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

  November 25, 2015

Today we reiterate our commitment to continue supporting all the efforts of states to prevent, punish, and eradicate violence against women. This is fundamental for those of us who aspire to achieve more rights for more people and a world of peace, development, well-being and justice for everyone.

In 1994, the member states of the OAS adopted the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women (Convention of Belém do Pará), which is one of the most widely ratified instruments of the Inter-American system.

20 years ago, one of each three women in the world testified to having been a victim of violence in some moment of her life, generally at the hands of a partner. Unfortunately, today this remains the case.

- In Mexico, 46.5 percent of women over age 15 reported having experienced at least one incident of violence at the hands of her partner in the last 12 months. Among women who work, the figure is 52.1 percent and between 2012 and 2013, 3,892 women and girls were killed, equivalent to nearly ten women a day, or one every two hours;

- In Argentina, more than 8,000 women per year report having been affected by some kind of violence;

- In Colombia, 37% of women either married or in a relationship reported having been physically assaulted by her partner;

- In the Dominican Republic 65,709 cases of violence against women have been reported, including 3,500 cases of sexual violence.

In ratifying the Belém do Pará Convention, the States Party committed to promote a series of actions to guarantee women´s right to live free of violence, among them:

1. Adopt policies to prevent, punish and eradicate violence against women;
2. Exercise due diligence to prevent, investigate and punish violence against women; and
3. Modify social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women and counter prejudices and customs which legitimize or exacerbate violence against women.

However, while having brilliant legal frameworks on paper is a notable achievement, if they are not applied, they amount to little more than pure rhetoric.

Today I call for action to establish a new paradigm in which men and women can live in conditions of equality and justice without violence.

This task requires an effort from the entire society – the government, through the areas of education, development and security and its mechanisms of support for women, media, the private sector and of course civil society.

In the path toward a world of more rights for ever-more people, it is essential to continue the comprehensive struggle for the protection, promotion and strengthening of the basic and fundamental right of women to live lives free of violence in all its forms.

Reference: S-041/15