Do we need a day dedicated to the Elimination of Violence Against Women?

On November 25th, the UN is again raising awareness globally of rape, abuse and slavery towards women, but is this day really needed? Does the threat to women really exist in such big enough numbers to warrant this attention?

Let’s take a look at the facts – a third of women and girls globally experience some form of physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime – in some countries this figure reaches 70 percent.

The UN estimate that over 133 million girls and women have experienced some form of female genital mutilation/cutting in the 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East where the harmful practice is most common. Barbaric in anyone’s eyes!

A staggering 700 million women alive today were married as children, 250 million of whom were married before the age of 15. It’s a fact that girls who marry before the age of 18 are much less likely to complete their education and are more likely to experience domestic violence.

OK, these figures are global, so don’t represent what’s happening in the UK, or do they?

  • 2 million women suffered domestic abuse in 2012
  • 85,000 women were raped in 2012
  • Also in 2012 in the UK – 400,000 women were sexually assaulted
  • At least 66,000 women in England and Wales have been subject to female genital mutilation
  • Unfortunately sexual bullying and harassment are routine in UK schools today. Almost one third of 16-18 year old girls have experienced ‘groping’ or other unwanted sexual touching at school – furthermore a FOI request by the The Independent published in August 2014 showed that more than 320 rapes were reported in UK schools over the past three years
  • 18,915 sexual crimes against children (mostly girls) under 16 were recorded in England and Wales in 2012/13

We thank End Violence Against Women UK for getting these horrendous figures.

Melanie Taylor from our Criminal Injuries team commented “I think that this just goes to show that violence against women knows no geographic, cultural or socio-economic boundaries, absolutely anyone can become an innocent victim.”

It’s just heart-breaking to look at the figures and realise that worldwide, one in three women will suffer physical or sexual violence at some point in her life, from rape and domestic violence to harassment at work and bullying on the internet. It’s all wrong, it’s all against the law.

Melanie continued “Everyone has the ability and responsibility to end violence against women and girls, and we can all do this by challenging the culture of harassment and discrimination that allows it to breed.”

Campaigns (i.e. “This is what a feminist looks like” T-shirt, Emma Watson’s HeForShe campaign etc.) are doing a great job in highlighting the injustice, physical and mental abuse to women, but despite these very positive signs, violence against women is still at unacceptable levels in the UK, Europe and around the world.

It’s important that we all work to destroy negative gender stereotypes and attitudes, we have the laws in place that prevent and end discrimination and exploitation, but those that receive it, or see it, need to stand up, and report every instance.

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