November 25th marked the International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women, and also launched the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, which ends on December 10th, International Human Rights Day. These 16 Days offer an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to the elimination of violence against women and girls.
Gender-based violence is defined as violence that is directed at an individual based on his or her biological sex, gender identity, or perceived adherence to socially defined norms of masculinity and femininity. Women and girls are most at risk and most affected by gender-based violence. It can take many forms, including but beyond rape and physical intimidation. Every girl who is married off too young or against her will, every woman who is beaten by her partner, every woman or girl who is trafficked into sexual exploitation, has experienced this violence.
Violence against women and girls is a global epidemic. It crosses every social and economic class, ethnicity, race, religion, and education level, and transcends international borders."
All forms of gender-based violence are unacceptable violations or abuses of human rights. “Violence against women and girls is a global epidemic. It crosses every social and economic class, ethnicity, race, religion, and education level, and transcends international borders,” said Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues, Catherine Russell:
“We see heightened levels of gender-based violence in conflict and post-conflict settings, in refugee and displaced persons camps, and following natural disasters. The use of rape as a tactic of war is yet another egregious form of gender-based violence that disproportionately affects women and girls. Worldwide, an estimated one in three women will be physically or sexually abused in her lifetime, and one in five will experience rape or attempted rape.”
Violence against women has enormous negative repercussions that impact entire communities and nations.
“Gender-based violence is also a public health challenge and a barrier to social, political, and economic participation. It undermines the dignity, overall health status, and human rights of the millions of individuals who experience it, as well as the public health, economic stability, and security of nations.”
Violence against women is not cultural, it is criminal. Because it threatens the enjoyment of human rights of women and girls, as well as the fundamental stability, security, and prosperity of our societies, we are committed to standing up for the dignity of every woman, every girl.