Violence against women: violence against all of us
Violence against women and girls (VAWG) is one of the most widespread, persistent and devastating human rights violations in our world today remains largely unreported due to the impunity, silence, stigma and shame surrounding it. In general terms, it manifests itself in physical, sexual and psychological forms.
The Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women defines violence against women as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.”
Sexism is everywhere: in classrooms and in offices, on football pitches and magazine covers. But it is sometimes hard to pinpoint what it does, exactly, and we often tend to minimise sexist acts as harmless or not so important. However, all the incidents of sexism that accumulate over days and years create a climate that makes violence and discrimination – mostly against women – possible.
The adverse psychological, sexual and reproductive health consequences of VAWG affect women at all stages of their life. For example, early-set educational disadvantages not only represent the primary obstacle to universal schooling and the right to education for girls; down the line they are also to blame for restricting access to higher education and even translate into limited opportunities for women in the labour market.
While gender-based violence can happen to anyone, anywhere, some women and girls are particularly vulnerable - for instance, young girls and older women, migrants and refugees, indigenous women and ethnic minorities, or women and girls living with HIV and disabilities, and those living through humanitarian crises.
The 2019 theme for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women is ‘Orange the World: Generation Equality Stands Against Rape’. Like in previous years, this year's International Day will mark the launch of 16 days of activism that will conclude on 10 December 2019, which is International Human Rights Day.
“These abuses are among the world’s most horrific, persistent and widespread human rights violations, affecting one in every three women in the world. That means someone around you. A family member, a co-worker, a friend. Or even you yourself.” Said the UN Secretary-General in a message . “Sexual violence against women and girls is rooted in centuries of male domination. And rape is still being used as a horrendous weapon of war. I call on governments, the private sector, civil society and people everywhere to take a firm stand against sexual violence and misogyny. And we must promote women’s rights and equal opportunities.”
“If I could have one wish granted, it might well be a total end to rape. That means a significant weapon of war gone from the arsenal of conflict, the absence of a daily risk assessment for girls and women in public and private spaces, the removal of a violent assertion of power, and a far-reaching shift for our society.” Said UN women executive director in a statement . “In both conflict and in peace it shapes women’s decisions to move from communities through fear of attack or the stigma for survivors. Women and girls fleeing their homes as refugees also risk unsafe transport and insecure living conditions that can lack locked doors, adequate lighting and proper sanitation facilities.”
“Having more women in police forces and training them adequately is a crucial first step in ensuring that survivors begin to trust again and feel that their complaint is being taken seriously at every stage of what can be a complex process. Progress also requires that we successfully tackle the many institutional and structural barriers, patriarchal systems and negative stereotyping around gender that exist in security, police and judicial institutions, as they do in other institutions.” she continued.
The Organization for defending victims of violence (ODVV) believes violence against women and girls has no boundaries of geography or culture. It has long-term devastating effects on the lives of women and girls and wider society. In a world were human rights is blatantly violated by force, the only way for human rights defenders and advocates is persistence on human rights principles and values.
In unity with this year’s theme, the ODVV strongly condemns every aspect of violence against women especially sexual harassments in time of peace and war. It robs women and girls of their dignity, violates their fundamental rights, damages their health, reduces their productivity and prevents them from achieving their full potential.