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16 days of activism

Fred Wesley
Saturday, November 25, 2017

ON its website, the UN Women has urged people to share photos, messages and videos showing how they plan to 'orange' the world.

For those who came in late, the colour orange is a key theme unifying activities to raise awareness of the issue of violence against women and girls.

Today the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women begins, marking the start of 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence Campaign.

This officially ends on December 10.

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka the Under-Secretary-General of the UN and executive director of UN Women, speaking at the official commemoration of the special event in New York City on Wednesday, said there must be justice for women everywhere, in all walks of life, focusing also on women at the base of the pyramid, and there must be zero tolerance.

This year's theme is "Leave no one behind".

It means, she said, being there for those affected by gender-based violence and leaving no one out.

"It means especially paying attention to the least visible victims and survivors of violence: the missing adolescent trafficked as a sex slave; the little girl who moves tents in an IDP camp, after being married to an older man, old enough to be her father or grandfather; the baby girl cut with a razor in an FGM ceremony; the woman beaten by her partner behind closed doors; the women's human rights defender silenced and brutally murdered; the teenager in her bedroom reading bullying messages on her mobile phone; the working women who are harassed and humiliated by bosses and colleagues; the woman tormented because of her sexual orientation. The list goes on," she said.

Sanctions and accountability, she said, are critical for behaviour change, and for the coming generations to be socialised differently, so that they know this is not acceptable.

"We must shine today with the colour orange, which is symbolic, and which illuminates the bright future that we wish for every girl and every woman; a life that is free of violence," she said.

Surely violence is not inevitable. It can be prevented.

This period is a great opportunity for us to relook at how we address the issue of violence against women and girls in Fiji.

Fiji Women's Crisis Centre co-ordinator Shamima Ali said the prevalence of women facing physical and sexual violence in the Pacific was one of the highest in the world.

She said in Fiji, 64 per cent of women suffered at least some form of violence from their husbands and partners.

Last year, 59 per cent of people who were assaulted, she said, were young people.

The Fiji Times joins in the campaign to encourage people to be aware of gender-based violence.

Being aware is the first step. The next is to appreciate and understand the impact of violence on the lives of affected people, and making an effort to change the mindset to make a difference.

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