We must unite. 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 —
Every year, millions of women and girls worldwide suffer violence.
Yet, with every rape, murder and assault that occurs, there is a rising tide of anger and protest against these horrific crimes.
Violence against women takes many forms – domestic violence, rape, female genital mutilation/cutting, dowry-related killing, trafficking, sexual violence in conflict-related situations, or other forms of abuse. This violence affects women from before birth to old age and violence against women and girls is not confined to a specific culture, region or country, or to particular groups of women within a society.
Over the past few weeks, the media has been dominated by the horrific story of the gang-rape and hanging of two teenage girls in the Uttar Pradesh region of India. Several hundred protesters were eventually dispersed from outside the office of the chief minister of the state of Uttar Pradesh after a prolonged protest demanding an end to violence against women. This crime was the latest in a series that have shocked the world and, in spite of tougher rape laws being brought in as a result of such attacks, women’s rights in India remain under the intense scrutiny of a shocked wider world.
Yet, just last night in my hometown of Glasgow, communities came together to protest in a midnight march after a series of rapes and sexual assaults in the south of the city. Thousands of people came together for the ‘These Streets are Made For Walking‘ event – raising awareness and reclaiming the streets as a safe place for women to walk.
Across the world, from the streets of Lucknow in India to the streets of Glasgow, Scotland, people are coming together to demand a change, reclaim their communities, and protest against these violations of human rights.
The numbers are shocking. Up to 70 per cent of women experience violence in their lifetime, according to country data available. Women aged 15-44 are more at risk from rape and domestic violence than from cancer, car accidents, war and malaria (World Bank).
It is a fundamental human right to feel safe and protected, however millions of women around the world live in fear of violence every day. From a women living in a favela in Brazil, to your next door neighbour on your leafy suburban street, violence against women is real.
And it is unacceptable.
A world free from violence against all women and girls can only be realised through meaningful and ongoing political commitment, action and investment in resources by national governments. No country is immune from violence against women and girls, and yet, no country is free from the responsibility to put an end to it.
Nowhere in the world is a woman safe from violence. The strengthening of global commitment to counteract this plague is a movement whose time has come.
— Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro
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