For Women, the World Remains an Extremely Dangerous Place

In every nation on earth, sexual violence within and outside of conflict occurs far more commonly than is reported.

The failure worldwide to prevent and punish sexual violence is more than dire—it is downright shameful. The so-called Islamic State (“so-called” because they do not reflect core Islamic values and are assuredly not a state) viciously slaughters, rapes, enslaves, and forces into “marriage” tens of thousands of women and girls in Iraq and Syria. The Boko Haram terrorist group kidnaps hundreds of school girls in Nigeria. Rape and sexual slavery is epidemic in the Central African Republic. Armed groups in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) continue to commit mass rape with impunity. From France to China, India to Kenya, Bosnia to the United Kingdom, Colombia to Burma, Sudan to Russia—to be more specific, in every nation on earth—sexual violence within and outside of conflict occurs far more commonly than is reported.

In the United States and Europe, rape on college campuses and throughout Western cities is commonplace. Millions of women and girls are trafficked for forced labor, sex, or exploitation. Men and boys are also victims of sexual assault, although women and girls are disproportionately affected, in part because of their reproductive capacity. Successful prosecution of any of these crimes is low, whether committed in the Global North, South, East, or West.

In the 20 years that I’ve been working on efforts to prosecute sexual violence at the international level, enormous strides have been made in recognizing various forms of such violence as crimes of war, instruments of genocide, and crimes against humanity. Atrocity tribunals have punished individuals for rape, enslavement, sexual slavery, forced marriage, torture, persecution, and other crimes of conflict-related sexual violence.

Indeed, the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, and the Special Court for Sierra Leone have greatly advanced gender jurisprudence, and have had women in leadership positions within these tribunals. Mobile courts in the DRC have adjudicated hundreds of rape cases. The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia only recently brought charges for decades-old rape offenses committed by the Khmer Rouge.

Hundreds of millions of sexual atrocities go unreported, uninvestigated, unprosecuted, or unpunished. Yet disappointingly, in its 13-year history, the International Criminal Court (ICC) has failed to convict a single person of rape crimes, despite massive numbers of sex crimes committed in countries within the ICC’s jurisdiction. The ICC has, however, adopted a detailed policy paper prioritizing sexual and gender-based crimes.

In assessing the current state of the world’s women for International Women’s Day (March 8), it is clear that we have made grossly insufficient progress in addressing one of the most pervasive and insidious forms of violence. It is incumbent upon governments, citizens, armies, police, families, medical centers, neighbors, educators, and organizations, among others, to redouble efforts to establish accountability for the sexual violence directed against half the world’s population. The United Nations, countries, and donors must invest far more resources and energy into tackling this odious scourge. International and domestic laws intended to protect civilians against sexual assault must be enforced and governments held accountable for their failures to protect, investigate, and prosecute violence committed against their citizens or on their territory, including by state agents. The ICC and other international tribunals must ensure that gender-related crimes are effectively adjudicated and the ICC prosecutor’s policy paper on sexual and gender-based crimes rigorously implemented.    

To be sure, countless efforts are afoot to undermine the notable gains women have made over the last few centuries, and the unprecedented advances in international law made during the past two decades. It is widely recognized that rape and other forms of sexual violence are intentionally used as tools of warfare precisely because of their effectiveness in terrorizing, harming, and even destroying groups far beyond the individual victims. Until that dynamic is reversed, in part by punishing and stigmatizing the perpetrators and others responsible for sexual atrocities, the legal advances will not be realized in practice.

It is deeply troubling that a broad range of sexual violence continues to flourish in the year 2015, and it is equally problematic that these crimes have a low probability of receiving any form of accountability. If we are to have any hope of improvement for future generations, we must invest significantly more into efforts to prevent and punish these crimes, and make addressing them a priority. It will not be easy in the face of wars, terrorism, religious extremism, propaganda, archaic attitudes, and indifference. But we must persevere, for the sake of humanity. 

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What about girls and women with disabilities? They are doubly at disk of violence due to their gender and their disability status. Sadly they are invisible in many countries and their situation is not even recognized by policy makers.

Thank you for a cogent piece that lays out what I have been feeling as a woman on Earth the past 46 years. I would love to dedicate my remaining years to ending this scourge. Please tell me how I can do this. If you have any advice for education or employment, I'd appreciate it.

I am a seventy-one years-old Colombian woman. My first childhood memory -and the only childhood memory still pervading in my mind- was watching how four men were carrying over their shoulders a badly wounded man to a hospital near my parents home. The man had been shot in the stomach over a partisan confrontation over the so-called Colombian Violence period then just erupting in my country. This Violence has been raging on in my country since then. Thousands of women and girls have been raped and murdered throughout these three-quarters of a Century by all warring groups: The State, guerrillas, drugtraffickers. Their lives shattered. I am still hopeful, though, that the Peace process currently underway in Colombia shall come through, and sexual violence against women may some day be overcome.

For many women the world remains an extremely dangerous place.

