MINSK, Belarus — About one in four Belarusian women aged 18-60 are subjected to physical abuse from their spouses or partners, according to a survey organized by the United Nations Office in Belarus. But a wide-ranging campaign that involves celebrities, experts, activists, journalists, bloggers, musicians and actors from a number of Russian-speaking countries aims to change that.
The campaign -- includes concerts, a video, theatre performances, and a blog -- essentially re-brands domestic violence as “a weapon of the weak.” That was the slogan of a White Ribbon initiative in which men wore a white bracelet as a symbol of their support against all forms of violence against women.
As a result of the campaign, more than 1,500 men have pledged to speak out against domestic violence.
”If people live in such an atmosphere [of domestic violence], the relationship between men and women will crack sooner or later, and the family will be destroyed,” says singer Alexander Patlis in a related video.
In the same video, artist Katya Pytleva commented, ”They don’t talk too much about domestic violence and one can rarely admit that violence actually takes place in the family.
"Violence is not a sign of love, but of feebleness,” said another woman captured on the video, which closes with the tagline: "Domestic violence kills family."
In addition to supporting the campaign, UNFPA employs a number of other strategies to address gender-based violence in the region including:
- Ensuring that emergency contraception is available for victims of sexual violence.
- Strengthening advocacy on gender-based violence in all country programmes, in conjunction with other United Nations partners and NGOs.
- Advocating for women rights with parliamentarians and national women's networks.
- Integrating messages on the prevention of gender-based violence into information, education and communication projects.
- Conducting research on gender-based violence.