Since 1981, campaigners for women’s rights have commemorated November 25 as a day against gender-based violence. This date was chosen to commemorate the Mirabal sisters, three Dominican political activists who were brutally killed in 1960 on the orders of the country’s ruler, Rafael Trujillo (1930-1961).
However, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 54/134 only on 7th February 2000, officially designating 25th November as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and inviting governments, international organizations, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to join forces and organize activities to raise public awareness of the issue on that date every year.
The Global Pandemic Vs The Shadow Pandemic
Emerging data and stories from people on the front lines suggest that all sorts of violence against women and girls, notably domestic abuse, has increased since the onset of COVID-19.
This is the Shadow Pandemic that is erupting in the midst of the COVID-19 disaster, and we need a worldwide response to halt it. Essential services, such as domestic abuse shelters and hotlines, have reached capacity as COVID-19 cases continue to pressure health resources. In the COVID-19 reaction and recovery activities, more has to be done to prioritize combating violence against women.
Abuse against women, particularly domestic violence, surged as countries enacted lockdown measures to stem the spread of the coronavirus. In certain countries, calls to helplines have spiked five-fold.
The UN Secretary General’s UNiTE to End Violence Against Women campaign will focus on amplifying the call for global action to bridge funding gaps, ensure essential services for survivors of violence, focus on prevention, and collect data that can improve life-saving services for women and girls.
“Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!” is the theme for this year’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. This year’s International Day, as in prior years, will kick off a 16-day period of activism that will end on December 10, 2020, which is International Human Rights Day.
Ways you can help end Gender-Based Violence
Violence against women is not a new problem. Even before COVID-19, 243 million women and girls worldwide had been abused by their intimate partners in the previous year. So, when countries went into lockdown and restricted migration in order to contain the virus’s spread. Reports of all sorts of violence against women and girls, particularly domestic abuse, began to escalate as doors closed and isolation began.
1.Listen to and believe survivors
When a woman tells her tale of abuse, she is taking the first step in ending the cycle. It is our collective responsibility to provide her with the secure space she requires to speak up and be heard. When considering situations of sexual violence, it’s crucial to note that a victim’s sobriety, clothing, and sexuality are immaterial. Because the perpetrator is the only cause of the assault, he or she must bear sole responsibility. And for the love of God, do not ask her why she did not ;eave or speak up earlier.
2. Teach the next generation and learn from them
The examples we set for the next generation influence how they view gender, respect, and human rights. Begin discussions about gender roles early on, and challenge the typical attributes and characteristics that men and women are allocated. Talk to boys and girls about consent, bodily autonomy, and accountability, as well as lend an ear to what they have to say about their experiences in the world. We can all have a better future if we arm young advocates with information and educate them on women’s rights.
3. Understand the idea of Consent.
A No is a No! It is as simple as that. A coerced yes, is not consent. Freely given, enthusiastic consent is mandatory, every time. Adopt enthusiastic consent for day-to-day events and you’ll be able to better draw your lines where it matters. “She asked for it” or “boys will be boys” are examples of phrases that aim to muddy the lines around sexual consent by blaming victims and absolving perpetrators of their crimes.
4. Learn the signs of Abuse and how to help
Abuse can take various forms, all of which can have devastating physical and emotional consequences. Sometimes certain acts of abuse such as harassment in a public space, require you to jump in and save the day, but in other instances such as Domestic Abuse or Child Abuse, things need to be handled with more care. If you’re worried about a friend who is suffering violence or feels unsafe among others, look over the warning signs and discover how to assist them find safety and support, in a manner that best suits them.
5. Call for responses and services fit for purpose
Services for survivors are essential services. This means that, even during the coronavirus epidemic, shelters, hotlines, counseling, and other forms of care for survivors of gender-based violence must be available freely.
6. Start a Conversation
Violence against women and girls has been a long-standing violation of human rights. It is ubiquitous, but it is not unavoidable if we remain mute. Use your Voice for the Voiceless.
7. Stand against Rape Culture
Rape culture is the social environment that allows for the normalization and justification of sexual assault, which is fostered by ongoing gender disparities and views toward gender and sexuality. The first step in dismantling rape culture is to name it.
Every day, we have the chance to analyze our actions and beliefs for prejudices that allow rape culture to thrive. Consider how you define masculinity and femininity, as well as how you are influenced by your own biases and assumptions.
We can all take action to combat rape culture, from our views about gender identities to the policies we support in our communities.
8. Hold each other accountable.
Sexual harassment in the workplace and in public places is one example of violence. Take a stand against catcalling, improper sexual comments, and sexist jokes by calling them out when you see them. Challenge your friends to reflect on their own behavior and speak up when someone crosses the line, or ask the assistance of others if you don’t feel comfortable.
- International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women: https://www.un.org/en/observances/ending-violence-against-women-day/background
- Ways you can help end violence against women, even during a pandemic: https://www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2020/11/compilation-take-action-to-help-end-violence-against-women