Thanks for this survey from VOICES on the violence and abuse of women and young girls around the world ... with so much low probability of any form of accountability ... We women must invest significantly more into all efforts to prevent and demand punishment for the crimes - Agreed it will NOT BE EASY ...BUT WE MUST PERSERVE FOR THE SAKE OF OUR CHILDREN AND HUMANITY'S SURVIVAL ...

VOICES OF WOMEN WORLDWIDE & VOW-TV
at http://voicesofwomenworldwide-vowwtv.ning.com
New York

It is disheartening, the scourge of violence against women is increasing by lips and bounds. .We should not give up. It is incumbent on NGOs, CBOs, funding agencies and various governments- all over the world, to ensure that it is outright eradicated. For 'Women Rights Are Human Rights'

The initiative of Open Society to educate about the tragedy of violence against women is laudable. Thank you.

Let us bring this to the center of negotiations in all conflict resolution efforts.

It is deeply troubling that a broad range of sexual violence continues to flourish in the year 2015, and it is equally problematic that these crimes have a low probability of receiving any form of accountability. If we are to have any hope of improvement for future generations, we must invest significantly more into efforts to prevent and punish these crimes, and make addressing them a priority. It will not be easy in the face of wars, terrorism, religious extremism, propaganda, archaic attitudes, and indifference. But we must persevere, for the sake of humanity.

Le premier des obscurantismes est celui reléguant les femmes à une citoyenneté de deuxième rang car tous les autres en découlent.

Any kind of violence against women is the proof that many "human beings", still live in medieval era.

بمناسبة المبادرة الدولية للعدالة الاجتماعية
وتنامي وازدهار الاعتداء الجنسي والاغتصاب في العالم والعراق وسوريا لعام 2015وهذا العام يعتبر مشؤم للعراقين حيث انتهكت اعراض العديد من
العراقيات بغض النظر عن الديانة والمذهب والقومية
*من خلال تراكم الحروب وتحول الحروب من حروب بين الدوال إلى جماعات ومنظمات مسلحة منظمة وبمعضمها ليست منتمية لدولة معينة تدعي الاسلام والدفاع عن المستضعفين والمضطهدين امام دول كبرى وهي ايضا سببا بأنشاء الحروب وتكاثر هذه الجماعات لتملصها من المسؤولية امام القانون الدولي وعدم اثبات الجريمة عليها اثناء ارتكاب جرائم الابادة الجماعية والاغتصاب الجنسي للنساء بدعوى التشريعات الاسلامية وماشبهها من مبررات ومنها
*المسيار
*المتعة
*الضعف والعوز المادي
* النازحات في مخيمات النزوح في العراق ولبن%

We strongly condemn all forms of violence against women .. are constantly working to save women from violence and rape.
We have problems in the Middle East than anywhere in the world such as violence and psychological (circumcision) and (polygamy)
We kindly request you to raise our voices high for the international community in order to develop appropriate solutions and to get rid of the oppression of women in our society and live a lasting peace.

President of the organization tawa for civil development
Iraq's Kurdistan region

I ask woman in the World to do more for our destiny! Rise our voice!

ICC must be more active, involving more women of different levels of social, religious, culture backgrounds to participate constantly and be advocates in our society as part of a group. ICC should not wait the annuals or biannual meetings. Include women from small towns to larger communities to be involved in national and international agendas.

I'm was working on Violence Against women and Girls from after 1993, first Election in Cambodia, why, i'm involving with these issues. From I was young, I study primary and secondary school, I have seem and remark the first family have violence every every day when the husband come from farm and he saw no delicious food for him, and he throw away all plates, bowl, disk from his door to the land.The second family when he lost money his game card, he also throw away all plates to out of the house and when he got money from game, he delegate his wife to buy a new plate, bowl and others things. the third one, the second wife hit the children of her three husband (from first wife) every afternoon, when her husband not home. From many cases of Violence, I marked, when I graduated from schools, I work with social issues,
From after 1993, I work with girls on Education, and from 1997 I in charge as Coordinator Program on Gender based Violence and Gender and Reproductive Health Right, I conduct Community workshop with community men and women, with students on why Violence and what are affected to livelihood and Health and how to stop Violence; and on RH/HR also to men and women and youth and I trained to Government Health Providers of Health centers on Gather, to they have good communication with Women clients on taking birth spacing and continue project until now. from last few year on Active to stop Violence, I influenced Government to adopt new Law on Domestic Violence on the year 2000 and adopt in 2005 and I conduct Research on three Laws Compliance and influence Government to ratify OP-CEDAW on 2008 and ratified on 2009. After DV law adopted from 2005 and some article not respond to women victims, this to respond also to UNCEDAW Committee, PCC on looking and raise fund to amendment Domestic Violence Law.
We working with serious issues of Cambodia women and girls.
Thank Open Society Foundation voices

No war has ever been started because of women.But in every war women and children are the main casualties and bear the brunt.Whenever it comes to women's issues the political will is weak and sometimes paralyzed.Cameroon for example has ratified many international human rights instruments relevant to women like CEDAW in 1994 and the Maputo Protocol.Cameroon was at Beijing in 1995.Yet the only laws that vaguely protect women were passed in 1974 and 1981.It is not as if there are no new laws on other issues and in other areas( which came up after CEDAW and Beijing) like torture,trafficking in persons(a gender neutral law) and now terrorism.
Nevertheless advocates should continue to sensitize and speak out.Women everywhere must have a voice and a choice.

i think woman must be more freedom , have more education to open mind about event which happened around .

