Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Rising against sexual violence!

As a part of the Wikiprogress on Gender Equality series, this progblog on violence against women is brought to you by Estelle Loiseau, Wikigender Community Manager. 

Previously acclaimed for his race performance on carbon fibre prosthetic blades at the Olympics, Oscar Pistorius is now facing a potential life sentence for murdering his girlfriend following a dispute. This happened on Valentine’s Day. One day later, on Friday 15 February, - which this year was called “Black Friday” in South Africa as people were encouraged to wear black to raise awareness of rape – a 17 year old was gang raped and murdered. These two recent events have concentrated minds on a deep-rooted culture of sexual violence and general violence against women – not to mention the earlier gang rape that took place in India. Our most recent Special Focus on Wikigender is on “Rising against sexual violence” and we will continue to make violence against women a key issue in the coming weeks.

With the 57th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) coming up with a special focus on the “Elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls”, Wikigender has organised an online discussion from 4-13 February on “Transforming social norms to prevent violence against women and girls”. The discussion was also co-hosted by Breakthrough, End Violence Against Women (EVAW UK), Partners for Prevention (P4P), Womankind Worldwide and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland and brought 70 comments from many different countries, gathering the views from international organisations, policy analysts, gender experts, development practitioners, international and local NGOs and civil society. To tackle violence against women, participants identified three main levers of change: the media should be more gender-sensitive; we need to engage more men and boys; and laws must be enforced and adequate policies put in place. The media, in particular, came out strongly from this discussion. We can see this reality just by reading the media coverage of the recent events mentioned above, as some newspapers have sexually objectified Pistorius’ girlfriend, showing her before her death wearing a bikini – maybe as an attempt to get more readership, but also clearly showing a lack of respect for women and in this case making us forget that she was a victim of violence – and this is what we really should be focusing on.

On 4 March, the OECD Development Centre is co-hosting a side event at the 57th CSW, together with the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the South African Ministry of Women, Children and People with Disabilities (DWCPD). We will present the summary report from the online discussion – which will be posted online on Wikigender too – and discuss how we can transform social norms to prevent violence against women. If you are in New York attending the CSW, make sure to participate in our side event!

Estelle Loiseau
Gender Programme Assistant and Wikigender Community Manager

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