The whole world, especially those interested in women’s affairs, annually celebrate the 25th of November, as it is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, launching campaigns to eliminate violence against women for 16 days starting from the 25th November.
This exuded many inquiries to reflect upon including the story behind this day, why does the world call the 25th of November “Orange Day”, what are the latest statistics and analyses about violence against women.
First of all, this day was determined by the UN since 1990 and became the official day to celebrate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against women.
Meanwhile, many feminists and activists used to celebrate this day before the UN resolution, ever since 1981 as this day was associated with the Mirabal sisters’ accident, which is the most brutal accident against women in our modern history.
Story behind choosing 16 days of activism against gender-based violence as of 25 November
There were three sisters whose names were, Minerva, Maria and Patria Mirabal better known as the “butterflies”, and they lived in the Dominican Republic that was obsessively controlled by the cruel dictator Rafael Trujillo.
He had no tolerance for opposition, and those who did were either imprisoned or murdered by unknown assailants. Trujillo was responsible for the murder of 50,000 people.
Meanwhile, the three sisters didn’t hide their opposition to his policies. Also, throughout his regime, he used to employ scores of “beauty scouts,” to scour the countryside for young girls often too young for him to romance, kidnap, or rape.
The three sisters’ story began with him, when he invited Mirabel’s family to attend one of the public occasions, so they attended the party and then he asked to dance with Minerva.
It was not surprising that he tried to sexually harass her, but she confronted him and slapped him across his face, but unfortunately, shortly after her father was imprisoned and then he died after getting out of prison a few days later.
Since then Minerva and her sister formed an opposition group or movement against Trujillo’s regime.
Furthermore, they distributed flyers about the people murdered by Trujillo’s regime in order to inform the public about his regime’s violations.
However, unfortunately, they were declared as terrorists and traitors by Trujillo, and were arrested several times charged with dividing the unity of the country.
Subsequently, the women were released but not to return to life again, but to meet their final fate as on the 25th of November 1960 Minerva, Maria, and Patria Mirabal were brutally murdered.
Trujillo`s regime beat them to death with sticks, shoved them in the back of a car, and drove the three them off a cliff in order to make it appear as a road traffic accident. Trujillo thought that he could get away with the murder of the Mirabal sisters, just like he got away with the murder of thousands of people, but following this accident all the entire fought him and six months later on May 30th 1961, Trujillo was assassinated.
In February 1963, the Dominican Republic elected a democratic government for the first time in decades.
Finally, their fourth sister, who was not murdered, tried to commemorate them, and turned their home into a museum full of their possessions. In addition, the three sisters’ story became a source of inspiration for novels and films.
On the other hand, the day of the sisters’ assassination has become a milestone in the history of the struggle of fighting violence against women.
World called 25 November “Orange Day”
Choosing the orange colour as a symbol for fighting violence against women is the result of the campaign launched by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in 2008 on 25 November to eliminate violence against women which was named as “Unite to end violence against women”.
Moreover, the 25th of every month in the year has been designated “Orange Day” by the UN secretary general, but what is special in 25 November is that the “orange” campaign, begins on the 25th and continues until the 10th of December, which is the International Human Rights Day.
This means that the camping takes place throughout 16 Days of Activism to end violence against women (25November-10 December).
In the Orange day, people wear the colour orange to spread awareness of the seriousness of violence against women and urge the world to stop practicing it.
Also, women’s rights organisations and institutions use the colour orange as a key theme unifying all activities, decorating buildings and landmarks in orange, to bring global attention to the issue of violence against women and girls.
2018 theme, #HearMetoo
This year, the UNiTE Campaign announced that it will mark the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence under the overarching theme, #HearMeToo, hosting events with local, national, regional, and global women’s movements, survivor advocates, and women human rights’ defenders as well as create opportunities for dialogue between activists, policy makers, and the public.
Violence against women globally
Violence against women globally, can be described along broad categories: violence committed by state institutions, domestic violence, female genital mutilation (FGM), and structural violence which deprives women of equal participation and a chance to change the conditions that perpetuate other forms of violence.
Worldwide, 1 in 3 women have experienced physical or sexual violence, mostly by an intimate partner, according to the World Health Organisation’s global and regional estimates of violence against women in 2013.
Furthermore, globally, 1 in 2 women were killed by their partners or family in 2012, according to the global study on homicide by UNODC in 2013.
On the other hand, two-thirds of countries have outlawed domestic violence. Plus, 37 countries exempt rape perpetrators from prosecution when they are married to, or subsequently marry the victim, according to World Bank Group in 2016.
Moreover, in some countries, up to one third of adolescent girls report that their first sexual experience was a forced one, according to UNICEF in 2014. Also, 45 to 55% of women have experienced sexual harassment since the age of 15 in the EU, according to the EU’s Agency for Fundamental Rights, 2014.
Additionally, three out of four trafficked women and girls are sexually exploited, and 71% of all trafficking victims worldwide are women and girls, according to UNODC, 2016.
Unfortunately, at least 200 million women and girls alive today have undergone female genital mutilation (FGM) in 30 countries where representative data is available. Meanwhile, in most of these countries, the majority of girls were cut before age 5, according to UNICEF, 2016.
Finally, almost 750 million women and girls alive today were married before their 18th birthday, and 4 in10 girls in west and central Africa were married before age 18 and about 1 in 7 were married or were in a union before the age of 15, according to UNICEF, 2017.
Numbers of violence against women in Egypt
FGM in Egypt is reported to affect 90-97% of women. The practice ranges in severity from small cuts to the rarer complete removal of external genitalia, followed by stitching of the vaginal opening, according to the Egyptian Centre for Women`s rights’ latest report in 2018.
According to Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics (CAPMAS) , at least one out of every three women on average is exposed to physical, sexual, or psychological abuse, at least once during their lifetime.
“11% of Egyptian women were forced to marry, and a quarter of women married before reaching the age of 18,” according to CAPMAS`s latest report.
Furthermore, CAPMAS stated that 43% of women in Egypt were exposed to psychological violence, 32% were subjected to physical violence, 12% of women were subjected to sexual violence, 17% of women were subjected to various forms of violence by their husbands or fiancés, noting that the most common type of violence was physical violence from the husband.
Although, the numbers may be surprising to most people, however, they are indicators for the whole world to unite and confront violence against women.