In South Africa, a woman is killed every 6 hours by an intimate partner. Women and girls represent 80 percent of the estimated 800,000 people trafficked annually, with the majority trafficked for sexual exploitation. In Sao Paolo, Brazil a woman is assaulted every 15 seconds. Approximately 250,000 to 500,000 women and girls were raped during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. In the United States, 83 percent of girls aged 12 to 16 experienced some form of sexual harassment in public schools.
These are just a few statistics provided by Say No - UNiTE to End Violence against Women, a global call to action by UNIFEM (United Nations Development Fund for Women) in support of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s multiyear campaign UNiTE to End Violence against Women. Say No is “an expanding global coalition of individuals, organizations, governments and the private sector to realize a vision that is ambitious, but must never be impossible – a future that is free from violence against women and girls.” On the website of Say NO, there is a section entitled “Join Say NO” which contains action ideas and an organizer’s toolkit.
UNIFEM states that violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread human rights violations. It is suffered in all countries and can affect women of every social class, religion, race, and culture. Violence against women is not solely physical; it is also sexual, psychological, and economic. It stems from gender inequality.
Ms. Margot Wallström is the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Sexual Violence in Conflict. For more information about her work, please go to Stop Rape Now and the resources provided here. For more information about the World March of Women 2010, click here.
Several mandates within the UN’s human rights system deal with this issue, including the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences; the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution, and child pornography; and the Special Rapporteur on trafficking of persons, especially in women and children. Their mandates include making country visits and recommending measures and ways to address the problem. To report violations that require urgent action by the Special Rapporteur, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fiona Hogan, intern