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Message from the OAS Secretary General on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

  November 25, 2016

On November 25, the world commemorates the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

A large number of women and girls continue to be victims of violence at home, at work, in schools and in the community.

The Americas have made progress in the formal recognition of the rights of women and girls, but it continues to be one of the regions with the greatest gaps between the rights recognized on paper and the daily lives of women.

Each year, millions of women report having been victims of violence carried out by their partners or ex-partners, a close relative, teachers, students, authorities or a third party.

At the same time, hundreds of thousands of complaints are never prosecuted due to the absence of a cultural change that allows us to understand that impunity in these violations conveys a message of social tolerance that reproduces the system of power relations and that generates more violence and more discrimination.

At the OAS, through the Inter-American Commission of Women, we have been working to advance with the States Parties to the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment, and Eradication of Violence against Women - better known as the Convention of Belém do Pará - in building sustainable tools for the eradication of chauvinist and patriarchal culture and to strengthen the capacity of the States to judge and punish those responsible for such violence.

This year, we have also focused our attention on highlighting the damages caused by violent behaviors common in the region, such as child pregnancy and forced marriages of girls.

Next week we will present the Hemispheric Report on Violence and Child Pregnancy, prepared by the Committee of Experts of the Monitoring Mechanism of the Belém do Pará Convention. The report presents the alarming figures in the region of girls 10 to 14 years of age who, after being sexually abused, are forced to maintain high-risk pregnancies or forced marriages. Situations like these, as well as the femicide, maternal mortality, the feminization of poverty, disappearances and trafficking of women, are unfortunately a widespread phenomena in our region.

Facts like these urge us to redouble our efforts, to add our will to those of other international organizations, to strengthen the capacity of response of States and to accompany the women's movement in the world to eradicate male chauvinism, inequality and oppression so that the cry of Not One Less becomes a reality.

Reference: E-225/16