Iraq withdraws controversial 'child marriage law'

A proposal in Iraq's parliament to lower the minimum age for Muslim girls to marry to nine years old has been withdrawn, the British embassy in Baghdad said. 

The amendment stirred outrage among critics who viewed it as a licence "to rape children". Conservative Shia deputies on October 31 proposed an amendment to a 1959 law that set the minimum age for marriage at 18. 

The initial legislation, passed shortly after the fall of the Iraqi monarchy, transferred the right to decide on family affairs from religious authorities to the state and its judiciary. 

But the new bill looked to go back on that - and would have authorised the marriage of any girl if it had the consent of the religious leaders from the Shia or Sunni Muslim community to which her parents belong. 

Campaigners across all sects and ethnicities voiced strong opposition against what they called a flagrant violation and backward step for the rights of girls and women."This amendment was tried by Islamic parties in 2014, but it failed miserably because of the strong opposition within the parliament. 

"Today, the same parties are returning to parliament, exploiting the security situation of the country and the public's preoccupation with the deteriorating security situation in the north of the country," women's rights activist Zeinab al-Waeli told The New Arab. 

On Thursday, the UK's consulate in Baghdad tweeted that parliament had withdrawn the amendment. "Draft amendments to the Personal Status Law have been withdrawn from the agenda of Iraq's Parliament," it said. 

The amendments would have been a major setback for the rights of women and girls." It added: "The UK stood shoulder to shoulder with civil society and parliamentarians to oppose these amendments and we welcome their withdrawal." 

Other amendments to the personal status law were also proposed. 

The original personal status law grants mothers the right to custody and gives wives the right to inherit their husband's estate, while the religious jurisprudence says the custody of children is a matter for the father and that women do not have the right to inherit real estate or land. 

A spokesman from the British embassy confirmed to The New Arab "the full package" of draft amendments was withdrawn from the agenda. 

Iraq's proposed changes to law, a licence "to rape children"

A proposal in Iraq's parliament to scrap the minimum age for Muslim girls to marry has stirred outrage among critics who view it as a licence "to rape children". 

Conservative Shiite deputies on October 31 proposed an amendment to a 1959 law that set the minimum age for marriage at 18. 

The initial legislation, passed shortly after the fall of the Iraqi monarchy, transferred the right to decide on family affairs from religious authorities to the state and its judiciary. 

But now the new bill looks to go back on that -- and would authorise the marriage of any girl if it had the consent of the religious leaders from the Shiite or Sunni Muslim community to which her parents belong. 

In effect, it makes "the opinion of the Shiite and Sunni ulema (scholars) obligatory for judges", said a liberal independent MP, Faiq al-Sheikh, a member of Iraq's legal commission. 

Historically, he recalled, Islam has allowed the marriage of pubescent girls from the age of nine, the same as Aisha when she is believed to have been married to the Prophet Mohammed. 

Social media has been flooded with criticism of the parliamentary bill, ranging from outright indignation to black humour, with anger also rife on the streets. 

"It's a law worthy of the Islamic State (jihadist group) that provides legal cover to the rape of children," Hadi Abbas, an army retiree in the southern city of Kut, told AFP. 

Ali Lefta, a 40-year-old teacher in the port city of Basra, said it amounted to "the murder of the innocence of children" and that the bill was "the latest in a string of stupid laws based on tribal and confessional modes of thinking". 

'Back to Middle Ages' 

In defence of the bill sponsored by his party, Ammar Toama, who heads the Shiite parliamentary group Fadila, said it "makes no mention of age and stipulates only that she (bride) must be pubescent, capable of deciding, and have the accord of her tutor and a judge". 

Under the Iraqi constitution, citizens have to declare their religious affiliation on certain issues. Marriage and inheritance terms for Shiites differ from those for Sunnis. 

Toama said the bill's aim was to bring the law "in line with the beliefs" of practising Muslims. 

But foreign missions in Baghdad and the United Nations have been up in arms, warning against institutionalised discrimination against women and girls. 

Many Iraqis like Safia Mohssen, a mother of three girls, also remain opposed and have taken to mocking the priorities of parliamentarians. 

"We have war, crises, unemployment, and yet our parliament is busy with laws that violate children's rights!" she fumed. "The Islamists want to take us back to the Middle Ages." 

Majeda al-Tamimi, a woman legislator, said she was confident that many of her colleagues in parliament would oppose the bill. 

