"Violence against women is endemic in every country and culture, causing harm to millions of women and their families, and this has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. But unlike Covid-19, violence against women cannot be stopped with a vaccine." Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director general
Violence against women has made international headlines after a mass shooting in the USA targeting Asian American women, a murder in the UK and allegations of rape in Australia.
Last week, eight people were killed, six of them women of Asian descent, by a gunman targeting massage parlours in Atlanta, Georgia. This horrific crime calls attention to the dangerous intersection of racism and violence that Asian American and other women of colour face, with deeply held stereotypes about Asian women in the USA. It is shameful to see racism and misogyny so engrained that it was casually expressed by the police officer in charge of solving the case, while rallies decrying violence against Asian Americans took place across the country.
Separate crimes involving gendered violence have also sparked protests in the UK and Australia this month. Sarah Everard was murdered while walking home in London, triggering an outpouring of women’s stories of harassment and abuse and the constant, exhausting strategies employed to protect themselves. A vigil was held at which police were criticised for their response and also for failing to focus on the perpetrator or the problematic culture, while asking women to change their behaviour.
In Australia, Brittany Higgins went public with allegations that a colleague raped her in March 2019 inside the Parliament building. With accusations of mishandling the incident, a women’s March 4 Justice took place with over 40 marches, aiming to shine a spotlight on gendered violence. An outpouring of stories, allegations and calls for reform are continuing in Australia.
1 out of 3 women will experience physical or sexual violence in her lifetime and it is a fact that violence against women increases during every type of emergency, including COVID-19. This violence and these crimes demonstrate a fundamental lack of respect for women, compounded by institutions' lack of awareness of the harmful discrimination that pervades society and inadequate steps to tackle this issue long term.
In Hong Kong, these incidents are a good reminder that so much work remains to be done to eliminate gender-based violence in a city where 1 out of 7 women will experience sexual violence in her lifetime. At TWF, all forms of gender-based violence are completely unacceptable. This is why we launched our #MakePeopleCount campaign and dedicated resource website last April to address some of the factors contributing to perpetuating sexual violence against women and girls. Please join us as we continue our efforts to advocate for stronger legal protection and supportive infrastructure as well as to challenge gender stereotypes and instil gender equal norms to create a safe city for all.
Get in touch at Fiona.Nott@twfhk.org.
PS TWF Connect is going on spring break for the next two weeks! We look forward to re-connecting with you all on April 14.