Across the globe, violence against women and girls is one of the most pervasive and prominent human rights violations. All over the world, an estimate of 736 million women have experienced physical or sexual intimate partner violence, non-partner sexual violence, or both, at least once in their lifetime. This menace has increased in different settings, including online spaces and workplaces. These violations have worsened as a result of post-pandemic effects, climate change, and conflicts in different parts of the world.
The solution to this menace relies heavily on robust responses, which includes investment in its prevention. However, the data on how much countries across the world are showing commitment towards fighting violence against women and girls is alarming as it remains very low. Only five percent of government aid focuses on addressing this form of violence, and less than 0.2 percent aid is committed to its prevention. Also, more investment is needed in women’s organisations.
Citizens across the world are implored to join the global movement.
Better legislation, more services for survivors, prosecution of perpetrators, and training for law enforcement officials. This year, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) will celebrate the launch of the UNiTE campaign from November 25 to December 10. It is an initiative of 16 days of activism, and it ends on the day of the commemoration of the International Human Rights Day. The theme of the 2023 campaign is “Invest to Prevent Violence against Women & Girls”.
This campaign urges citizens across the world to show and demonstrate their commitment towards the eradication of violence against females. The campaign also calls on governments across the globe to share how they intend to make investments in the prevention of gender-based violence. Citizens across the world are implored to join the global movement, under the hashtag or slogan, “#NoExcuse”, as they advocate for immediate investments for the prevention of gender-based violence across the world.
Gender-based violence is manifested in physical and sexual forms.
Violence against women and girls has seen very low reports as a result of the silence, impunity, shame and stigma that surrounds it. This violation is manifested in physical, psychological and sexual forms, and it has to do with intimate partner violence like psychological abuse, battering, femicide and marital rape; sexual violence and harassment such as forced sexual acts, child sexual abuse, street harassment, cyber-harassment, rape, unwanted sexual advances, forced marriage, and stalking; and human trafficking such as sexual exploitation and slavery.
Other forms of the violence include child marriage and female genital mutilation. The Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women made by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in 1993 gives the definition of this form of violence as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.”
Violations impede the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
Although anyone anywhere can fall victim of gender-based violence, some women and girls have particular vulnerability. They include older women and young girls, women who identify as bisexual, lesbian, intersex or transgender, indigenous women and ethnic minorities, migrants and refugees, women and girls living with disabilities and HIV, and those living through humanitarian crises. Gender-based violence remains an impediment towards the achievement of equality, peace, development and fulfilment of women and girls’ human rights. The goal of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) “to leave no one behind” remains fulfilled without eliminating gender-based violence.