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Fighting the Most Pervasive Human Rights Abuse


Women from a camp for displaced people in Kitchanga, in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

We all must work together to fight gender-based violence around the world, and the abuse of power in all of its forms.

Gender-based violence is one of the world's most pervasive human rights abuses. According to the World Health Organization, 35 percent of women have experienced either intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime. More than 130 million girls and women have experienced female genital mutilation/cutting.

Gender-based violence takes far too many forms – from physical, sexual and psychological abuse, to female infanticide, sex trafficking and forced labor, so-called “honor” killings, to harmful traditional practices such as early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation/cutting. Each and every form is unacceptable. Each and every form of violence creates an enormous obstacle to gender equality, economic development, and true human progress.

That is why the United Nations began the annual observance of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence. Beginning with the observance of International Day to End Violence Against Women on November 25th, and ending on Human Rights Day on December 10th, the 16 Days observance shines a spotlight on the violence endured by women and girls around the world, and encourages both men and women, girls and boys, to fight for the changes needed to challenge the entrenched gender inequality in most societies.

All over the globe, including at many American Embassies, activists and concerned citizens have scheduled marches, marathons and other public activism to promote gender equality and advance the rights of women and girls everywhere.

“Violence against women creates and maintains poverty,” said Vice President Joe Biden in a written statement. “It threatens peace. Perhaps, most importantly, it degrades all of humanity. We all must work together to fight gender-based violence around the world, and the abuse of power in all of its forms. Today we join with the international community in renewing this commitment.”

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