IGOHR Participates in Celebrating the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

IGOHR Participates in Celebrating the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women 24 November 2016

The International Gulf Organization for Human Rights (IGOHR) is delighted to take part in the celebrations in support of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women observed on November 25, 2016. Making this day, IGOHR strongly urges all governments, NGOs, civil society organizations and individuals to fight harder to prevent and end all forms of violence and discrimination against women. Such acts undermine the socio-economic and cultural values of our societies. Preventing and ending it is possible and very imperative now more than ever.

Violence against women is a global pandemic which knows no cultural or national boundaries. It affects women of all ages regardless of their race, social origin, ethnicity, birth or other status. Gender-based violence in all its forms is an ongoing problem around the world, even in the so-called high-income countries. It takes different forms including physical, sexual or psychological violence, as well as economic abuse and exploitation. According to UN estimates, one in three women have faced some form of violence – either beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her entire lifetime. In most cases, these abusers are usually well known by the women.

November 25th is observed annually as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women worldwide. This day was officially recognized by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1999 following the adoption of Resolution 54/134. It is viewed not only as a day to raise public awareness of violations of the rights of women but also a day to commemorate the death of three Mirabal sisters who were murdered for their courageous stand against Dominican autocratic leader Rafael Trujillo (1930-1961) in November 25 1960. This brutal assassination of these sisters equally highlights the dangers women face in politics. Since 1981, women activists around the world has marked November 25 as a day against violence.

Sadly, violence against women especially domestic violence has become one of the most tolerated and pervasive human rights abuse in the 21st century. Women are often beaten into submission by their intimate or non-intimate partners and most of these are go unreported nor punished, thus creating a cycle of continuous violence.  It is rather unfortunate that the percentage of women who seek help is very less, usually less than 10 percent in most countries. This may be attributed to the widespread acceptance of violence against women.  In many countries, especially those in the Middle East and North Africa, both women and men believe that domestic violence (physical or sexual) against women is justified in certain circumstances. The situation is even worse during armed conflict such as in Syria, Yemen and Palestine where terrorist groups rape and sexual harassment of women and girls as weapons of war.

The International Gulf Organization for Human Rights views such believes and cultures which encourages violence against women as totally unacceptable and a gross violation for their fundamental rights as stated in several international treaties and conventions. The Universal Declaration for Human Rights clearly elaborates on the rights for all including women, meaning women has as much equal rights as men. On the other hand, the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1979 emphasizes on the civil and legal rights of women and call on member states to put in place legislations to ensure that women have equal rights as men.

IGOHR stresses that despite the fact that its everyone’s responsibility to uproot the violence and discrimination against women which is deeply embedded in our societies, the major obligation to do so rest on states. Governments across the world have to be held accountable for investing and protecting women. In fact, this is one of the specific goals of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda which world leaders adopted in 2015. Goal 5 on gender equality includes a specific target to end all forms of violence against women, including trafficking, other forms of sexual violence and harmful practices. When head of states accepted this agenda, they acknowledged that ending violence against women is a precondition for achieving sustainable development.

IGOHR therefore calls on all governments to enact comprehensive laws and policies for preventing and ending violence in all its forms as well as discrimination against women. IGOHR urges states to allocate specific funds to providing quality essential services and improved data collection and analysis on violence against women. IGOHR further calls on all individuals, activists, NGOs and civil society organizations involved with women rights to join the 16 Days global campaign on Activism against Gender-based Violence beginning this November 25th 2016. IGOHR also urges he international community to wake up from the slumber of passive justice and indifference on violence against women and to actively participate in the UN Secretary-General’s campaign “UNiTE to End Violence against Women” during the 16 Days Activism for 2016 under the theme ‘Orange the World: Raise Money to End Violence against Women and Girls’.