Today, we recognize the United Nations’ International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. The Little Market is an organization founded on the fundamental belief that women’s human rights must be protected so they may thrive in their occupational, educational, and economic endeavors and reach their full potential.
Despite the strides made in awareness and response strategies, violence against women and girls (VAWG) remains one of the most pervasive forms of human rights violations around the world. Shame and social stigma significantly contribute to persistence and underreporting rates.
The UN General Assembly set in motion the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women in 1993. The Declaration sets forth the following working definition of VAWG: “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.”
UN Women outlines the following list of some of the most common examples of VAWG1:
- intimate partner violence (battering, psychological abuse, marital rape, and femicide)
- sexual violence and harassment (rape, forced sexual acts, unwanted sexual advances, child sexual abuse, forced marriage, street harassment, stalking, and cyber-harassment)
- human trafficking (slavery and sexual exploitation)
- female genital mutilation
- child marriage
This is not an exhaustive list; VAWG includes a wide range of acts that negatively affect a woman’s psychological, emotional, intellectual, physical, and economic well-being.
The World Health Organization (WHO) frames violence against women, particularly physical and sexual violence, as a major public health issue. Data gathered by the WHO indicates a worldwide VAWG rate of 35 percent.2 That is, across the globe, about 1 in 3 women have experienced some form of physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime. Intimate partner violence represents the largest portion of VAWG cases. Globally, 30 percent of women who have been in an intimate relationship report a form of violence perpetrated by their intimate partner.3 Femicide is an incredibly tragic outcome of VAWG. According to the WHO, as many as 38 percent of murders of women are committed by a male intimate partner.4 VAWG often interacts with complex sociocultural and political dynamics. These nuances often exacerbate the severity and prevalence of cases.
VAWG can lead to adverse health, economic, and educational outcomes. And yet, survivors prove time and time again, exceptional resilience as they navigate their path toward healing with dignity and resolve. Activist and Peace Prize Nobel Laureate Nadia Murad, exemplifies survivors’ unwavering resolve to rebuild their lives. Her story and testimony illustrate the extreme and intersectional nature of violence against women. In the face of unfathomable circumstances, she has immersed herself in the work of human rights advocacy. We recognize that the path toward healing is difficult, unique to each individual’s circumstances, and dependent on resources available to them.
We stand in solidarity with victims and survivors of violence against women and girls.5 We are dedicated to remaining active contributors in our advocacy and social justice efforts. Together, we can create a more just, peaceful world in which everyone’s human rights are valued and recognized.
To learn more about Nadia Murad’s story and her activism:
Notes + Sources
1 United Nations. UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, accessed November 18, 2020. Web.
2 World Health Organization. WHO, Violence Against Women Fact Sheet, November 27, 2019 accessed November 16, 2020. Web.
5 For the purpose of this post, we are highlighting the role that Nadia Murad’s gender played in her victimization and abuse. We recognize that the members of the Yazidi community of all ages, genders, and other identities experience persecution and egregious human rights violations on the basis of their intersectional identity. These violations are taking place in the midst of a humanitarian crisis due to conflict.