By Francesca Merlo
The International Day Against for the Elimination of Violence Against Women has been observed annually on 25 November since 1981. This date was selected to honour the Mirabal sisters, three political activists from the Dominican Republic who were brutally murdered in 1960 by order of the country’s ruler, Rafael Trujillo.
The observance, that aims to help prevent and eliminate violence against women and girls around the world, calls for global action to increase awareness, promote advocacy and create opportunities for discussion on challenges and solutions.
Meanwhile, UN statistics show that on average, a woman or girl is killed by someone in her own family every 11 minutes.
This harrowing figure is released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, which states that the killing of women and girls by those they would normally be expected to trust is “one of the most extreme manifestations of gender-based violence”.
A perpetually relevant issue, this day is meant to raise women’s voices and condemn all forms of trauma imposed on women, not limited to domestic abuse and sexual assault.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, emerging data and reports from those on the front lines, have shown that all types of violence against women and girls, particularly domestic violence, have intensified.
Pope Francis has been vocal about the importance of respecting women since the beginning of his pontificate, stressing that mistreating a woman or her body is “blasphemy to God” and praying for all the women who suffer exploitation and violence as they are used as sex workers, as they are trafficked, assaulted and raped in wars and conflicts, as well as for the violence and discrimination they suffer in many other daily scenarios.