Women on the target
Gender-based violence is one of the most prevalent human rights violations in the world, in fact an estimated of one in three women will experience physical or sexual abuse in their lifetime. According to the World Health Organization, one in five women who have been physically or sexually abused were abused as a child. They more likely to have a low-birth-weight baby and are twice as likely to have an abortion.
Saturday December 10 will mark the Human Rights Day and culminate UN’s campaign “Orange the World” which consisted of 16 days of activism against gender-based violence. Nonetheless, the violence has continued with cases around the world reaching the headlines.
We explore some of the trends that’ve been seen around the world.
Violence against black women in Brazil
Gender related violence has increased in the country, in particular among women of African descent even if there are better laws today. From 1980 to 2006 the number of murdered women grew 7.6% annually, but from 2006 to 2013 it dropped to 2.6%.
Nonetheless, Dr. Jurema Werneck, one of the directors of Criola an NGO that promotes the rights of black women told IPS “For black women the situation has worsened.” In 10 years their murders have increased 54.2% whereas white women’s murder dropped 9.8%.
Nonetheless the country has advances towards more effective legislation. In March 2015 it adopted stricter sentences for femicide making it the 16th country in Latin America to do so.
For women and girls, the journey to reach Europe after escaping from conflict they often find more violence and trauma. Large number of women and girls who flee their homes are victims of robbery, sexual, physical and psychological abuse at the hand of gangs, smugglers, traffickers, border guards, police and fellow refugees.
According to the Regional Directors of the United Nations for Europe and Central Asia: Ingibjorg Solrun Gisladottir (UN Women), Cihan Sultanoğlu (UNDP), Alanna Armitage (UNFPA), and Marie-Pierre Poirier (UNICEF) women believe that reporting incidents of violence would trigger reprisals and even damage their prospects of obtaining asylum in the European Union. This is why most of the cases are not reported.
Gang violence is driving Honduran mothers to leave their homes and seek safety in Mexico where gender violence is recognized as ground for asylum. The street gangs emerged from chaos and civil wars in El Salvador and Guatemala in the 1980’s but they extended their reach to Honduras and beyond. Gang violence and machismo leave women as near to slaves to their partners.
Fortunately, since 2011 the Mexican Commission for Refugee Assistance known as COMAR takes into account gender violence when reviewing refugee cases and granting protection in Mexico. Today the UNHCR provides financial support to about 1,6000 refugees in Mexico.
This Mexican city close to the US border is known to be one of the most dangerous cities for women. Most of the victims were between 15-25 years old when they disappeared, and before being killed they were subjects of physical and sexual violence. In the last two decades more than 700 women are believed to have died.
This are only some example of gender-based violence around the world. With this year’s 16 days of activism against this type of violence legislation is expected to change and campaigns for making the world a safer place for women and girls have already started. For example, through the “Mexico City Safe City and Safe Public Spaces for women and girls” program the UN expects to promote their safety.