International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

The 54th session of the General Assembly on 19 October 1999 which marks that 17th meeting of the Third Committee submitted a draft resolution which designates the 25th of November as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. The said draft was sponsored by 79 states which aimed to increase the knowledge and understanding of the world with regard to the problem of VAW. The draft contained the details of the reasons why such a type of oppression has been hindering women to achieve their legal, social, political and economic equality within the society.

Although initially, the commemoration of the necessity of eliminating of violence against women was made in Latin America and a number of countries all over the world, the observance has no standard title and was only referred as “No Violence Against Women Day” and the “Day to End Violence Against Women”. Such a day was first declared by feminists in Bogota Columbia in commemoration of the Mirabal Sisters of Dominican Republic who have been perceived as the foundation of modern feminism.

The Mirabal Sisters, also known as the “Inolvidables Mariposas” or the “Unforgettable Butterflies” signifies the oppression against women. The amount of dedication and passion that they have given in order to attain women liberation and respect has been a source of dignity and inspiration to women around the world. Stop Violence Against Women Campaign On March 5, 2004, Amnesty International has established an international campaign in order to stop the violence that is made against women. Amnesty International has perceived violence against women as a widespread international problem that caused huge number of women lives.

One notable activity of Amnesty is the opening of the first safe house in Kenya which keeps girls who are susceptible to female genital mutilation. The Campaign has also broadened the interpretation of VAW that is presented in the UN Declaration by focusing on the acts of neglect or deprivation against women. VAW is perceived by the campaign as those violence occurring in the family, in the community and other gender based violence. In relation with this, violence is perceived in different forms: physical, psychological and sexual.

Amnesty has presented three major reasons of gender based violence in developing countries. According to the campaign, social and political institutions through time developed institutionalized patterns of values and standards that are obviously against for the development of women. For instance, the cultural value in some countries in Asia that a woman who opt to stay at home and take care of her children and husband is considered virtuous. In addition, a number of cultural practices and traditions focusing on the idea of purity and chastity of women has also been a commonly used excuse to justify such violence.

Such forms of oppression against women are perceived by the author as more severe and damaging in its very nature because it inculcates oppression and violence against women as a standard way of life- a sort of reality that one has to accept regardless of anything. Examples of such cultural practices are the Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Africa, Honor Killing in the Middle East, and in some remote places in China- Foot binding. All of these cultural practices are due to the basic premise that women should be remain chaste and pure until marriage; and it is only through the exercise of such methods that a woman’s purity could be attained.

More significantly, the exercise of FGM has been rooted on the idea that during sexual intercourse, women are not supposed to feel any type of pleasure, hence the mutilation of their genitalia, more particularly, the clitoris. Poverty and marginalization are also perceived by Amnesty International as both causes and consequences of the violence against women. Abusive situations are such as for instance marital rape or physical violence has become hard for women to escape because of the lack of financial capacity to do so.