Violence against women and girls is sadly one of the most common and consistent violations of human rights worldwide, with many cases not reported because of stigma and shame. According to the World Health Organization, in 2013, 35% of women have suffered from physical and/or sexual violence during their lives, and according to UN Women, in 2020, 243 million women and girls aged 15-49 experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner.
This violence has a long-lasting effect on the victims impacting many aspects of their lives, from mental health, relationships, and trust, to their work abilities, income, and assets.
The UN’s Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women Day defines violence against women and girls as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life.” This definition applies to any form of physical, sexual, and psychological violence, including intimate partner violence (psychological abuse, battering, marital rape, and femicide), harassment and sexual violence (street harassment, cyber-harassment, stalking, forced sexual acts, and rape), human trafficking, child marriage, and female genital mutilation.
This kind of violence can occur to any woman and girl, no matter where they live or their social-economic status. Though some women and girls have a higher risk to suffer from gender-based violence – older women and young girls, queer women (bisexual, lesbian, transgender, and intersex), refugees and immigrants, women from ethnic minorities, women have a disability and women who live in areas of a humanitarian disaster.
International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is observed annually on November 25 and marks the beginning of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence campaign. It has been observed since 1981 by women’s rights activists and organizations and got the UN official recognition in 2000. The date of the day was chosen as a commemoration of the three Mirabal sisters, political activists from the Dominican Republic, who were brutally assassinated in 1960 by a militia group of the country’s leader.
The purpose of this day is to raise global awareness for the ongoing issue of violence against women and girls and its broad scale. It provides an opportunity for governments and organizations, alongside individuals and groups, to take any action to end gender-based violence and to find solutions to do so.
On the day, the UN Women and many other international and national organizations organize events, discussions, and lectures to mark the occasion, break the silence, and urge for widespread resolutions.
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