UN: UN stresses need to end violence against women globally

New York, US (PANA) - Violence against women and girls is a global pandemic that destroys lives, fractures communities and holds back development, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said as the UN on Tuesday marked the International Day to End Violence against Women.

Speaking at the event to commemorate the Day in New York, Ban said: "Violence against women and girls does not emerge from nowhere. It is simply the most extreme example of the political, financial, social and economic oppression of women and girls worldwide."

He explained that violence against women was not confined to just one region, political system, culture or social class, noting  that, "it is present at every level of every society in the world and it happens in peacetime and becomes worse during conflict."

"This year alone, we have seen the kidnapping of more than 200 girls in Nigeria, the Indian schoolgirls who were raped, killed and hung from a tree, graphic testimony from Iraqi women of rape and sexual slavery during war and the continued bullying of women on the internet.

"Governments, workplaces, universities and sports authorities are stepping up much-needed action to end sexual violence, and more than 80 per cent of governments have passed laws on
domestic violence and sexual harassment," he stated.

The UN chief, however, said that, their implementation was often slow and uneven and fragile gains continued to be threatened by extremism and a backlash against women’s rights.

"It is up to everyone to play their part, women’s rights are not only women’s business. Men and boys are finally taking their place as partners in this battle. The HeForShe campaign, I launched two months ago brings together one half of humanity in support of the other," Ban added.

Also speaking, UN-Women Executive Director, Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka explained that this Day was an opportunity to "shine an orange light" on violence against women that takes place at home, in schools, nations, cities, and villages.

She also called for support to confront that "horror faced by women and to help extinguish it".

Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka said: "This is an important moment as the world is getting ready to gear up to the post-2015 plan of action." She added that the issue of fighting violence against women would be high on the future global development agenda.

"No culture, no nation, no woman – old or young – is immune to this human rights violation, and these women are determined to reclaim their lives...there is no time for complacency or excuses, the time to act is now."

One of those personal stories shared at the event was that of American actress, Ms. Teri Hatcher, who hoped her experiences would shed light on the dangers of remaining silent about sexual abuse.

Ms. Hatcher was abused by her uncle and after she remained silent about it, the man went on to abuse a young woman who later committed suicide.

Upon learning of that tragedy, she spoke up against her uncle, who was then convicted and sentenced to prison, where he died.

She said: "But nothing could undo the devastating violence he had caused."

"I am the one in three women," Ms. Hatcher said referring to statistics on the one billion women worldwide who suffer from violence, which forever affects self-esteem, self-worth and self-happiness.

"When society shames the victim by asking why did you stay instead of asking 'why did he abuse her', we just foster a society where the abuser continues to abuse," she said, stressing the need to break stigma so that victims are unafraid to speak up.

“As long as violence is a part of any woman’s story, silence will not be a part of mine," she added.

On her part, Chirlane McCray, First Lady of New York, said that the New York City Mayor’s office was working day and night to connect with women and girls in communities to inform them about the city centres available to those who suffered from violence.

"We know that violence against women and girls is a global problem that requires a global solution, but cities and local governments such as New York’s can help in such efforts," Ms. McCray noted.

She said for instance, New York’s official first agreement with the UN was a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed on Tuesday by the First Lady and UN Women’s Executive Director, which committed to making areas in the city safe for all women and girls and free of sexual harassment.

"Every day, in cities across the globe, women and girls are trapped in lives defined by fear and violence. Here in New York City, we have launched a comprehensive effort to connect victims to the resources they need to break the cycle and establish their independence.

"But we must do even more, which is why we are joining the UN Women’s Safe Cities Global Initiative," she stated.

PANA learnt that New York is the first city in the US to join the safe city initiative.

The city is also leading on women’s leadership roles, as the city government’s majority is female and universal prekindergarten, a "game-changer" for many working mothers.
-0-  PANA AA/MA 25Nov2014

25 november 2014 20:18:44

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