Stop Gender Violence

1981 Was the first year that women´s activists marked the 25th of November as the day to make people more aware of violence against women everywhere around the world. This day in particular was chosen because of the brutal assassination of 3 political activists in the Dominican Republic, the Mirabal sisters, on November 25, 1960.

In 1999, the General Assembly of the United Nations designated November 25 as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Many different international organizations, NGO´s and governments were invited since then to try and make the people more aware of the ongoing violence women are enduring all over the world.

This violence includes domestic violence, rape and any other kind of violence and it is important to make people aware of the issues, because most of this gender-based violence going on is either hidden from the public view or even socially accepted in some cultures and religions.

The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women in my opinion is an extremely important day to raise awareness. When it comes to the violations of human rights, this gender based violence sadly is one of the most widespread all over the world. It crosses any type of boundary; age, culture, race, geography, wealth and any other boundary you can think of, making it an international problem.

Gender based violence can take place anywhere and everywhere and is not something just related to poverty or the level of education. It can take place right in front of you without being aware. Most of the violence against women in specific stems from sexual and domestic violence, including all sorts of practices that harm women.

It is a huge problem worldwide and seeing that the numbers are shocking, 60% of all women worldwide are victims of violence at one point in their life, it is important to make everybody aware and try to bring these numbers down. 60%, That is 6 out of every 10 women!

The more one looks into the numbers of studies done all around the world, the more obvious and shocking the problems become so I will list a few of these studies below. Beware, these numbers are not for the faint-hearted.

A study done on sexual and/or physical violence by a partner showed that the general standard is between 30% and 60%. This means that around the world, 30%-60% of the husbands rape their wife, even though in their minds it is probably not rape, "just taking what they feel they have a right to take". In Urban Japan this number lies considerably lower, around 15%, but in the rural areas of Ethiopia it is as high as 71%.

Another study done by the World Bank in 1994 shows that females between the age of 16 and 44 have a higher risk of being raped or abused in some way, sometimes resulting in disability or even death, than getting cancer, being in a car accident or get malaria.

Studies also show that there is also a direct link between gender based violence and getting infected with Aids or HIV, the numbers are as mind-blowing as a 50% increase of these diseases in beaten wives in comparison to wives who were not sexually abused in their lives.

Violence against women is a huge problem worldwide and does not only affect the women who are violated. The violence has huge consequences that are not always immediately recognized, but they are far-reaching and include whole family relationships, communities and even undermine economic growth because it brings down productivity and has a huge influence on the overall wellness of the whole family.

I first started reading on this subject when I saw a news item on TV about women being mutilated in some cultures because of their religion or the belief system of the people, that women should not be able to enjoy their intimate life and that they supposedly would be cleaner and "less-troublesome" when mutilated at an early age.

But the more I have read on it, the more it becomes obvious that violence against women is everywhere and that the effects are immense. So much bigger than one might think at first sight. This is probably best illustrated by the following numbers that were made public in a report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is estimated that gender based violence within an intimate relationship costs well over $5.8 billion every year. These costs are to cover direct medical care, health care services for the victims and another huge part of the costs are productivity losses because of the inability to work because of domestic violence results.

The good news is that more and more countries are putting in place special laws and legislations in order to protect girls and women and a growing number of governments are funding special plans of action to help to protect women who are victim of domestic violence and marital rape in order to make them able to safely change their life and recuperate from the damages done.

Even though this is a growing number of countries taking steps in order to prevent violence against women, there are still a lot of countries where no legislations is made against domestic violence and where marital rape is still allowed.

This is why it is so important to participate all together the 25th of November, International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, not just to remember the assassination of the 3 Mirabal sisters in 1960, but to make sure that gender violence against women is brought down drastically if not eliminated completely. There are a lot of things you can do and I am sure that if you have a quick look around your neighborhood there will be all sorts of activities to raise awareness on this issue.

If not, you still have a week to prepare for the 25th of November, but better yet, remember that every second we breath another 6 women are molested, raped, abused or otherwise violated around the world and no matter how horrible it sounds… it could be your mother, your sister, your aunt, and if you are a women, it could even be you.