Every 8th of March is a day that has been picked explicitly as International Women’s Day, when the political, social, economic and cultural achievements of women are celebrated all over the world. It is also a day set aside to raise awareness against gender bias and preach equality for both genders.
Firstly, it is fascinating and informative to know that International Women’s Day has been in existence for well over a century, having started in 1911. Another interesting fact to note is the colours that symbolize this great occasion. Purple, white and green are the colours that signify International Women’s Day. While Purple indicates dignity and justice, White stands for purity, and Green represents hope.
Violence against Women
Many women and girls have been victims of violence in all countries, continents and cultures. Crime against women occurs in domestic or sexual violence, and it is increasing by the day. One of the most common is rape. Today, rape has been used by miscreants as an instrument of war against women and girls in different parts of the world. This is the inhumanity of the highest order.
Recent surveys have shown that a large percentage of women suffer in silence due to sexual violence, of which they’ve become victims at a point in time or another.
Crimes of sexual violence, such as rape, enforced prostitution and other forms of coercive sexual acts, go against international human rights law, international humanitarian law, and national legislation.
Many countries of the world have ratified international treaties to enforce the protection of women and girls. The Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women (1993) recognizes that violence against women is a human rights violation. The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court also considers crimes of violence against women as war crimes and crimes against humanity. According to this law, “Rape, sexual slavery, enforced sterilization, or any other forms of sexual violence of comparable gravity” are considered war crimes. If these acts were committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack on a civilian population, they would constitute crimes against humanity. The majority of the 70% non-combatant casualties in recent conflicts have been women and children” (General Assembly, In-depth study of all Forms of Violence against Women: Report of the Secretary-General, 2006).
Although violence against women has become very rampant today, it has been widely regarded as the most common but least punished crime globally. It has also been discovered that women have been marginalized and ill-treated for ages. A WHO study found that 23 to 49 per cent of women suffered violence at the hands of their intimate partners in many countries.
A significant fact to note here is that women are stigmatized when they speak out. In fact, in some countries, violence against women is widely regarded as a typical incidence. Rape, domestic abuse, genital mutilation all grab the newspaper headlines, but only little is done to the perpetrators or curb the crime’s repetition or propagation.
A central paradox is that many countries have accepted the international crusade against violence against the female folk. Still, some have failed to implement it where it matters the most: in women’s daily lives worldwide.
A Global Assignment
Now, the question comes. What is the world’s assignment, now? The liberation of the female folk is a collective responsibility. The foremost duty we all have to carry out together is to try all means to have decisive and thoughtful leadership combined with a sustained commitment to ending this excruciating violence bring the perpetrators to justice.
The International Criminal Court was put in place for prosecutions of crimes when nations were unwilling to ensure accountability. It is indeed a commendable and positive stepping stone towards reducing and curbing the rate of violence, sexual or domestic, against women and girls. The application of principles and methods to curb violence against women and girls should not only be exclusive to the so-called serious crimes. It should also affect and be applied to everyday human rights violations. It, therefore, behoves countries of the world to try all their best to ensure that all forms of crimes of violence against women and girls are prosecuted accordingly.
An indisputable fact is that women are very vital components of our society, and they should be given a right to a voice in the community. Many groups and organizations in various countries have staged numerous campaigns against violence against women and girls. Therefore, it will be of great benefit to the world at large if we all, as individuals, families, communities, and countries, can offer our support to these groups and campaigns and take it as a collective responsibility to stop violence against our women and girls.