Filed under: 50:50, human rights, inequality, openSummit, women's rights
by Sarah Jackson, EVAW campaign media advisor, UK
A grim thought struck me earlier today: one of the few things that binds women together across the world is their experience of violence. Whereas many forms of gender inequality – and such violence is about inequality, believe me – are rife in some countries, areas, and social groups and all but wiped out in others, violence against women is endemic across the world. It tramples over boundaries of culture, ethnicity, age, wealth and geography, affecting women of all ages and all backgrounds in every corner of the globe, and every walk of life.
Violence against women is commonly confused with domestic violence, but it incorporates much, much more. It includes rape and sexual violence, female genital mutilation, forced marriage, stalking, sexual exploitation, crimes in the name of ‘honour’, and sexual harassment. Read the UN definition of gender-based abuse.
The sheer scale of the problem is dizzying. At least one in every three women on the planet have been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime. That’s around 1 billion human beings. Or the population of Latin America, twice over. With odds like this, it could be you. Or your mother, your sister, your daughter, or your friend.
Former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan described violence against women as “the most atrocious manifestation of the systemic discrimination and inequality women continue to face, in law and in their everyday lives, around the world”. And this is the crucial thing I would like the participants of G8 to recognise: violence against women is discrimination. It is caused and perpetuated by the inequality between the sexes, and prevents women from participating in society as equal citizens.
End Violence Against Women is a coalition of organisations and individuals campaigning for the UK Government to take action on all forms of violence against women by developing an integrated strategy that includes measures for prevention as well as cure. The first step, for the UK and for the rest of the world, is to see violence against women for what it is: a form of sex discrimination and a gross violation of fundamental human rights.