Today is International Day for the Elimination of Violence against women. The United Nations defines violence against women 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.”
Considerable progress has been made throughout the years in the fight against this type of violence. People have become more aware of the issue and laws have been enforced to protect women from the violation of their rights. For examples, in June 2014 forced marriage was criminalised in the UK and the UN recently adopted a resolution calling on all states to end “child, early and forced marriages”.
Women are also not as isolated as in the past. They are more aware of their rights and there are many governmental and non-governmental associations that they can turn to for advice and assistance.
While this is very encouraging the number of women who fall victims of violence remains high. According to papers recently published by The Lancet one in three women has experienced physical or sexual violence from a partner. And this only refers to physical domestic violence. Every year millions of women a year are subjected to emotional abuse, forced to marry against their will, subjected to FGM, taken slaves and raped.
If we truly want to eradicate violence against women we must challenge the underlying principle that women are second-class citizens whose rights do not deserve to be heard. A good starting point would be to invest more in education. Younger generations must be taught about gender equality and women rights. By teaching certain basic principles at an early age we can change the attitudes and behaviours that cause violence against women.