Violence against women is highly prevalent and has been recognised as a human rights violation of global significance, as reports state that one in three women worldwide have experienced physical or sexual violence. This figure has increased recently because of lockdowns during the current COVID-19 pandemic, as reports state that in some countries two in three women have reported or know a woman that has experienced some form of violence. This can harm women’s well-being, health, and hinder them from participating in society.
Furthermore, the United Nations (UN) has passed international agreements and conventions such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the 1993 UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women. However, there is a problem when it comes to countries upholding these agreements, enforcing their domestic laws, preventing such violence, and making sure perpetrators are punished.
Originally established by activists, the campaign is held each year by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership, with 2021 marking the 30th anniversary of the campaign. This initiative will be held in conjunction with the global theme set by the UN Secretary-General’s UNiTE campaign ‘Orange the World: End Violence against Women Now!’. For the UN, the colour orange will be central to this year’s campaign. It represents a brighter future that is free from violence against women and girls.
Christian Aid and the work of combatting GBV
For example, for the 2019 Christian Aid Christmas Appeal, a focus was given to Christian Aid’s partner organisation Sakhi Kendra in India that defends and gets justice for victims of gender and caste-based violence and rape. Founder, Neelam Chaturvedi is an Indian women’s human rights defender and activist. She works to raise awareness about gender-based violence in India and to create solutions to combat the issue.
Since 2017, Christian Aid has set up initiatives in Bangladesh that prevent gender-based violence and establish gender justice in the workplace. Christian Aid has also partnered with UN Women in their Combatting Gender-Based Violence (CGBV) project in Bangladesh which focuses on preventive intervention at the levels of the individual, family, community, and social institutions.
Christian Aid supporter, Organisation of the Salvadorian Women for Peace (ORMUSA) offers women who have abusive partners support through counselling and legal advice. More than 50 women have received legal support for ORMUSA’s Legal Attention Centre and have benefitted from psychological care in the last year.
Rhina Graciela Juárez Lazo, a staff member at ORMUSA’s Legal Attention Centre explains how the lockdown last year prevented women from reporting violence or seeking help. She said, “Lockdown was an influential factor in the increase in domestic violence of a verbal, sexual, economic and psychological nature and in the worst case, femicide.
“This was due to women living longer with their aggressor. Added to that is the stress produced from being in the same place for a long time, which causes a hostile environment for the whole family. The lack of public transport during this time also restricted women from moving around and they feared being arrested for travelling to file complaints.”
For example, Movimiento de Mujere Dominico-Haitianas (MUDHA) in the Dominican Republic focuses on protecting migrant women against GBV and has supported approximately 700 women. Other partners in the region are implementing a variety of initiatives that will help bring about gender justice and help eradicate GBV.
Throughout the next 16 days, Christian Aid and its staff will be supporting and participating in the global 16 Days of Activism by posting pictures in support of the hashtag #EndGBV.