The United Nations General Assembly has designated 25 November International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women Governments and NGOs are called on to organise activities designated to raise public awareness.
Unfortunately, violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread violations of human rights. The United Nation has designated 25 November as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
Origin of The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Children
The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Children was established in 1981 by women activists who took it upon themselves to raise awareness.
The date came from the brutal 1961 assassination of the three Mirabal sisters, political activists in the Dominican Republic, on orders of Dominican ruler Rafael Trujillo.
Following their assassination, activists from the Latin American and Caribbean Feminist Encuenctros joined forces to combat and raise awareness for gender-based violence.
In South Africa, 25 November marks the start of the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children campaign, which runs until 10 December.
Why violence against women must be eliminated
According to the United Nations, violence against women and girls is one of “the most widespread, persistent and devastating human rights violations in our world today”.
Unfortunately, it remains largely unreported due to the “impunity, silence, stigma and the shame” surrounding gender-based violence; which can manifest itself in physical, sexual or psychological forms.
“As a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, I know that we all have a role to play. The 16 days campaign is a moment for the world to come together and take action. I urge you to join the campaign this year to stand against rape and be a part of the efforts to end all forms of violence against women.”
Examples of violence against women and children
It can take the form of intimate partner violence, which includes not only physical harm such as battering, rape and murder, but also psychological abuse.
A common form of violence in the family unit is marital rape. Most cases won’t be reported due to the belief that marital rape isn’t “really” rape.
South Africa saw a landmark case in 2013, when the first South African citizen, Frederik Bossert, to be convicted of raping his wife was sentenced to 12 years in prison for rape, assault and damage to property.
Other forms of violence outside of the family unit include sexual violence and harassment – such as rape, forced sexual acts, unwanted sexual advances, child sexual abuse, forced marriage, street harassment, stalking and cyber- harassment.
It also includes more extreme cases, such as human trafficking, slavery, sexual exploitation, female genital mutilation and forcing children into marriage.
The adverse psychological, sexual and reproductive health consequences of gender-based violence affect women at all stages of their life.
For children, it could represent an obstacle to the right to education for girls or restricting access to higher education for older students. It could also translate into limited opportunities for women in the labour market.
Who are at risk?
Gender-based violence can happen to anyone, although certain sectors of the population are more at risk than others. These include young girls, older women, and women who identify as lesbian, bisexual, intersex and transgender.
In addition, migrants, refugees, and women who belong to ethnic minorities are also at risk, as well as women who live with HIV and disabilities.