Video Message by UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women
End rape – an intolerable cost to society
25 November 2019
If I could have one wish granted, it might well be a total end to rape and to all forms of violence against women.
Rape isn’t an isolated brief act. It has life-changing effects – a pregnancy or a sexually transmitted disease, immense trauma and unwarranted sense of shame. In both conflict and in peacetime, it often shapes women’s decisions to move from their communities through fear of attack or the stigmatization of survivors.
Although it is so pervasive, it is badly underreported for many reasons – reasons such as: in many countries, women know that they are overwhelmingly more likely to be blamed than believed when they report sexual assault. They are likely to be poorly treated by law enforcement, humiliated and treated like the problem, and in some cases, even disowned by their families while the lives of perpetrators go on.
Positive steps include: increasing accountability by making rape universally illegal and holding rapists to account; strengthening the capacity of law enforcement officials to investigate these crimes; ending all harmful cultural practices and eliminating homophobia; increasing the number of women in police forces; putting the victim at the center of response; and supporting survivors with access to all legal aid and essential services.
Those who use rape as a weapon know just how powerfully it traumatizes women and how it suppresses their agency and voice. This is an intolerable cost to all women and to society. No further generations must struggle to cope with a legacy of violation. Rape has to end now, and we all must join the fight!
We are Generation Equality and we will end rape. Join us!