A day against domestic violence – to be followed by many more
Worldwide up to six in ten women have suffered physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime.
I find the figure in a message from UN Women today November 25th – the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Obviously an area where statistics are especially difficult to collect. But unfortunately most figures in this area are horribly depressing. And the children are suffering as well.
Very much is hidden. In a study inVietnam, my previous posting, showed that half of all women being abused by their partners never told anybody.
Additionally many women around the world believe that violence in the family is normal or at least something you need to suffer through to keep the family together.
A survey by the European Commission 2009 gave some facts about EU in general as well as a member state likePoland. In EU as a whole 78% believed that domestic violence against women is a common phenomenon. The Polish figure was somewhat lower but still at 66%. And 36% of interviewed Poles knew somebody, having been the victim of violence against women.
Earlier this year a Europan convention in this area was approved: http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/standardsetting/convention-violence/default_en.asp. Up till now signed by 17 countries.
And today the UN-Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet has just presented a 16 steps policy agenda to combat violence against women: http://www.unwomen.org/infocus/16-steps-policy-agenda/.
Have a look especially at number 15. I believe it is crucial. Engaging men, reaching out to men.
I have had some remarkable experiences here – on a positive note. One was in Vietnam roughly a year ago: http://blog.swedenabroad.com/herrstrom/2010/12/15/every-journey-starts-with-one-step/.
Using experiences from a Swedish organisation of men for gender equality Vietnamese groups of fathers and men had been established. In parallel to women’s groups organised by the same NGO (called Csaga).
Meeting these groups is still one of the most inspiring experiences from my four and half years as Ambassador in three different countries.
Men should unite and speak out against gender based violence. That’s one of many important lessons to be learned today – and to be implemented during the days that follow.