By Emily Bare / GICJ

"Violence against women cannot be tolerated, in any form, in any context, in any circumstance, by any political leader or by any government." – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

On the 25th of November 1960, the Mirabal sisters of the Dominican Republic were assassinated by supporters of dictator Rafael Trujillo. The sisters, who were activists against the Trujillo regime, were beaten and strangled to death [1].

On the 20th of December 1993, the General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women (resolution 48/104), which was aimed at eradicating violence against women and girls worldwide [2].

Finally, on the 7th of February 2000, the General Assembly officially designated the 25th of November as the international day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (resolution 54/134) [3]. This day invites governments, international organisations, and NGOs to join and organise activities designed to raise public awareness of violence against women.

In 2008, the UN Secretary-General launched the campaign UNiTE by 2030 to End Violence against Women. UNiTE focuses on a specific theme each year, with this year's theme being "UNiTE! Activism to end violence against women and girls"[4].

The Pervasiveness of Violence Against Women

The UN General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 1979 [5]. However, violence against women and girls remains a pervasive problem worldwide. It is evident that there is still a long way to go on the global scale to eliminate violence against women and girls.

A report by the UN shows that 19 percent of women between 15 and 49 years of age have experienced physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner, with some cases ending in the woman’s death [6].

Further, it is estimated that roughly 35 percent of women across the globe have been physically and/or sexually assaulted by a non-partner. These statistics also show that women and girls account for 71 percent of all human trafficking victims [7].

Worldwide, laws outlawing violence against women and girls are minimal. Only two out of three countries have outlawed domestic violence, while 37 countries worldwide still exempt rape perpetrators from prosecution if they are married to or eventually marry the victim, and 49 countries currently have no laws protecting women from domestic violence [8].

UNiTE! Activism to End Violence Against Women and Girls

Violence against women is the most pervasive breach of human rights worldwide, affecting more than an estimated 1 in 3 women [9]. UNiTE by 2030 to End Violence Against Women Initiative calls for global action to increase awareness and advocate for innovations to finally end violence against women [10].

The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified violence against women and has exacerbated existing inequalities. At the same time, we have already seen pushback in many countries on women's rights, including withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention, regressive laws that exacerbate impunity for perpetrators of the violence, and the use of governments to silence femicide [11].

Despite these worrying trends, there is more evidence now than ever that violence against women is preventable. Evidence shows that reductions in violence against women are possible through coordinated actors of governments and civil society to intensify advocacy efforts by feminist organisations [12]. The mobilisation of the feminist movement is critical in preventing acts of violence against women.

Geneva International Centre for Justice (GICJ) condemns the pervasiveness of violence against women and girls worldwide. We welcome this year's theme: "UNiTE! Activism to End Violence Against Women and Girls" and call on the international community to intensify the mobilisation efforts of feminist movements to eliminate violence against women. We further call on all state governments to outlaw domestic violence in their national legislation.

Violence against women is preventable, and the time is now to protect women and girls at all costs.

International Day, Women, Justice, Geneva, geneva4justice, GICJ, Geneva International Centre for Justice













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