stand up and say ‘enough’ for violence

Statement by UNFPA Executive Director, Dr Natalia Kanem, on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

Enough! This is what we say today and every day for all forms of violence against women and girls.

Enough for domestic violence. Enough to rape. Enough for harmful practices such as female genital mutilation. And enough to go unpunished for one of the most striking and pervasive human rights violations.

Women and girls everywhere have the right to live free from violence. They have the right to peace in the home, in public and online.

As we mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, today is a moment for everyone to stop and remember how far we have to go on this issue. A staggering one in three women and girls still experience violence at some point in their lives.

This year, COVID-19 ignited the flames. With women locked up at home with abusers and tensions in households high, cries for help skyrocketed. Many remained unanswered because shelters and other services were closed, but also because aid is often insufficient, not even in humanitarian crises.

We need to do better. It is time to stand up not just on one day, but 365 days a year and say enough for violence. We must prevent violence. And until we end it, we must provide everything women and girls need to survive and recover, from physical and mental health care to legal aid and livelihood recovery support.

In more than 130 countries, UNFPA teams are working tirelessly to stop violence against women and girls and to support those affected. Last year, UNFPA provided medical or psychosocial support services to more than 760,000 survivors of violence. In the first ten months of 2020 in humanitarian conditions, our prevention and response efforts reached 2.8 million women and girls.

Yet the international community needs to do more. COVID-19 reveals, painfully but instructively, all the ways we should think and act differently. To say enough for violence is at the top of the list. It begins with the realization of how violent violence is in all societies and disrupts the factors that feed it.

Enough to the assumptions that violence is permissible or disappears by itself. Enough to view violence as anything less than a full-scale crisis, we must do everything in our power to stop it.

Enough. One word to transform our world.

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