Epidemic

Report accuses governments of “perpetrating violence against women”

Afghan woman Nozari fled her home due to alleged domestic violence and discrimination. ADEK BERRY/AFP/Getty Images

A new report by the NGO ActionAid says governments are failing the international obligation to protect women from violence by starving women’s groups of funding and closing the space in which they can operate. The group says officials are ignoring laws and action plans designed to end violence against women, and efforts by local civil society groups to push for change are being thwarted by threats and intimidation. They identified the main instigators of threatening behavior —  including verbal abuse, sexual remarks, sexual harassment and assault — as armed militias, governments, police, and religious groups. Surveying 47 women’s rights activists from more than 20 countries, ActionAid found that 60 percent of women said they felt less safe in their work than they did two years ago, particularly those working on abortion, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights issues. “More and more women are facing the fear of violence and its consequences for them and their families,” said Lucia Fry, head of policy at ActionAid. “The work of fearless women standing up against violence is being eroded by increasing intolerance of dissent and the rising influence of fundamentalist agendas that are anti-women’s rights. As our survey shows, women activists from countries as diverse as Afghanistan, Nigeria, South Africa, Brazil, and the U.S. have all seen threats of violence increase, making them insecure and hampering their efforts to improve women’s lives and end violence in society.” This survey serves as the launch of the NGO’s “Fearless campaign,” which calls on the U.K. to take the lead in working with the international community to fulfil its obligations to end violence against women and girls with practical action and adequate funding.

Read the full story at The Guardian.

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