International Day for the Elimination of Violence against women
According to the latest data by UN Women (United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women), violence against women is still a huge problem at global level. Despite universal social activism and the presence of legal instruments conceived to protect women, nowadays at least 35% of women are victims of sexual abuse worldwide (both at home and outside). In addition, 98% of victims of human trafficking for sexual exploitation is made up of women and female children.
The UN General Assembly (Resolution 54/134) established the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against women on 17 December 1999 in order to focus the attention on any kind of violence against women and female children. Every year, the International Day is celebrated on 25 November to remember the date that was chosen by a group of women activists, who gathered for the first time in Bogotà in 1981 on the occasion of their first Feminist Meeting for Latin America and the Caribbean (Feminist Encuentro for Latin America and the Caribbean). More specifically, the International Day has a double objective. On one hand, it aims at raising public opinion’s awareness as for any kind of gender violence, such as sexual and/or psychological abuse, discrimination, feminicide. On the other, it aims at urging Governments, international organization and non-governmental organization to take measures in order to counter these kind of violent phenomena against women.
Nowadays, violence against women has different nuances. It can be sexual and/or psychological (both at home and outside); pedophilia; human trafficking; genital mutilations; rape. We can see that we face different types of violence. However, they are characterised by a common feature, i.e. a constant violation of human rights and fundamental freedom. For this reason, both at universal and regional level (UN and Council of Europe respectively), many conventions has been adopted in order to protect women and female children. Among the most important ones, we can refer to the UN Convention on the Elimination of any form of Discrimination against Women; the UN Convention of the Right of the Child; the Convention of the Council of Europe for the prevention of and the fight against home-based violence, known as the “Istanbul Convention”.
The Catholic Church has always raised its voice when talking about violence against women, which is considered as a violation of God’s love and willingness. The position and the action of the Church are expressed and transmitted by Pope Francis. On the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women 2016, the Bishop of Rome recalled God’s willingness and urged everyone to follow it during everyday life: “How many women are overwhelmed by life’s weight and the tragedies caused by violence! God wants them free and full of dignity”. So be it, then.