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Will You Know Her?

Updated on November 24, 2009

One out of every three females worldwide will be physically, sexually or otherwise abused during her lifetime with rates soaring to 70% in some nations. 

This violence often results in poverty, conflict and spread of disease. The proportion of women infected with HIV overtakes that of men each year. Studies show that women who suffer violence at home are 10 times more likely to acquire HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

The United Nations' International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women is November 25. In conjunction with Rutgers University, the event kicks off activities by a number of organizations under a program called 16 Days of Activism. Each day the program will raise awareness on social justice issues women face worldwide and concluding on December 10 which is Human Rights Day. 

“The right to live free of violence and discrimination is the right of every human being,” said Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, United Nations Population Fund Executive Director, “This right is being violated on a massive and systematic scale. Violence against women continues in every part of the world and it limits social and economic progress and harms families and communities.” 

Each day in 16 Days of Activism relates to the 16 most prevalent crimes against women and girls: sexual violence as a weapon of war, pre-natal sex selection, female genital mutilation/cutting, date rape, bride burning or other forms of dowry-related violence, child marriage, trafficking of girls and women, domestic violence, crimes committed in the name of passion or honor, abductions of adolescent girls during combat, bride kidnapping, sexual harassment at work, physical or emotional violence by an intimate partner, exploitation of domestic workers, femicide, forced sterilization or other coercive practices.

Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone.

In the U.S. alone, more than four million women become victims of domestic violence each year. Of the domestic-related homicides, about 75% were killed as they attempted to leave the relationship or after it had ended.

In some countries, women and girls are still treated as property. 

The ancient custom of 'compensation’ marriage - prevalent in Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province, Afghanistan, parts of the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa - refers to the practice of forcing girls into arranged marriages as compensation for a murder perpetrated by a member of her family, to offset debts, or the settlement of other disputes. Under-aged girls torn from their homes in this manner often end up abused and forced into a life of virtual slavery. 

Preying on women seeking assistance in obtaining employment and/or work permits, visas and other documents is an increasing trafficking problem.  An estimated 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked internationally each year with approximately 80% of them women and children.

Some women voluntarily go abroad knowing they will be working in the sex industry but they do not know the conditions will be deplorable nor that they will be subject to extreme violence. Other women answer advertisements for jobs abroad such as nannies, dancers, etc., only to be forced into prostitution and slavery.

Femicide includes torture, cruelty, mutilation, and sexual violence which culminates in murder. It stems from gender inequality and occurs in areas where this type of violence occurs regularly and is accepted. Governments make little or no effort to stop it's practice.

Honor crimes are acts of violence - often murder - committed by a male family member against a female family member they claim has brought dishonor upon the family.  For example, a husband may kill a wife whom he suspects of adultery.

Until the social 'norms' are changed, the attitudes about the acceptability of violence against women and girls cannot be change. They will continue to live their lives in terror and pain. 

Successfully achieving peace and security in our world as well as solving our problems with poverty and disease, depends on the ability to end discrimination and violence against women and girls.

As we observe the United Nations' International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, educate yourself about the various indignities faced by women worldwide. Work to spread the word and network to discuss possible solutions. 

Perhaps as more people become aware of these problems they can join as one voice to DEMAND an end to these horrific crimes.

For more information, visit

The United Nations': http://www.unfpa.org/16days/    

Rutgers: www.cwgl.rutgers.edu/16days/home.html 

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    • miravu profile image

      miravu 

      8 years ago from NYC

      it's astounding isn't it that in this modern world, we cannot break away from the caveman barbarism that places testosterone (and financially) driven madness over compassion for those too weak to defend themselves.

      thank you for writing a great article on this topic.

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