Recognize, denounce and stop violence against women: November 25.
Violence against women is a worldwide phenomenon. Nevertheless, there is still a tremendous silence on the part of society with regard to this problem, and it is usually excused as a private matter. Thanks to the unflagging efforts of women's organizations, however, violence against women began to be understood as a serious and widespread human rights concern, especially after the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna (1993), when it was recognized that women are the object of aggression, violence and abuse because of their sex and that in addition, the States must be responsible for guaranteeing that women's human rights are recognized and promoted, including the right to live free from violence.
As a result, public debate on the matter has slowly opened, accompanied by the development and implementation of many laws and regulations to address the problem, even though most of them target intra-family violence and fail to specifically confront gender-based violence against women. At the same time, in their application, these laws have failed to achieve their desired objectives; the lack of training and consciousness-raising in the judicial arena is one of the factors that hinder women from receiving immediate protection, which makes them more vulnerable to new attacks, often with fatal results, i.e., femicide or feminicide. Indeed, the difficulty of accessing justice is one of the problems most frequently identified by women survivors of violence and/or their families, which perpetuates the aggressors' impunity and contributes to reproduce violence in its different expressions.
As part of its feminist mission and agenda, since 1996 the Latin American and Caribbean Women's Health Network has coordinated regional activism campaigns that support member organizations' development of local activities to denounce violence against women, with specific emphasis on the realities of their own community. This year, the November 25 Call for Action was "No More Violence Against Women and Girls! Respect for All Our Human Rights Now!" with the following objectives:
1. Demand, defend and promote the human rights of women and girls, especially their right to live free from all public and private expressions of violence, abuse and discrimination.
2. Demand the effective commitment of all social actors, especially the State, in the prevention, eradication and sanction of all forms of violence against women and girls, including structural violence, symbolic violence and all other gender-based violence.
Under LACWHN's Call to Action, 55 projects from member organizations in 14 countries in the region were supported with small grants. These projects joined the list of the many other initiatives presented from 1996 to the present in commemoration of the International Day Against Violence Against Women and the International Day of Action for Women's Health.
In related news, LACWHN is also committed to the design of a regional campaign to be launched in a select number of countries in 2009. This new initiative is linked to a similar proposal developed in a several Asian nations under the name, "We Can Stop Violence Against Women."
Developed with financial support from Oxfam-Novib, this campaign will actively target the persistent social acceptance of violence against women, which is viewed as an indispensable step in advancing towards its prevention and eradication. In a preliminary stage, the campaign will be developed with LACWHN organizations in Bolivia, Brazil, Guatemala and Haiti. These countries have a range of socio-cultural, political and economic characteristics and contexts, but they are all seriously affected by violence against women. The second stage of the campaign will work with organizations in Chile, Nicaragua and Puerto Rico.