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Campaign to stop violence against women

Amnesty gets behind campaign to stop violence against women

Media Release 25th November 2008 For immediate release

Amnesty International is hosting various events around the country this week to raise awareness for the millions of women worldwide robbed of a voice to speak up against violence.

Toady (25th November) marks White Ribbon Day, the international day where people wear a white ribbon to show they do not condone violence against women. This day also launches Amnesty International’s 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence which runs until Human Rights Day on 10th December.

“Violence against women is the most widespread human rights injustice in the world and it affects women in all sectors of society,” says Rebecca Emery, Amnesty’s spokesperson.

Statistics show that in New Zealand, one in three women have suffered physical or sexual abuse at the hands of their partner. Globally, the World Health Organisation has reported 70% of female murder victims have been killed by their male partners.

Justine Masika Bihamba, a women’s rights activist in the Democratic Republic of Congo, is one tragic example of women and their children as victims of gender-based abuse.

Army soldiers forced their way into Justine’s home last year, held her six children at gunpoint, and assaulted two of them, including sexually attacking Justine’s 21-year-old daughter with a knife. These innocent children were targeted by the DRC military simply because of Justine’s work as a co-ordinator for a women’s rights NGO.

“These figures and cases portray the grim reality of violence against women, and we are urging Kiwis to act locally to put an end to this global crisis” says Emery.

New Zealanders can play their part by wearing a white ribbon, attending an Amnesty White Ribbon Day event, and putting their names to UNIFEM’s Million Signatures petition. At each Amnesty event, people will have the chance to take action on behalf of incredibly brave women such as Justine Masika Bihamba.

For more details about Amnesty’s White Ribbon Day events, and how you can help to make a difference to protect Women Human Rights Defenders, please visit www.standbyme.org

Background:

White Ribbon Day (25 November) was started by a men’s movement in Canada in 1991, in response to the Ecole Polytechnique massacre where 14 women were killed by an anti-feminist on 6th December 1989. This day has been officially adopted by the United Nations as its International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and people wear a white ribbon to protest violence against women.

Amnesty International’s 16 Days of Activism: Since 2004, Amnesty International has taken part in the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence, a period of global campaigning during which thousands of people and organisations worldwide take a stand against gender-based violence. The 16 Days run from 25 November (International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women) till 10 December (International Human Rights Day). These symbolic dates emphasise that violence against women is a grave human rights violation.

UNIFEM Million Signatures Petition: Amnesty International globally is supporting the UNIFEM petition to Say No to Violence against Women. The aim is to increase the number of signatories to one-million in order to obtain a public commitment from the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon prior or on 25th November. Add your name to the petition at http://www.saynotoviolence.org/index.htm


ENDS


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