[16days_discussion] Statement from the Secretary-General on the
International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women
16 Days Campaign
16days at cwgl.rutgers.edu
Wed Dec 3 12:14:43 EST 2008
U N I T E D N A T I O N S N A T I O N S U N I E S
MESSAGE ON THE INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR THE ELIMINATION OF VIOLENCE AGAINST
25 November 2008
Across the world, in countries rich and poor, women are being beaten,
trafficked, raped and killed. These human rights violations do more than
harm individuals; they undermine the development, peace and security of
Women everywhere are at risk, but those living in societies experiencing
armed conflict face even graver danger. As conflicts have become more
complex, the pattern of sexual violence has evolved. Women are no longer
in jeopardy only during periods of actual fighting; they are just as
likely to be assaulted when there is calm, by armies, militias, rebels,
criminal gangs or even police.
We do not know the true number of victims, but we do know that there are
far more crimes than ever get reported, and far fewer lead to arrests.
In too many places, rape still carries a stigma that forces women to
avoid the courts that should exist to protect them. In some countries,
victims are brutalized twice: first during the crime itself, and then by
the justice system, where they may face trumped-up charges of “adultery”
and the possibility of subsequent punishment.
Even when perpetrators are identified, they often go unpunished,
especially if they are working in the police or military. At times,
these crimes are particularly shocking. In the Democratic Republic of
the Congo’s troubled North Kivu province, where some 350 rape cases are
reported every month, victims are also sometimes subjected to genital
Even more disturbing is the age of many victims. In certain violent
areas of Haiti, fifty per cent of the young women have been raped or
sexually assaulted. Of the handful of courageous victims who do seek
justice, one in three is under thirteen. During one particularly violent
month earlier this year in Liberia, the majority of reported rapes were
committed against girls under the age of twelve, some of whom were not
even five years old.
These examples come from countries where the United Nations has a
peacekeeping presence. Thanks to the Security Council’s groundbreaking
resolution 1820, adopted in June, the use of sexual violence as a tactic
of warfare is now recognized as a matter of international peace and
security. According to the resolution, peacekeeping missions, in
particular those with mandates to protect civilians, must now include
the protection of women and children from all forms of violence in their
reporting on conflict situations. Resolution 1820 also requested
stronger efforts to implement the vital zero-tolerance policy on sexual
exploitation by UN personnel, and urged troop and police contributing
countries to ensure full accountability in cases of misconduct.
The adoption of resolution 1820 is part of a growing global trend to
address this scourge. This past February’s Vienna Forum to Fight Human
Trafficking, and the continued leadership of the General Assembly, are
additional signs of international momentum.
At the national level, more and more countries are meeting their
obligations to protect women through comprehensive legislation, better
services for victims, stronger partnerships and increased efforts to
engage men and boys in addressing the problem.
This progress is welcome, but there are still gaps. We need to do more
to enforce laws and counter impunity. We need to combat attitudes and
behaviour that condone, tolerate, excuse or ignore violence committed
against women. And we need to increase funding for services for victims
I am determined to strengthen these efforts, including through my global
campaign “UNiTE to end violence against women”, which aims to raise
public awareness, increase political will and resources and create a
supportive environment to make good on existing policy commitments.
All of us – men and women, soldiers and peacekeepers, citizens and
leaders – have a responsibility to help end violence against women.
States must honour their commitments to prevent violence, bring
perpetrators to justice and provide redress to victims. And each of us
must speak out in our families, workplaces and communities, so that acts
of violence against women cease.
The CWGL Staff
16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence Campaign
Center for Women's Global Leadership
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
160 Ryders Lane
New Brunswick, NJ 08901-8555
Email: 16days at cwgl.rutgers.edu
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