But whether it passes or not, women like Umm Mohammed in the conservative rural province of Zi Qar, who wed at the age of 14, said marriage was a family affair. 

"Only families know when their daughter has reached puberty and at what age she can marry," said the 65-year-old Iraqi.


Iraq’s child brides and the flaws in its democracy

Iraq today has an elected Parliament, and 90 years ago it also had an elected Parliament; one of the oldest countries in the world to exercise modern democracy. In theory, community awareness should develop over time, but this is not always the case. 

Iraq’s parliamentarians are considering amending the Personal Status Law to allow for several pieces of legislation, including permitting girls as young as 9 to marry, and allowing tribal customs between clans and others. It is almost not too far from the thoughts and practices of Daesh, the terrorist group! 

The problem of democratization in “simple” societies (less developed and less aware) has been repeated. The Parliament reflects the state of society and its culture. Parliamentarians deal with democracy in its basic concepts by applying what the people want, by pleasing their constituents and by meeting their demands. 

The prevalence of culture and awareness in Iraqi society is similar to that in most Arab societies — simple and limited, dominated by old rural customs and traditions, although Iraq is a country of great ancient civilizations and a country that has been associated with new civilization since the beginning of the last century. 

Egypt, too, is a country of ancient civilizations and the first Middle Eastern country to respond to and assimilate modern industrial civilization, but it suffers the same situation as Iraq. After the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak, an outcome of the “Arab Spring,” there was a debate among the victors about the concepts of democracy and liberalism associated with it. 

When the Muslim Brotherhood group came to power, by election, represented in the party of President Mohamed Morsi, they tried to write a new constitution in line with the rest of the Egyptian political forces. Because they won, the Islamist group thought they had the right to dictate their views in the proposed constitution on the ground that they had won the most votes. 

Their vision of the constitution would be written at the expense of minorities such as the Copts and women, and the marginalization of the principle of separation of powers by domination over the judiciary. This is a distorted concept of democracy. 

Iraqis are overpowered by conservative, religious and tribal social forces; the constitution allows those forces to practice political action without setting limits on their power to use their influence in elections, and on parliamentary or government action. 

Religious forces, in particular, exploit this to attack their rivals or strengthen their influence by raising money in the name of religion to form armed militias, claiming that it is their religious duty. Because the central authority is weak and cannot confront these militias to avoid internal sedition, all it has done is prevent armed religious political forces from contesting elections. 

However, these forces can maneuver through the appointment of those who won the backing of the armed militias to run in the elections. But the state cannot deny religious workers, as it prevents the military, from entering politics, because more than half of Iraq’s political leaders today belong to religious organizations as well as tribal groups. 

The supreme judicial authority cannot intervene to prevent Parliament from imposing legislation that violates the principles of democracy and the basic rights of Iraqis, whether ethnic or religious minorities, women, or others. 

Democracy suffers in backward societies, and the elite’s relative awareness fails to impose itself; although segments of society are well aware and educated, they remain a minority. Extremists can override democracy by voting for the same ends that the terrorists failed to achieve by force of arms! 

The irony is that if Parliament votes to amend the Personal Status Law and allows the marriage of female children, then Iraq will be placed on the list of countries that violate human rights; but at the same time it will remain classed as one of the democratic countries in the world because of its government and its legislation. 

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is a veteran columnist. He is the former general manager of Al Arabiya news channel, and former editor in chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, where this article is also published. Twitter: @aalrashed

Culture of silence shrouds child abuse, experts warn

Breaking the culture of silence shrouding child abuse in the Arab world, early intervention and mandatory reporting of suspected cases by teachers and doctors will save lives, experts told a Dubai conference on Wednesday. 

These were among the suggestions and recommendations on the final day of the 5th Arab regional conference on Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect. Aid workers, academics and doctors from across the region called for confronting stigma and shame. 

Early interventions, such as removing children from harm at initial stages, would save them from suffering suicidal tendencies, mental scars and long-term physical injuries in later years. 

“We should look for the cases of maltreatment, we should be the one to screen and find them in society. We should not wait for episodes of maltreatment and then the children come in injured or dead, we should intervene early,” said Majid Al Eissa, president of the Arab Society for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect. 

Failing to address violence could negatively impact education, relationship and employment prospects, he said. 

“An abused child could die, suffer from disabilities, mental disturbance. These are immediate dangers but later they can have anxiety, depression, may commit suicide. They have double the risk of diabetes, hypertension, obesity than an average person. Studies prove this so we must protect the child early,” he added. 

