Ending the War Against Women

On February 14, people worldwide should support the One Billion Rising movement. By rejecting gender inequality, civil society can pressure governments attending the meeting of the UN Commission on the Status of Women in March to pledge the action needed to end the marginalization and mistreatment of women.

ATHENS – On Valentine’s Day, countless couples will celebrate romance by candlelight. On the same day, one billion women and men worldwide will stand up to shine a light on the darker side of gender relations.

According to the United Nations, one in three women worldwide will be raped or beaten in her lifetime. In some countries, up to seven in ten women will be beaten, raped, abused, or mutilated. Often, the victims of such abuses are treated as criminals – dishonored, brutalized, ostracized, imprisoned, and even executed – while perpetrators remain free. Millions of women suffer in this way, but their stories remain untold.

Last December, the brutal gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman in India – two months after Pakistan’s Taliban shot 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai for advocating education – triggered large-scale public protests. This outcry should mark the start of a global movement to lift the veil of silence that shrouds violence against women – which often begins at home – and protects the perpetrators.

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