Call for Action on November 25
International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women
16 November 2011
November 25 marks the observance of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women which was declared by the United Nations in 1999 to draw attention to the need to end gender-based violence.
As we commemorate this date, let us remember the brutal murder of the Mirabal sisters half a century ago by the military forces of the Trujillo dictatorship of the Dominican Republic, and honor these sisters, the Inolvedables Mariposas (Unforgettable Butterflies), for their contribution to the struggle for freedom and justice that continues to inspire freedom fighters.
Today, as the world capitalist system experiences its worst crisis since the Great Depression, imperialist countries led by the United States, in their bid to further dominate the world markets, sources of raw materials and cheap labor, and new spheres of capital investments, intensify the exploitation and oppression of the world’s people and wage wars of terror in all parts of the world. They launch wars of aggression and occupation, support repressive and corrupt regimes and build the infrastructure of repression in connivance with puppet regimes and client states to block any form of resistance against this domination.
These wars of terror are wrecking havoc in the lives of women and girls. They suffer from war atrocities and human rights violations. Of the more than one million estimated casualties of the War of Terror in the Middle East since 2003 alone, more than half of the victims were women and children. Those who survived had to endure the loss of their loved ones, homes, livelihood, way of life and dignity.
In areas torn by war or occupied by military troops, women become victims to all types and forms of abuse and exploitation. Women and girls of all ages are vulnerable to rape and other sexual abuse employed systematically as a weapon of war to humiliate, intimidate or terrorize communities.
Women suffer not only during conflict but also during flight from the conflict. Of the four million people displaced by the wars, 80% were women. Women living in refugee camps are cramped and subjected to harsh conditions and lack of even the most basic human needs such as food, water and sanitation, while women seeking asylum in other territories are held in restriction with limited to no access to human rights protection and justice. Whether in refugee camps or in asylum, women “bite the bullet” in order to survive.
As poverty and hunger cripple their families, many women caught in the midst of these wars are forced to enter into prostitution in order to obtain food, shelter or protection. They work in bars, brothels and other entertainment establishments to serve the needs of foreign troops as part of their rest and recreation activities.
Reeling from poverty, women, most especially adolescent girls from Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe and the Middle East, in desperation, fall prey to human trafficking. Of the conservative estimate of 2.5 million trafficked persons at any given time, 80% are women trafficked to more than 100 countries either for labor or sex. Women from war-affected countries are increasingly dominating the population of victims of human trafficking, while places where military bases and soldiers are present are fast becoming an emerging destination of trafficked women.
Imperialist countries collaborate with repressive and corrupt governments in their wars of aggression under the anti-terrorism or counter-insurgency banner. They support the curtailment of the fundamental rights and freedoms of the people, especially in Asia, Africa Latin America and the Middle East, where resistance against their war and plunder are strong, through military aid and deployment of troops. Almost half a million American troops, for instance, are deployed in 150 countries and around US$6 trillion was given by the United States as military support to “allied” countries in the last 10 years.
In exchange for aid, governments impose anti-terrorism and counter-insurgency policies and strategies aligned with the big powers and against any form of resistance either from civilian or revolutionary groups and individuals. Among the common counter-insurgency tactics practiced by governments are the killing and persecution of political activists.
Extrajudicial killing (EJK) is one of the most profound methods of silencing resistance or opposition. Despite international criticisms, government and their armed forces such as the military and paramilitary troops and the police commit EJKs in the Palestinian territories and in countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and the Philippines, and in countries of Latin America and Africa.
The Philippines ranks at the top of the list of countries in Asia with the most number of EJK victims which includes 156 women since 2001. In Pakistan, approximately 140 political activists, journalists and students had been killed in 2010 alone. Indigenous women of Guatemala and Mexico are also victims of EJK and enforced disappearance.
Torture is another brutal form of human rights abuse used against women. They are subjected to rape and other forms of sexualized torture. But more than physical torture, psychological and emotional torture have more devastating effects and more difficult to get over.
In Palestine, an estimated 10,000 Palestinian women have been arrested and detained under the Israeli occupation. Majority of the women prisoners had experienced some form of torture or ill-treatment during their arrest, interrogation or detention, including beatings, threats, sexual harassment, forced nudity and psychological abuse. These were aside from the harsh conditions women suffer inside prison such as overcrowded and unhygienic cells and lack of medical care.
Several Kurdish women in arbitrary detention in Turkey for suspicion of being members of armed opposition groups experienced the same. Some were even subjected to extreme humiliation, rape and other forms of sexual abuse.
Other forms of State-sanctioned violence used on women include enforced disappearances, physical assault and injury, threat, harassment and intimidation, among many other human rights violations. Public persecution, illegal arrest and arbitrary detention, and filing of fabricated cases are also some of the tactics reactionary governments apply against women active in defending their rights, land and freedom.
Imperialist aggression perpetuates violence against women. It intensifies patriarchy, racism, homophobia and all reactionary attitudes towards women that underpin violence against women and the culture of impunity and silence wherever it occurs.
On November 25, the International Women’s Alliance (IWA) joins the women of the world in commemorating the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. IWA calls on its member organizations, networks, alliances, and individuals to:
Issue statements on or before November 25 against the continuing imperialist war and plunder which perpetuates the worst forms of violence against women;
Mobilize women to participate in protest actions and awareness-raising activities such as lectures, conferences, round table discussions, cultural fora and press conferences, among others;
Express support and solidarity with women resisting violence against women in conflict areas and all women working together to help the victims and survivors;
Express support and solidarity with fellow members of IWA in their local November 25 campaigns;
Share your statements and photos and videos of actions and activities with fellow IWA members and other women wanting to put an end to imperialism and to violence against women
We resolve to fight imperialist aggression and call for an end to all forms of violence against women!
Unite to resist imperialist aggression!
Stop violence against women!
Fight for rights, freedom and justice!
Long live international solidarity!