The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.

Violence Against Women and Girls – The Most Widespread, Persistent and Devastating Violations

According to a 2017 report published by the UN Secretary-General:On the basis of data from 2005 to 2016 for 87 countries, 19% of women between 15 and 49 years of age said they had experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner in the 12 months prior to the survey. In the most extreme cases, such violence can lead to death. In 2012, almost half of all women who were victims of intentional homicide worldwide were killed by an intimate partner or family member, compared to 6% of male victims.”
Cases of violence against women and girls vary. Violence, especially rape and sexual violence, has become synonymous with war. Indeed, Major General Patrick Cammaert claims that: “It has probably become more dangerous to be a woman than a soldier in armed conflict.” However, violence against women and girls is not exclusive to war and armed conflict. Violence against women and girls can be witnessed in varying degrees across all states, regions and communities. 
A new study carried out by the Inter-Parliamentary Union and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe highlights that acts constituting violence against women are widespread in parliaments across Europe. The study asserts that: 
85.2 % of female MPs who took part in the study said that they had suffered psychological violence in the course of their term of office. 46.9% had received death threats or threats of rape or beating. 
58.2% had been the target of online sexist attacks on social networks. 67.9% had been the target of comments relating to their physical appearance or based on gender stereotypes. 
24.7% had suffered sexual violence. 14.8% had suffered physical violence.”
Furthermore, 40.5% of those interviewed said that they had suffered acts of sexual harassment in their line of work. These are MP’s who work in Parliaments across Europe. It should come as no surprise that the situation experienced by women in other places of work is worse. 
Some of the most extreme cases of violence against women manage to make the headlines – mostly because of the barbarism of the atrocities. However, the majority of the victims or survivors are unknown. They are voiceless and have to deal with their pain in silence. 
This year’s Orange the World campaign encompasses the recent global campaigns #MeToo and #TimesUp. It is entitled “#HearMeToo.” Instead of having a thematic focus, this year’s initiative aims to ”mobilise all UNiTE networks, the UN system, government partners, civil society, schools and universities, private sector, sports associations and individuals to stand in solidarity with survivor advocates and women’s human rights defenders who are working to prevent and end violence against women and girls.” 
This is the most powerful call for unity and solidarity, aimed at addressing issues of violence against women, whenever and wherever it occurs. The call for unity recognizes the fact that the issue of violence against women is ever-present. No state, region, community is free from the dark shadows of violence against women. Even the countries that proudly cite their human rights records have not yet managed to eradicate violence against women, whether domestic violence, abuse of women in the entertainment industry or violence in some other form. 
This year’s Orange the World campaign commenced on October 25 launching 16 days of activism. It has set several objectives aimed at magnifying the impact of the campaign, including to amplify the voices of diverse movements; to address violence against women; to advocate for changes within institutions and workplaces; to call for specific financial commitments from states or non-state actors.
The underlying principles of the campaign aim to honor and acknowledge women’s movements worldwide, especially those which combat violence against women. They aim to apply a human rights-based approach and so “Leave No One Behind.” It is survivor-centered (to take the respectful and “do no harm” approach) and recognizes that everyone plays an important part in the initiative to end violence against women and girls. 
Despite some progress having been made by the UN to address these issues, especially in relation to the use of the FGM and child marriage, the UN reports that one of the major challenges to any efforts to prevent and end violence against women and girls is the funding shortfall. Hence, the European Union and the UN launched the Spotlight Initiative to eliminate violence against women and girls. The EU, as the main contributor, has made a commitment to allocate €500 million towards the initiative. 
Focusing on unity, solidarity and capacity building is a great way forward. Violence against women is unacceptable and any suggestion to the contrary does not have a place in the 21st century.
Ewelina U. Ochab is a legal researcher and human rights advocate, and author of the book “Never Again: Legal Responses to a Broken Promise in the Middle East.” Ochab works on the topic of persecution of minorities around the world, with main projects including Daesh genocide in Syria and Iraq, Boko Haram atrocities in West Africa, and the situation of religious minorities in South Asia. Ochab has written over 30 UN reports (including Universal Periodic Review reports) and has made oral and written submissions at the Human Rights Council sessions and the UN Forum on Minority Issues. Ochab is currently working on her PhD in international law, human rights and medical ethics.

 Ewelina U. Ochab

Monitoring Desk

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The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.