November 25 is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, a United Nations observance day officialized by the General Assembly Declaration of 1993. The UN Body’s literature specifically defines violence against women and girls (VAWG) 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 and girls, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.”
How Do Facts & Figures Pan Out?
Not great! Let’s take a look at some of the most staggering realities facing women worldwide today.
- Every day, 137 women are killed by a member of their family: half of these deaths come from an immediate family member, while over one third die at the hands of current or former partners.
- 1 in 3 women and girls experience physical and/or sexual violence during their lifetime, most commonly from an intimate partner. This stat does not take into account sexual harassment. If it did, the hike would soar the digits up to a whooping 7 in 10 in the worst-case scenarios.
- Less than 40 per cent of these women who experience violence seek help.
- Only 52% of married women (or in a union of some kind) are completely free to decide concerning sexual relations, the use of contraceptives and health care.
- 71% of all human trafficking victims in the planet are women and girls. Of them, 3 out of 4 (or 75%) are sexually exploited.
- 200+ million women aged 15-49 have experienced female genital mutilation. The practice is concentrated in 31 countries worldwide.
- Consultation and denunciation calls to domestic violence helplines have increased, sometimes dramatically, up to 5 times more, in many countries since the outbreak of COVID-19.
The Shadow Pandemic
This newly-coined term reflects the increasing preoccupation with the emerging reports and data emanating from front liners of the COVID-19 pandemic. Figures in all the types of violence inflicted upon women and girls are on the rise, particularly domestic violence, which is an especially niggling scenario at this time, since personal safety (policing, shelters, helplines) and health professionals are often busy with other mandates and/or have reached capacity.
The global collective effort to halt this trend is urgent and has become a top priority for UN Women, the specific UN branch entity dedicated to gender equality and women empowerment, which provides updated information and support to vital programs to fight this Shadow Pandemic of violence against women during COVID-19. The theme of this year’s approach is ‘Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!’, which informs and greenlights the Nov. 25 International Day initiatives and effectively launches 16 days of activism due to conclude precisely on December 10, which is the International Human Rights Day.
If interested in knowing and doing more against this social evil, especially concerning the specific UN Women programs in place, remember that joining the campaign and participating makes all the difference. Click on the links below or access these hashtags: