This Wednesday, PPAC is recognizing the International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women.
Unacceptably high rates of gender-based violence persist around the world — the scale of the problem is massive. Governments must do more to respond to this epidemic. The World Health Organization estimates that over one-third of women worldwide have experienced violence at some point in their lives, with violence killing and disabling many women in the U.S. and globally.
Not included in this figure is the scourge of forced pregnancy, a form of violence against women and girls that has harmful consequences on their health and rights, especially those of very young adolescents, as detailed in a new report called “Stolen Lives.” The report documents dire physical, mental, and social health consequences of forced pregnancy on girls in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Ecuador, and Peru, and makes the case for expanded access to safe and legal abortion.
Indeed, governments have an important role to play and obligation to act. Yet rather than supporting survivors of violence, they too often compound the problem with inaction or worse, restrictions on reproductive freedom.
The U.S., unfortunately, only added to the problem — for more than 40 years, a U.S. policy called the “Helms Amendment” has been interpreted to ban U.S. foreign assistance funds for abortion even in cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the woman is endangered. This barrier has a real impact when you consider that the U.S. provides more foreign aid to developing countries than anyone else; that sexual violence remains prevalent around the world; and that currently, unsafe abortion leads to 22,000 deaths worldwide each year.
Tell President Obama that #HelmsHurts by signing our petition here.
At a time when opponents of women’s health in the U.S. are trying to limit access and erode these rights at home and export their values abroad, we need to redouble our commitment to advance sexual and reproductive health and rights everywhere. To secure a healthy future for us all and the world that we want, we must step up to prevent and respond to violence, and support women, girls, and young people so that they can achieve their full potential, no matter where they live.
Want to show your support for eliminating violence against women? Borrow some of our sample tweets below:
- 1 in 3 women/girls experiences violence in her lifetime: http://ow.ly/EqEkJ | Learn more about our work globally --> @ppglobe #endVAW #16days
- Today is Intl Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women. Let’s end unacceptably high rates of gender-based violence. @ppglobe #endVAW #16days
- On Intl Day to Eliminate #VAW we must examine why US programs abroad won't fund abortion in cases of rape/incest #helmshurts #endVAW #16days
- Today is Int'l Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women. Read @CecileRichards on why #HelmsHurts: http://ow.ly/CWdbh #16days @ppglobe