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International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

Today, November 25, is international day for the elimination of violence against women. This day was designated in 1999 by the UN General Assembly as a day to raise international public awareness of the problem.

The date was chosen in remembrance of the three Mirabal sisters, who were political activists murdered in the Dominican Republic on this day in 1960. Their murder was ordered by the Dominican ruler Rafael Trujillo. 

If it were not for an email forward that I received from my Dad in Trinidad, I might not have even known that it was elimination of violence against women day. It’s possible that this is because I am trapped in the Western Law school bubble. But it might also be that we need to raise the level of awareness on this crucial issue. 

Violence against women is not limited to faraway places like the Congo, although the brutal acts that have occurred in this region constitute some of the worst possible instances of abuses of human rights. Violence against women is also alive and well much closer to home. The statistics on domestic violence in Canada reveal that it is pervasive across every segment of Canadian society.

from google images
Currently before the British Colombia Supreme Court is the question of whether the law banning polygamy under s. 293 of the Criminal Code is constitutional. In order to protect vulnerable women and girls from exploitation, the court must uphold this law against polygamy. Or, if it is found to be unconstitutional, the breach must be justified based on the risk it poses to women and girls. Polygamy can lead to a host of societal harms, including child brides, early sexualisation of girls, teen pregnancies and trafficking of young girls.

From a broader perspective, we need to pressure governments to prosecute perpetrators of violence against women and to create laws that protect women. As Ban Ki-moon stated, “violence against women and girls has no place in any society.”

If you didn’t get the opportunity to wear a white ribbon this November 25, you will have another chance in two weeks’ time. December 6 in Canada is the national day of remembrance and action on violence against women.


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