The World Health Organisation (WHO) emphasises that gender-based violence (GBV) is a global priority concerning public health, gender equality, and human rights. Affecting one in three women worldwide, GBV remains a systemic crisis. As the annual 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children approaches, WHO underscores the collective responsibility to prevent such violence.
This year’s theme, ‘Invest to prevent violence against women and girls,’ aligns with the campaign running from November 25 (International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women) to December 10 (International Human Rights Day). At the same time, acknowledging the pervasive impact of violence on women, WHO highlights the amplified challenges faced by specific groups, including those with disabilities, adolescent girls, and older women.
The organisation notes that victim-blaming and hesitancy to offer support often hinder addressing gender-based violence. GBV encompasses sexual, physical, mental, and economic harm in public or private spaces, along with threats, coercion, and manipulation.
Forms of abuse include physical, sexual, emotional, and financial. Physical abuse involves intimidation through force, while sexual abuse encompasses unwanted sexual contact. Emotional abuse targets mental well-being, while financial abuse restricts access to money.
The WHO advises those who have experienced rape to reach a safe place, disclose the incident, and preserve evidence without bathing or washing clothes. Reporting to the nearest police station is crucial.
Becoming an activist against GBV is encouraged at various levels, challenging cultural practices that perpetuate gender inequalities. Individuals are urged to reject and report abusers, challenge cultural norms that contribute to gender inequalities, and instil values of gender equality in children. Protection from exposure to violence and harmful content on the internet and social media is emphasised.
The organisation stresses the need for proactive measures for those considering leaving an abusive relationship, including seeking counselling, legal advice, and planning ahead. The Bedfordview Police Station provides a Victim Empowerment Centre for abused persons.
WHO calls for a collective effort to challenge misogyny, change the narrative, and ensure that women and children have access to the support needed to end violence once and for all.
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Photo: Supplied by Citizen