This is the first of a series of articles devoted to violence against women, a public health issue. I consider it of extreme importance to shed some light on this issue which has so severely and tragically affected the countless lives of women and girls all over the world.
Violence against women was considered to be so overlooked that in 2004 Amnesty International launched its world wide Stop Violence Against Women Campaign. This grassroots organization called this violence a “human rights scandal.” The campaign’s intent was to “…break the silence around this scandal, stop the violence, and create a world where women and girls are afforded their basic human rights.” Amnesty states that the right of women to be free from violence is part of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Here are some sobering statistics. In Europe, domestic violence is the principal cause of disability and death for women ages 16 to 44. As for the United States, a woman is raped every six minutes, and a woman is battered every 15 seconds. Rape is extremely prevalent in war torn countries. Trafficking of women takes place all over the world.
Amnesty has several goals in its campaign to stop violence against women. First of all it wants governments and armed groups to end impunity for those who commit violence against women in areas where there is conflict, as well as during the post conflict period. It is demanding that laws that discriminate against women and that perpetrate violence against them in the home and the community be abolished. It is urging the adoption of laws that give women protection from violence. Amnesty is urging governments to ratify the Treaty for the Rights of Women (CEDAW.)
A human rights perspective is the guiding force behind this campaign. This means that violence against women is no longer a private matter, but a public one, and therefore the authorities are required to act. Governments must be held accountable for any act of violence committed against a woman or a girl.