A woman or a girl is killed every 11 minutes by an intimate partner or a family member, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said.
He has called on governments to implement national action plans that tackle this scourge, saying this kind of violence is the “most pervasive human rights violation” in the world. Guterres made these remarks ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women observed on November 25.
Guterres’s remarks are particularly revealing as the nation struggles to come to terms with the brutal details of the Shraddha Walkar murder case. Walkar’s live-in partner Aftab Amin Poonawalla allegedly strangled her and sawed her body into 35 pieces, which he stored in a fridge at his home before dumping these across the city over several days. Walkar had often complained about being physically assaulted by Poonawalla, her friends have said.
“Abuse comes at a steep cost”
“Violence against women and girls is the most pervasive human rights violation in the world. Every 11 minutes, a woman or a girl is killed by an intimate partner or family member — and we know that other stresses, from the COVID-19 pandemic to economic turmoil, inevitably lead to even more physical and verbal abuse,” Guterres said.
He added that women and girls also face rampant online violence, from misogynistic hate speech to sexual harassment, image abuse, and grooming by predators.
“This discrimination, violence, and abuse targeting half of humanity come at a steep cost. It limits women’s and girls’ participation in all walks of life, denies their basic rights and freedoms, and blocks the equal economic recovery and sustainable growth our world needs,” he said.
“Time to proudly declare we are feminists”
The UN chief gave a clarion call to all to “consign violence against women and girls to the history books.” According to him, now is the time for transformative action that ends violence against women and girls.
However, to do that, governments must design, fund, and implement national action plans to tackle this scourge, he stressed. Governments must involve grassroots and civil society groups at every stage of decision-making and ensure that laws are implemented and respected so that survivors see their rights to justice and support being upheld, he said.
Guterres called on governments to increase funding by 50% to women’s rights organisations and movements by 2026. He urged everyone to take a stand and raise “voices in support of women’s rights” and proudly declare that “we are all feminists.” The UN chief called for supporting public campaigns that challenge patriarchal norms and promote different forms of masculinities that reject misogyny and violence.
He noted that this year’s theme of 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is “UNITE: Activism to End Violence Against Women and Girls.” It means standing with activists who are calling for change and supporting survivors of violence globally, Guterres said.
16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence starts on International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on November 25 and runs until Human Rights Day on December 10.
(With agency inputs)