'Women at risk' amid economic woes

Violence against women could spike as men lose livelihoods during slowdown, UN says.

    One in three women is likely to be beaten, coerced into sex or abused in her lifetime [EPA]
     

    She called for women and men to work together to end violence against women, for the benefit of all.

    Action urged

    The UN says that at least one in three women will be beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her lifetime and one in five women will be a victim of rape or attempted rape.

    In depth


     Video: Afghans distraught by
      sexual violence
     
     Video: Iraqi women in "silent
      emergency"

     Pictures: UN International
      Women's Day 2009 on flickr

     Your Views: Will the economic
      crisis affect women's rights?

     Programme: Righting women's
      rights

     Focus: Ending violence against
      women

    Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, on Thursday urged world leaders to end violence against women in their countries.

    He called on leaders and people around the world to address what he said was a "crime against humanity".

    "Violence against women is an abomination. It cannot be tolerated, in any form, in any context, in any circumstances, by any political leader or by any government," Ban told ministers from over 50 countries attending the annual UN Commission on the Status of Women, which began on March 2.

    A year after he launched UNiTE, a global campaign to end violence against women, Ban said the world must do more to combat the abuse of women and girls.

    "We must unite. The time for change is now. Only by standing together and speaking out can we make a difference," he said.

    DRC abuse 'shock'

    Ban recalled a young woman he met on his trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), who was "brutally and violently abused by four soldiers at gunpoint" in eastern Congo while fleeing fighting that destroyed her village.

    "She is now at the Heal Africa hospital in Goma, suffering not only from her physical injuries but from being ostracised by her village and family from a false sense of shame", he said.

    "I was shocked ... I was saddened almost beyond expression. I was also very, very angry."

    Violence against women

     One in three women is likely to be beaten, coerced into sex or abused in her lifetime
    One in five women will be a victim of rape or attempted rape
     Women make up more than 80 per cent of trafficked people
     Up to 130 million women have been subjected to genital mutilation

    Ban recently returned from a visit to the country following the unrest that erupted in August, sparking a humanitarian crisis and displacing more than a quarter of a million people.

    He visited a clinic where women were being treated, and also held talks with Joseph Kabila, the DRC president.

    Ban said he spoke forcefully about the young woman and other victims of rape and abuse when he met Kabila, the commander of DRC forces in the east, and the governor and local authorities, "and I will keep speaking out against such unspeakable atrocities".

    "I told President Kabila ... As the leader of a country, the sovereign leader of a sovereign country, whenever sexual violence may happen, he must be responsible," he said.

    Universal truth

    Women between the ages of 15 and 44 are at greater risk from rape and domestic violence than from cancer, traffic accidents, war and malaria, says the UN.

    Violence against women has been reported in every international or non-international warzone and that half of all women murdered are killed by their current or former partner.

    But Ban said there was "one universal truth applicable to all countries, cultures and communities; violence against women is never acceptable, never excusable, never tolerable".

    The UN says that the cost of violence against women is "extremely high".

    "I was shocked ... I was also very, very angry"

    Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General

    "The consequences of violence go beyond the visible and immediate. Death, injury, medical costs and lost employment are but the tip of an iceberg," Ban said.

    "The impact on women and girls, their families, their communities and their societies in terms of shattered lives and livelihoods is beyond calculation," he said.

    Ban's campaign will continue until 2015 to coincide with the target date to achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals aimed at combatting poverty.

    In addition to personally approaching world leaders, Ban said, the campaign aims to ensure that violence against women is always a crime and that real efforts are made to punish the perpetrators.

    "We need to combat attitudes and behaviours that condone, tolerate, excuse or ignore violence committed against women."

    Asha-Rose Migiro, a former Tanzanian minister for gender equality, later unveiled a database to document "the extent, nature and consequences of all forms of violence against women," as well as "the impact and effectiveness of policies and programs for combating such violence".

    She said this tool would provide individuals and officials useful information to help improve laws, plans of action, policies and services targeting the violence.

    Al Jazeera is not responsible for the content of external websites.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Venezuela in default: What next?

    Venezuela in default: What next?

    As the oil-rich country fails to pay its debt, we examine what happens next and what it means for its people.

    The Muslims of South Korea

    The Muslims of South Korea

    The number of Muslims in South Korea is estimated to be around 100,000, including foreigners.

    What is Mohammed bin Salman's next move?

    What is Mohammed bin Salman's next move?

    There are reports Saudi Arabia is demanding money from the senior officials it recently arrested.