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“Violence Against Women And Girls Is The Most Widespread Human Rights Violation on Earth” Activists Campaign to End Violence Against Women

"The largest obstacle I see is to fight the apathy," she said. "When you're asking for global systems change and genuine commitments, even people who are pro-women's rights will question whether or not it's needed, will say it's unnecessary — and this is something the tobacco and land mines and disabilities treaties faced."

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An Indian participant in the 'Dignity March' looks on as she attends the culmination of the march at Ramleela Ground in New Delhi, Feb. 22, 2019. VOA

Women’s rights activists from 128 nations are launching a public campaign Tuesday for an international treaty to end violence against women and girls, a global scourge estimated by the United Nations to affect 35 percent of females worldwide.

The campaign led by the Seattle-based nonprofit organization Every Woman Treaty aims to have the U.N. World Health Organization adopt the treaty with the goal of getting all 193 U.N. member states to ratify it.

“Violence against women and girls is the most widespread human rights violation on Earth,” the organization’s co-founder and chief executive, Lisa Shannon, told The Associated Press in an interview Monday ahead of the official launch.

“All the efforts that people put into development, education, women’s empowerment, economic opportunity are being squashed when women are not physically safe,” she said. “It’s a global pandemic. … We cannot make progress as a species without addressing violence against women and girls.”

FILE - A woman, with her daughter, writes a message of support during the first Egyptian womens' race, to raise awareness about violence against women, in Cairo, Egypt, Nov. 30, 2018.
A woman, with her daughter, writes a message of support during the first Egyptian womens’ race, to raise awareness about violence against women, in Cairo, Egypt, Nov. 30, 2018. VOA

The activists want the treaty to require countries to take four actions that have proven to lower rates of violence against women:

  • Adopt laws punishing domestic violence, which lower mortality rates for women.
  • Train police, judges, nurses, doctors and other professionals about such violence, which leads to increased prosecution of perpetrators and better treatment for survivors.
  • Provide education on preventing violence against women and girls, which research shows has an influence on boys’ and men’s attitudes and actions, and encourages women and girls to demand their rights.
  • Provide hotlines, shelters, legal advice, treatment and other services for survivors.

Eleanor Eleanor Nwadinobi of Nigeria, a member of Every Woman Treaty’s steering committee, said the other critical issue is funding, which “is absolutely essential” to enable governments, especially in developing countries, to carry out this essential work to combat violence against women and girls.

Shannon said the activists are modeling their campaign after the efforts that led to the successful treaty on eliminating land mines, which took force in 1999, and the treaty aimed at limiting the use of tobacco, which was the first pact negotiated under WHO auspices and entered into force in 2005.

In the first 36 hours of the mine ban treaty, nations pledged $500 million toward its implementation, Shannon said.

She expressed hope that a treaty tackling violence against women and girls would lead to a $4 billion-a-year fund for financing global action, “which would be about a dollar per female on Earth.”

Every Woman Treaty was started in 2013 and Shannon said it has been working behind the scenes to build support and come up with recommendations and a rough draft of a treaty.

More than 4,000 individuals and organizations have signed what she called “a one-page people’s treaty” that condemns all forms of violence against women and girls, outlines the actions sought in a treaty, and urges nations to adopt it. Among the signatories are Nobel Peace Prize winners Shirin Ebadi of Iran, Tawakol Karman of Yemen and Jody Williams of the United States.

FILE - Nobel Peace laureates, from left, Yemen's Tawakkol Karman, Iran's Shirin Ebadi and Ireland's Mairead Maguire address a press conference after their visit to the Rohingya refugee camps in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Feb. 28, 2018.
Nobel Peace laureates, from left, Yemen’s Tawakkol Karman, Iran’s Shirin Ebadi and Ireland’s Mairead Maguire address a press conference after their visit to the Rohingya refugee camps in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Feb. 28, 2018. VOA

Shannon said the activists are seeking 20 countries to lead the campaign for the new treaty.

First, she said, they need the World Health Organization to approve a resolution seeking a report on the role a treaty would play. “Our goal is to have the resolution introduced at the 2020 World Health Assembly,” which she called very ambitious.

