Stand up and say ‘enough’ to violence

25 November 2020

Statement by UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem on the International Day to End Violence against Women 

Enough! That’s what we say, today and every day, to all forms of violence against women and girls.

Enough to domestic violence. Enough to rape. Enough to harmful practices like female genital mutilation. And enough to impunity for one of the most flagrant and pervasive violations of human rights. 

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

Today, as we mark the International Day to End Violence against Women, it is a moment for everyone to pause 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 has fanned the flames. With women locked at home with abusers and household tensions high, calls for help skyrocketed. Many went unanswered because shelters and other services were shut down, but also because assistance is often still not enough, including in humanitarian crises. 

We must do better. It is time to stand up and say enough to violence not just on one day, but 365 days a year. 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 support for regaining livelihoods. 

In over 130 countries, UNFPA teams are working tirelessly to help put a stop to 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 humanitarian settings in the first 10 months of 2020 alone, our prevention and response efforts have reached 2.8 million women and girls.

Yet and still, the international community needs to do more. COVID-19 reveals, painfully but instructively, all the ways we need to think and act differently. Saying enough to violence is at the top of the list. This starts with recognizing how pervasive violence is in all societies and disrupting the factors that feed it. 

Enough to assumptions that violence is permissible or going away on its own. Enough to treating violence as anything less than a full-scale crisis that we must do everything in our power to stop.

Enough. One word to transform our world. 

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