End violence vs women, De Lima
Launched in 2008 under the United Nations, the UNITE to End Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) initiative is “a multiyear effort to prevent and eliminate violence against women and girls around the world.” It was initiated to support the civil society-led 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign around the world.
UNITE exhorts governments, civil society, women’s groups, the private sector, media, and the UN system to join forces to address the global pandemic—yes, it is a pandemic—of violence against women and girls.
This year’s campaign runs from Nov. 25 to Dec. 10 (Human Rights Day). UNITE gives notice that “VAWG remains the most widespread and pervasive human rights violation worldwide affecting more than an estimated one in three women, a figure that has remained largely unchanged over the last decade.” It adds that the most recent global estimates show that, on average, more than five women or girls are killed every hour by someone in their own family.
Initiatives, no matter how small, have a way of creating sparks that become flames, like the #MeToo movement that called attention to long-kept women’s experiences of sexual abuse. There has been progress in this area, but there have also been roadblocks.
According to the special rapporteur on human rights defenders, “women defenders are facing increased repression, violence, and impunity, despite formal state commitments to fulfill their legal human rights obligations without discrimination.” Front Line Defenders reveal that “the killings of women human rights defenders is on the rise; women are routinely targeted with online violence to silence their public participation in social media.”
Hereabouts, women who support former senator Leila de Lima, who has been in detention for more than five years despite the recantation of witnesses against her, are calling for her immediate release so that she could be home for Christmas. Women are posting photographs and images of flowers (mostly by them) on social media with the hashtag #FreeLeilaDeLimaNow. I am doing my part with chosen photographs from my own camera. (It is also my way of exhibiting results of a hobby that grew during the COVID-19 pandemic, posts approved by Birdwatch Philippines of which I am a member, albeit an amateur birder.)
Here is EveryWoman’s statement to End Violence Against Leila de Lima issued on Nov. 25, 2022:
“#EveryWoman joins the 16 Days of Activism to End Violence Against Women with Free Leila as the central theme. For what violence is greater than the state’s use of its entire coercive apparatus against a woman who dared speak truth to power in defense of human rights violated by the Duterte government’s horrific drug war?
“Detained the past five years and a half for trumped up drug trafficking charges, the prosecution has used false testimonies of witnesses extracted through coercion, threats, and intimidation. Four witnesses have since recanted, leaving no legal leg for the case to stand on. This is evidently a political case, the revenge of the powers whom former senator De Lima exposed for their criminal acts.
“We call on President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to be true to his human rights pronouncements and turn words into action! We appeal to Secretary Jesus Remulla to order the Department of Justice to review the case and immediately drop all the fake charges against Senator De Lima. We request the prosecutors to stop delaying the case with their repetitive, lengthy, circuitous cross-examination of defense witnesses.
“We count on the judges to exercise their independence and impartiality in promptly rendering their decision, and release Senator De Lima before Christmas. Every single day she is kept in detention compromises her safety and puts her life at risk.
“We applaud the brilliant legal defense team of Senator De Lima, which has consistently stood by her and presented incontrovertible, strong evidence of her innocence.
“We ask schools, churches, parishes, communities to launch the Innocence Campaign for Senator De Lima during the 16 Days of Activism to End Violence Against Women!
“We call on all freedom-loving Filipino women and men to rally behind Senator De Lima’s fight for us, for our human rights, for our democracy! #FreeLeiladeLimaNow #EveryWoman”
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