Normally celebrations are marked by happiness, by a joyous and festive mood and by food, fun and laughter. The celebration of the International Day for the girl child on October 11 was a far cry.
It was instead marked by concern for the continuous and increasing atrocities against women and the inequalities that exist between genders.
Among several organisations working towards removing inequalities in society, the lead is being taken by United Nations which has blown the bugle and says that it is time to sound the red siren since girls undergo multiple forms of discrimination & violence.
United Nationals has also declared an Orange Day every month to END violence against girls and women. It is also creating awareness for victims and bystanders to speak up against domestic violence which is assuming pandemic proportions and can be in the form of health, legal, economical, mental, physical and developmental. Some reports say that nearly 70% women experience some form of violence.
Some statistics are extremely alarming. For instance, in Guatemala two women are murdered each day; in the USA, 1/3rd of the murders are by intimate partners; 100-140 million girls experience genital mutilation; 60 million kids in the world are child brides; 150 million girls under 18 are sexually abused; in one among four women, sexual violence during pregnancy leads to miscarriage & stillborn children. Female students are abused by male teachers. Rape is used as a means of revenge in warfare, riots and during natural calamities.
This is a cause for concern worldwide and almost all countries have announced strategies to combat this problem. Australia has policies for zero tolerance to domestic violence and sexual abuse and is educating the young people to have healthy relationships. Algeria & Argentina have rolled out national data on violence in an attempt to make the numbers visible. Afghanistan is striving to empower through correct application of law, by bringing government actors, both police and prosecutors, into the fold of law. Albania is providing free legal services to survivors of domestic violence and vulnerable women. The European Union countries are adopting an integrated approach by coordination, implementation and follow-up as well as regular evaluation of policies. Canada is engaging boys and men in prevention efforts because unless men become sensitive to the opposite gender, violence against women can never end.
Violence, a serious human rights violation, is assuming such epidemic proportions that economists human rights advocates are computing severe financial and economic burden that domestic violence imposes on victims, households, public sector and business alike. Direct cost goes into spends like health care sector, social welfare, counseling, police and criminal services, judicial services, legal services, refuge costs of transportation and housing. USA reportedly spends $5.8 billion, Canada $1.6 billion and Australia $11.38 billion in trying to curb violence against the fair sex.
Unless these statistics turn favorable, unless the self-respect of women is protected, unless laws and social customs provide women an equal status in society, celebrations shall be marked by concern, apprehension and anxiety.
The writer is an entrepreneur and educationist