A third of the world’s women have experienced physical or sexual violence at some point in their lifetime, most by intimate partners. However, a staggering six in every ten survivors of violence remain silent rather than seek support or protection. In the Arab region, negative social stereotypes and patriarchy impose a culture of silence and fear on women survivors of violence. As a result, many perpetrators of violence against women go unpunished.
November 25 marks the start of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence globally. In the Arab region, from Morocco to Iraq, UN Women is partnering with national civil society organizations and UN agencies to raise awareness and inspire more people to take action against gender-based violence.
The color orange, which signifies a brighter, violence-free future for women, will be dominating the world for the next sixteen days to bring attention to the pandemic of gender-based violence. In the region, the color will brighten Abu Simbel temple in Egypt, Petra in Jordan and the Modern Museum of Arts in Morocco.
Using art to make a stand is a major part of this year’s 16 days campaign in the region. UN Women is organizing a silent theatre event performed by Syrian girls in Zaatri refugee camp in Jordan as well as a poetry and theatre festival in Amman. In Morocco, a theatre performance event will be organized in Rabat. At the regional level, UN Women is launching an outreach campaign under the title of “Silence is Not Acceptance” with the support of artists from across the region. Tunisian singer Ghalia Benali, Egyptian musician Khaled Dagher, Syrian actress Kenda Aloush and Egyptian scriptwriter Mariam Naoum have joined the campaign to mobilize support for women survivors of violence.
The campaign also calls on people to creatively show their support for women survivors of violence in their communities through organizing their own orange events or using their artistic talents of music, photography, writing or painting.
“Solutions start with knowledge. Knowledge requires that women feel safe, supported and respected enough to talk about violence and report its perpetrators,” said Mohammad Naciri, UN Women’s Regional Director for Arab States. “As long as women survivors of violence are stigmatized, and without the proper support of families and communities, the social acceptance of violence against women will remain a problem in the region,” Mr. Naciri added.
This year’s campaign comes at a time when the world is mobilizing behind gender equality and the empowerment of women. In September, world leaders adopted the Sustainable Development Goals and recognized violence against women and girls as an obstacle to development. Later, on September 27, world leaders took the podium at the United Nations General Assembly and vowed to make gender equality, including the elimination of violence against women and girls a priority for their national plans.
UN Women Regional Office for the Arab States launched Facebook page with the start of this year’s 16 days campaign.
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