A powerful Child Protection Law passed by the UAE last year makes it one of the few countries in the region that gives child protection specialists the authority to enter an abusive home and remove a child against the parents’ wishes and without judicial permission in cases of imminent danger. 

“Our goal is early intervention, so if professionals notice a child in school has a bruise or bite injury, they must do their job, talk to the child and report the case. We are trying to force them, to make them liable to report it,” said Mr Al Eissa, also associate professor of pediatrics in the King Saud University for Health Sciences. 

From safe play areas initiated in Lebanon, a No Hit Zone campaign to promote better parenting in Saudi Arabia, child protection talks in camps in Iraqi Kurdistan to UAE shelters that teach secretarial, computer and beauty skills to victims – there is no single tailored response to the diverse challenges the region faces. 

Lama Yazbeck, executive director of Lebanese non-governmental organisation, Himaya, said a high number of cases were detected in prevention programmes. The organisation dealt with 1,742 cases of child abuse last year with neglect the main cause, followed by psychological, physical and sexual abuse. 

It organizes ‘al sobhyah’ sessions in the morning for women and ‘al meswyah’ in the evening for men to provide child protection and parenting tips. “In Lebanon, like in many countries here, to talk about what happens in the family is taboo and our message always is ‘Don’t keep a secret.’ We need referrals from hospitals, to build partnerships and change society’s perspective,” she said. 

Afra Al Basti, director general of the Dubai Foundation for Women and Children said while some countries must start with framing legislation, other nations needed enforcement and data collection, but protecting children should be an overall priority - particularly in conflict areas. 

“We want to talk openly about the issue of death in childhood,” she said adding that studies were conducted but not shared and that should change. Deaths and injuries to children in the Syrian conflict must be highlighted, she said. 

“The death average in Syria is quite high in young ones and because of war there are few records and no international action. We want to talk openly about children who die because of poisoning and chemical weapons.” Countering the cycle of abuse was key, she said. 

“We want to prevent it from happening again and again because neglect and violence in childhood creates more violence in their personality later.” Every year, there are an estimated 41,000 homicide deaths of children under 15 years of age, according to the World Health Organisation. 

A quarter of all adults report having been physically abused as children and the consequences include lifelong physical and mental health impairment. This can slow a country's economic and social development, WHO reports show. 

by Ramola Talwar Badam

Slavery, Human Trafficking ‘Have No Place’ in the World

The following are UN Secretary‑General António Guterres’ remarks at the Security Council open debate on trafficking in persons in conflict situations, in New York on the 21/11/2017: 

"I thank the Security Council under the presidency of Italy for convening today’s open debate on trafficking in persons in conflict situations. Criminals and terrorists are capitalizing on, and perpetuating, the disorder and mayhem of conflict. To fund their crimes, they prey on the vulnerable. 

Their brutality knows no bounds: sexual exploitation, forced labour, the removal of bodily organs and slavery are the tools of their trade. Terrorist groups such as Da’esh, Boko Haram, Al‑Shabaab and the Lord’s Resistance Army are forcing women, boys and girls into de-humanizing servitude. 

Committed in the shadows, these actions are serious abuses of human rights, and may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. In recent days, we have all been horrified by images of African migrants being sold as “goods” in Libya. It is our collective responsibility to stop these crimes. 

We must act urgently to protect the human rights and dignity of migrant populations. That means bringing the perpetrators to justice. It means immediately increasing humanitarian aid. And it means helping the Libyan authorities to strengthen their own capacity to protect and provide for vulnerable men, women and children. 

But there is also an urgent need to create more opportunities for regular migration, to restore the integrity of the refugee protection regime, and to increase the number of refugees resettled in the developed world. 

Slavery and other such egregious abuses of human rights have no place in the twenty‑first century. According to the Global Report on Trafficking in Persons issued by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), increasing numbers of victims trafficked from Iraq, Syria and Somalia are appearing in Asia, Europe and the Middle East. 

The Security Council has taken important steps against trafficking, including by unanimously adopting resolution 2331 (2016) last December and the resolution to be adopted this morning. These texts call for the targeting of financial flows to traffickers. 

They urge every nation to adopt and implement the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its protocol on trafficking in persons. Along with the Political Declaration on the implementation of the Global Plan of Action, which was affirmed by every nation in September of this year, we have built a framework for action rooted in international law. 

