ANTONIO Guterres, the United Nations (UN) Secretary General, says violence against women and girls continues to be the most pervasive and pressing human rights issue in the world.
Nov. 29, 2021
3 min read
Gender based violence a pressing global human rights issue – UN
UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres
- During the COVID-19 pandemic, levels of violence against women and girls increased
- 85 percent of women online have experienced gender based violence or witnessed it
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He was speaking during the commemoration of the International Day to End Violence against Women on Friday.
Mr Guterres said it is both an abhorrent crime and a public health emergency with far-reaching consequences for millions of women and girls in every corner of the globe.
He said the latest figures from UN Women confirm that during the COVID-19 pandemic, levels of violence against women and girls increased.
He noted that across 13 countries, almost half of all women reported that they or a woman they know began to experience gender-based violence during the pandemic.
Mr Guterres also showed that almost a quarter of women reported that household conflicts had become more frequent, adding that a similar proportion said they felt less safe at home.
He said they can draw a straight line between violence against women, civil oppression and violent conflict.
He said although gender-based violence is now frequent, it is however, not inevitable, adding that the right policies and programmes bring proper results.
He said that means comprehensive, long-term strategies that tackle the root causes of violence, protect the rights of women and girls, and promote strong and autonomous women’s rights movements.
For her part, the UNFPA Executive Director, Dr Natalia Kanem said violence in the online world is real, adding that it is also wrong, and must be stopped.
She said 85 percent of women online have experienced it or witnessed it, noting that survivors may suffer fear, depression and suicidal thoughts, just as they do with other forms of violence.
Dr Kanem said digital violence takes many forms, adding that perpetrators may threaten and stalk women online.
She said they may, without permission, attach pictures of women’s and girls’ faces to sexualised bodies and share them widely over social media, for years.
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She said vicious online campaigns of hate speech and abuse target women with public roles, such as politicians and journalists as well as women’s rights activists.
She said while all know that a lot of digital violence is happening, they do not yet know enough about it, adding that to stop it, they need to do more to define and measure it.
The Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women issued by the UN General Assembly in 1993, 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.” LeNA