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Vigil for domestic and sexual violence victims


Say No, Unite to End Violence Against WomenThis Christmas 120 women – mothers, daughters, grandmothers, sisters, aunties, friends – will be missing from dinner tables around the UK.

During 2013 they have been killed by their violent partner or ex-partner.

Their names will be read out in an act of remembrance at a vigil being held in the West Midlands.

The candlelit commemoration, at 4.30pm in the Market Square in Stafford, marks the UN’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women – November 25.

The vigil has been organised  by Staffordshire Women’s Aid and Stafford Soroptimist International.

The chief executive of Staffordshire Women’s Aid, Dickie Chester-James, said: “Two women in the UK are killed each week due to domestic violence.

“We want to respect the women who have lost their lives and also all women who have experienced domestic and sexual violence. These women have a tremendous capacity to survive many things.

“Those who lost their lives are mothers, grandmothers, sisters, some women are killed in their 80s, doesn’t matter what age, women are vulnerable.”

The organisation also helps dozens of children each year who have witnessed or been victims of domestic violence and sexual violence themselves.

Chester-James said they are now seeing more cases of forced marriage, honour crime, female genital mutilation and child sexual exploitation.

“We go into schools and try to raise awareness among young people. If we are to make a difference in another 40 years, then we need to give them a voice,” she said.

“Pop music and videos are sometimes incredibly violent about women, and they are almost giving permission to be disrespectful to women.”

Soroptimist International is urging Soroptimists and supporters to take part in a wave of social media action on 25 November to mark the UN’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, the first of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence.

Their 2012-13 SI Global Impact Report, launched along with side a new film last week, found that the most successful tool in tackling violence against women was education.

They also suggest you Tweet (and Facebook) up a storm over the next 16 days if you are on Twitter or Facebook: use the hash tags #16days and #Soroptimist to share posts like these:

1 in 3 women worldwide will experience violence in their lifetime?  Enough is enough #16Days #EndVAWG #Soroptimist

1 in 5 women will be a victim of rape or attempted rape in her lifetime #16days #Soroptimist

Violence kills and disables as many women between the ages of 15 and 44 as cancer #16days

An estimated 100 to 140 million girls and women worldwide live with the consequences of female genital mutilation #16days

Don’t forget to re-tweet/share posts – or share links to articles or websites of interest.

The Soroptimists are also supporting the Purple Teardrop Campaign, set up in 2008 to combat trafficking.

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, executive director of UN Women, which is organising the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, said domestic violence is now endemic throughout the world.

“Violence against women and girls is a human rights violation,” she said. “It is violence against families, communities, nations and humanity.

“It is a threat to international peace and security, as recognised by the UN Security Council.

“It has reached a crisis point and demands action from all of us, young and old, women and men.”

The UN estimates that one in three women will be subjected to violence during her lifetime and 125 million will suffer female genital mutilation.

The organisation is asking women to wear orange to show their solidarity with women around the world in 25 November – and on the 25th of every month.

Mlambo-Ngcuka added: “It is a glaring omission that ending violence against women was not included in the Millennium Development Goals (MDG).”

And she urged all UN Member States to make ending violence against women and girls a priority in the new development framework that comes after the MDGs expire in 2015.

“UN Women,” she said, “is calling for a stand-alone goal on women’s rights, women’s empowerment and gender equality.”

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