Cooperation, mutual legal assistance and information-sharing are the mainstays of our activities. You have before you my first report on the implementation of Resolution 2331, which documents the ongoing work of Member States and many parts of the United Nations system. 

These efforts need to be intensified. We must make full use of the data collection, analysis, tools and technical assistance provided by UNODC and other United Nations actors, particularly those operating in conflict and post‑conflict situations. Better understanding of human trafficking markets and routes will strengthen analysis and prevention. 

And coordination will be crucial, including through the Inter-Agency Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons. Trafficking is also a development issue. Preventing the situations that lead to trafficking means addressing poverty and exclusion in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 

We must also do more to support the victims and survivors of trafficking. Indeed, they should be treated as victims of crime and not detained, prosecuted or punished for unlawful activities they were compelled to engage in, in order to survive. 

I also urge Governments, the private sector and civil society to support the Blue Heart Campaign and the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children.The international community’s commitment is being tested. We need to show the world our determination to end human trafficking, help its many victims and hold those responsible accountable for their crimes."

AMAR's maternity hospital will give new life to Iraq

What may look like a construction site, is now rapidly becoming a maternity and paediatric hospital. Being constructed by the UK based AMAR Foundation, this new hospital will open next June and will be the only one of it’s kind in the whole of the Shat Al Arab region. 

According to AMAR's Robert Cole, the hospital is located "In an area of Iraq with appalling infant mortality rates" and having direct access to medical facilities, will ultimately save the lives of both mother and child. 

According to Maternity Worldwide, "Figures from the World Health Organisation show, maternal haemorrhage was the third most likely cause of death for women in low income countries, accounting for 58,000 deaths". The construction of AMAR's new hospital, will help play a role in reversing these numbers.


US Iraqis, Muslims protest against child marriage in Iraq

A local imam, a city councilman, Iraqi-Americans, and their American friends protested child marriage Friday evening (November 17) in El Cajon. They gathered to speak out against a proposal in the Iraqi Parliament that would allow men to marry girls as young as nine years old. 

Flyers were posted all over Prescott Promenade Park in downtown El Cajon, where the protest was held. The flyer invited everyone from the American community to join them in protest “against the proposed amendments to the Iraqi Personal Status Law No. 188 of 1959…” 

Under this current law in Iraq, 18 is the legal age of marriage. Speaking in Arabic and English, several speakers addressed a gathering of people holding Iraqi national flags and signs of protest against child marriage. 

One sign read, “IRAQ Don’t legalize Marriage of 9 years old Child!” A young girl came before the audience and was told, “...the Iraqi government wants to marry people like you.” The girl was asked, “Are you ready to be married?” “No!” she exclaimed. Her protest was met with applause. 

Wedad Schlotte, interim president of the San Diego chapter of the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee, organized the protest in El Cajon with civic groups Iraqi Democratic Current, Iraqi Democratic Union, and the Iraqi Women’s League

She spoke at the gathering, condemning the proposal and the “ISIS mentality of the [Iraqi] parliament.” “This is our Iraq!” she exclaimed after giving a roll call of Iraqi progressive heroes and issuing a call for Iraq to return to a civil society. 

Afrah Abdulkader, a protest participant, explained that because of the 1959 law, Iraq has been one of the few Middle Eastern countries where civil matters that affect people’s personal lives have been adjudicated by civil court judges rather than religious clerics. This gave women and children relatively better legal protections. 

The proposed draft amendments to that law would take that power from civil court judges and put it in the hands of religious clerics. Among other threats to women’s and children’s rights, such a change would allow girls as young as nine years old to be married under one extremist interpretation of Islamic Shariah law. 

This interpretation is based on the belief that Aisha, one of the wives of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, was nine years old when she married him. Imam Taha Hassane of the Islamic Center of San Diego said that Aisha was a child at the time her family joined Muhammad in Mecca, but it was not until many years later after they traveled to Medina that Muhammad married her. 

Hassane explained that given the recorded events of Aisha’s life, she must have been at least 18 years old before she married, if not older. He pointed out that many Islamic scholars take that view. Schlotte stated the pending amendment has been held up in the Iraqi Parliament’s women’s committee and it is uncertain whether it will eventually pass into law. 

At a November 9 press briefing, United States State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert condemned the proposal and issued a reminder that “it was not that long ago that we called out the depravity of ISIS for taking child brides.”Despite the Islamic interpretation that allows child marriage, predominantly Muslim regions of the world do not have the highest rates of it. 

