Three days before International Women's Day on March 8, UN Women begins the two-week LVII Commission of the Status of Women (March 4 to 15) by calling on Governments to deliver a roadmap to end gender violence, which it terms a "pandemic".
The 57th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW57) will have as its priority theme "Elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls" and will concentrate on two vectors: the prevention of gender violence and also the provision of support, services and responses to victims.
The UN considers violence against women "a gross human rights violation that fractures families and communities and hampers development" while at the same time having "enormous social, economic and productivity costs for individuals, families, communities and societies".
In global terms, up to seventy per cent of women will be raped, abused, mulitated or beaten in their lifetimes. 603 million women live in countries where it is not a crime to beat a woman. 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.
UN Women: "Every girl and woman should be able to live safely and free of violence. Violence against women must never be accepted, never excused, never tolerated".