2013: The year that defeated gender violence
Wouldn't it be a fitting statement for the end of this year, if the world could use the title of this piece as a statement, an affirmation than gender violence is very much on the decrease and wouldn't that be a fitting epitaph to respect the memory of the 23-year-old Indian medical student who was gang-raped?
Gang-raped, thrown off a moving bus and then gang-raped by yet more "men" as she lay critically injured by the roadside. What happened in India at the end of last year has not only shocked Indian society but has brought the country, its caste system and its sexist male chauvinist population under the world spotlight.
Therefore what better chance than to use 2013 as the year in which collectively, humankind made serious inroads against gender violence? The attack in the rape capital of India, New Delhi, on December 16, left a 23-year-old medical student, with a brilliant life ahead of her, fighting for her life with brain damage, and later on, abdominal infection before she died in a Singapore hospital.
In 2012, there were 256,329 recorded violent crimes against women, a drop in the ocean, however significant and unacceptable, when compared with the world statistics, which indicate that between 15 to 75% of women in every community suffer from some sort of violence during their lifetimes. Up to 70% of these violent acts are perpetrated by intimate partners. And globally, seven out of ten women have suffered some sort of gender violence.
Three million girls a year in Africa are submitted to female genital mutilation; 100 to 140 million women and girls live with the scars of this practice; 60 million children a year are forced to make commitments in marriage ceremonies; 80% of human trafficking is committed against women and girls
Two women are murdered every day in Guatemala, on average; in India, there are many thousands of dowry-related deaths every year; in so-called developed nations such as the USA, Canada and Israel, 40 to 70% of women were murdered by intimate partners; on a worldwide basis, 50% of sexual assaults are committed against children under 16; up to 150 million women and girls suffer some kind of violence yearly; 30% of first sexual experiences are rapes or attempted rapes.
Three million girls a year in Africa are submitted to female genital mutilation; 100 to 140 million women and girls live with the scars of this practice; 60 million children a year are forced to make commitments in marriage ceremonies; 80% of human trafficking is committed against women and girls; 79% of these, or 632,000 women and girls a year, are trafficked for purposes of sexual exploitation. 379,200 women and girls are subjected to conditions of sexual slavery every year.
In parts of Europe, between 40 and 50% of women are subjected to unwanted sexual advances; in Asia, up to half the women suffer sexual harassment at work.
Fundamental in the fight against gender violence - a shame for men - is the participation of male members of communities to uphold women's rights to live as equals and free from the horrific crimes mentioned above. UN Women sponsors actions across the globe and explains in its website how men can get on board.
Fundamental also is the growing participation of women at all levels of governance and society, and as Michelle Bachelet, the Executive Director of UN Women, states: "We know that with women's growing political and economic roles, women will not stay silent about violence".
If 70 per cent of our women have suffered some sort of gender violence, it doesn't say much about the men, now, does it?