Pretoria – On 17 December 1999, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 54/134 and designated 25 November as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) joins in celebrating and observing this global day which urges public debate on the heinous crimes committed against women and children across the world.
According to the United Nations Trust Fund for Women, up to 70 percent of women experience some form of physical or sexual violence from men in their lifetime. In South Africa, data indicates that a woman is killed by an intimate partner every 6 hours.
Considering these figures and the social malaise violence against women represents, the issue of eradicating gender-based violence is a core area of work for UNODC. According to Dr. Jonathan Lucas, Regional Representative of UNODC Southern Africa, “Gender-based violence, especially threats directed at women, such as sexual and domestic violence, remains a serious regional and global human security concern.” In this, UNODC – in line with the 25 November message – urges all sectors of the population including Governments, civil society, and the general public to work together in their efforts to rid society of the illness of violence against women and children.
In his official statement [full text attached] for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon commended the action taken in the decade since the adoption of Resolution 54/134 noting that “the circle of engagement has widened” with “more groups and individuals, including men and boys…getting involved in efforts to prevent and address this heinous violation of women’s human rights.” He continued stating that: “Women around the world are the very linchpin keeping families, communities, and nations together. On this International Day, let us reaffirm our commitment to women’s human rights; let us invest more resources in countering this violence; and let us do all it takes to end these horrific assaults once and for all.”
Echoing the Secretary-General’s comments, UNODC supports the need to combat violence against women and children from both the legislative and practical point of view. While legislation, policies and regulations will ultimately sustain social development, curb abuse and support victims of these heinous crimes, practical provisions and activities need to be put in place to assist and support victims from a social development but also criminal justice perspective. In this regard, UNODC Southern Africa continues to be involved in several projects and initiatives such as the establishment of One-Stop Centres in South Africa and the development of training and awareness materials aimed at assisting in effective police responses to violence against women throughout the Southern African region.
UNODC aims to assist Governments across the world in combating violence against women, thereby addressing these horrific assaults once and for all.