UNITED NATIONS (FinalCall.com) – A new study by the United Nations on all forms of violence against women, under the auspices of Secretary-General Kofi Annan finds that, in all nations of the world, violence against women persists as a pervasive scourge, endangering women’s lives and violating their rights. The study says that such violence also impoverishes families and communities, drains government resources and restricts economic development.
“Violence against women has yet to receive the priority attention and resources needed, in order to address the issue with the necessary seriousness and visibility,” stated Mr. Annan on Oct. 9, when the study was released at UN headquarters. “As long as violence against women continues, we cannot claim to be making real progress towards equality, development and peace,” the secretary-general added.
The UN study put forward a blueprint for action by nations and intergovernmental bodies, including UN bodies, towards preventing and eliminating violence against women. The 140-page report, according to Human Rights Watch, “confirms that violence against women by spouses, family members and employers is a human rights violation.”
The UN report states, to end impunity and prevent violence, nations must: secure gender equality and protect women’s human rights; exercise leadership to end violence against women; close the gaps between international standards and national laws, policies and practices; and allocate adequate resources and funding.
Speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, to delegates attending the General Assembly Third (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) Committee plenary Oct. 8-9, South African UN ambassador Dumisani Kumalo said that the increase of violence against women and girls was disturbing. “There is an urgent need for all to address this critical problem together,” he noted.
“Today, far too many women are subjected to violence and made to feel ashamed. The real shame belongs to a world that often blames women for the crimes committed against them, and allows such widespread violence to continue,” stated Thoraya Obaid, under secretary-general and executive director of the UN Population Fund.
“The secretary-general’s study conveys a very simple message,” said LaShawn Jefferson, executive director of HRW’s Women’s Rights Division, in a press release. “The individual who carries out any form of violence against women has committed a crime.”
On Oct. 5, another international report on violence against women by a UN organization was released. The report, issued by the World Health Organization (WHO), used data gathered through interviews of 25,000 women in 10 nations. According to WHO, the rates of partner violence ranged from a low of 15 percent in Yokohama, Japan, to a high of 71 percent in rural Ethiopia.
The findings were published in The Lancet, a medical journal published in London. “Violence by an intimate partner is a common experience worldwide,” wrote the report’s authors.
Researchers say that previous studies focused mainly on developed nations such as the United States. For the study, 1,500 interviews were conducted in places such as Bangladesh, Brazil, Ethiopia, Japan, Namibia, Peru, Samoa, Serbia, Thailand and Tanzania.
According to data, the rate of abuse by partner in the European Union is estimated between 20 to 25 percent.
According to The New York Times, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in their national surveys, report that 25 percent of women say that they have been physically or sexually assaulted by a spouse, partner or date.
“It was with great interest that I read reports regarding the recent UN study on violence against women. Unfortunately, I was not surprised that women globally continue to be the victims of harassment, violence and even murder, more times than not at the hands of someone they consider a loved one,” Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-Queens) told The Final Call.
“Here in New York City, as we observe Domestic Violence Awareness Month this October, I am mindful that violence against women is an epidemic that we face here as well. As of September, there have been 36 family-related homicides in our city, according to the mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence. Many of these homicides were instances of domestic violence,” he stressed.
Nearly five million women are the victims of domestic violence every year in the U.S., according to MSNBC.com.
Activists from the Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence say that 5,085 cases of domestic violence were filed in Prince George’s District Court in 2005. The Washington Post states that the county has the “highest number of cases filed for more than five years” in the state of Maryland.
For the fourth straight year, the annual Project Safe Sunday was observed on Oct. 8. The project is a consortium of religious leaders speaking on domestic violence awareness throughout Maryland. The group includes religious leaders from Jewish, Muslim and other faiths.
One church participating in this year’s activities was the Fort Foote Baptist Church in Port Washington, Md. Its pastor, Reverend Joseph Lyles, told the Washington Post that his church has participated in the event for the past four years.
“As a minister,” he explained to the Post, “my mission is to change the minds of other clergy, who sometimes play down the seriousness of the domestic violence problem.”