Women are at risk due to sex-descriminating violence laws. A new report by “Equality Now”

The MENA region is among many countries, in which women aren’t given equal legal rights as men. This calls for an urgent implementation in the legal and policy framework.  Equality Now has issued a new policy briefing, Words & Deeds: Holding Governments Accountable to the Beijing +30 Review Process – Sex Discrimination in Violence Laws, which shows the inequality loopholes in laws related to violence against women and girls, allowing perpetrators to carry on with their violations without worrying about being punished.

Around 30% of women and girls, as estimated by WHO, have suffered physical and sexual abuse whether by their partners or strangers. These discriminating laws are causing this percentage to go higher, making things even worse. 

November 25 marks International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, which serves as an opportunity to bring attention to this issue and ask for instant implementation of these laws or revoke sexist legislation altogether. A sample of these laws has already been reported by Equality Now.

Examples of these loopholes are quite clear in a lot of countries in the MENA region, including but not limited to, Libya and Kuwait’s “marry your rapist” alternative, the legal right permitting men to punish their wives in Iraq, and above all Egypt’s diluted penalty for men who kill their wives in response to adultery. 

As rape definitions vary from one country to another, women are more prone to lose their legal rights and face higher risks. Additionally, the lack of standard laws criminalizing online abuse results in little or no action.

Fortunately, some of these laws were revoked after being reported by Equality now in 2020, like Syria’s law exempting punishment for crimes of honor. Equality Now aspires to continue its quest to enforce immediate amendments to discriminating laws and provide a safer, and better future for women and girls all around the world.

Government’s efforts to address violence against women in the era of the New Republic.

Government’s efforts to address violence against women in the era of the New Republic.

In line with the approach of the International Day of Violence against Women, Egyptian women have gained unique and unprecedented gains in the era of the New Republic.

The Egyptian State has been keen to launch community strategies, initiatives and programs in support of women, thereby contributing to their capacity-building and political, economic and social empowerment.

The Egyptian government’s main efforts to protect women from violence are as follows:

  • Establishing deterrent penalties for offences of female mutilation and sexual harassment.
  • Adoption of the national strategy to combat violence against women with the participation of several ministries in 2015.
  • Issuing decision to establish the first Women’s Violence Protection Unit in 2021.
  • 3 thousand women have benefited from the services of women’s hosting and mentoring centers through the provision of legal, social and psychological support awareness services as well as other services.

16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence 2022

16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence 2022

According to the UN, the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is an annual campaign that begins on 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and runs through International Human Rights Day on 10 December.

The campaign, led by civil society, is supported by the United Nations through the Secretary General’s UNiTE by 2030 initiative to end violence against women. This year’s theme for the 16 Days is “UNiTE! Activism to End Violence Against Women and Girls.”

Violence against women and girls remains the most pervasive human rights violation around the world. Already heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic, its prevalence is now being further increased by the intersecting crises of climate change, global conflict and economic instability.

Against this backdrop, there is a global backlash against women’s rights. Anti-feminist movements are on the rise, as are attacks on women human rights defenders and activists, and the legal status of women’s rights in many countries. Regressive new laws increase impunity for domestic violence perpetrators, governments use force against femicide and gender-based violence protestors, and women’s rights organizations are increasingly marginalized.

Despite these depressing trends, there is more evidence than ever that violence against women and girls can be avoided. Evidence shows that a strong and autonomous women’s movement is the single most important driver of policy change, making feminist mobilization in the face of anti-rights backlash a literal matter of life and death.

This 16 Days, the UN encouraging everyone to get involved: from amplifying the voices of survivors and activists to supporting women’s organizations and strengthening feminist movements, we can all act to empower survivors, reduce and prevent violence against women and girls, and protect women’s rights

‘Consign Violence against Women, Girls to History Books’, Says Secretary-General in Message for International Day

‘Consign Violence against Women, Girls to History Books’, Says Secretary-General in Message for International Day
Following is UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ message on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, observed on 25 November:

Violence against women and girls is the most pervasive human rights violation in the world.

Every 11 minutes, a woman or girl is killed by an intimate partner or family member — and we know that other stresses, from the COVID‑19 pandemic to economic turmoil, inevitably lead to even more physical and verbal abuse. Women and girls also face rampant online violence, from misogynistic hate speech, to sexual harassment, image abuse and grooming by predators.

This discrimination, violence and abuse targeting half of humanity comes at a steep cost. It limits women’s and girls’ participation in all walks of life, denies their basic rights and freedoms, and blocks the equal economic recovery and sustainable growth our world needs.

Now is the time for transformative action that ends violence against women and girls.

This means Governments designing, funding and implementing national action plans to tackle this scourge.

It means involving grass-roots and civil society groups at every stage of decision-making.

It means ensuring that laws are implemented and respected, so survivors see their rights to justice and support upheld.

It means supporting public campaigns that challenge patriarchal norms and promote different forms of masculinities that reject misogyny and violence.

And as this year’s theme — “UNITE: Activism to End Violence Against Women and Girls” — reminds us, it means standing with activists around the world who are calling for change and supporting survivors of violence. I call on Governments to increase funding by 50 per cent to women’s rights organizations and movements by 2026.

Let’s take a stand and raise our voices in support of women’s rights.

Let’s proudly declare: We are all feminists.

Let’s consign violence against women and girls to the history books.