I'm was working on Violence Against women and Girls from after 1993, first Election in Cambodia, why, i'm involving with these issues. From I was young, I study primary and secondary school, I have seem and remark the first family have violence every every day when the husband come from farm and he saw no delicious food for him, and he throw away all plates, bowl, disk from his door to the land.The second family when he lost money his game card, he also throw away all plates to out of the house and when he got money from game, he delegate his wife to buy a new plate, bowl and others things. the third one, the second wife hit the children of her three husband (from first wife) every afternoon, when her husband not home. From many cases of Violence, I marked, when I graduated from schools, I work with social issues,
From after 1993, I work with girls on Education, and from 1997 I in charge as Coordinator Program on Gender based Violence and Gender and Reproductive Health Right, I conduct Community workshop with community men and women, with students on why Violence and what are affected to livelihood and Health and how to stop Violence; and on RH/HR also to men and women and youth and I trained to Government Health Providers of Health centers on Gather, to they have good communication with Women clients on taking birth spacing and continue project until now. from last few year on Active to stop Violence, I influenced Government to adopt new Law on Domestic Violence on the year 2000 and adopt in 2005 and I conduct Research on three Laws Compliance and influence Government to ratify OP-CEDAW on 2008 and ratified on 2009. After DV law adopted from 2005 and some article not respond to women victims, this to respond also to UNCEDAW Committee, PCC on looking and raise fund to amendment Domestic Violence Law.
We working with serious issues of Cambodia women and girls.
Thank Open Society Foundation voices

You have shared your experience with us which is indeed so very informative yet we feel that as an intelligent specie in this wonderful earth of ours we are worst than animals as far as rapes and sexual violence are concerned. Animals do have better sense than us human beings.
I am from India's north east and not a single day passes off without some news about rapes, sexual violence, molestation, incest and what not.
Are we so very depraved and desperate? What actually are the reasons for a man or a group of men to commit such heinous crimes against the fairer sex?
No matter, the harsh laws and punishments that follows, yet we get to learn of these dastardly acts committed day in day out through out the world.
The endless seminars, discussions on various platforms and even news on TVs and social media are perhaps an exercise in futility.
But am positive that better solutions are ahead for all of us.
Would appreciate further information and like to participate in such discussions in the near future. Get involved too.

I am a freelance journalist and would welcome anybody/Ngo's/ etc and who may contact me at : [email protected]

Many forms of violence meted against women and all equally devastating. There is the matter of violence in the workplace that remains unreported. Whilst some of it is transactional(for economic survival) gender-based violence is rife in workplaces. There are many women and men who participate in this violence to fit in with the prevailing stereotypes. That makes the challenge a lot more daunting. The Media Workers Association of South Africa wishes to start a campaign to address workplace violence in South African media institutions. We. Believe that if we run such campaigns in high-profile communication institutions, we may turn the tide. As always the challenge is access to financial resources but where there is will, there is always a way. Peace.

Many forms of violence meted against women and all equally devastating. There is the matter of violence in the workplace that remains unreported. Whilst some of it is transactional(for economic survival) gender-based violence is rife in workplaces. There are many women and men who participate in this violence to fit in with the prevailing stereotypes. That makes the challenge a lot more daunting. The Media Workers Association of South Africa wishes to start a campaign to address workplace violence in South African media institutions. We. Believe that if we run such campaigns in high-profile communication institutions, we may turn the tide. As always the challenge is access to financial resources but where there is will, there is always a way. Peace.

Violence amoung women & children must not be every be allowed. History shows us the physical and emotional pain it causes the victims and their families. Violence and abuse left unattendded usually exculate into deaths.

The most pathetic part of the story is that most of the powerful nations of today's world are 'party' to majority of these incidents of violence as they covertly or overtly ignore/condone/avoid those incidents and knowingly shut their eyes/don't take requisite steps to address underlying factors behind the perpetuation of violence across the world as they argue in one way or other that this is the ' correct political stand',

Thank you for addressing this issue - barbaric and brutal actions continue against women all over the world - at least some, though little, progress was made in recent years. The age-old belief that somehow, the women who were brutalized in this way are to blame for it,either by the clothing they wore or by their manner.
What is seldom, if ever, addressed is the threats of rape and other sexual violence many women receive in attempts to intimidate them into submission of some kind.

Thank

Great story. And, words are powerful and precede action! However, this matter has been talked to "death," and it's time to end this outrageous conduct and behavior, towards others. So, "we can make the world a better place!"

Totally agree with the previous post. Just visited @adduk project to tackle SGBV against women with disabilities in Cambodia. Inspiring work, incredible women, but a drop in the ocean. We need to do so much more to raise the voices of disabled women, make this invisible minority visible and leave no one behind, seriously, leave NO ONE behind!

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