Violence against women Must End

Zakaria Virk, Toronto
By: Zakaria Virk, Toronto

Trujillo  (Peru) – On a recent visit to Latin America Pope Francis urged Latin America’s faithful to fight rampant violent crime against women including murder, while holding mass in Trujillo, Peru’s largest northern city. “I wish to invite you to combat a plague across our Latin American region: the numerous cases of violent crimes against women, from beatings to rape to murder,” the visiting pontiff told thousands in Trujillo’s main colonial-era square.

Half of the 25 countries with the greatest number of murders of women are in Latin America, according to UN Women. In Argentina, the pope’s homeland, there were at least 254 murders of women in 2016 that authorities think were gender-related, which helped spark the online campaign #NotOneMore murder.

“There are so many cases of violence that stay silenced behind so many walls,” Francis said, arousing cheers from the crowd. “I’m calling on you to fight against this source of suffering including legislation and a culture that rejects every type of violence.” Pope Francis denounced femicide and other gender-based crimes that have turned Latin America into the most violent place on Earth for women, calling for legislation to protect them and a new cultural mindset as he visited one of Peru’s most dangerous areas.

At a Marian prayer in the northern seaside city of Trujillo, Francis called women, mothers and grandmothers the guiding force for families. And yet in the Americas they are too often victims of murder and “many situations of violence that are kept quiet behind so many walls”, he said on Saturday during the closing stages of a tour of the region.The first Latin American pontiff called for lawmakers to protect women and for a new culture “that repudiates every form of violence”.

This problem is not confined to Latin America, it is a worldwide grim and complicated problem. Here are some key facts:

  • Violence against women – particularly intimate partner violence and sexual violence – is a     major public health problem and a violation of women’s human rights.
  • Global estimates published by WHO indicate that about 1 in 3 (35%) of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime.
  • Most of this violence is intimate partner violence. Worldwide, almost one third (30%) of women who have been in a relationship report that they have experienced some form of physical and/or sexual violence by their intimate partner in their lifetime.
  • Globally, as many as 38% of murders of women are committed by a male intimate partner.
  • Men are more likely to perpetrate violence if they have low education, a history of child maltreatment, exposure to domestic violence against their mothers, harmful use of alcohol, unequal gender norms including attitudes accepting of violence, and a sense of entitlement over women.

Women need empowerment to fight violence by non-violent methods. We need more women as lawmakers, as members of parliament to make laws that protect women. More than half the population of the world is women, but they are inhumanely treated. Only women can bring this change. This must end, and end soon.                                                                                                                                          Zakaria Virk, Toronto

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