‘Sixteen-Day Activism’ to stamp out gender -based violence | Sunday Observer

‘Sixteen-Day Activism’ to stamp out gender -based violence

29 November, 2020

At a time the entire world has stepped backwards trying to get into grips with Covid-19 other major issues have taken a back seat. It’s true that the global pandemic is hazardous yet what we should be striving at is to ensure that we don’t lose sight of the forest for the tress. The current crisis has already taken over daily routines, jobs, socialising and education. Therefore, it is important to be mindful of what we would be in for due to the pandemic.

Harassment, gender-based violence and domestic violence have been in the limelight during the past few years as mostly women remain inordinately affected by violence in many facets. According to the World Health Organization, gender-based violence and harassment including domestic violence have aggravated subsequently with the outbreak of the global pandemic and also, intimate partner violence is widespread across many societies.

Raising awareness to stamp out gender-based violence and harassment, activists at the inaugural Women’s Global Leadership Institute initiated an international campaign titled ‘16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based violence’ in 1991. This campaign runs each year from November 25 to December 10 commencing on ‘international day for the elimination of violence against women’ and concluding on ‘International Human Rights Day’. This year, the campaign’s theme is ‘Orange the world: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!’. From November 25 to December 10 the iconic towers and buildings around the world are lit up in orange during the campaign. In Sri Lanka, the tallest and the most symbolic structure, the Lotus Tower has been lit in orange marking the global event.

Partnering the initiative, UNiTE campaign, the United Nations Secretary General’s UNiTE by 2030 to End Violence Against Women Campaign was launched in 2008 as a multi-year effort aspiring to stamp out violence against women around the world. The campaign also calls for global action against the issue. Gender-based violence is something that should not remain dissembled with all health services and the rules of law being diverted to address only Covid – 19. Because we already know how rapidly the pandemic is spreading, so do ‘human suffering’ owing to many factors. The only difference is that we are not fully aware of the latter.

As Covid -19 has fanned the flames of poverty, food shortages, unemployment, school closures, economic insecurity and civil unrest as a whole, violence against women and girls (including physical, psychological, sexual and economic forms of domestic violence) has increased with the confined living conditions created by lockdowns and social distancing.

Unlike in the previous years, in 2020, this international campaign is compelled to take extra-sensitive and more effective measures to grapple with the gender violence issue as the pandemic has intensified compulsion in households. As per a report by the United Nations Secretary General, financial and food insecurity and school closures are the major contributors to violence, harassment and exploitation of girls globally.