"A brighter future without violence"

On December, 1999 the General Assembly of the United Nations decided to set November 25 as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. 

The proposed, which was supported by 80 countries, came from the Dominican Republic after the assassination on 25th of November,1960 of the three Mirabal sisters, political activists who opposed the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo in that country. These women became a popular symbol of feminist resistance.

Violence against women is a human right violation which comes from the discrimination and inequalities between men and women, in law and also in practice. According to the United Nations, worldwide 35% of women have experienced physical or sexual violence; over 120 million girls have been forced into intercourse or other sexual acts; and 133 million women and girls have undergone female genital mutilation.

Starting from today, governments and organisations from all over the world are doing activities and campaigns to raise awareness about the women who suffer different kinds of violence.

The main action for 2014 is 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign, which consists of setting up different activities between November 25, International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and December 10, Human Rights Day. The United Nations Secretary-General has released his own campaign: UNiTE to End Violence against Women. With the slogan Orange your Neighbourhood, this initiative strives to fill the streets, shops, businesses and neighbourhoods with orange objects, calling out people to wear orange clothes to symbolize "a brighter future without violence". The organizers also invite people to share photos and videos of this events by social networks. But does this kind of campaign have a real effect? Or does it actually turn the problem into a spectacle instead of encouraging the awareness of violence against women?

Violence against women is a very complex concept which includes multiple forms of violence that go beyond the physical ones. Especially because in many cultures certain forms of violence against women are accepted. The education is the base to raise the awareness about this issue and media, advertisement and social networks play a big role because they can easily influence people´s behaviour. That´s why these campaigns should be focused on changing attitudes through discussion, reflection and education, instead of calling people to share pictures without giving any thought about the origins and causes of the problem.


Isabel Barragán