BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE FIFTY-EIGHTH SESSION
OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
TO MARK THE INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR THE ELIMINATION OF VIOLENCE
25 NOVEMBER 2003
have the right to live their lives free from violence in
any form. The International Day for the Elimination of Violence
against Women is an occasion for governments, non-governmental
organizations and civil society to publicly take a stand
against this abhorrent and inhumane practice. Equally important,
it provides the opportunity to recommit to a world free
from discrimination of any kind, one in which equality,
development and peace is a reality for all women.
now, the reality for many women and girls worldwide is a
horrific life impaired by domestic violence, sexual abuse
and sexual harassment, forced prostitution, trafficking,
practices that impact the health of women and girls and
other forms of violence. Violence against women is a worldwide
phenomenon, which knows no national, ethnic, cultural, age
or class boundaries.
only is violence against women a violation of their human
rights and fundamental freedoms, but it is also an affront
to their dignity and is recognized as an obstacle to socio-economic
development. Therefore, states and societies have an obligation
to exercise due diligence to prevent, investigate and punish
act of violence, whether perpetrated by the agents of the
state or private persons, and to provide protection for
United Nations continues to be central to raising public
awareness on the issue of violence of women, and has provided
essential leadership through the elaboration of legal norms,
policies and programmes in this area, including the Declaration
on Violence against Women and in the Beijing Platform of
Action of the Fourth World Conference on Women. They provide
a framework within which states should meet their obligations
to create and sustain an environment in which violence against
women is not just unacceptable behavior - it is illegal.
encouraging that progress has been made in this area in
recent years. In that regard, more governments are introducing
legislation and other measures to combat and eliminate violence
against women. The United Nations itself has created specific
mandates for addressing the issues of violence against women,
its causes and consequence, and knowledge about the forms,
incidence, and other issues related to violence against
women has improved.
United Nations may set standards and norms, governments
may legislate and introduce protective measures, but such
actions cannot by themselves prevent violence against women.
Attitudes must change. It must be accepted by society as
a whole that violence against women and girls is wrong,
and this must be inculcated from childhood and through every
stage of our development. If national and international
objectives to end the violence that impact the lives of
so many women are to be achieved, it is important that women
themselves have an essential role, particularly at the policy
and decision-making levels.
elimination of violence against women is unfinished business.
This grave injustice can no longer be condoned, ignored,
or tolerated. Women should not believe that their only option
is to suffer indignity, often surrounded by a wall of silence.
We have an obligation, both moral and legal to break down
the walls of silence and to take decisive action to end