According to a UNICEF report on the percentage of women ages 20–24 who were married before the age of 15, sub-saharan Africa has the highest rate at 12 percent, Latin America the second highest at 5 percent, and the Middle East and North Africa (the predominantly Muslim region of the world) the third highest at 3 percent. 

Those three regions also fall in the same order from highest to lowest on the list of adolescent (ages 15–17) marriage rates. El Cajon councilman Ben Kalasho spoke at the protest, calling the Iraqi proposal “disheartening.” He said it’s a blow to “secular government and intellectuals who are trying to move Iraq in the right direction.” 

By Eric Bartl

Women’s rights are under threat in Iraq

Earlier this month, Iraq’s parliament received amendments to its constitution that — if approved — will fundamentally change Iraqi women’s legal rights. 

The amendments include sectarian religious laws — breaking with the current law based on Sunni and Shiite jurisprudence. 

The amendments apply to Iraq’s personal status code, which is a legal framework addressing family law that gathers most of women’s legal rights in matters of marriage, divorce, child custody, alimony or inheritance. 

One of the proposed amendments could allow child marriages of girls at age nine. If approved, the amendments will affect marriage inside the civil court that provides legal protection for women from polygamy and different forms of abuse. 

It also weakens the power of the state appointed judge in granting power to sectarian religious authorities instead of a cross-sectarian reading of the law that decides whether cross-sectarian marriages are possible. 

Iraqi women’s rights and civil society activists consider this proposal to fundamentally question the basis of women’s legal rights in Iraq along conservative and sectarian lines. 

Activists from different platforms, like the Iraqi Women Network, Iraqi Women Journalist’s Forum and Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq, have pushed for progressive reforms of the personal status code rather than its questioning along regressive lines. 

An international campaign — launched by academics, activists and individuals (including this author) — started a petition demanding the parliament speaker and Iraqi MPs reject these changes. The central government is dominated by Shiite Islamist conservative parties. And armed sectarian and religious groups have ruled in Iraq since 2003. 

In such an environment of generalized sectarian violence — and marked by the dominance of sectarian and religious conservative forces — the existing personal status code is inclusive, uniting Sunnis and Shiites under one legal framework and granting women essential rights, like the right to divorce in cases of domestic violence and abuse.

Sectarian politics played upon women’s rights 

Challenging the personal status code, established in 1959, is not new in Iraq. Since 2003, Shiite Islamist political parties who came to power with the U.S.-led coalition forces have pushed for change several times. 

They presented different propositions — all of which introduce the possibility of a sectarian personal status code. These proposals — all advocated by Shiite Islamist political parties — follow the principle on which the Iraqi political system has been based since the invasion and occupation: communal identity politics.  

This Iraqi political system since 2003 has institutionalized ethno-sectarianism through the introduction of a system based on communal quota. Each “community”— Arab, Kurd, Sunni, Shiites, etc.— has its share of power. 

The debaathification campaign, led by the U.S. forces during the first years of the occupation, disbanded the army and expelled from the state’s institutions former members of the Baath Party, provoking a collapse of the state stripped from its experienced and skilled agents. 

The bloody repression of the forces opposing the invasion and occupation and the marginalization of the Sunni population by the U.S. administration and new Iraqi political leadership have exacerbated sectarian tensions. 

All of this created a context of social, ethnic and sectarian tensions in the country — plunging it into a civil war. In proposing a specific law for Shiite Muslims, the Shiite Islamist political elite seeks to assert its own identity on Iraqis, rather than an inclusive version of Iraq’s identity. 

Proposing to adopt a sectarian system breaks with the political legacy that the Iraqi personal status code is meant to represent. Originally championed by prominent feminists and the anti-imperialist, secular left, they fought for its establishment in 1959 to protect women’s rights outside of sectarian divides. 

As such, the code is a legacy of the women’s movement. One of its figures — who was also the first Iraqi (and Arab) cabinet minister — Naziha al-Dulaimi participated to its writing. It was the symbol of the unity of Muslim Sunnis and Shiites gathered under one law, and it openly questioned the traditionalist and conservative political elite put in power by the British occupation. 

Social, sectarian and gender equality 

Significantly, all these law propositions have been very unpopular among Iraqis, Sunnis and Shiites alike. Most Shiite clerics also opposed it. In 2015, a protest movement began against the post-2003 political system, alleging corruption and nepotism by the country’s new political elite. 

