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‘Ending violence against women should be a priority’

...Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin

November 30, 2015 By Regina Pratt

UNFPA executive director, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, in a statement made on International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, Wednesday, 25 November asserted that ending violence against women should be a priority for every human being.

Dr. Osotimehin said violence is not restricted to women alone as it affects all of us, noting that as long as the dignity and well-being of half of humanity is at risk, peace, security and sustainable development will remain out of reach.

He said the UNFPA works to prevent and respond to gender-based violence in 135 countries, 43 of which are countries affected by crises which exacerbate women and girls’ vulnerability.

 “One in three women worldwide has experienced physical or sexual violence, most often by an intimate partner,” he said and added that in most countries only four in ten survivors of violence seek help.

The UNFPA director general identifies violence against women and girls to include domestic and sexual violence, human trafficking and harmful practices, forced child marriage, gender-based infanticide and female genital mutilation.

“Globally, over 140 million girls and women have undergone some form of female genital mutilation,” he disclosed, adding that in developing countries one in every three girls marries before reaching 18, and one in nine before 15.

He noted that violence deprives women and girls of their human rights to health, education and participation in the affairs of their communities and nations.

He said the health effects of violence range from forced pregnancies to unsafe and forced abortions to life-long physical injuries and trauma, while survivors often lead lives shadowed by fear and stigma, which the international community is about to embark on a 15-year journey towards equitable and inclusive sustainable development.

In order that the new UN Sustainable Development Goals have any meaningful, positive impact, actions must be taken to break the cycle of violence against women, which denies millions of women and girls their fundamental human rights and their ability to contribute to the economic and social progress of their nations, he added.

“On the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, UNFPA renews its commitment to protect the health and rights of women and girls,” he stressed, adding that working with UN and other partners, UNFPA had developed global standards for essential services for women and girls subject to violence and comprehensive technical guidelines to help countries implement them.

He promised that UNFPA would continue to work with men and boys and community leaders in countries around the world to change the discriminatory attitudes and social norms that allow these abuses to persist.

“UNFPA is taking action to prevent and respond to violence against women and girls before, during and after conflict, during times of peace, and as an integral part of effective humanitarian action,” he said.

He disclosed that by next month, at a global meeting organised by UNFPA and UN Women in Istanbul, the international community would review progress made over the past two decades to chart the way forward, adding “with the new global goals, we have a collective responsibility to end violence against women and girls as we have a deadline to reach this goal by 2030.”

He urged all to do more and leave no one behind as every woman and girl has the right to live free of gender-based discrimination and violence.

“This is an imperative not only for the dignity, human rights and well-being of women and girls, but for our common humanity and our common future,” he concluded.