The EU Delegation and UN Women marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (3)

Violence against women and girls still takes place every day, in the European Union, in Sierra Leone, and elsewhere in the world. It happens regardless of social background or place: at home, at work, at school, in the street... This violence limits how women and girls can participate in society – in political, cultural, social and economic life.

The EU Delegation and UN Women marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

The EU Ambassador in Sierra Leone Tom Vens sends a strong message of Violence against women and Girls.

Violence against women and girls still takes place every day, in the European Union, in Sierra Leone, and elsewhere in the world. It happens regardless of social background or place: at home, at work, at school, in the street... This violence limits how women and girls can participate in society – in political, cultural, social and economic life.

For far too long, impunity, silence and stigma have allowed violence against women to be tolerated at a shocking scale.

Things have started to change. And the recent global #metoo movement, which contributed to drawing attention worldwide to the extent of sexual assault and harassment in our societies, has encouraged victims to speak up, and claim and defend their rights.

But we have not yet won this battle. In Sierra Leone as well, women and girls continue to be subjected to sexual and gender-based violence with alarming regularity. Although GBV is still largely under reported, a report from the Family Support Unit of the Sierra Leone Police indicates that GBV is highly prevalent in all communities. Ten thousand five hundred and forty-four (10,544) cases were reported in 2017 alone: from physical abuse (wife beating and torture); sexual abuse, rape of young girls, sexual harassment and intimidation at work and school, economic abuse such as denial of property, educational and employment opportunities  and other forms of emotional or psychological violence.

About 50 percent of women experiencing physical violence in Sierra Leone are aged 15-19. Of the total number of rape cases reported, 96% were under 18 years of age. Most of the survivors do not have the appropriate medical and legal support or a safe home. Child marriage is also still largely prevalent in Sierra Leone. Married girls often quickly become pregnant, drop out of school and are at higher risk of domestic violence than women who marry as adults.

Looking at the prevalence of child sexual abuse, teenage pregnancy, child marriage, child prostitution, child labor, child trafficking and domestic violence cases, I think we all recognise that action needs to be taken at all levels: at the central and decentral levels of government, in law enforcement agencies, and the judiciary but also all the way down to local communities.

I am pleased that the government at the highest level has committed to tackle GBV and to take measures to empower women in politics and in society. I am also pleased to see that the Draft National Development Plan reflects the ambition of the Government of Sierra Leone in addressing GBV.

To eliminate gender-based violence once and for all, we need to improve education and legislation and change social norms. The EU has in its Gender Action Plan committed to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls, both in the public and private spheres, through our external actions. Lawyers, doctors, teachers and police, among others, are being trained worldwide to support victims and to prevent gender-based violence, thanks to EU financial support to NGOs.

Over the last two years, the EU has also supported more than 1.5 million girls and women with services for protection and care related to female genital mutilation. Three thousand communities, representing 8.5 million people, have publicly announced that they are abandoning this practice. On child marriage, the EU reached over 1.6 million individuals through initiatives designed to change attitudes and practices regarding girls' rights

Global challenges require global solutions that can best be formulated and implemented working closely together with our international partners and through effective multilateralism. In partnership with the United Nations, we have launched our Spotlight Initiative. This multi-year Initiative - with an unprecedented initial investment of €500 million helps victims and empowers them to contribute to more secure, more resilient, richer and freer societies.

We are also leading the global Call to Action on Protection from Gender-Based Violence in Emergencies initiative. This action brings together nearly 80 aid actors to foster accountability for addressing gender-based violence.

Finally, we are also working on concluding the EU accession to the Council of Europe's Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence and harassment against women, which provides victims with the right of protection and support.

The European Union will continue to work tirelessly through all instruments at its disposal to eliminate violence against women and girls, making it a thing of the past.

As a man, I stand for women and women's rights because they are human rights. I do not see women as the opposite sex but as human fellows. We don’t fight against each other; we fight for each other's rights.

While the names and contexts may differ across countries and locations, the stories of women and girls who are experiencing extensive abuse need to be brought to light. This is why the global advocacy theme this year is: Orange the World: #HearMeToo.

#HearMeToo brings to the forefront the voices of women and girls who have survived violence, who are defending women’s rights every day, who are taking action—many of them very far away from the limelight or media headlines. These are the faces we may not have seen on newspapers and the stories we may not have heard on social media. Their voices and stories must be heard.

Support the survivors of GBV and tell them: Don't be afraid to speak up!

