According to the United Nations, violence against women is the world's most pervasive human rights violation.
Violence against women during or after armed conflicts has been reported in every war zone around the world. Rape is frequently used as a weapon of war. However, even more frequently, women are physically and psychologically abused by their intimate partners.
Globally, one out of every three women is beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused by her husband or partner in the course of her lifetime. In fact, half of all women who are murdered die at the hands of their current or former husbands or partners. Much of this violence goes unreported. Many nations have weak laws or no laws at all against violence against women, or existing laws are not enforced, so all too often the perpetrators go unpunished.
On November 25th, the United Nation began a 16 day global campaign to eliminate violence against women. It ends on December 10th, International Human Rights Day.
The Obama Administration has made women's empowerment a core pillar of American foreign policy. Earlier this year, President Barack Obama appointed Melanne Verveer to be the first ever Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues. In August, Secretary Clinton traveled to the Democratic Republic of Congo to shine a spotlight on the use of rape as a tactic of war. And in September, she chaired a U.N. Security Council session that passed Resolution 1888 to prevent and respond to sexual violence in armed conflict.
"Violence against women cannot be accepted as 'cultural' -- it is criminal," said Secretary of State Clinton on November 25th. "Let us recommit ourselves –- men and women in every country –- to work together to end these atrocities, to hold those who commit them accountable, and to support the survivors. No woman or girl anywhere in the world should have to walk in fear or live under the threat of violence."
"The United States," said Secretary Clinton, "will continue to stand with women around the world to ensure that their rights are protected and respected, and that they have the opportunity to pursue an education, find a good job, live in safety and fulfill their own God-given potential."