Women from 1960-2006: The Struggle Continues

Article published on Nov. 24, 2006
community published
Article published on Nov. 24, 2006

This article has not been vetted by an editor at Paris HQ

On 25 November the UN celebrates International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

1960: The Mirabal sisters are killed by the Trujillo government’s security forces in the Dominican Republic

1981: The Latin American and Caribbean Feminist Movement declares the 25th November International Day Against Violence Against Women

1999: The United Nations rename the day International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

2006: Women are still victims of so-called 'gender-based violence.' How can they defend themselves?

What the UN is doing

'Any act of gender-based violence that results in physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women'- UN definition of violence against women

One of the international tools for the protection of women’s rights is the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). It is from the UN too that the most up-to-date information on this topic is to be found. For example, on the 10th October the UN published a report on physical, sexual and psychological violence and the genital mutilation of women.

According to the data, one in three women is subjected to violence in her lifetime. 192 of the member states of the UN do not have laws punishing the male perpetrators of this violence, and only 89 countries have legislation pertaining to domestic violence. In Australia, Canada, Israel, South Africa and the United States, between 40 and 70 percent of women killed are done so by a husband or lover and this murder is often accompanied by sexual violence.

And Europe?

A survey carried out in Sweden, Germany and Finland confirms that 30-35 percent of 16-67 year old women have been victims of physical or sexual violence. But despite the vow of a text in 2002 from the Council of Europe, the European states have not shown themselves to be strong enough to resolve the problem. This pushed MEPs in 2006 to demand zero tolerance of all forms of violence against women and to push for more concrete preventative measures, underlining the necessity of adequate punishment for rape within marriage, crimes of honour and genital mutilation.