For the right to live free from violence

  on January 21, 2014

International day against violence against women: In the street, at home and everywhere on earth!

by Tara Ramoutar for the Caribbean Association for Feminist Research and Action (CAFRA) / Trinidad and Tobago

November 25th was declared International Day against Violence against Women at the first Feminist Encuentro for Latin America and the Caribbean held in Bogota, Colombia, July 18 – 21 1981.  At that meeting, women condemned all types of gender violence, ranging from domestic battery, to rape and sexual harassment, to state-based violence including torture and abuses of women political prisoners.

One important lesson learned in the struggle to eradicate violence against women in Latin America and the Caribbean and to develop primary prevention strategies is that providing information is not enough to produce positive behavioural changes that are sustained over time and that changing attitudes and awareness appear to be much simpler than changing violent behaviour.  On this basis, we call on citizens  to focus on prevention, accompanied and reinforced with a broad social movement that encourages reflection on violence against women as a violation of human rights and as an expression of discrimination against women.

Violence against women and girls is widespread throughout the world, and today, at the dawn of the 21st century, we are witness to a paradoxical situation: while hundreds of laws and regulations addressing gender-based violence have been approved and international human rights guarantee women the right to live free from violence, figures and statistics seem to show that such crimes are not decreasing but rather increasing.

Likewise, as neoliberal development models have been imposed in recent decades, so too have we witnessed new and refined expressions of violence, exclusion and discrimination that affect large sectors of the population, primarily women and girls.  Human trafficking and sex tourism, slave labour, forced displacement, gender-based violence in the media and advertising, Internet violence, the violence inherent in social and armed conflict have a disproportionate impact on the female population.

Over the past thirty years, the feminist and women’s movement in our region has prioritized this issue in their fight against gender inequality, discrimination and inequities.  As a result, public policies have been implemented and models of comprehensive care and prevention have been designed, covering a range of intervention levels and population groups.  However, despite these advances, social customs and attitudes that support, accept and endorse violence against women continue to be prevalent at all levels: in families, communities, public and private institutions, as well as our language and culture.

The call for action and solidarity that have been issued on all continents to commemorate this historic date, includes the United Nations Secretary General’s Campaign UniTE to End Violence against Women.  The most common form of violence that women experience overall is inflicted by a partner.  On average, at least one in three women will be battered, threatened, forced to engage in sex or abused by her intimate partner over the course of her life.

November 25th is commemorated by women’s organizations globally and is founded upon the following concepts:

  • Women have the right to live a life free of violence.  Violence against women is therefore a violation of their basic human rights.
  • Violence against women always has a serious impact on a woman’s physical and mental health, and should be considered as a public health problem with high human and economic costs.
  • Women should have access to information and advice on laws and other instruments that protect them and how to take advantage of these.
  • Women victims of violence should receive prompt, sensitive and empathic care from all those responsible for treating them.
  • Gender-based violence must be faced with a multidisciplinary and multi-sectoral approach; and society as a whole must be committed to its eradication.

The United Nations identifies inequality between women and men as the main barrier women and children face in attaining optimal health.  Gender-based violence intensifies this inequality dramatically, as it is based on the subjugation and control of women by men.


“Stop The Violence Now !!!
Protect Our Women and Children !!!
Let’s Save a Family !!!”

For and on behalf of CAFRA T&T
Tara Ramoutar, National Representative

CAFRA is a regional network of feminists, individual researchers, activists and women’s organisations that define feminist politics as a matter of both consciousness and action.CAFRA co-ordinated media monitoring in St. Lucia and Suriname for the 2010 Global Media Monitoring Project.

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January 21, 2014
Categories:  General

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