young people.

Policy-makers around the world can adopt the RESPECT women framework. 

  • RESPECT stands for seven strategies: 
  • Relationship skills strengthening;
  • Empowerment of women; 
  • Services ensured; 
  • Poverty reduced; 
  • Enabling environments (schools, work places, public spaces) created; 
  • Child and adolescent abuse prevented 
  • and Transformed attitudes, beliefs and norms.

Countries must enact and enforce legislations to prevent violence while simultaneously developing and implementing policies that promote gender equality.

Peace and progress can begin only by ending violence. Preventing violence against women is also crucial for fulfilling the promise of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), i.e. to leave no one behind.

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