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16 Days: Activism against gender-based violence. 2014

From peace in the home to peace in the world: challenging militarism and ending violence against women.

openDemocracy 50.50 brings you critical perspectives from academics, lawyers, activists, grassroots 16 Days global campaignworkers and policy makers around the world exploring the continuum of violence.

See further coverage from the Nobel Women's Initiative and the Center for Women's Global Leadership.

​Read previous years' 16 Days articles from 50.50.



Egypt: a reality too dark in which to glimpse hope?

The last known message from the Egyptian activist Zainab Mahdy reads, " It's like we're digging in water...There is no justice…I am aware of that…there is no victory coming…we are just lying to ourselves so that we can live."

Of canaries and coal mines

Are women the canaries in the coal mine, their ill treatment signalling larger problems within a society?  Or is there something deeper going on?  Might male-female relations actually be the coal mine itself?

British democracy and women's right to live free from violence

As the general election approaches in May 2015, women's organisations in the UK have issued the Women's Safety Manifesto. Politicians ignore it at their peril when it comes to the vote.

Young feminists: resisting the tide of fundamentalisms

Fundamentalism is a root cause of multiple forms of violence experienced by young women and trans*youth worldwide. Young feminists human rights defenders are key actors in this space.

The stories we tell about ISIS and women

Political and popular discussions about strategies to confront ISIS are doing women in Iraq and Syria a disservice, and playing into the hands of ISIS.

The Global Slavery Index: seduction and obfuscation

The Global Slavery Index is critically flawed: compromised by a weak methodology, unverified assumptions and multiple errors of fact and logic. Why the silence?

Women in prison: the cycle of violence

Most women in prison in Britain have experienced sexual or domestic violence, yet the system fails to address their needs and further victimises them. For some, it is the end of the road.

Sexualized violence in Iraq: how to understand and fight it

Sexualised and gender-based violence in Iraq, highlighted in recent weeks in relation to ISIS atrocities, has been at the heart of sectarian and authoritarian politics and developments since 2003. How can we talk about it and mobilise against it?

"It takes broken bones": authoritarianism and violence against women in Hungary

Right-wing discourse in Hungarian politics is matched by the government’s regressive handling of gender issues, as structural violence against the socially marginalised interplays with violence against women.

Changing the behaviour of male perpetrators of domestic violence

Domestic violence shows no sign of abating. There is growing recognition that working with male perpetrators - alongside intervention and protection for women - is essential to reducing the violence that kills two women every week.

Masculine violence: call of duty, or call for change?

The much-hyped launch of a new gun-shooting video game this month reveals the thread of gender linking socially-endorsed militarism to criminal sexual assault. Where are the social programmes that would address the reshaping of masculinity?

The Handmaid's Tale of El Salvador

Poverty, misogyny, and Christian fundamentalism in El Salvador lie behind the prison sentences of up to forty years handed down to seventeen women who were arrested for the crime of abortion, but sentenced for murder.

The right to walk alone without fear

The Reclaim the Night marches through night-time city centres tap into a righteous and rising anger, and are a way to highlight that women have a human right to live free from the threat or reality of male violence.

Reeva Steenkamp: justice?

At the core of a global pandemic of violence against women rage two defining features of patriarchy: male privilege and male violence. Ché Ramsden argues that we must dig deeper to dismantle the culture(s) which make it acceptable to hate women.

Preventing violence against women: a sluggish cascade?

There has been a global 'cascade' in commitments to end violence against women.  But the violence keeps happening.  What is needed is more support - nationally and internationally - for feminist organizations.

Iran: a 'bloody stain' on the nation

The war on women continues to manifest itself in different forms and intensity globally; tarnishing all societies with a ‘bloody stain’. In Iran, hard-liner interpretations of Islamic principles dictate gender norms, violation of which can be fatal.

A choir of lost voices: the murder of Loretta Saunders and Canada's missing women

The murder of Loretta Saunders, a young scholar who researched missing and murdered Aboriginal women in Canada, reveals the structural violence that compounds violence against women, and the stinging injustice of Canada’s 825 lost Aboriginal women. 

Abortion: Ireland's reckoning with Amendment 8

Calling for an end to a constitution that bans abortion - and kills women, a deep and broad based movement has sprung up in Ireland to change the constitution, and finally release women's bodies from church and state.

Oscar Pistorius: the South African story

The two versions of Oscar Pistorius presented by the state and the defence fit into a wider narrative of South African patriarchy, and not the other way around; solutions must therefore come from beyond the Pistorius trial.

Women's voices in northern Nigeria: hearing the broader narratives

As the world's attention focuses on northern Nigeria with the abduction of schoolgirls from Chibok, Fatimah Kelleher explores the importance of understanding the voices and agency of northern Nigerian women's own activism for change.

Gender violence in the media: elusive reality

The death of Reeva Steenkamp has highlighted the problematic way in which the media treat the issue of domestic violence.  We need a better way to transmit and therefore tackle the reality – how violence is built into our lives and how space is gendered, says Heather McRobie.

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