November. 25 was declared “International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women” at the first Latin American and Caribbean Feminist Meeting in 1981. The date is based on the day of the 1960 assassination of the three Mirabal sisters (Patria, Minerva and Maria Teresa), political activist in the Dominican Republic. In 1999, the date received its official United Nations resolution.
The premise of the day is to raise awareness of the fact that women around the world are subject to physical, sexual and psychological violence. Although a single type of violence still prevails in the collective imaginary ─that occurs in the partner or ex partner and with strong physical load─ and a specific type of victim ─a submissive woman─ all women in the world may suffer from gender-based violence in various ways: violence by a sentimental partner (physical violence, psychological abuse, marital rape, femicide), sexual violence and harassment (rape, forced sexual acts, unwanted sexual advances, child sexual abuse, forced marriage, stalking, street bullying, cyber bullying), human trafficking (slavery, sexual exploitation), genital mutilation and child marriage.
To address the issue, this year’s theme for the UN day is “Orange the World: Generation Equality Stands Against Rape”, placing rape in the center of the inquiry. There is a long way to go, the facts speak for themselves and cannot be ignored.
Figures from the United Nations reveal the following:
1 in 3 women in the world has suffered physical or sexual violence, mainly from a partner.
Only 52% of women who are married or in a union decide freely about sexual relations, contraceptive use and their sexual health.
It is estimated that of the 87,000 women who were killed globally in 2017, more than half were killed by their partners or family members (which means 137 women around the world are killed every day by a family member).
Nearly 750 million women and girls living today were married before the age of 18, while at least 200 million of them have undergone female genital mutilation.
71% of all human trafficking victims worldwide are women and girls, and 3 out of 4 of them are used for sexual exploitation.
Violence against women is a cause of death and disability among women of reproductive age as serious as cancer and is a greater cause of ill health than road traffic accidents and malaria combined.
Although all women, in all parts of the world, may experience gender-based violence, some women and girls may particularly suffer form it, including older girls and women, women who identify themselves as lesbians, bisexual, transgender or intersex, migrant and refugee women, indigenous peoples or ethnic minorities, or women and girls living with HIV and disabilities, and those in humanitarian crises.
Women are not vulnerable, no human being is vulnerable in itself, it’s our patriarchal society and power imbalances that make women vulnerable. Efforts to prevent and end violence against women at the global, regional and national levels shows that there is widespread impunity on sexual violence and rape.