Violence Against Women and Girls
Soroptimist International has taken as the focus for International Women’s Day on 8th March “Violence against Women and Girls” saying “Enough is Enough”. The UN Secretary General has said that ”violence against women must never be accepted, never be excused and never tolerated”.
WHO estimates that one third of the world’s female population is beaten, raped or abused. Recently highly publicised examples are of Malala in Pakistan shot for attending school and a young Delhi woman murdered for being with a male companion in a public place. But the problem is much closer to home. Barnardo’s tell us that in the UK there is an annual 22% increase in child sex abuse and 84% are internally trafficked. Nine men are presently on trial in Oxford for abusing girls as young as 11years and selling them on for sex.
SI are using the power of our 90,000 strong body to present a submission to the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), a functional group of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).The Commission is dedicated to gender equality and the advancement of women and are to hold a conference on 4-15th March.
SI ask “Why have we so blatantly failed half the world’s population?” There have been many international conferences on the topic but there has been no significant reduction in incidence or prevalence! It is 30years since the Third International Conference on Women in Nairobi when it was accepted that violence against women was a violation of human rights and importantly was taken from behind closed doors to the public sector. Changes have been made to laws, crimes and punishment but there has been no change to society, relationships or factors which allow it to happen.
SI in the submission demand:
- Resources to ensure women’s safety;
- Communities to be aware of problems in their own area;
- Young women to be made aware of what they need to do when aware of violent relationships;
- Substance abuse not to be taken as an excuse;
- The demand from a partner for obedience and submission as unacceptable.
SI suggest that to see change the SI model of Educate, Empower and Enable should be adopted.
A letter, containing these points, is circulated and SI request that it bare your signature. UK clubs will send it to the Minister, Maria Miller at Westminster and follow it up in May by a second letter based hopefully, on the concluding observations of CSW.
Violence against women is a local issue covering, among others, domestic violence, trafficking, rape and harassment. Our joint President Irene made an excellent presentation to North Down Borough Council resulting in reports in local papers entitled “Sex Slave Traders Target North Down”. On International Women’s Day, 8th March we shall again have a stall in Bloomfields shopping centre to make local people aware that “Violence Against Women” has many facets and is an important local issue. We need your support.