Violence against women

A global pandemic

Kamal Uddin Ahmed | Published: November 23, 2018 21:04:14

Violence against women is considered as a persistent, serious and extensive 'global pandemic' nowadays and takes place in every society. Declared by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in December 1993, the International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women is observed on November 25 every year.

At a special commemoration event at the UN Headquarters in New York on November 19, UN Secretary-General António Guterres emphasised: The world cannot pride itself on being fair and equal until women and girls can live free of fear, violence and insecurity.

This year's UN theme for the International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women and full 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based violence (November 25 to December 10)--"Orange the World:#HearMeToo"-is mainly focused on supporting women and girls exposed to violence around the world. To draw global attention, orange colour is used, as in the preceding years, to symbolise an optimistic future world, free from violence against women.

Although research on the subject is growing, there is no single agreed-upon definition on the subject. While adopting Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, in Article 1 the UN defined it as: . . . any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women". Deep-rooted in inequality, violence against women also includes emotional, economic, and sexual abuse taking place in the family.

In Article 4, it is maintained, "States should condemn violence against women and should not invoke any custom, tradition or religious consideration to avoid their obligations with respect to its elimination. States should pursue by all appropriate means and without delay a policy of eliminating violence against women…."

The most domestic incidence of violence goes universally under-reported. Unquestionably, it is a grave violation of fundamental rights of women and their freedoms. Violence against women and their children directly affects the victims and their families. The question remains: when and how will domestic violence against women be eliminated?

Globally a lot of women are subject to various forms of violence. According to an UN estimate one in three women and girls experiences physical or sexual abuse in their lifetime, most often by an intimate partner. And no country is exempt from such an endemic problem.

The 'UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women' is one of the essential tools by which the organisation is providing support to abused women. Latest data show that over the previous two decades, the UN Trust Fund supported more than 460 projects in 139 countries and territories and exceeding six million persons.

It is a vast social problem and a major obstacle to the realisation of women's human rights and to the attainment of 2030 Agenda for inclusive, equitable and sustainable development. Concerned world leaders and women rights advocates believe that determined efforts by all nations and support from different actors are crucial for ending violence against women.

Domestic violence and discrimination against women is also recognised as a serious and often ignored problem in Bangladesh.

In order to minimise domestic violence in Bangladesh, the government and NGOs (non-government organisations), engaged in ensuring women's empowerment and rights, should assume integrated strategies, educational programmes and events to effectively respond to UN Secretary-General Guterre's UNiTEcampaign to end violence against women and raise much-needed public awareness against gender-based violence.

Dr. Kamal Uddin Ahmed is a former Professor and Chairman of the Department of Political Science at the University of Dhaka.


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