Building on feedback from participants during the 2011 Campaign, this year’s 16 Days Campaign will highlight three priority areas including one of specific importance to IANSA women, the role of small arms in domestic violence. This is testament to our engagement in the 16 days campaign to date and we look forward to ensuring that this issue gains the attention it so urgently requires.

The 2012 16 Days Campaign will continue with the global theme: From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Let’s Challenge Militarism and End Violence Against Women! This year’s Campaign marks the third year of advocacy on the intersections of gender-based violence and militarism.

The three priority areas for the 16 days campaign in 2012 are:

Domestic Violence and the Role of Small Arms: Domestic violence, a longstanding issue around which women’s organisations have advocated, continues to be a reality in every country of the world. It is estimated that a majority of women worldwide experience violence by an intimate partner at some point in their lives. This violence becomes even more dangerous when small arms are present in the home, as they can be used to threaten, injure, and/or kill women. Not only do small arms facilitate violence against women, they also perpetuate a violent form of masculinity. Regardless of the context (conflict or peace), the presence of guns invariably has the same effect: more guns mean more danger for women. Thus, this year we will continue to examine the trade in, and proliferation of, small arms and the role they play in the perpetuation of violence against women generally and domestic violence in particular. While considerable gains have been made, in the forms of legal reforms and services, many women’s organisations continue to work on this urgent issue.

Violence Perpetrated by State Actors: Governments and state actors use violence to achieve political goals, employing militaristic ideologies and the need for “state security” to pass off violence and intimidation as “security” measures. Within militarism’s culture of violence, individuals in positions of authority believe they can commit crimes with impunity, which is exemplified by high rates of sexual violence within the military, threats by police to women reporting cases of violence or assault, ongoing harassment and intimidation, forced “virginity tests” on female protestors by authorities, and violence against women living and working around military bases. Women’s human rights defenders who work on issues related to economic, social, and cultural rights as well as civil and political rights are also targeted. This lack of state accountability and the failure to bring perpetrators of sexual and gender-based violence to justice remains a critical challenge to ending militarism worldwide.

Sexual Violence during and after Conflict: Sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict contexts is used to reinforce gendered and political hierarchies. It is also used as a tactic to drive fear, and to humiliate and punish women, their families, and communities. While there has been more attention to this crime in recent years, sexual violence remains a major barrier to women’s safety and reintegration, as its effects are physically, psychologically, and socially debilitating. The instability and insecurity that armed conflict brings tend to exacerbate violence against women and make its forms more extreme, widespread, and/or fatal. Even after a ‘recognised’ conflict ends, sexual violence may continue at high rates in homes and communities when a militarized environment remains. Many women’s organisations have emphasized the artificial separation created by terms like conflict and post-conflict, citing that militarised violence continues for women despite the end of a formal war.

This year’s 16 Days Campaign provides an opportunity to reflect on what we as women’s rights activists can do to hold our governments to account and challenge the structures that allow gender-based violence to continue. As always, CWGL encourages activists to utilise the 16 Days Campaign to focus on the issues that are most relevant to the local contexts. Participation in this Campaign not only provides an opportunity for us to advocate against, and raise awareness about, gender-based violence, it also allows us to add our voices to those of women in other countries and regions who refuse to be silent. Gender-based violence is an issue that impacts all of us at multiple levels. Within this context our governments have a responsibility to respond, protect, and prevent.

2012 Take Action Kit Materials

CWGL is developing the 2012 Take Action Kit, which will contain resources to help you organize your 16 Days Campaign activities. The Kit will be available in multiple languages starting in August. Participants can visit our website (http://16dayscwgl.rutgers.edu) to download Take Action Kit materials or request a hard copy. Be sure to add your events to our online Campaign Calendar! Thank you!

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