As part of She’s Right’s participation in 16 days of activism to end violence against women, each article will be dedicated to a New Zealand woman who has lost her life due to gender-based violence. This article is dedicated to Jasmine Wilson, killed by a man on 2 August 2019, at the age of 30.
By Patrick McTague.
Edited by Jessica Sutton.
“Sexual violence against women and girls is rooted in centuries of male domination. Let us not forget that the gender inequalities that fuel rape culture are essentially a question of power imbalances.” — UN Secretary-General António Guterres
International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women
Women’s rights activists have observed 25 November as an international day dedicated to eradicating gender-based violence (GBV) since 1981. On 7 February 2000, the General Assembly of the United Nations, six years after their December 1993 Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, officially designated 25 November as the International day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. In doing so, they invited governments and NGOs around the world to join together to raise public awareness of the epidemic of brutal and often fatal violence against women, every year on that date.
‘Orange the World: Generation Equality Stands Against Rape’ is the 2019 theme for the UN’s campaign to end violence against women, led by the UN Secretary-General. The UN has designated the colour orange as a means to emphasise the daily struggles of women and girls against GBV. This is a multi-year effort aimed at preventing and eliminating violence against women and girls and focuses on the issue of rape as a specific form of harm committed against women and girls. Rape is not the only form of violence against women however, in the UN General Assembly’s 1993 resolution, the UN states that GBV includes, but is not limited to, physical, sexual, and psychological violence within the family; child sexual abuse; dowry-related violence; marital rape; female genital mutilation; rape and sexual abuse; sexual harassment in the workplace and educational institutions; trafficking in women; and forced prostitution. Like in previous years, 25 November will mark the launch of 16 days of activism that will conclude on 10 December 2019, which is International Human Rights Day.
Why it’s Important
It can be easy to forget, in our relatively legally permissive society, which purports not to openly discriminate on the basis of gender, that around the world millions of women face legal persecution every day due to simply being female.
New Zealand has a horrific domestic violence problem, with one in three women estimated to be victims of intimate partner violence throughout their lifetime. However, domestic violence is not even considered as a crime 1/3 of all countries in the world.
In 37 countries, rape is legal if you are married to, or intend to marry, the victim. These are known as marry-your-rapist laws and may implicate views of family honour, by uniting an ‘unmarriable’ female family member with the rapist that violated her autonomy. This means that in those 37 countries, if a woman is raped, they may end up being forced to live their entire life with their rapist, likely being raped over and over again. And this is not hypothetical, this is a very real possibility for women in almost 20% of countries on our planet.
While only six countries do not specify a minimum age for marriage, at least 117 countries permit child marriage, which has led to an unfathomable 750 million women and girls alive today who were married, as children, before their 18th birthday.
New Zealand is currently making strides to eliminate legal gender discrimination in its laws, for example protecting a woman’s right to bodily autonomy through the proposed new abortion Bill. But we still live in a society where women are discriminated against, forgotten, oppressed, harassed, assaulted, raped, and murdered every day solely on the basis of gender. It becomes clear when we look at ourselves and across the world that everyone still needs to do as much as they can to eliminate all discrimination, and especially violence, against women.
What are we doing?
For the 16 days from 25th November to 10th December, She’s Right will be publishing one new piece of material every day, starting with this article and ending with an article on the UN’s International Human Rights Day. Like us on Facebook to receive updates on every new piece. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram to join our conversation as we fill our social media with messages of love, hope, and absolute rejection of the hatred inherent in violence against women, sexual assault, and rape. We invite everyone to share these messages, take action, get involved any way you can from headline grabbing activism to small simple acts of kindness. Spread the word and make a difference.
Image by the #OrangeTheWorld Social Media Team