Once a report is written, Shannon said, the World Health Assembly would have to approve the process for drafting a treaty.

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“The largest obstacle I see is to fight the apathy,” she said. “When you’re asking for global systems change and genuine commitments, even people who are pro-women’s rights will question whether or not it’s needed, will say it’s unnecessary — and this is something the tobacco and land mines and disabilities treaties faced.”

Shannon said the biggest immediate challenge is finding countries willing to take on a leadership role and getting people to understand this is “an opportunity that we have to take right now” because “we are not going to advance” unless violence against women and girls is addressed. (VOA)

Next Story

Declining Crime Rate In US Is Now In ‘Reversed Direction’

After declining for more than two decades, the number of violent crime victims in the United States jumped by 22% over the past three years

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In 90 per cent cases of crime against women, it has been observed that the accused is someone known to victims. Wikimedia Commons

After declining for more than two decades, the number of violent crime victims in the United States jumped by 22% over the past three years, according to a new survey released Tuesday by the Justice Department’s statistics arm.

There were 3.3 million victims of violent crime in 2018, up from 2.7 million in 2015, the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ National Crime Victimization Survey showed. The  annual survey was conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The three-year rise was fueled by increases in the number of victims of rape and sexual assault, which jumped from 204,000 to 347,000; aggravated assault, which rose from 561,000 to 694,000; and simple assault, which grew 1.7 million to 2.1 million.

It is the third consecutive BJS survey to show an increase in the number of violent-crime victims and follows a 60% decline between 1994 and 2015, a period in which crime fell precipitously across the United States.

“The longstanding general trend of declining violent crime in the United States, which began in the 1990s, has reversed direction in recent years,” BJS statisticians Rachel Morgan and Barbara Oudekerk wrote in the report.

US, Crime, Growth, Risen, Violent, violence
A man wears an unloaded pistol during a pro gun-rights rally at the state capitol, Saturday, April 14, 2018, in Austin, Texas. Gun rights supporters rallied across the United States to counter a recent wave of student-led protests against gun violence. (AP Photo/Eric Gay) VOA

Counter to administration’s claims

The findings contradict the Trump administration’s assertion that it has helped halt a violent crime “epidemic” which it claims was fueled in part by former U.S. President Barack Obama’s immigration policies.

The administration has made fighting violent crime a central focus of its domestic agenda, and officials have pointed to recent FBI crime statistics to take credit for a turnaround.

In prepared remarks to a public safety symposium in Memphis, Tennessee, on Monday, Jon Adler, director of the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, said the administration has “hit our stride” in the fight against violent crime.

“After two years of alarming increase in the crime rate leading up to President Trump’s inauguration, our nation has turned a corner,” Adler said .  “This is a testament, not to some grand federal policy or initiative, but to the hard work and sharp focus of our nation’s front-line law enforcement officers.”

In February, the FBI reported a decline of 4.3% in violent crime during the first six months of 2018 on top of a slight decrease in 2017.  The drop came after an increase of 8% in violent crime in 2015 and 2016.  The FBI data is based on voluntary reporting by thousands of local police departments.

US, Crime, Growth, Risen, Violent, violence
The United States has committed to continue supporting Kenya in enhancing maritime surveillance, countering violent extremism and fighting terrorism. Pixabay

What this means

The recent increase in the crime rate was not as ominous as Trump administration officials claim, according to Andrew Wheeler, a criminologist at the University of Texas at Dallas. The long-term downtrend, however, appears to have plateaued, Wheeler said.

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“I think it’s sufficient to say that there’s good evidence that it’s been increasing the past couple years, because we have the different data sources that are basically all telling us that same information.  But whether or not the increases are alarming or substantive, I’m not sure if the evidence points to that,” Wheeler said.

While BJS statisticians say the recent data point to a reversal in falling violent crime, Wheeler said it is too early to draw any conclusions about long-term trends.

“I’m not real sure if the trend is basically meandering about its average and is going up and or down, or if it’s actually increasing or not,” said Wheeler said. (VOA)