Gender violence damages the spirit of women and girls, their families, and communities and seeks to control them through gender-based discrimination. Current reports out of Syria (Rape is shredding Syria’s social fabric) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (Congo rape numbers increase dramatically) show that in these war-torn areas sexual violence is used as a weapon of war to intimidate women and emasculate the men who are supposed to be able to protect them.
Female genital mutilation (FGM), another example, of gender violence, still ravishes millions of little girls despite thousands of communities pledging to put an end to the cultural practice. In fact, on November 28 the UN Third Committee, the social, cultural and humanitarian arm of the UN, approved text to include the elimination of FGM for the first time in its history.
Gender discrimination throughout a woman’s life
|Prenatal||Prenatal sex selection, battering during pregnancy, coerced pregnancy (rape during war)|
|Infancy||Female infanticide, emotional and physical abuse, differential access to food and medical care|
|Childhood||Genital cutting; incest and sexual abuse; differential access to food, medical care, and education; child prostitution|
|Adolescence||Dating and courtship violence, economically coerced sex, sexual abuse in the workplace, rape, sexual harassment, forced prostitution|
|Reproductive||Abuse of women by intimate partners, marital rape, dowry abuse and murders, partner homicide, psychological abuse, sexual abuse in the workplace, sexual harassment, rape, abuse of women with disabilities|
|Old Age||Abuse of widows, elder abuse (which affects mostly women)|
Source: Heise, L. 1994. Violence Against Women: The Hidden Health Burden. World Bank Discussion Paper. Washington. D.C. The World Bank via UNFPA: Ending Widespread Violence Against Women.
World Pulse, an action media network powered by women from 190 countries that lifts and unites women’s voices to accelerate their impact for the world, has been featuring stories of women’s experience with gender-based violence since November 25. Read the global stories on their blog.
On December 6 women and girls in Zam Zam camp for Internally displaced persons (IDP), North Darfur, perform traditional Darfuri dances at the event organized by UNAMID Human Rights to promote the new campaign “Together to Protect Women from Violence”, as part of the Sixteen Days of Activism Against Gender Violence Zero Tolerance.
This is an international campaign originating from the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute sponsored by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership in 1991. Participants chose the dates, November 25, International Day Against Violence Against Women and December 10, International Human Rights Day, in order to symbolically link violence against women and human rights and to emphasize that such violence is a violation of human rights.
Photos by Albert González Farran – UNAMID