Our client Dana, a Honduran native, was physically, mentally and emotionally abused by her partner throughout their relationship and her pregnancy. She is just one example of the cases we see at Human Rights Initiative, which deal with violence against women. Yesterday, November 25th, was the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. According to the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, “70 percent of women experience physical or sexual violence at some point in their lifetime. As many as a quarter of all pregnant women are affected.”
In 2008, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched the UniTE to End Violence against Women campaign to help prevent and eliminate violence against women and girls across the globe. Their goals include:
- Adopt and enforce national laws to address and punish all forms of violence against women and girls
- Adopt and implement multi-sectoral national action plans
- Strengthen data collection on the prevalence of violence against women and girls
- Increase public awareness and social mobilization
- Address sexual violence in conflict
In November 2009, the UN Women launched a social mobilization platform, Say NO – UniTE to End Violence against Women to help contribute to the UN Secretary-General’s campaign. Say NO – UniTE participates in the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence Campaign, which goes from November 25th, the International Day of Elimination of Violence against Women to December 10th, International Human Rights Day and aims to get everyone across the globe to end all forms of violence against women and girls.
But as UN Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet said in her message recognizing the International Day to End Violence against Women, violence against women and girls affects more than abused women; it negatively affects the entire world.
“Today violence against women is increasingly recognized for what it is: a threat to democracy, a barrier to lasting peace, a burden on national economies, and an appalling human rights violation,” Bachelet said.
This year UN Women has launched a new campaign, COMMIT, which calls “on Governments everywhere to COMMIT to end violence against women and girls.”
But violence against women and girls is not just a “developing country” issue. Although the United States’ government has pledged to COMMIT to ending violence against women, Congress still hasn’t passed the reauthorization of the Violence against Women Act (VAWA). If the U.S. can’t respect and truly commit to ending violence against women how can we expect the same from the rest of the world?