 The EU Delegation and UN Women marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (3)

Violence against women and girls still takes place every day, in the European Union, in Sierra Leone, and elsewhere in the world. It happens regardless of social background or place: at home, at work, at school, in the street... This violence limits how women and girls can participate in society – in political, cultural, social and economic life.

The EU Delegation and UN Women marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

The EU Ambassador in Sierra Leone Tom Vens sends a strong message of Violence against women and Girls.

Violence against women and girls still takes place every day, in the European Union, in Sierra Leone, and elsewhere in the world. It happens regardless of social background or place: at home, at work, at school, in the street... This violence limits how women and girls can participate in society – in political, cultural, social and economic life.

For far too long, impunity, silence and stigma have allowed violence against women to be tolerated at a shocking scale.

Things have started to change. And the recent global #metoo movement, which contributed to drawing attention worldwide to the extent of sexual assault and harassment in our societies, has encouraged victims to speak up, and claim and defend their rights.

But we have not yet won this battle. In Sierra Leone as well, women and girls continue to be subjected to sexual and gender-based violence with alarming regularity. Although GBV is still largely under reported, a report from the Family Support Unit of the Sierra Leone Police indicates that GBV is highly prevalent in all communities. Ten thousand five hundred and forty-four (10,544) cases were reported in 2017 alone: from physical abuse (wife beating and torture); sexual abuse, rape of young girls, sexual harassment and intimidation at work and school, economic abuse such as denial of property, educational and employment opportunities  and other forms of emotional or psychological violence.

About 50 percent of women experiencing physical violence in Sierra Leone are aged 15-19. Of the total number of rape cases reported, 96% were under 18 years of age. Most of the survivors do not have the appropriate medical and legal support or a safe home. Child marriage is also still largely prevalent in Sierra Leone. Married girls often quickly become pregnant, drop out of school and are at higher risk of domestic violence than women who marry as adults.

Looking at the prevalence of child sexual abuse, teenage pregnancy, child marriage, child prostitution, child labor, child trafficking and domestic violence cases, I think we all recognise that action needs to be taken at all levels: at the central and decentral levels of government, in law enforcement agencies, and the judiciary but also all the way down to local communities.

I am pleased that the government at the highest level has committed to tackle GBV and to take measures to empower women in politics and in society. I am also pleased to see that the Draft National Development Plan reflects the ambition of the Government of Sierra Leone in addressing GBV.

To eliminate gender-based violence once and for all, we need to improve education and legislation and change social norms. The EU has in its Gender Action Plan committed to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls, both in the public and private spheres, through our external actions. Lawyers, doctors, teachers and police, among others, are being trained worldwide to support victims and to prevent gender-based violence, thanks to EU financial support to NGOs.

Over the last two years, the EU has also supported more than 1.5 million girls and women with services for protection and care related to female genital mutilation. Three thousand communities, representing 8.5 million people, have publicly announced that they are abandoning this practice. On child marriage, the EU reached over 1.6 million individuals through initiatives designed to change attitudes and practices regarding girls' rights

Global challenges require global solutions that can best be formulated and implemented working closely together with our international partners and through effective multilateralism. In partnership with the United Nations, we have launched our Spotlight Initiative. This multi-year Initiative - with an unprecedented initial investment of €500 million helps victims and empowers them to contribute to more secure, more resilient, richer and freer societies.

We are also leading the global Call to Action on Protection from Gender-Based Violence in Emergencies initiative. This action brings together nearly 80 aid actors to foster accountability for addressing gender-based violence.

Finally, we are also working on concluding the EU accession to the Council of Europe's Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence and harassment against women, which provides victims with the right of protection and support.

The European Union will continue to work tirelessly through all instruments at its disposal to eliminate violence against women and girls, making it a thing of the past.

As a man, I stand for women and women's rights because they are human rights. I do not see women as the opposite sex but as human fellows. We don’t fight against each other; we fight for each other's rights.

While the names and contexts may differ across countries and locations, the stories of women and girls who are experiencing extensive abuse need to be brought to light. This is why the global advocacy theme this year is: Orange the World: #HearMeToo.

#HearMeToo brings to the forefront the voices of women and girls who have survived violence, who are defending women’s rights every day, who are taking action—many of them very far away from the limelight or media headlines. These are the faces we may not have seen on newspapers and the stories we may not have heard on social media. Their voices and stories must be heard.

Support the survivors of GBV and tell them: Don't be afraid to speak up!

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