Demonstrators demanded a state treating it citizens equally, instead of a political system based on ethnic, religious and sectarian identity. They denounce the post-2003 regime for its corruption, nepotism and mismanagement of the country. 

More generally, women’s rights and civil society activists have been at the forefront of mobilizations for a welfare system, advocating for functioning state institutions and services — like access to electricity, running water, housing and employment. 

Activists consider that the post-2003 regime, its sectarian functioning and the corruption and nepotism of its new political leadership have resulted in widespread impoverishment and generalized violence. 

For women’s rights activists in Iraq, the proliferation of child marriage is a consequence of the generalized impoverishment, insecurity and the absence of functioning state’s institutions. The proposed reform would just legitimate this already widespread practice. 

Since 2003, Iraqi women’s rights activists have been caught between fighting to preserve their existing rights — under threat from conservative social forces — and for their essential rights to security and dignity — under siege from the violent social, political and ethno-sectarian crisis provoked by the invasion and occupation. 

Changing the personal status code in this way would bring Iraq’s legal environment back to the period when the country was still colonized by the British Empire, during which no law governed Iraqis in personal matters other than religious and tribal courts. 

That would break the legacy of the progressive political forces that established the personal status code — and above all — the legacy of the women’s movement that fought for these rights for all Iraqis, regardless of religious sect. 

Zahra Ali is an assistant professor of sociology at Rutgers University. Her book “Women and Gender in Iraq: between Nation-building and Fragmentation” will be published by Cambridge University Press in 2018.


A proposal that would reduce a girl’s marriageable age to puberty, introduce marital rape by declining sex to a husband, eliminate a womans inheritance rights and child custody decisions passed its first reading in the Iraqi Parliament on October 30. 

The bill still requires a second reading to become law. In response, the Iraqi Democratic Current organised a protest at Prescott Promenade Park at 201 E. Main Street in El Cajon on Friday, November 17th. 

“The newly proposed law encourages the marriage of minors and reminds us most of the way that the Islamic State behaved with young girls, how the organization forced them to marry group members when they were in control in Mosul and Raqqa,” said Iraqi member of Parliament Rizan al-Sheik Daleer. 

The changes are to Law Number 188 of 1959 the Iraqi Women Personal Status Law, and if passed by the Iraqi parliament would replace civil courts with sectarian Sunni or Shiite courts. “The organization of these issues should be the responsibility of the courts and not the executive branch of Sunni or Shiite religious orders,” Iraqi member of Parliament Shuruq al-Abaji told NIQASH. 

Al-Abaji believes that the revision to the personal status law faces several obstacles besides simply parliamentary approval. First, Article 41 of the Iraqi Constitution, which allows Iraqis to select their own personal status, would have to be changed. Second, it violates the separation of powers and human rights and international laws on women’s rights. 

“We call on everyone to stand against the proposed amendments that backward minds intend to fulfill, to satisfy their sick desires in raping children, depriving women of custody of their children and their right to inheritance and return them to the time of servitude,” said Nital Meshkoor, of the Iraqi Women’s League and Iraqi Democratic Current. 

By Jonathan Goetz

Leave No One Behind - End Violence against Women and Girls

The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, a global campaign spanning from 25 November through 10 December, is taking place this year against the backdrop of an unprecedented global outcry. 

Millions have rallied behind the hashtag #MeToo and other campaigns, exposing the sheer magnitude of sexual harassment and other forms of violence that women everywhere suffer, every day. Breaking the silence is the first step to transforming the culture of gender-based violence. 

At the heart of this year’s theme, “Leave No One Behind – End Violence against Women”, for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (25 November) and UNiTE Campaign’s observance of the 16 Days of Activism to End Violence against Women (25 November – 10 December), is the imperative need to support those who are particularly vulnerable. 

The UNiTE Campaign is calling on everyone to join the movement to end violence against women, using the colour orange to make your action visible. One in three women and girls experience violence in their lifetime—that is one too many. 

It happens in every country and every society. It happens at home, in schools, on the streets, at work, on the internet and in refugee camps. It happens during war, and even in the absence of war. Too often, it is normalized and goes unpunished. 

No matter where violence against women happens, what form it takes, and whom it impacts, it must be stopped. The promise of the Sustainable Development Goals—to leave no one behind—cannot be fulfilled without ending violence against women.

For further information please check out the UN Women's website and please let us know if you are organising any event in support.

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