[UN Women, November 2014] In 2015, the Beijing Platform for Action runs 20. As part of UN Women’s Beijing+20 campaign, this month’s focus is on Violence against Women. You can find more information on UN Women Beijing+20 website: facts and figures, take the quizz!, interviews, news from the world and videos, resources.
Violence against women is a human rights violation and a serious impediment to women’s progress in any area of life. It undercuts women’s health, prospects for education and productive work, and ability to participate as full members of their societies, among other consequences.
Sobering numbers show how common violence is — and how many forms it takes. Around the world, 1 in 3 women have experienced physical or sexual violence, mostly by an intimate partner. About 120 million girls have been forced into intercourse or other sexual acts at some point in their lives. In 29 countries alone, 133 million women and girls have undergone female genital mutilation.
More than 700 million women alive today were married as children. Almost all of the estimated 4.5 million victims of sexual exploitation are women and girls.
The 189 UN Member States who adopted the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action took up the global call to end all forms of violence against women and girls by highlighting violence as one of their 12 critical areas of concern. They agreed on a comprehensive definition of what violence is, whether it takes place in the family or community, or is perpetrated or condoned by the State.
They recognized that violence is one of the main mechanisms denying women equality, and that it imposes high social, health and economic costs.
Since Beijing, an historic two-thirds of countries have put laws on the books to stop domestic violence. Advocacy campaigns around the world have heightened awareness and galvanized actions to stop violence. These involve committed women and girls, men and boys. Yet gaps in laws, implementation of legal protection and essential services remain. Women are still reluctant to report violence. Attitudes in some places tolerate, if not encourage, it.
The promise of Beijing was that governments, community organizations, schools, businesses and others would work tirelessly to stop violence, in whatever form it takes. Momentum has begun, but needs to rapidly accelerate. The world can be free from violence — that is women’s inherent right.