Date: Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has launched a global campaign to intensify efforts to end violence against women, specifically calling on men to combat the problem.
"At least one out of every three women is likely to be beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her lifetime," he told the opening session of the Commission on the Status of Women on Monday. "Through the practice of prenatal sex selection, countless others are denied the right even to exist."
Ban said he will form a global network of male leaders to assist him in mobilizing men in government, the arts, sports, business and religion, as well as boys, to speak out against the scourge.
"I call on men around the world to lead by example: to make clear that violence against women is an act perpetrated by a coward, and that speaking up against it is a badge of honor," he said.
According to the U.N., the most common form of violence experienced by women globally is physical violence inflicted by an intimate partner. World Bank data show women aged 15-44 "are more at risk from rape and domestic violence than from cancer, motor accidents, war and malaria."
In every war zone, violence against women has been reported during or after armed conflict. As examples, the U.N. said, between 250,000 and 500,000 women were raped during the 1994 Rwanda genocide and between 20,000 and 50,000 women were raped during the Bosnian conflict in the early 1990s.
Ban said the campaign will continue until 2015 to coincide with the target date to achieve the U.N. Millennium Development Goals aimed at combatting poverty.
He said he will personally approach world leaders "to spur action through national campaigns," and will urge all countries to ensure that violence against women is always a crime. He said he will also urge the media, the U.N. system, non-governmental organizations and women's groups worldwide to set priorities and targets to end violence against women.
"We know that violence against women compounds the enormous social and economic toll on families, communities, even whole nations," Ban said.
The secretary-general said he will propose that the U.N. hold an event in 2010 to review the campaign's accomplishments and to map out steps to make further progress by 2015.
World leaders at a U.N. summit in 2005, the U.N. Security Council, and the General Assembly have pledged to combat violence against women, but the secretary-general said much more needs to be done.
The U.N. said the campaign Unite to End Violence Against Women will try to mobilize public opinion to pressure policy makers to prevent and eradicate violence against women.