International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

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November 25 – International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

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The United Nations’ (UN) International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is an occasion for governments, international organizations and non-governmental organizations to raise public awareness of violence against women. It has been observed on November 25 each year since 2000.

2013 was a critical year … and milestones were made!

Reathorizing VAWA a Daunting Task

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was up for reauthorization in Congress back in March 2013 and did PASS. First enacted in 1994 with broad bipartisanship, the act is now facing opposition from conservatives. This opposition was coming from some expansions being made to the original act. Republicans say the measure, under the cloak of battered women, unnecessarily expands immigration avenues by creating new definitions for immigrant victims to claim battery. They also say it fails to put in safeguards to ensure that domestic violence grants are being well spent. It also dilutes the focus on domestic violence by expanding protections to new groups, like same-sex couples, they say.

“Obviously, you want to be for the title,” Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, a member of the Republican leadership, said of VAWA in the New York Times. “If Republicans can’t be for it, we need to have a very convincing alternative.”

SAVE Native Women ActThe legislation would continue existing grant programs to local law enforcement and battered women shelters, but would expand efforts to reach Indian tribes and rural areas (this is also discussed in the SAVE Native Women Act, which will be featured in a later post). It would increase the availability of free legal assistance to victims of domestic violence, extend the definition of violence against women to include stalking, and provide training for civil and criminal court personnel to deal with families with a history of violence. It would also allow more battered illegal immigrants to claim temporary visas, and would include same-sex couples in programs for domestic violence.

Some Republicans have even argued that bringing up VAWA is a ploy by the Democrats to make them look bad by adding in provisions that they would oppose. Republicans have also said that they would be willing to pass VAWA as it was back in 1994, but not with some of the new provisions that expand definitions and jurisdiction.

VAWA actually expired in 2011, but it’s not yet dead. You can help keep in alive by signing this petition today, or by talking to your representatives.

What do people do?
Various activities are arranged around the world to draw attention to the need for continuing action to eliminate violence against women, projects to enable women and their children to escape violence and campaigns to educate people about the consequences of violence against women. Locally, women’s groups may organize rallies, communal meals, fundraising activities and present research on violence against women in their own communities.

vaw 2 2013An ongoing campaign that people are encouraged to participate in, especially around this time of the year when awareness levels for the day are high, is the “Say NO to Violence Against Women campaign”. Through the campaign, anyone can add their name to a growing movement of people who speak out to put a halt to human rights violations against women.

Public life
International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is a global observance and not a public holiday.

Background
On November 25, 1960, three sisters, Patria Mercedes Mirabal, María Argentina Minerva Mirabal and Antonia María Teresa Mirabal, were assassinated in the Dominican Republic on the orders of the Dominican ruler Rafael Trujillo. The Mirabel sisters fought hard to end Trujillo’s dictatorship. Activists on women’s rights have observed a day against violence on the anniversary of the deaths of these three women since 1981.

On December 17, 1999, November 25 was designated as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women by the UN General Assembly. Each year observances around the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women concentrate on a particular theme, such as “Demanding Implementation, Challenging Obstacles” (2008).

Symbols
unifemEvents around the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women are coordinated by the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM). The logo of this organization consists of “UNIFEM”. The letters “U” and “N” are in blue and the letters “I”, “F”, “E” and “M” are in a darker shade of this color.

An image of a dove surrounded by olive branches is to the right of the word. The image of the dove incorporates the international symbol for “woman” or “women”. This is based on the symbol for the planet Venus and consists of a ring on top of a “plus” sign.

The Facts About Violence Against Women – CANADA

Violence Against Women This information in Spanish (en español) – USA

Violence against Women – EUROPE

VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN – GLOBAL FACTS & FIGURES – UN

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