On December 17, 1999, the United Nations adopted a resolution that would mark November 25 of each year as International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. The date was chosen to honor the three Mirabel sisters who were assassinated on November 25, 1960 for their vocal opposition to Dominican Republic dictator Rafael Trujillo. Their deaths so moved a nation, that the Trujillo’s dictatorship ended within a year of their deaths. November 25 has formally been observed as a remembrance of these women and an effort to end violence against women since the early 1980’s. Some countries and organizations have gone a little further in their efforts. 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence, which is also encouraged by the United Nations, is an effort to get the word out about the impact of violence inflicted based on gender.
More than 40% of women who live in Mexico, Columbia, Finland, Costa Rica, Peru, Australia, Mozambique, Czech Republic and Zambia will experience physical violence in their lifetime. Over 75% of women between 15 and 49 will be subject to female genital mutilation in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Mali, Eritrea, Egypt and Guinea. In Mali and Guinea, over 60% of women believed that beatings for going out without telling her husband, neglecting the children and refusing to have sex would be justified. In those same countries, over 55% also believed that arguing was a justification.
In the United States, intimate partner relationships are a significant source of violence against women. In 68% of crimes against women, the women knew their attackers. 26% of women who were victimized, were victimized by intimate partners.
The United States observes both International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence. For example, Rutgers University, led by their Center for Women’s Global Leadership, in conjunction with the Episcopal Church is focusing this year’s observance on the military and violence based on gender. Rutgers also plans to specifically mark December 6. On December 6, 1989, Mark Lepine killed 14 women at Montreal University due to his belief that allowing women in to the engineering program prevented his admission.
If you would like to get involved in supporting either the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women or the16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence, please contact your local women’s shelter, college campus women’s group or YWCA. A donation of time, money or goods would be greatly appreciated and needed.
“International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women”, UN.org.
“The World’s Women 2010: Trends and Statistics”, United Nations Statistics Division.
Jennifer Truman and Michael Rand “Criminal Victimization 2009”, U.S. Department of Justice.
“Theme Announcement (2010)”, Rutgers.
“Key Dates”, Rutgers.