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Wednesday, April 25, 2018

End violence against women

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Violence against women and girls is the most common violation of the human rights, in South Asia and beyond.  It affects women of all ages, and of any social or economic background, sometimes at the cost of their lives. More must be done to eliminate this scourge from our societies.

2017 marks the 26th years of 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence - An international campaign to challenge violence against women and girls around the world. The campaign runs every year from 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10 December, Human Rights Day.

International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Girls - a day that reminds us that we all have a role to play in ending the world's most pervasive, yet one of the least recognized human rights abuses.  For many girls and young women, sexual abuse and harassment is, unfortunately, part of their daily routine.

From being leered at, to being groped, verbally abused and even masturbated on, girls and young women are at a constant threat of being sexually assaulted. Crowded streets, buses, trains and other public spaces are the most common locations for such assaults. Such public sexual harassment is colloquially called 'eve teasing' and has become so institutionalized in our society that more often than not, young women and girls are advised to ignore it.

As a result, women and girls are constantly on guard, fearing everything from the verbal harassment and groping they suffer in public spaces and on public buses to far more violent assaults like marital rape and domestic violence. Gender-based violence, in both public and private spaces, is a global pandemic and has crippling effects on the women and girls themselves and the community as a whole.

Sayfty in partnership with UN Women, the United Nations Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development's Working Group on Youth and Gender Equality and other key partnering organizations has organized 16 self-defense workshops in 16 countries for young women (aged 15-30) to empower them with basic self-defense skills to keep them safer from gender-based violence.

The event also presents an opportunity to evaluate the lack of safe solutions to address the problem of violence against girls and young women and takes a closer look at the role of body autonomy and self-awareness. As part of the Bangladesh initiative, AIM Initiative Foundation and Evolution 360 with partnered with Peoples Radio 91.6 FM conducted a workshop in Dhaka on December 9, 2017. The workshop was organized at Dhaka University and attended by 33 young women. The objective of the workshop was to focus on few self-defense techniques, which can help girls stay alert and safe in daily situations.

"The feedback we are getting from participants around the world is that more of such workshops are needed. Self-defense for girls should become an integral part of school curriculums" said Dr. Shruti Kapoor, founder of Sayfty, global organization that educates and empowers young women and girls against gender-based violence. 

Violence in crowds and digital sexual abuse are other dimensions of violence against women and wide-spread global problems which needs to be tackled. Violence in public spaces and online might restrict women's freedom of speech. These violations need to be reported and call for a comprehensive response.


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