The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says violence against women and girls a “global pandemic.”
To commemorate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on Nov. 25, the secretary general released a statement saying that gender violence “is a moral affront to all women and girls a mark of shame on all our societies and a major obstacle to inclusive, equitable and sustainable development,” said Guterres on Sunday.
“At its core, violence against women and girls is the manifestation of a profound lack of respect – a failure by men to recognize the inherent equality and dignity of women. It is an issue of fundamental human rights,” stressed the U.N. leader.
Guterres’ message also said that violence could take many forms — from domestic aggression to trafficking in person, but at its core gender violence is a deeply political issue perpetuated capital-seeking austerity measures.
In an interview with teleSUR, Rutgers professor Radhika Balakrishnan says that: “When budgets are cut in health care it is women who have to take care of the sick. When food access is an issue within the family, women are the ones who go hungry, when access to education becomes an issue, girls are the ones who are kept at home,” says the director of the Center for Women's Global Leadership at Rutgers.
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the Executive Director of U.N. Women says that people must “listen to and believe survivors,” to end the dangerous culture of silencing victims of violence. “The focus must change from questioning the credibility of the victim to pursuing the accountability of the perpetrator,” she said, underscoring that #HearMeToo is “therefore also a strong call to law enforcement.”
She recommends that “police and judicial institutions must take reports seriously, and prioritize the safety and well-being of survivors, for example by making more female officers available for women reporting violence.”
Hundreds of thousands of gender equity supporters are demonstrating on Sunday in Costa Rica, Spain, Argentina, Mexico and Brazil to demand the end of violence against women.
In Argentina 225 women were murdered between Jan. 1 and Oct. 31 of this year, and of these 200 were femicides - murder committed by former partners or relatives of the women merely because of their gender. Last month Mlambo-Ngcuka said that the Argentine government "can do more and better" to protect women against femicides and convict the killers who largely go unpunished.
In Brazil, according to Nadine Gasman of the U.N. Women in Brazil, murders of Black women have increased by 54 percent since 2008.
The U.N. is supporting survivors and advocates under the theme “Orange the World: #HearMeToo.