It’s the 25th November – the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and the start of the 16 Days of Action against Gender Violence Campaign. And as I haven’t been posting much recently, and as I’m pretty much laid up at home at the moment following a hip arthroscopy last weekend, I’m going to be blogging throughout it again this year.
So without further ado, here’s my first post for day one of the 16 days, detailing 16 reasons (but there are so many more reasons than that!) why this campaign exists and why it’s still so important.
1. Because femicide. Between January and October this year at least 100 women have been killedthrough suspected male violence in the UK alone. Across the globe, across all countries and all cultures,women are the most frequent victims of intimate partner violence and they are often killed by their own family members.
2. Because rape and sexual violence are endemic. Research published in January showed that:
- Approximately 85,000 women are raped on average in England and Wales every year
- Over 400,000 women are sexually assaulted each year
- 1 in 5 women (aged 16 – 59) has experienced some form of sexual violence since the age of 16.
And yet just this month it was revealed that police forces in the UK are continuing to find ways to manipulate their figures on rape and other sexual offences, under-recording these crimes by as much as 25%, in order to meet targets.
3. Because in England and Wales, more than 24,000 girls are at risk of, and more than 66,000 women are living with the consequences of, FGM.
4. And because those who speak out against FGM are being subjected to abuse and threats.
5. Because across the globe women do not have autonomy over their own bodies and are still being denied abortions.
6. Because in September this year an eight-year-old Yemeni girl died of internal bleeding on her wedding night after marrying a man five times her age. And because according to Plan UK, around one girl under 18 is married every two seconds that tick by.
7. Because earlier this year two teenage girls, Noor Basra and Noor Sheza, and their mother Noshehra, were murdered for allowing themselves to be filmed dancing and playing in the rain. There are nearly 3000 cases of so-called ‘honour’ violence every year in the UK. Globally, there are around5000 so-called ‘honour’ killings every year.
8. Because women and girls are trafficked both across and within country borders for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Just last month Ilyas Ashar was jailed for 13 years by a Manchester court for repeatedly raping and abusing a deaf and mute girl he’d trafficked into the country from Pakistan in June 2000, when she was 10 years old.
9. Because men still believe they have some inalienable right to purchase women for sex.
11. Because victim blaming is still a thing. In August this year for example a convicted paedophile escaped a jail sentence after the prosecuting barrister, Robert Colover, labelled his young girl victim “predatory” and “sexually experienced”and the judge, Nigel Peters, said he was taking into account in his sentencing how the girl looked and behaved. After an outcry the sentence was revised to a two year jail term, and Colover agreed to resign from the CPS rape panel of advocates, but the fact that these things were ever said in a UK courtroom about a child victim tells us all we need to know about the state of our criminal justice system.
12. Because when they can’t get their own way some men throw acid at women and girls.
13. Because Josef Fritzl wasn’t a one-off and Emma Donoghue’s Room is more than a work of fiction. Cases continue to emerge of women and girls, many of whom are missing and presumed dead at the time of their discovery, who have been held captive, raped and/or otherwise abused, sometimes for decades.
14. Because sexism and racism are rife in music videos.
15. Because despite signing the Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention on preventing violence against women and domestic violence, the UK Government still hasn’t ratified it. You can sign the petition here – Tell Theresa May to guarantee standards for women’s services in the UK and worldwide.
16. Because I thought it would be difficult to find 16 reasons for the 16 days campaign, and it wasn’t. In fact I could go on and on citing examples of woman hatred and gynocide because depressingly, compiling this post was all too easy. And until the violence stops, until women and girls are truly free, feminist activists must and will continue to campaign against, and raise awareness of, the atrocity that is male violence against women.