“Enough is enough” is the sentiment of many regarding violence against women worldwide. Due to the multitude of instances in just the past few weeks, people are finally concluding that better legislation must be made for protecting women’s rights, preventing violence and serving appropriate punishments.
The World Health Organization has acknowledged the violence as an epidemic and has said that one in three women will be the victim of physical or sexual violence, most frequently from her male partner.
From the United States, to India, to Ecuador and many places in between, people are beginning to express their concerns with the way women are being treated. Protests are being held, movements are being led and events are being created to bring awareness to the problem’s severity.
“People are beginning to make the connection between the violence and how women are treated on a day-to-day basis,” Liesl Gerntholtz, Executive Director of the Women’s Rights Division of Human Rights Watch, said.
In December of 2013, a gang rape in India led to the death of a 23-year-old female student. The woman’s community and other Indian citizens have used this incident as a springboard for bringing about change in the way women are treated and how perpetrators are punished. Since the event, the Indian government has doubled prison terms for rape and criminalized voyeurism, stalking, acid attacks and the trafficking of women.
In the United States, campaigns against sexual violence in colleges and universities are aiming to increase awareness. For the first time ever, the Department of Education released a list of schools nationwide that are under investigation for their instances of sexual violence and their tactics for handling the situation.
“The violence has been happening forever – it’s not anything new,” Serra Sippel, President of the Washington-based Center for Health and Gender Equity said. “What’s new is that people in the United States and globally are coming around to say ‘enough is enough,’ and starting to hold governments and institutional leaders accountable.”
A notable upcoming event to raise awareness of the problems related to violence against women is The Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict. This event will be in London June 10 – 13. It will be hosted by Foreign Secretary William Hague and Angelina Jolie, special envoy for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.
The summit aims to draw attention to four main goals that will drastically change the way women are treated. The first is to improve documentation of sexual violence in conflict. The second involves providing better support and assistance to survivors of sexual violence. The third goal is to ensure that gender-based violence and equality issues are addressed in peace and security negotiations. Lastly, the summit hopes to increase international cooperation to allow for peaceful discussions about issues regarding protecting women’s rights.
The conference will incorporate many other factors, including the launch of the new International Protocol on the Investigation and Documentation of Sexual Violence in Conflict. This procedure will ensure that all instances of sexual violence are being documented correctly.
Attendees of the event will include any government that has signed the U.N. Declaration of Commitment to End Sexual Violence in Conflict as well as various representatives from organizations, NGOs and civil societies. The summit will be the largest gathering thus far to discuss this subject.
– Hannah Cleveland