MFHR Message on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, 25th of November

The Marangopoulos Foundation for Human Rights (MFHR) wishes to emphasize that the date 25th of November, which has been designated as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women,[1] is a day for reflection, with a view to drawing attention to the alarming issue of violence against women – a reality with global reach – and to raising public awareness on the matter.

All forms of violence against women – physical, sexual, psychological, verbal as well as economic abuse – in working, family and social environment, constitute a gross violation of human rights, which the international community fails to address. Another form has been added to the above mentioned, i.e. abuse and trafficking in women and girls during armed conflict, which constitutes one more challenge facing humanity.

According to the latest statistics, it is estimated that one in 3 women globally has experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence.[2] In addition, 200 million women in 30 countries have been subjected to genital mutilation, because of harmful traditional practices which contravene women’s fundamental rights.

Yet, supranational as well as international organisations such as the European Union, the Council of Europe and UN bodies, have pointed out the need for adequate comparable data regarding the number and nature of violence against women, occurring on a global scale, in order to facilitate the implementation of targeted policies to prevent and combat this reality. In response to this request, the Fundamental Rights Agency of the European Union completed in 2014 an EU-wide survey on women’s different experiences of violence across the 28 Member States of the European Union, the findings of which brought to light data for the design and introduction of fitting measures. In addition, the survey constitutes a useful online data explorer tool. Among the important findings of the study were increased rates of domestic violence as well as under-reporting of incidents of violence to the authorities as most women deem the existing judiciary system as “unsupportive”.[3]

Achieving gender equality, by empowering women and girls and by helping them acquire equal rights with men in all areas of society, may contribute to preventing and combating violence against women and girls. Despite the commitments made by the international community for targeted and more effective action, violence against women and girls intensifies. Within the context of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, and specifically Goal No 5 entitled “Gender Equality”, [4] the United Nations acknowledges that violence against women and girls constitutes a violation of their rights and therefore hinders development.

The MFHR draws the attention once more to the need for the members of the international community to lay down and implement sound policies to prevent and combat violence against women; by way of example we mention women and girls’ access to free health and social support services in order to ensure their safety, as well as protection and reinsertion into the social environment after their traumatic experiences. Implementation of these policies should be consistent with the full respect of women and girl victims’ rights, as enshrined in the international and regional legal instruments.[5]

The drafting of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, the so-called Istanbul Convention which was adopted by the Council of Europe in 2011 and entered into force on 1 August 2014, is a step forward in the right direction, and therefore our Foundation takes the opportunity to reiterate its appeal to the Greek Government to proceed immediately to the ratification of the instrument.

Athens, 25 November 2016

[1] The United Nations General Assembly has established November 25th as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women through Resolution 54/134 of 17 December 1999.

[2] UN Women, Thematic brief on violence against women, available at: http://www2.unwomen.org/~/media/headquarters/attachments/sections/library/publications/2013/12/un%20women%20evaw-thembrief_us-web-rev9%20pdf.pdf?v=2&d=20161013T141205 .

[3] FRA – EU Fundamental Rights Agency, Violence against women: an EU-wide survey Results at a glance, Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union, 2014, available at: http://fra.europa.eu/sites/default/files/fra-2014-vaw-survey-at-a-glance-oct14_el.pdf .

[4] More accurately, sub-Goal 5.2 stresses the need to “…eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation” (for more information, see:

https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/topics/sustainabledevelopmentgoals).

[5] To name some of them: UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (1979), The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (1999), Committee for Violence Against Women (CEDAW) General Recommendation No 19 (1992), Declaration on the Protection of Women and Children in Emergency and Armed Conflict (1974), Recommendation of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to member States on the protection of women against violence (2002).