Global Human Rights Defence


International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women


International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women


Sunday 25 November is designated as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Governments, international organisations and NGOs are encouraged by the General Assembly to organise activities designated to raise public awareness to the problem on that day. The date came after the brutal assassination in 1960, of the three Mirabal sisters, political activists in the Dominican Republic.

Women in all countries and from all social, national, ethnic or religious backgrounds are victims of some form of violence, and women from religious, ethnic or class minority groups are at an even greater risk. Gender based violence takes place in the public an in the private sphere, and the severity and type varies ranging from economic inequality to sexual violence and gendercide. Categorically for all types of gender based violence is that it is violence suffered by women, because they are women.


Women in Bhutan are deprived of many opportunities including access to business and industry, gainful employment, skill development training, education, health, economic resources, political process and decision-making institutions. Their representation at the policy and decision making bodies is negligible since no woman has ever been appointed to a high post in the government. Just like women in every other country in the world, they are victims of sexual and physical abuse. Bhutan has the highest rates of sexual exploitation amongst Asian countries.

Intolerance towards cultural diversity has forced one sixth of the total population of Bhutan (circa 106.000) to live as refugees. Out of these refugees almost 60% are women and children.



Nepal’s system of refugee registration distributes rations through the male heads of household, denying women equal and independent access to food, shelter and supplies, and imposing particular hardship on women trying to escape abusive marriages. If they leave their relationships, they relinquish their full share of aid packages; if they marry another man, they lose legal custody of their children.

No specific domestic violence legislation exists in Nepal and women are discouraged to report rape through a 35-day stature of limitations and medical reporting procedures. Therefore, the perpetrators go unpunished. The treatment that abused women get by the Refugee Coordination Unit focus on resolving domestic violence with reconciliation, dismissing the personal wishes, needs and safety of the women.

Other cases reported in the camps are rape, sexual assault, polygamy, trafficking, domestic violence and forced child marriage.

India - Jammu and Kashmir

Women in Jammu Kashmir suffer tremendously from physical, mental and structural violence. Among these are: gender based and domestic violence; limited access to legal protection and limited legal status; poverty; trafficking of women and children; restricted economic and social mobility, and gender specific medical problems. Every week one woman in Kashmir dies due to domestic violence. The High and Lower courts in the state report that there are over 100,000 cases pending.

Female refugees from the Pandit community, displaced from their homes as a consequence of political instability, live in very difficult conditions in the camps. A 2003 survey by the Health Department of India stated that: ‘one out of every three Kashmiri women in the refugee camps have multiple signs of deteriorating health, including premature aging, unnatural death, higher incidence of serious and potentially fatal diseases and affliction, with multiple disease syndromes’.

In a society where the status of women is inextricably linked with that of their husband, the conflict caused many thousands of women to be left impoverished when their husbands were killed in the conflict between India and militant separatists. The division of Kashmir also left many Indian-controlled Kashmir women with husbands on the other side of the militarized zone. In the meantime they endure official suspicion and harassment and struggle for their daily survival. Also the fact that thousands of women whose husbands have disappeared and have not been reported dead causes numerous problems to these so-called half-widows. The majority come from lower-income families and were entirely dependent on their husbands.


Gender based violence is a major problem in Bangladesh, especially for poor and underprivileged women. Bangladesh is one of the few countries in the world where the sex ratio is skewed in favour of males. In this extremely patriarchal society, women are discriminated against in the public as well as in the private sphere. Acid attacks, Domestic violence, dowry related violence, fatwas as a form of physical or psychological punishment, trafficking, and sexual violence are some of the severest forms of violence women suffer in Bangladesh. Punishment can take the form of beatings and stoning, burning to death, compelling to commit suicide, social ostracism, and prevention of exercising choice in reproductive health amongst others. In addition, women and girls belonging to the minorities are often abducted and forced to convert through forced marriage. It is one of the countries with the highest incidence of violence against women in the world, despite specific legislative protection, such as the Suppression of Violence against Women and Children Act, the Dowry Protection Act and the Acid Control Act. In 2005, more than 50% of all women reportedly were subjected to domestic violence. In 2006, there were 639 rapes reported and 227 of these were children. Furthermore, female victims often do not receive effective justice due to general barriers to accessing the justice system, police corruption, mismanagement of evidence, ignorance of the law and a lack of proper medical report (which is also a result of corruption). Due to the social stigma and patriarchal norms that prevail in Bangladesh, many victims of sexual violence are ostracised and some consider suicide as the only option after rape.

To leave the list, send your request by email to: wunrn_listserve-request@lists.wunrn.com. Thank you.