ISLAMABAD: One in three women and girls worldwide experiences physical or sexual violence in their lifetime, most frequently by an intimate partner.
Only 52pc of married women freely make their own decisions about sexual relations, contraceptive use and health care.
These observations have been made by the United Nations on International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women being observed on Monday.
The day this year aims at highlighting the theme of ‘Orange the World: Generation Equality Stands against Rape’.
The day will mark the launch of 16 Days of Activism that will conclude on Dec 10 which is the Human Rights Day.
Violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread, persistent and devastating human rights violations in the world but remains largely unreported due to the impunity, silence, stigma and shame surrounding it.
Almost 750 million women and girls alive today were married before their 18th birthday while 200 million women and girls have undergone genital mutilation. One in two women killed worldwide were killed by their partners or family in 2017 while only one out of 20 men were killed under similar circumstances.
Data shows 71pc of all human trafficking victims worldwide are women and girls and three out of four of these women and girls are sexually exploited.
Violence against women is as serious a cause of death and incapacity among women of reproductive age as cancer, and a greater cause of ill health than traffic accidents and malaria combined.
The UN says violence against women continues to be an obstacle to achieving equality, development, peace as well as to the fulfillment of women and girls’ human rights. All in all, the promise of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) - to leave no one behind - cannot be fulfilled without putting an end to violence against women and girls.
The platform of seven independent United Nations and regional expert mechanisms on violence against women and women’s rights has jointly called upon all states and relevant stakeholders worldwide to act against rape as a form of gender based violence and a human rights violation, and, to ensure that the definition of rape is based on the absence of consent, in line with international standards.
More efforts must also be made to ensure prosecution of rape in times of peace and in conflict.
The persistence of widespread and systematic rape and other form of sexual violence against women and girls, even in states that have proclaimed zero tolerance on violence against women, demonstrates that sexual violence is deeply entrenched in our still predominantly patriarchal societies.
Power and control continue to create a social environment whereby such violence is normalised, and gender-based stereotypes on the role of women in society undermine and devalue women.
These factors contribute to the unacceptable tolerance of rape, including within criminal justice systems, often resulting in impunity for perpetrators.
Published in Dawn, November 25th, 2019