Press Release

UNFPA Calls on Leaders to End Violence Against Women

9 October 2006
Author: UNFPA

UNITED NATIONS, New York — Violence against women is a serious human rights violation and an affront to women’s freedom at large, UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, said today. Widespread impunity not only encourages further abuses and suffering, it also sends the signal that male violence against women is acceptable or normal, said UNFPA Executive Director, Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, welcoming a new in-depth report released today by the United Nations Secretary-General.

“It is time to end tolerance and complicity,” said Ms. Obaid. “We cannot make poverty history unless we make violence against women history. We cannot stop the spread of HIV unless we stop discrimination and violence against women and girls. We cannot build a world of peace, development and security until we end violence against women and girls.”

Today, she added, “far too many women are subjected to violence and made to feel shame. The real shame belongs to a world that often blames women for the crimes committed against them, and allows such widespread violence to continue.”

UNFPA fully agrees with the report’s recommendation that the United Nations system and all other donors should provide increased resources for national action plans to prevent and eliminate violence against women.

This recommendation is in line with the Brussels Call to Action, which was adopted in May 2006 at the International Symposium on Violence against Women in Conflict Situations and Beyond. The meeting, sponsored by the European Commission, the Government of Belgium and UNFPA, included participants from a number of conflict-affected countries as well as United Nations partners.

The Secretary-General’s study, prepared with contributions from UNFPA and other agencies, covers various forms of violence against women, including control over women’s sexuality and reproductive capacity, prenatal sex selection and female genital mutilation/cutting. It highlights the consequences of violence on women’s reproductive health, leading to more maternal deaths and increased risk of contracting HIV. Another important consequence of sexual violence, says the report, is unintended pregnancy, particularly during armed conflicts.

“UNFPA works to ensure that addressing violence against women and girls is an integral part of the sexual and reproductive health programmes we support,” said Ms. Obaid.

“For millions of women around the world, their visit to a health clinic may be the only opportunity they have to get the services and support they need to begin to heal and escape violence and abuse.”

Despite all the progress that has been achieved, Ms. Obaid said, “we fully agree with the conclusion of the Secretary-General’s report that, violence against women has yet to receive the priority attention and resources needed at all levels to tackle it with the seriousness and visibility necessary.”

UNFPA is committed to working with others to end violence against women and girls, said Ms. Obaid. “And I would like to stress,” she added, “that we will never put a stop to violence against women until men are made partners and both girls and boys are raised in a culture of mutual respect and responsibility, and equal opportunity.”

In a related development, UNFPA joined other United Nations partners in raising alarm of the recent increase in attacks by warring groups against women and children in Darfur. In a statement released today, the partners called upon all parties to the conflict to comply with relevant resolutions of the Security Council and reminded the Sudanese Government of its obligation to rigorously and transparently investigate and prosecute all crimes, particularly those committed against women and children.

***

UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, is an international development agency that promotes the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity. UNFPA supports countries in using population data for policies and programmes to reduce poverty and to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person is free of HIV/AIDS, and every girl and woman is treated with dignity and respect.

Contact Information:

Abubakar Dungus
Tel.: +1 (212) 297-5031
Email: dungus@unfpa.org  

Omar Gharzeddine
Tel.: +1 (212) 297-5028
Email: gharzeddine@unfpa.org  

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