Event to observe the campaign "16 days against gender based violence"
The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is an international campaign which takes place each year. It commences on 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10 December, Human Rights Day.
Violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread human rights violations in the world. A staggering 1 in 3 women have experienced physical and/or sexual abuse in their lifetime. In some places in the world, the situation is even worse with some 70% of women and girls reporting they have experienced violence due to their gender.
GBV has both immediate and long-term physical, mental and sexual impacts on women and girls, ultimately affecting their well-being and preventing them from fully participating in the society. GBV does not only cause pain and suffering but also devastates families, undermines workplace productivity, diminishes national competitiveness, and stalls development.
Gender-based violence is widespread and systematic in Ukraine. Moreover, women are survivors of gender-based violence in 90% of GBV cases. According to the National Representative Survey on the prevalence of violence against women and girls conducted in 2014, at least 22% of women in the age between15-49 have experienced at least one form of physical or sexual violence in their lifetime.
Ukraine has 1.5 million officially registered IDPs, 63% of Ukrainian IDPs are female. Displaced women face greater poverty both because of their vulnerable position at the labour market and because there is a growing tendency to rely on dwindling social benefits. Many women have given birth to one or two children in displacement. Most of them are single mothers. They depend only on social benefits, few of them receive child support from biological fathers of their children and their dependency on humanitarian aid is growing.
The vast majority of IDPs are pensioners. Access to pensions for them is challenging due to many unnecessary requirements on physical verifications of place of current displacement as well as physical identifications imposed and implemented by the Government of Ukraine.
There is discrimination faced by IDPs at the housing market, some are refused rented accommodation and housing. As a result, some opt for collective centres, the number of women and older people are higher in collective centers. Gender stereotypes and societal expectations put the burden of family work and care for children and elderly, mostly on the women. This leads to huge gaps in income between men and women.
Moreover, the gender pay gap is a key concern. The difference in wages of men and women is approximately 24%.
Women in their majority highly exposed to the risks of SGBV, particularly in locations with high numbers of military personnel where having a sexual relationship with soldiers sometimes seen as a way to support the family and children. This is mainly seen in the area of the Joint Forces Operation in the Eastern Ukraine.
Freedom of movement is among key protection concerns identified in 2017 Participatory Assessment, which particularly affects female IDPs. There are five operational checkpoints along the Line of Contact. On average some 46 000 civilians cross the checkpoints daily, 64% of them are women. Checkpoints often shelled and surrounded by mined fields, which makes them territories of high security risks.
Sexual and gender-based violence remains widespread in Ukraine. UNFPA data shows that 19% of women and girls have experienced some type of SGBV.
Women constitute overwhelming majority of the registered victims of offences of sexual nature 91% of rape survivors and 74% of domestic violence survivors.
There is general lack of understanding of what constitutes SGBV in the country and gender inequality and power imbalances as key causes for it.
SGBV is often a taboo and according to UNFPA data, only 30% of survivors seek assistance. Lack of accurate and reliable data on SGBV is an acute problem. Services for SGBV survivors remain inadequate. The referral pathways are broken, especially in the heavily conflict-affected areas along the Line of Contact.
Women facing multiple forms of discriminations, such as women with disabilities, women living with HIV, ethnic minority women, LBTIQ, internally displaced women etc, are much more vulnerable to all forms of gender based violence and they are more likely not to report to police and other institutions due to their status, stigmatisation and systemic discrimination. For example, 1 in 3 women living with HIV (35.3%) experienced violence from their partner or spouse.
UNHCR Ukraine, jointly with other UN agencies, through the UN Gender Theme Group, is joining efforts with more than 75 partners in support of the United Nations Secretary-General’s campaign UNiTE to End Violence against Women (UNiTE). United around common goal we are organizing various events during 25 November – 10 December to raise awareness and take action to end gender-based violence across the country. The 2018 global campaign theme adopted in Ukraine is “Hear Me Too: End Violence against Women”, reinforces the UNiTE Campaign’s commitment to a world free from violence for all women and girls around the world, while reaching the most underserved and marginalized, including refugees, migrants, minorities, indigenous peoples, and populations affected by conflict and natural disasters, amongst others, first.