On International Day, UN calls for an end to violence against women

Nov 24, 2012

Picture: Ivan Kurtz "They have a name" (UN Day exhibition of works by art students, 2006)

Marking the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on 25 November, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) announced that its "Living Life without Violence" campaign, organized together with the Croatian Ministry of Interior, would conclude with a performance of the play, Violence – There is No Excuse for Violence, at the Vidra Theater in Zagreb on 4 December 2012. The play, written and directed by Zijah Sokolović, the UNDP Goodwill Ambassador for Tolerance and Nonviolence, encourages teens to look critically at violence in everyday life.
The play is just one of a number of activities organized by the UN this year to sound the alarm about the prevalence of violence against women and to advocate for measures to fight it. In his statement for 25 November, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon noted that as many as 70 percent of women globally experience physical or sexual violence at some point in their lifetime. He urged all governments to make good on their pledges to end all forms of violence against women and girls in all parts of the world. And he called for greater efforts by society to end "a culture of impunity" that makes victims, not perpetrators, feel disgraced.
In Croatia, domestic violence affects as many as one in three families, and up to 40 percent of Croatian citizens know at least one victim of domestic violence. According to police statistics, 45 cases of domestic violence are reported every day in Croatia, with the number rising to 60 on holidays, when family tensions often run high. Despite myths suggesting that both genders commit abuse, women are overwhelmingly the targets of domestic violence.
This observation was one of the main findings made by Rashida Manjoo, the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, its Causes and Consequences, during her ten-day fact-finding visit to Croatia in November. In her report, Manjoo commended Croatia for adopting progressive legislation and international conventions on gender-based violence, but observed numerous shortcomings in their implementation. State authorities tended to focus on preserving the unity of the family, she noted, rather than protecting the victim's human rights. Courts and law enforcement officials seldom employed protection measures, leaving victims at the mercy of perpetrators and often forcing them to flee their family homes.
Protecting the rights of victims will be the focus of a ministerial conference organized by UNDP in partnership with the Croatian Ministry of Justice in Zagreb on 28-29 November 2012. Building on Croatia's experience in creating support offices for the victims of violent crimes who are summoned to testify in court, the conference will encourage the countries of Southeast Europe to adopt new European Union standards on victims' rights. Participation has been confirmed by justice representatives from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Turkey and Ukraine.
These events constitute Croatia's observance of "16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence," starting on 25 November with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and ending on 10 December with Human Rights Day. The 16-day period was established to make the point that violence against women is a violation of human rights.