NPWJ calls for concrete and effective policies to prevent and combat violence against women and girls

25 Nov, 2020 | Press Releases

On this International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, No Peace Without Justice reaffirms that violence against women continues to constitute one of the most widespread, consistent and devastating violations of human rights, a pervasive form of discrimination and a means of undermining women’s dignity, autonomy and independence. Violence against women can take many different forms including rape, sexual abuse, Female Genital Mutilation, human trafficking, child marriage, harassment and domestic violence. Today, NPWJ stands in solidarity with all women and girls who have been victims of violence and reaffirms our commitment to raise awareness and work towards ending this global issue.

Alongside International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, 25 November also marks the Day against Domestic Violence. Six hundred and three million women live in countries where domestic violence is not criminalised. This is of paramount importance during the current global health crisis, which is having a critical impact on the safety of women and girls around the world. Today, the consequences of the COVID-19 crisis and the measures taken to contain it – notably lockdowns – have put women and girls in great danger. Besides facing increasingly dangerous situations at home, those restrictions can also impede them from leaving a situation of violence and greatly affect their ability to seek help. While it is essential for governments to implement strong and effective strategies to overcome COVID-19, all States must ensure the well-being and safety of women and girls at this difficult time. NPWJ urges States to ensure the protection of women and girls affected by these restrictions and take into account their special vulnerability in this context.  

While is it clear that every woman can be subjected to all forms of violence, NPWJ acknowledges and stresses the special vulnerability of some women and girls, inter alia, young girls and older women, women of the LGBTQI+ community, migrants and refugees, indigenous women and ethnic minorities. Furthermore, in times of conflict, women and girls are particularly vulnerable to gender-based violence. At NPWJ, we are proud to have fought for years alongside the victims of female genital mutilation, rape and violence of all kinds as a weapon of war. In some countries, women are deprived of the most basic human rights simply because of their gender. Despite the extent and persistence of this violation of human rights, there remains a certain degree of tolerance for these crimes. On this day, it is essential to remember that the fight for the elimination of violence against women is also a fight against impunity. NPWJ urges States to end impunity for those crimes and to eliminate the culture of stigma and shame towards the victims. A phenomenon of this magnitude can no longer be ignored and must be addressed by a profound change in social attitudes towards women.

Today, NPWJ reaffirms its commitment for the protection of women and girls all over the world. It is critical to take this opportunity to continue to raise awareness and mobilise the world around the vital need to end violence against women and girls. According to a 2013 World Health Organisation global study, 35 per cent of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual violence, a number that calls for effective, concrete and coordinated action by States. NPWJ calls on States to turn the commitments into practical and significant policies to protect women and girls. States must go beyond a mere political commitment and actively address this issue affecting women and girls in all countries. NPWJ also urges all States to ratify and implement the Istanbul Convention – the first legally binding international instrument to prevent and combat violence against women and girls, protect victims of violence and punish perpetrators.

While NPWJ stresses the need to take more definitive action to protect women and girls during this difficult time, we also underline that ensuring right to protection is long overdue and must go beyond the current pandemic to ensure their safety, dignity and integrity at all times.