INSTRAW: Eliminating Violence Against Women Is Everyone’s Business
Friday, March 9, 2007 11:00 AM




For Immediate Release
Wednesday 07 March 2007
Statement of Carmen Moreno,
Director of United Nations International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (UN-INSTRAW)
International Women’s Day - 8 March 2007

Eliminating Violence Against Women Is Everyone’s Business

We would not let our neighbour’s house burn to the ground without calling the Fire Department. Yet how many female cries and screams would we ignore before daring to “interfere in domestic affairs”?

Too often, when a woman’s security is at risk, we turn a deaf ear, close our eyes, and remain silent. Too many people in the world still regard gender-based abuse, harassment and assault as private matters to be resolved as quietly as possible within families or couples. They are not.

It is society as a whole that pays the bill for the devastating physical and psychological damage suffered by millions of women. Both men and women are part of this problem, both must be part of the solution. Eliminating this crime is your business. My business. Everyone’s business.

That is why UN-INSTRAW reiterates the call of the United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. Ban-Ki Moon, for increased partnerships among governments, international organizations, civil society and the private sector.

It is not only States that are responsible for protecting their citizens. Their duties shouldn’t prevent us from asking ourselves what we can do to build safer households, communities, schools and workplaces for all women.

If we are really serious about eliminating violence against women, we must eradicate the problem at its root: gender inequality. Challenging sexist cultural attitudes is one of the best ways to stop violence before it occurs.

As a teacher or parent, you can change the way girls and boys relate to each other, channel stress and deal with anger. As a journalist, you can highlight how to bridge the gender gap. As an employer, you can make sure that none of your female staff is targeted by sexist “jokes”. 

As a publicist, you can challenge stereotypes on roles between men and women. Yet, some seem to have chosen to reinforce them. In different European countries, a famous fashion house recently launched an aggressive advertising campaign showing a bare-chested man holding a woman down by her wrists while other men look on. 

A few weeks ago, the Spanish Government set an example by calling for the withdrawal of this sexist advertisement. In Italy, where the same picture has been used, the Minister for Equal Opportunities issued a similar call last week. Last Tuesday, as a result of the international mobilization, the fashion company decided to remove the controversial advertisement in both countries. UN-INSTRAW welcomes this decision on the eve of International Women’s Day.

The Spanish and Italian governments were right. By tolerating violence against women in magazines and on TV screens, we make it more socially acceptable and we become accomplices to this crime. Art should never be an excuse for depicting women as sexual objects to be freely assaulted. Cultural forms of expression should not explicitly encourage people to commit this pervasive --yet punishable-- crime.

Abuses, harassments and assaults targeting women should never remain unpunished. Although mediation between offenders and victims might be seen as a solution, it should under no circumstances be a substitute for justice.

A place where women are completely safe will never be found in today’s society. Unless we build it together. There is no immunity for the victims; there must be no impunity for perpetrators.

Press contact:
Mr. Laurent Duvillier
Communications Assistant
Tel: 1 809-685-2111 ext. 227