RAWALPINDI, Nov 24: People’s right to live free of violence and discrimination is being violated on a massive and systematic scale all over the world. Women are the prime victim of such violence which destroys families and communities besides stunting social and economic progress.
On the eve of International day for the Elimination of Violence against Women being observed on Sunday, United Nations has announced to spearhead a systemwide campaign through 2015 for the elimination of violence against women.
The campaign is to focus on three key areas: global advocacy, UN leadership by example, and strengthened partnerships at the national and regional levels to support the work of governments, civil society, the private sector and others.
This year marks the seventeenth anniversary of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence – an international campaign originating from the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute in 1991, when participants chose November 25 as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and December 10 as Human Rights Day in order to symbolically emphasise that violence against women is a human rights violation.
The 16 days campaign has been embraced as an organising strategy by a broad spectrum of individuals and groups around the world to call for the elimination of all forms of violence against women through activities ranging from media programmes to demonstrations, conferences, exhibitions and performances.
UNIFEM, the UN fund for women development, has recently re- established its office in Pakistan, and will launch the 16 days campaign in Islamabad on Monday.
The overarching theme of this year’s campaign – Demanding implementation, challenging obstacles – indicates that while there has been much progress made, challenges persist that hinder the effectiveness of efforts by activists and organisations to prevent and respond to the violence women suffer everywhere around the globe. The 16 days campaign seeks to help dismantle obstacles and overcome challenges posed by social attitudes and policies that condone and perpetuate gender-based violence.
According to a report by the UN special rapporteur on violence against women, honour killings take place in Pakistan, Turkey, Jordan, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, Iran, Yemen, Morocco and other Mediterranean and Gulf countries. It also occurs in countries such as Germany, France and the United Kingdom within immigrant communities. It is not only in Islamic countries or communities that this act of violence is prevalent. Brazil is cited as a case in point, where killing is justified to defend the honour of the husband in the case of a wife’s adultery.
According to a government report, 4,000 women and men were killed in Pakistan in the name of honour between 1998 and 2003, the number of women being more than double the number of men.