Violence against women and girls is one of the world’s most widespread and devastating human rights violations. It’s a violation that takes many forms – from rape to forced marriage, street harassment to cyber-harassment, sexual slavery to female genital mutilation. Whatever forms it takes, it can impact the lives of women and girls no matter what their social or cultural circumstances. Today, November 25, is the UN’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and the beginning of the global campaign 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence.
We are marking the day with another call in our 6-month Instagram campaign #MyStoryForAStory (#MijnStoryVoorEenStory) which encourages young people in the Netherlands to show solidarity with their peers in restrictive countries. Dutch influencers are sharing stories from young people in our target countries and asking their followers to share these stories further. The campaign aims to encourage deeper engagement among young people with international development efforts through creating awareness of the ways young people in difficult situations work to bring about change for the better in their societies.
Today we are sharing a video from a young Syrian woman who describes the daily experience of being harassed from the moment she walks out of her home, and encouraging women to share their stories and eliminate gender- based violence (GBV). The reluctance of women to share their experience of sexual harassment and violence due to the shame and stigma that surround it is a major obstacle in the fight against GBV. According to the UN, 1 in 3 women and girls experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime, however such violence is rarely reported, perpetrators go unpunished and a culture of impunity surrounds GBV. There is also a critical lack of support for victims, with less than half of women who experience violence seeking help from health services, family, friends or even police.
Addressing the issues
RNW Media’s global network of online platforms and communities all work to address the many issues around GBV with content and campaigns created to meet the specific needs of the local context. In China, for instance, our Justice4Her platform works to support women migrant workers and improve their access to support and justice. Via China’s social media channels Justice4Her raises awareness of GBV with specially created multi-media content presenting different perspectives.
In Nigeria, our Love Matters Naija platform is part of a group of civil society organisations who are making a concerted push to advocate for concrete measures to tackle GBV in the country. Thirty percent of Nigerian women aged 15- 49 have experienced sexual abuse and earlier this year, governors of Nigeria’s 36 states declared a state of emergency in response to a spate of particularly violent rapes and attacks.
Sexually Transmitted Points – i.e. better grades in return for sex is a widespread problem for women university students in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Our Habari RDC platform implemented a successful nation-wide campaign on the issue #Univsansharcelement – Universities without harassment. As a result of the campaign, the Habari team were invited to participate in the development of the government’s Guidelines for Combating Sexual Harassment in Universities and take part in advocacy activities influencing legislation on a key issue for the country’s students.
Nowhere to turn
In Burundi meanwhile, our Yaga platform drew attention to another issue affecting women university students – the prevalence of sexually humiliating initiation rituals. And our Benbere platform in Mali highlighted the plight of girls who are victims of rape but have nowhere to turn for help. In a moving video, a Malian woman told the story of being raped at the age of 12 and rejected by her family as a result.
In September, our #MyStory campaign focused on Love Matters Arabic’s campaign to raise awareness of the importance of providing psychological, societal and legal support to women who have been sexually assaulted. The 10-day campaign began with the launch of a specially created video in which Egyptian women discuss the importance of listening to women who have been targeted.
16 Days campaign
The Huna Libya platform is collaborating with the United Nations Population Fund in the country (UNFPA Libya) to raise awareness of different forms of GBV and promote the rights of young women and girls. Weekly campaigns have been implemented focusing on forced marriage, domestic violence, the particular problems facing internally displaced persons, gender equality, healthy relationships and online harassment. Huna Libya is currently working with UNFPA and a number of other local NGOs to implement a range of activities supporting the 16 Days of Activism against GBV campaign.
All of RNW Media’s in-country teams are taking part in the 16 days campaign with activities tailored to their local context. You can read an overview of our activities marking the 2019 campaign here.
More information about the MY Story campaign here.
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