Violence constitutes one of the most widespread violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms of women. It also nullifies the enjoyments of those rights by women. Violence is also a form of discrimination against women.
Violence against women is found in every society around the world, in all cultures, religions, in all incomes, and educational levels.
One in three women worldwide has experienced physical or sexual violence, mostly by an intimate partner whether at home, on the streets, or during war.
Countries have made some progress concerning legislation and initiatives developed to address and prevent violence against women and girls which have increased throughout the world in recent years. However, big gaps still remain in too many countries.
This situation is deplorable more so because in recent years we have some very positive developments. We now have a powerful tool to combat this scourge. This is the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. This Convention is the first international legally binding instrument open to any country in the world to provide for a comprehensive set of measures to prevent and combat violence against women and domestic violence.
Moreover, this year a new Sustainable Development Agenda was adopted by the General Assembly of the UN which for the first time includes specific targets and indicators on ending violence against women.
What are the reasons that violence continues to be one of the most pervasive global problems despite the tools we now have to combat it? A basic reason is lack of commitment and political will by governments as well as limited action and resources.
NGOs should be more vocal concerning government’s accountability on measures to be taken and implemented to combat violence against women.
However, the most important reason why there is no progress in dealing with this global pandemic of alarming proportions is that violence against women is a manifestation of historically unequal power relations between men and women which have led to domination over and discrimination against women by men.
So we have to challenge these unequal power relations.
Concerted action should be taken by governments, individuals and other stakeholders to bring about the necessary attitudinal and institutional changes. The actions to be undertaken to tackle the unequal power relations and structures should be wide-ranging and taken in parallel in order to be effective.
Members of IAW, let us all try to contribute to change our everyday world.
Let us all try to undertake an activity on preventing violence against women starting from November 25th which is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.