November 25th, 2015 10:36 EST
UN Marks International Day For the Elimination of Violence Against Women
Expressing deep concern about atrocity crimes being committed against women and girls in conflict zones, as well as the domestic abuse found globally, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today marked the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women by urging collective action to end such crimes and grave threats to progress. "
I am deeply concerned about the plight of women and girls living in conditions of armed conflict, who suffer various forms of violence, sexual assault, sexual slavery and trafficking. Violent extremists are perverting religious teachings to justify the mass subjugation and abuse of women, " said Mr. Ban in a message on the International Day, marked annually on 25 November.
He stressed that such crimes are not merely random acts of violence or the incidental fallout of war, but rather systematic efforts to deny women`s freedoms and control their bodies, " and emphasized: As the world strives to counter and prevent violence extremism, the protection and empowerment of women and girls must be a key consideration. "
The Secretary-General also said that even in areas of peace, violence against women exists in the form of femicide, sexual assault, female genital mutilation/cutting, early marriage and cyber-violence, which traumatize individuals and tear at the fabric of society. "
He noted that he is leading the global response through programmes such as the UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign and the HeForShe, which aim to engage men in promoting gender equality.
Further, Mr. Ban called for increased contributions from the governments to the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women, citing severe underinvestment in this area.
To mark the International Day, iconic landmarks ranging from the historic ruins at Petra in Jordan to the Niagara Falls in North America will be illuminated in orange lights, as sign of the growing momentum for change, said the UN chief.
Millions of people across the world are uniting under the banner colour orange, chosen to symbolize the brighter future of a world free from violence against women and girls, " he explained.
He recalled that the newly adopted 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development also recognizes the importance of eliminating violence against women, with related targets across several of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Additionally, the Secretary-General noted that recent reviews of the UN peace operations, peacebuilding efforts, and the women, peace and security agenda highlighted the critical value of women`s participation in peace and security.
Calling for collective action Mr. Ban urged everyone to join forces to end this crime, promote full gender equality and realize a world where women and girls enjoy the safety they deserve " for their sake and for all of humanity. "
Echoing the sentiment, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka reiterated the urgent need to eliminate violence against women " the most tolerated human rights violation in the world. "
She stressed that violence against women is largely a cause and a consequence of gender inequality and discrimination and added that its continued presence is one of the clearest markers of societies out of balance, and we are determined to change that. "
Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka said such violence in not acceptable or inevitable, and stressed that it can be prevented.
Although there is no single solution to such a complex problem, there is growing evidence of the range of actions that can stop violence before it happens, especially if they are implemented in parallel. Further, research currently underway will lead to more definitive strategies and interventions to prevent violence, " she added.
She emphasized that collaborative action, from governments to individuals, can tackle the unequal power relations and structures between men and women and highlight the necessary attitudinal, practice and institutional changes.
Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka also stressed domestic violence, abusive text messages, the impunity of rapists, the enslavement of women in conflict areas, the killing of women human rights defenders, or the hostility of police stations or courtrooms to women`s testimony of violence experienced, as some of the areas where prevention can be implemented before violence.
We have made progress in improving the laws that distinguish these acts and others as ones of violence and invasion of human rights. Some 125 countries have laws against sexual harassment, 119 have laws against domestic violence, but only 52 countries have laws on marital rape. We know that leaders, whether CEOs, Prime Ministers, or teachers, can set the tone for zero tolerance to violence, " said underscored.
She also added that community mobilization, group interventions for women and men, educational programmes and empowerment of women, together with other legal, behavioural and social changes can help in ending violence against women.
In another statement, the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Dubravka Å imonovic, urged all States to focus on prevention of gender-related killing of women by establishing a "Femicide Watch.`
Violence against women is the most atrocious manifestation of the systematic and widespread discrimination and inequality that women and girls around the world continue to face. Women and their children continue to die as victims of gender related killing, often in cruel ways, said Ms. Å imonovic, urging all States to take actions to prevent gender-related killing of women.
The weaknesses of national prevention systems, lack of proper risk assessment and the scarcity or poor quality of data are major barriers in preventing gender-related killing of women and developing meaningful prevention strategies, " added Ms.Å imonovic in a news release issued by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
She called on all States to establish a "Femicide Watch` or a "Gender-Related Killing of Women Watch` and to publish on each International Day on the Elimination of violence against Women, the number of femicides, disaggregated by age and sex of the perpetrators, as well as the relationship between the perpetrator and the victim or victims, including publishing information concerning the prosecution and punishment of perpetrators.
The 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence should be used to present such data and discuss actions needed for prevention of those preventable deaths of women, " added Ms.Å imonovic.
She also emphasized on analyzing each case of gender-related killing to identify any failure of protection in view of improving and developing further preventive measures.
Ms. Å imonovic called for increased cooperation from the with non-governmental organizations and independent human rights institutions working in this field, academia, victims` representatives, as well as relevant international organizations and other stakeholders, to aid in the collection, analysis and publication of such data and ensure their availability to all public at the national level.
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