“Violence against women continues to persist as one of the most heinous, systematic and prevalent human rights abuses in the world. It is a threat to all women, and an obstacle to all our efforts for development, peace, and gender equality in all societies.” Ban Ki moon, United Nations Secretary General, 2007
Violence and the threat of violence affect women across the world, regardless of wealth, race, and culture. It inflicts devastating physical and psychological impacts on women and has wide-ranging costs for their families communities and societies. Violence against women includes rape and sexual violence, female genital mutilation, forced marriage, stalking, commercial sexual exploitation such as prostitution and pornography, crimes and murders committed in the name of ‘honour’, sexual harassment and domestic violence.
Historically, violence against women, particularly domestic violence, has been hidden, ignored and left off the human rights agenda. It is often seen as a ‘private issue’ or a women’s issue’ and not treated with the seriousness it deserves. We need to change this. Violence against women is never normal, legal or acceptable and should never be tolerated or justified. Everyone – individuals (both men and women), communities, governments, and international bodies – has a responsibility to put a stop to it and to redress the suffering it causes.