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16 Days: Activism against gender-based violence
"Re-centering resistance and survivors is key to recognising that each woman in the movement to end violence against women is so much more than what has been done to her."

Liz Kelly

Every year from November 25 to December 10, thousands of organisations and activists across the world join together for the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence Campaign. openDemocracy 50.50 publishes critical perspectives from academics, lawyers, activists, grassroots workers and policy makers around the world exploring the continuum of violence

More 16 Days coverage from the Nobel Women's Initiative


What lies beneath prostitution policy in New Zealand?

The rosy rhetoric that surrounds prostitution policy in New Zealand is being exposed by survivors of the prostitution system and the way that harm is glossed over by defenders of this approach.

'All day, everyday': where is the protection against violence in schools and universities?

The scale of harassment and violence in schools means girls and boys need more than sex and relationships education. It’s time we used human rights law.

Singleness and the world of 'not belonging'

The repertoires about single women are unequivocal: without a husband and children, single women signify ‘lack’ - they are incomplete and therefore do not belong. 'Gender' and 'space' are both embodied experiences.

Femicide in Mexico and Guatemala

Feminists in Mexico and Guatemala working on femicide also use the concept of ‘feminicide’ to draw attention to state complicity in the killings of women.

The Italian mafia and violence against women

In the name of “culture” and “honour” young girls born into the ‘ndrangheta mafia in Calabria lose their sense of identity. Those who seek freedom pay a terrible price.  

A midnight move to set free child sex abusers: in the name of “our culture”

Recent law reform initiatives on sexual crimes against children in Turkey reveal the growing danger for women and girls, and the need to interrogate the myths and biases underlying the “our culture” discourse.

Lesbians at the heart of the movement to end men’s violence

Feminist lesbians have been passionate activists from the beginning of the movement against men’s violence and remain an inspiration for women to live independently of men.

Men's intrusion: rethinking street harassment

To capture the impact of ‘street harassment’ on women’s sense of self, we may need to rethink our language to better fit the lived experience.

A long road: domestic violence law in China

After 20 years of campaigning by women’s rights activists, China now has its first domestic violence law. The challenge ahead is to make it work to guarantee the safety of women and children.

What will it take to end honour based violence in the UK?

‘Honour killings’ represent the tragic consequences of the failure to tackle honour based violence. Greater state action in supporting black feminist leadership, and ensuring protection and provision is essential.

When a Man Kills a Woman

Across everything that divides societies, we share in common that men’s violence against women is normalised, tolerated, justified - and hidden in plain sight.

Since I gave you a phone it’s not rape

As evidence of UN peacekeepers’ sexual violence against Black African women and girls grows, media reporting and research reinterprets this as ‘transactional sex’, through the logic of colonialism.

Transforming a victim blaming culture

Media discussions of male violence against women focus on the actions of the victim rather than the perpetrator. How can we challenge this narrative using survivor’s testimony without putting them at risk of online harassment?

Global Femicide Watch

Dubravka Šimonović, the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, explains to Yakin Erturk why she is calling on all States to participate in the newly established global 'Femicide Watch'.

Are children sacrificed in the interests of an abusive father's right of access?

Spanish law recognises children as direct victims of gender violence, but an abusive father's right of access on visits sanctioned by the judiciary means children are being killed by their estranged fathers. In Spanish.

¿Se sacrifican las criaturas en beneficio de los derechos de los hombres maltratadores?

La legislación española reconoce a las criaturas como víctimas directas de la violencia de género; sin embargo, el derecho a las visitas que la judicatura concede abusivamente a los padres que les violentan, dejan a éstas en riesgo de poder ser asesinadas. In English.

The Day You Catch the Fish: speaking out on domestic abuse

Violence is manifested in so many ways, yet it is always the violence that comes within the domestic space that leaves many women silenced, especially when the violence leaves no physical scars.

Welcome to our house: women living with HIV

The largest survey on women living with HIV, commissioned by the World Health Organisation, has revealed the stark truth about the gender-based violence and mental health challenges that positive women face.

Defending land and community: women on the frontlines of climate justice

Throughout Southeast Asia, hundreds of women environmental activists have been jailed, attacked and defamed as threats to "national security". They remain without adequate resources, protection and funding for their work.

UN peacekeeping: blue banner for hope, or red flag for abuse?

For decades the ‘Blue Helmets’ have been sexually exploiting and abusing those they were sent to protect. The UN is complicit in creating an environment in which these abuses can flourish unfettered. 

16 Days: cutting Black and minority ethnic women's organisations

The EU Victims Directive comes into force this month. Will it prevent the further decimation of Black and minority ethnic organisations offering specialised services to women facing violence in the UK? 

16 Days: asset stripping the women’s sector in the UK

The quality of service in the independent women's sector is no guarantee against the future as the British government continues its assault on specialist women’s services protecting women from violence. 

Violence against women in Spain: who cares?

Ahead of the election all the political parties commented on the level of violence against women, but public concern remains low. Is this the wake up call?

Ghana: women at war in a country at peace

The absence of war does not necessarily imply peace for women. The binary opposites of war and peace obscure the continuum of violence women experience as a result of patriarchal gender structures.

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."

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.

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