Press Release 25 November 2014
ISLAMABAD – As the world marks the “International Day to Eliminate Violence against Women” the UN refugee agency pledges a renewed commitment to address the continuing problems faced by refugee women and girls in Pakistan.
This international event falls under the global “16 Days of Activism Campaign” against gender violence, which is supported by UNHCR and originates from the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute that runs from 25 November to 10 December every year.
The campaign, which celebrates its 24th anniversary this year, runs under the theme “Protecting Rights and Preserving Childhoods: Working Together to Address Child Marriage”. Through the 16 Days of Activism this year, UNHCR will focus specifically on the risks and adverse effects of children marrying at a young age.
“Unfortunately the practices of child marriages persist in most of the societies around the world which bring adverse effects on lives. These practices are often attributed to economic, social, traditional and religious factors,” said Yoshimi Saita, UNHCR Officer in Charge in Pakistan. He said, “The denial of the right to education and choices, forced and early marriages, physical and sexual assaults and victimisation are just a few items on a long list and refugee populations are in the front line of those difficulties.”
Mr Saita stressed that UNHCR’s commitment towards eliminating gender based violence and protecting rights and preserving childhoods should not be limited to specific days only. “Our struggle will continue to mobilise communities around the world to end all forms of violence on the basis of gender,” he continued.
The ‘International Day to Eliminate Violence against Women’ (25 November), the ‘International Women Human Rights Defenders Day’ (November 29), ‘World AIDS Day’ (December 1), the ‘International Disability Day’ (December 3) and the ‘International Human Rights Day’ (December 10) are also falling within the period of the campaign.
UNHCR offices with the help of partner organizations around the country will mark the 16 Days of Activism with a wide range of events and activities to demonstrate their commitment to the elimination of sexual and gender-based violence. These events include football match between Somalis and Afghans refugees, cultural dances on the theme by school children, drama performance, storytelling with puppet show for the Afghan and non-Afghan children, mime performances, folk marriage songs, exhibition, sports and other events.