Regions against gender-based violence

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women 


Thursday, November 23, 2023

16:00 CET (check your time zone)

Virtual. In English, Spanish and French.


There are things that will never go back. No more tolerance for violence against women. Today violence against women is no longer hidden. Today it is denounced. But, after several decades in which progress towards gender equality seemed unstoppable, for some time now, we see, however, a high level of violence against women emerge in many spaces. It is a violence that comes from something very ancestral, but that is completely contemporary - for example - when it acquires the form of 'Sextortion' through networks. 

In almost all countries, legislation has made a lot of progress in favor of equality. The participation of women in the political process improves election by election, on almost all continents, although at the regional level (it must be said) it does so very slowly. Women, all over the world, are occupying the classrooms of the best schools and universities. And the number of teachers does not stop growing, having a very positive effect on the confidence of girls, while contributing to reducing implicit or explicit gender discrimination and violence in the school system.

All these advances occur in the institutional field, in developed and welfare contexts. Sexual violence is no longer silent, naturalized, minimized (whether at work, in schools, sports centers, families, etc.). Fortunately, there are many areas in which violence has become visible. All over the world there is, however, another side of the coin where countless women of all ages and conditions continue to be victims. These are situations that regional governments know very well, because they face them on a daily basis. It is no longer, and only, about the fatal victims of gender violence. Nor of the systematic and unstoppable femicide of some territories. It is also about group rapes that, like a plague, have proliferated in an incredible way in different geographies. Sex trafficking and the sale of girls, which is increasing in regions where the law and the strength of the state does not count. And it is also about the sexual abuse that campaigns through immense territories in which, for now, the MeToo does not arrive, nor is it expected.

With the arrival of COVID-19, many things got worse. The confinements aggravated domestic violence, locking up the victim as their aggressor. Many girls and women faced sexual demands in exchange for rent, obtaining land or public housing, a fair trial or a work permit. Bribes for 'sextortion' multiplied. And all this is produced in an invisible and silent way. Nobody dares to talk. No one is able to report the situation. Many women are afraid of losing their jobs or suffering reprisals if they report the situation, when they are not afraid of being discriminated against because of facts that embarrass them, when they should only embarrass their aggressors. Some situations that are aggravated the greater the marginality of the context and that is especially serious in spaces where racial and sexual discrimination is combined. Many women of color are very favorable victims of all these situations.

How are all these situations addressed? It is evident that there is a legislative area that is responsible for promoting the central governments. It is no longer enough for the law to talk about guaranteeing equality. In the face of violence, laws must now guarantee the confidentiality of complaints and must provide protection against reprisals. The current classification of sexual crimes is also not enough. It is necessary to punish bribery and extortion that take advantage of situations of power, especially at the official level. The 'Sextortion' and sexual harassment must have its sorrow. And the reparation of the victims and survivors must be guaranteed.

In turn, regional governments must design and implement - and are doing so - public policies with a gender perspective that combat violence and discrimination. These governments with a human dimension, in the first place, must help to break the silence, paying attention to problems that are often overlooked. It must be made visible that there are victims. It must be done with civil society and the complicity of women's associations. In women-led committees, women are more likely to denounce corruption, identify common problems and solutions, and allow collaborative research and advocacy.

Regional governments, following the recommendations of UN Women, incorporated the gender perspective in their response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Thus, they were dedicating additional resources to address the increased risk of domestic violence during this situation and to the economic empowerment of women, as part of the socioeconomic recovery plans. Above all, centers were set up that provided free and confidential legal advice to witnesses and victims of violence, allowing people to report corruption safely.


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