Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow began her journey to grandmother’s house, the
13-year-old Somali girl probably had no idea that her life would change forever.
That she would be brutally attacked
and raped by three men. That she would be accused of adultery when she
reported the assault to authorities and be sentenced to death by stoning.
Or that, in late October, her final judgment would be cruelly played
out in front of a packed stadium of 1,000 spectators.
Aisha probably did not know where her
path would lead her that day, but for far too many of the world’s
women and girls, the path leads to lives rife with fear of danger and
violence. It is estimated that, worldwide, at least one out of every
three women has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in
her lifetime – usually by someone known to her. According to World
Bank data, women between the ages of 15 and 44 are more at risk from
rape and domestic violence than from cancer, motor accidents, war and
Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, a day chosen by the UN General Assembly to
heighten awareness of this growing problem. This year, the date also
marks the conclusion of an online petition for the United Nations Development
Fund for Women (UNIFEM)’s global advocacy initiative, "Say NO to Violence against
Women," which has raised
awareness and support of anti-violence efforts against women.
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Launched in November 2007 by UNIFEM’s
Goodwill Ambassador Nicole Kidman, the campaign encourages supporters
to add their names to a virtual guest book, demonstrating that
there is an ever-growing movement of people who raise their voices and
demand that ending violence against women be a top priority. To date,
nearly 500,000 people have signed on to help break the silence and give
voice to women and girls who have experienced violence.
The global community has much work
to do to address violence against women. Since 1996, UNIFEM has administered
Trust Fund in Support of Actions to Eliminate Violence against Women, which this year will disburse more than $19
million-a record level of funding-to governments, civil society
organizations and UN Country Teams for innovative programs to address
violence against women. The UN Trust Fund, however, received grant requests
totaling $525 million from all over the world. The gap illustrates how
great the chasm is between the need for resources and the amount of
Too often, women are attacked because
of the important role they play in the community and in society. As
reported in UNFPA’s
State of World Population 2008,
the atrocities are intended not only as an assault on the health and
safety of these women, but also an attack on the health, security and
stability of these women’s communities and nations.
You can show that these women – that
Aisha and others like her – are not alone or forgotten. Join UNIFEM’s
effort to present one million names to United Nations Secretary General
Ban Ki-moon – who also highlighted anti-violence efforts with his own "UNite to End Violence
against Women" campaign
announced at the UN last February – as part of UNIFEM’s International
Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women activities on November
25th. We encourage everyone to add their voices to the online petition
as an expression of public support and call for action. To sign onto
the petition, visit UNIFEM’s Say
NO campaign site. Forward
the message onto your friends and encourage them to sign on too. You
can also support UNIFEM’s work by donating to the UN Trust Fund in Support
of Actions to Eliminate Violence against Women,
Raising our voices against violence
cannot come a moment too soon.