Posted by: sbbunce | October 9, 2009

As ’16 days’ campaign approaches…

With 16 DAYS OF ACTIVISM TO END VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN due to take place between November 25 and December 10, now is the time to return to the work of previous campaigns and reflect on any progress made and challenges still faced in ending violence against women and girls.

At the end of 2007, UNFPA released the press report ‘five underreported stories of violence against women’. They appear below.

With the campaign fast approaching, UNHCR are seeking the ideas, input and involvement of as many persons as possible to take action against this global epidemic. Some points of discussion….

  1. What are the current trends in, or instances of, gender-based violence that require greater ‘visibility’?
  2. Which aspects of previous campaigns continue to demand action and redress?
  3. Because violence against women and girls is much more prevalent, the term ‘gender-based violence’ is too often conflated with ‘violence against women and girls’. How might paying greater attention to sexual and gender-based violence against men and boys – and what it reveals about gender inequality, patriarchy and tactics of sexual violence in conflict – contribute to ending violence against women and girls?

Five Underreported Stories Kick Off 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign

27 November 2007

UNITED NATIONS, New York — Domestic violence in the Russian Federation; sex slavery in India; self-immolation in Central Asian republics; gender-based violence and HIV; and ‘compensation’ marriages are the five underreported stories compiled by UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, for 2007.

Since last year, the Fund has marked the beginning of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence with five stories that it believes global media might have ignored, under-played or simply been unaware of.

A sampling:

In the Russian Federation, an estimated 14,000 women are murdered by intimate partners every year. That means a woman is killed by her partner, spouse or boyfriend every 35 minutes. To put these numbers into perspective, the yearly death toll of domestic violence is comparable to the entire published number of Soviet troops killed during the 10-year Soviet Union/Afghanistan conflict.

Every year, the proportion of women infected with HIV continues to overtake that of men. Although women are two to five times more biologically susceptible to contracting HIV from a male partner, another factor comes into play: gender-based violence. This includes coercion, rape in wartime, the practice of ‘widow cleansing’, domestic violence and female genital mutilation/cutting. Indeed, some studies show that women who suffer violence at home are 10 times more likely to acquire HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

The practice of self-immolation in Northern Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan is often a response to family violence that has a gender component. Although numbers are hard to pin down, research suggests that they are rising as economic crises in many of these countries continue and as more and more young girls and women find themselves with no way out.

The ancient custom of ‘compensation’ marriage—prevalent in Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province, Afghanistan, parts of the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa—refers to the practice of forcing girl children into arranged marriages as compensation for a murder perpetrated by a member of her family, to offset debts, or the settlement of other inter-ethnic or family disputes.

In Pakistan, this practice is called Swara, in other regions it is known as Vanni. Whatever it is called, compensation marriages are widely used as a way of keeping the peace among communities and families. However, under-aged girls torn from their homes in this manner often end up systematically abused and forced into a life of virtual slavery in the homes of their “enemies”.

These and other stories are featured at UNFPA’s website,, as the Fund’s contribution to the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence Campaign.

Click here for a profile of a successful program in Kenya to eradicate female genital mutilation.

Click here for a profile of engaging men to combat rape in Congo.

Click here for a video featuring Eve Ensler, author of “The Vagina Monologues” on women and security.



  1. […] author/critic Jessica Mann is great example of  the types of empowering action we can take as 16 Days of Activism to End Violence Against Women draws […]

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