Thanksgiving Day, November 25th, 2021, marked the launch of the UNiTE to end Violence against Women global campaign – 16 days of activism to highlight this vexing social ill. This campaign, led by the United Nation’s Secretary General and UN Women, will conclude on the 10th of December 2021, fittingly the day commemorating International Human Rights Day.
The UN has planned a series of events for this campaign including the ‘orange-ing’ of “iconic buildings and landmarks” to “recall the need for a violence-free future,” according to the UN.
In The Bahamas we are currently faced with the COVID-19 pandemic, but for many years we have struggled with the pandemic of violence against women and girls. The worse form of which is domestic violence.
Nearly 1 in 3 women have been abused in their lifetime. In times of crises, the numbers rise, as seen during the COVID-19 pandemic and recent humanitarian crises, conflicts and climate disasters.
A new report from UN Women, based on data from 13 countries since the pandemic, shows that 2 in 3 women reported that they or a woman they know experienced some form of violence and are more likely to face food insecurity. It is startling to know that further reports state that only 1 in 10 women said that victims would go to the police for help.
We have just experienced the latest tragedy of one of our women run over by a car after being severely beaten and stabbed. She was left for dead, yet she fights for life in a hospital. She is like many who suffer in silence with nowhere to go for safety; with children watching helplessly in fear for their mother; and with the cycle continuing because the victims believe that’s the norm.
Under the UN’s theme, ‘Orange the World: End Violence against Women now’, the Office of the Spouse of the Prime Minister has partnered with Zonta Club and both stand in solidarity with the United Nations in recognizing UNiTE to end Violence against Women. Further, we join civil society in exclaiming in one loud voice: “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH”.
In the coming days, the Office of the Spouse will communicate a series of public events to mark this occasion.
I encourage all of us who are both victims and observers of violence to not be afraid of the public stigma associated with this crime, but to courageously speak out and allow the law and the court to prevail and take its natural course.
We must do much more to respond to the many cries for justice by our women and girls who have suffered violence and abuse, be it physical, emotional or psychological. We must combine our efforts to put an immediate end to these horrendous abuses and the nonchalant attitudes that allow these human rights violations to continue.
Violence against women continues to be an obstacle to achieving equality, development, peace, and robs our women and girls of their constitutionally guaranteed human rights.
This social scourge must end.