Beyond 16 days: activism against gender-based violence is a mix of constant resistance and resilience

Gender-based violence (GBV) is embedded in our societies and we must work to address it everyday. Throughout the years, RESURJ members have consistently shared analysis on various GBV issues and for the 2018 edition of the 16 days of activism campaign, we are re-sharing reflections from the past two years that have focused on GBV and the various ways which it manifests.

In this new reflection from Rwanda, Chantal Umuhoza writes about how despite the government showing high political will for gender equality and commitment to eradicate gender-based violence, there is still a lot of work to do because a disconnect remains between the lived-realities of women and girls and the ‘gender sensitive’ laws, policies interventions in place.

In September 2018, from Brazil, our allies from Catholics for the Right to Decide examined the public hearing that took place in the Brazilian Supreme Court to discuss changes to the abortion legislation and the need to talk about feminicide and how that links to high estimates of women who die because of unsafe abortions or lack of care in the aftermath.

In May 2018, we analyzed preliminary findings of the Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women’s visit to Canada, where she pointed to the pervasive and systemic violence experienced by Indigenous women and girls, women and girls with disabilities and women who are asylum seekers, refugees and migrants. 

From Pakistan in April 2018, Sheena Hadi underlined the surprising advances in trans rights under a conservative government. 

Also from Pakistan in December 2017, we made the links between how increased access to technology and the internet can both strengthen movement building and feminist voices but also increase women’s risk of experiencing online harassment and violence. 

In November 2017, RESURJ submitted to the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, with inputs and analysis from members in India, Mexico, Brazil, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the UK, with recommendations as to how criminalization and regulation through civil law, should be just one strategy of a multi-pronged approach towards addressing technology-related and online violence against women.

From Sri Lanka, Sachini Perera explores in this reflection from October 2017 the ways in which narrowly-focused abortion reform proposals reinforce barriers to women’s bodily autonomy and choice.

Also in October 2017, from Egypt, we examined the worst crackdown against sexual diversity in over two decades in the country, with at least 57 individuals who were apprehended by police for their perceived sexual orientation and gender identity. 

In august 2017, Fadekemi Akinfaderin examined the public discourse on comprehensive sexuality education in Nigeria following extensive media coverage of sexual assaults on adolescents and young women.

Still in august 2017, Jasmine Lovely George wrote about how in India, the Supreme Court passed a judgment making regressive changes to the Anti-Dowry Harassment Law, which emphasizes keeping a family together at the cost of having women experience unchecked violence.

In her reflection in May 2017, Oriana López Uribe wrote about the abuse, violence and impunity toward journalists, women and human rights defenders in Mexico, some of which is state condoned and should be labeled as a form of terror.

From Lebanon, Ghiwa Sayegh wrote in March 2017 about the Kafala or “sponsorship” system which ties migrant domestic workers to their employers, limits their freedom of mobility and access to justice, and denies them their bodily autonomy and integrity. 

Finally, from our reflections in 2016, Diakhoumba Gassama examined how the reinstatement of the death penalty for violent crimes was a missed opportunity for a societal reflection on the pervasiveness of all forms of violence against women in Senegal. From the UK, Mari-Claire Price examined how austerity and violence against women go hand in hand.

And, from Fiji, Viva Tatawaqa wrote about how sexual and gender-based violence is at extremely high levels in the Pacific region and how this is linked to challenges in having open and honest conversations about SRHR.

The fight to dismantle the systemic nature of gender-based violence and the ways in which governments, legal systems, police forces, media, and education systems all facilitate this violence is far from over. We hope you read/re-read these reflections and share them in your networks.

And you can click here to learn more about the theme of this year’s 16 days of activism campaign, GBV in the world of work, and the refocus from a 16-days to a 365-days campaign.