Women’s Rights: Let Them Live without Fear
One out of every three women worldwide is physically, sexually, or otherwise abused during her lifetime with rates reaching 70 percent in some countries. This type of violence ranges from rape to domestic abuse and acid burnings to dowry deaths and so-called honor killings. Violence against women and girls is an extreme human rights violation, a public epidemic and a barrier to resolving global challenges. It devastates the lives of millions of women and girls — in peacetime and in conflict — and knows no national or cultural barriers.
We know that violence against women is wrong and must be stopped. What many people don’t know however is that it is also a major cause of poverty and a huge barrier to economic opportunity – it keeps women from getting education, work, and earning the income they need to lift their families out of poverty?
Living free from violence is a human right, yet millions of women and girls suffer disproportionately from violence both in peace and in war, at the hands of the state, in the home and community. Across the globe, women are beaten, raped, mutilated, and killed with impunity.
Gender-based violence stems from the failure of governments and societies to recognize the human rights of women. It is rooted in a global culture of discrimination which denies women equal rights with men and which legitimizes the appropriation of women’s bodies for individual gratification or political ends. Everyday, all over the world, women face gender-specific persecution including genital mutilation, sexual slavery, forced prostitution, and domestic violence. At least one out of every three women worldwide has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime.
Violence against women feeds off discrimination and serves to reinforce it. When women are abused in custody, raped by armed forces as “spoils of war,” or terrorized by violence in the home, unequal power relations between men and women are both manifested and enforced. Violence against women is compounded by discrimination on the grounds of race, ethnicity, sexual identity, social status, class, and age. Such multiple forms of discrimination further restrict women’s choices, increase their vulnerability to violence, and make it even harder for women to obtain justice.
The obligations to prevent, protect against, and punish violence against women whether perpetrated by private or public actors. States have a responsibility to uphold standards of due diligence and take steps to fulfill their responsibility to protect individuals from human rights abuses. Yet such violence is often ignored and rarely punished. Too often no one is held accountable for these crimes.
We know that globally one in three women have faced some form of violence or abuse and that an estimated 500,000 women die of pregnancy-related causes annually.
Everyone has a sexual orientation and a gender identity. When someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity does not conform to the majority, they are often seen as a legitimate target for discrimination or abuse.
All people should be able to enjoy the human rights described in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Yet millions of people across the globe face execution, imprisonment, torture, violence and discrimination because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
The range of abuses is limitless:
- women raped to “cure” their lesbianism, sometimes at the behest of their parents;
- individuals prosecuted because their private and consensual relationship is deemed to be a social danger;
- loss of custody of their children;
- individuals beaten by police;
- attacked, sometimes killed, on the street – a victim of a “hate crime”;
- regular subjection to verbal abuse;
- bullying at school;
- denial of employment, housing or health services;
- denial of asylum when they do manage to flee abuse;
- raped and otherwise tortured in detention;
- threatened for campaigning for their human rights;
- driven to suicide;
- Executed by the state.
Yet, despite many successes in empowering women, numerous issues still exist in all areas of life, ranging from the cultural, political to the economic. For example, women often work more than men, yet are paid less; gender discrimination affects girls and women throughout their lifetime; and women and girls are often are the ones that suffer the most poverty.
Help end violence against women
Violence does not hurt only the person who has experienced it. It hurts the whole community. Learn ways you can work to help end violence against women.
Here are some suggestions:
- Call the police if you see or hear evidence of domestic violence.
- Support a friend or family member who may be in an abusive relationship. Learn more about how to help.
- Volunteer at a local domestic violence shelter or other organization that helps survivors or works to prevent violence.
- Raise children to respect others. Teach children to treat others as they would like to be treated.
- Lead by example. Work to create a culture that rejects violence as a way to deal with problems. Speak up against messages that say violence or mistreating women is okay. .
- Volunteer in youth programs. Become a mentor. Get involved in programs that teach young people to solve problems without violence. Get involved with Choose Respect or other programs that teach teens about healthy relationships.
Ask about anti-violence policies and programs at work and school. At work, ask about policies that deal with sexual harassment, for example. On campus, ask about services to escort students to dorms safely at night and other safety measures.
Some concrete steps that we can take to reach towards equality and a better world for women and girls could be to put pressure on government officials, contacting your local news agency, making a donation or simply learning more about an issue and sharing it with friends, let us make a pledge to take a step towards equality.
Our efforts are possible because of the generous support we receive from individuals and organizations, which believe victims, deserve better and brighter futures away from violence and abuse. Thank you for choosing to support Sakina Foundation
Become a part of Sakina Foundation and support Women’s Rights: Let Them Live without Fear campaign.