From 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10 December, Human Rights Day, the 16 Days of Activism campaign against gender-based violence takes place. This year, the focus of the international campaign, is on the need for sustainable funding to end gender-based violence by 2030, in line with the Agenda for Sustainable Development. Funding is a vital part of both preventing and sustaining a world without violence against women, and the UNiTE campaign calls for us to ‘Orange the World’ to raise awareness and action.
The campaign which began in 1991, was first coordinated by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership, and continues to this day as reminder of the gender-based many women and girls across the world face on a daily basis.
So, what is gender-based violence, how is it linked with child marriage and what can you do to show your support to ending it?
What is gender-based violence (GBV)?
Gender-based violence is defined as violence directed at an individual based on his or her biological sex, gender identity, or perceived adherence to socially defined norms of masculinity and femininity. Gender based violence can take many forms and cuts across all layers of society. It can include physical, sexual, or psychological abuse; threats; coercion; arbitrary deprivation of liberty; and economic deprivation, whether in public or private life.
How does child marriage and gender-based violence interlink?
Girls who marry as children are particularly at risk of violence from their partners or their partners’ families. They are consistently more likely to be beaten or threatened by their husbands than girls who marry later. The greater the age difference between girls and their husbands, the more likely they are to experience intimate partner violence.
Often married to much older men, child brides are more likely to believe that a man is sometimes justified in beating his wife than women who marry later. Globally, 44% of girls aged 15-19 think a husband or a partner is justified in hitting or beating his wife or partner in certain circumstances*. In Africa and the Middle East, this figure is above half.
What can you do?
Over the 16 days help promote the theme of ‘Orange the World’ as much as you can - spread the call to action through using colour orange, for example, wear orange and tell people why you are wearing it; if you have a twitter account usethe hashtags #OrangeTheWorld and #16days; if you have a Facebook account post messages of your support; see what is happening in your area locally, perhaps there is a march or an event you can attend? You can also share the message with your local parliamentarians, law makers and those responsible for allocating budgets. By doing these things you will be adding your weight to ending gender-based violence and helping to make the world a safer place for everyone.
Gender Based Violence is defined by the United Nations as an act that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.
*UNICEF, Hidden in Plain Sight: A Statistical Analysis of Violence against Children, 2014
In the time it has taken to read this article 35 girls under the age of 18 have been married
Each year, 12 million girls are married before the age of 18
That is 23 girls every minute
Nearly 1 every 3 seconds