Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Campaign against gender-violence launched in Africa

November 23 marked the beginning of a 16-day campaign against gender violence, which for 2007 has the theme: “Demanding Implementation, Challenging Obstacles: End Violence Against Women,” IRIN reported Monday.

At the launch of the campaign in Nairobi, Kenya, Fartun Abdi Ahmed, a Nairobi-based community outreach worker, described her personal experience with female genital mutilation, which she underwent while living in Somalia. “One cannot imagine the pain, the fear and the stress I went through; thank God it was a rural area and so we did not get some of the infections that are common nowadays,” such as HIV. She called FGM the most prevalent form of gender-based violence in Somalia, and said the practice leads to complications such as infections and the need for additional surgery during childbirth, which may lead to the death of the baby or mother.

Men and boys “must be engaged at the grassroots level in order to come up with community-based solutions” to gender-based violence, said Eddie Gedalof, the acting representative of the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

Besida Tonwe, the head of U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs’ regional support office in Nairobi, said that: “Sexual violence is widespread in central and eastern Africa; in conflict areas such as eastern [Democratic Republic of] Congo, it has reached almost grotesque proportions.” She added: “Sexual and gender-based violence should be addressed robustly on several fronts simultaneously, not least because the violence does not end when armed conflict ends – it must be addressed also in post-conflict settings.”

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, in a statement made Sunday (the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women), said: “Violence against women is always a violation of human rights; it is always a crime; and it is always unacceptable. Let us take this issue with the deadly seriousness that it deserves – not only on this International Day, but every day.”

The campaign ends on December 10, International Human Rights Day, to reinforce the message that violence against women is a human rights abuse.

For the full article, click here.

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