Violence against Women: a collective disgrace
The statistics worldwide regarding violence against women are as totally unacceptable as they are horrific and no, it is not a phenomenon that is endemic in developing societies thousands of miles away, somewhere hot and sticky. The figures include the USA and the EU. How can we call ourselves civilised if we stand back and do nothing?
Violence against women is as much the fault of the silent majority who know it goes on but choose to say nothing as it is the fault of the cowards who vent their rage by beating the defenceless. Studies released by the UNO reveal that in some countries, up to seven in every ten women are likely to be raped or beaten or abused in some way during their lifetime.
The problem has been described by UN Women as one of pandemic proportions; for the 15 to 44 age group, violence causes more deaths and cases of disability than cancer, malaria, road accidents and war, combined. According to the statistics compiled by the UNO, for 2011, 22 women are murdered daily in India in dowry killings, one woman is murdered every six hours in South Africa by an intimate partner; 640,000 women and girls are trafficked every year into prostitution rings.
Between 100 and 140 million women and girls live with female genital mutilation, 3 million girls are subjected to this practice every year. 60 million girls every year are forced to marry as child brides. This decade, up to 150 million girls a year suffer some form of sexual violence; up to one quarter of women suffer from sexual or physical violence during pregnancy; 53 per cent of women attacked are kicked or punched in the abdomen.
Hundreds of thousands of women are subjected to rape during military conflicts and we are not speaking only about Africa, Asia or Latin America. In Australia, violence against women costs over 11 billion USD per year while in the USA the figure is 5.8 billion USD. In the European Union, 40 to 50% of women suffer from harassment or unwanted physical contact.
This is the context of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, proclaimed by the UNO to be celebrated on November 28. At the end of the day, this collective shame lies on the shoulders of all of Humankind. Isn't it about time we, collectively, started doing something about it?