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Call for Addressing Sources of Violence against Women

November 25th marks the International Day to End Violence against Women which was announced by the UN General Assembly in 1999. The UN General Assembly invited all governments, international organizations, and non-governmental organizations to organize, in this day annually, activities that aim to propagate a culture that rejects violence against women and use all means to fight it. Although the resolution of the UN General Assembly to adopt this day came in 1999, the celebration of this occasion dates back to the 1980s, where the story behind choosing the 25th of November relates to a tragic incidence which took place in the Dominican Republic in 1960, when three sisters, the “Mirabel sisters”, were brutally assassinated following the directives of the despotic Dominican president Raphael Trochillo; the sisters were active opponents of Raphael’s rule, where their assassination represented the stroke that broke the back of his rule as he was killed just a few months later.

The most striking feature of violence against women is that it is a phenomenon which transcends everything, where neither time nor place, war or peace, poverty or affluence, or education or illiteracy, stand in its face. Available statistics indicate terrifying figures relating to this phenomenon. As indicated by the UN Secretary General today, 70% of women in the world face violence, in one form or another, at some stage in their lives!. Is it an inescapable destiny of women to face violence wherever and whenever they exist? The pause at this phenomenon as represented by the celebration of this day, intends to reply to the previous question by “No”, as violence against women can be contained, or rather should be contained, through adopting robust strategies to fight them the most important of which is the purification of local cultures from the elements which feed this phenomenon, including national laws and legislatures and local traditions, beliefs, and curricula. It is also important to fight misrepresentations which try to endorse religions and beliefs in favour of a culture that permits violence against women. This should be added to media which stereotypes women to keep them exclusively locked in roles and images that invite reprehension.

Local CSOs shoulder the biggest share of the responsibility to bring to light the right priorities related to this phenomenon for fronts of action, because violence takes different forms; in some countries, FGM is still practiced under the cover of legal, religious, and cultural protection; in other communities, premature marriages are sanctioned by religion, society, and law, while in still other communities rape is used as a weapon in war, where what is happening in Sudan, Syria, and other “Arab Spring” countries is not hard to recollect. Needless to say all these actions represent violence against women; whatever differences in form and degree are there.

We, at GIHR, call upon all, individuals as well as national, regional, and international institutions, to exert more effort to eradicate this phenomenon, and to assign more resources to fight it. Despite the fact that it already widespread, it is still possible to defeat it provided that different endeavors are consolidated and the robust strategies are embarked upon.

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