Given that yesterday was a Day of Action and Remembrance for Violence Against Women and that we are currently in the middle of a UN world action campaign to end violence against women, I thought I would bring your attention to these articles and statistics about rape and abuse of women around the world, starting with our own country:

From Canada:

In the seven years between 2000 and 2006, the number of women killed by their partners and former partners was 500 — more than 70 a year and five times as many as the total number of Canadian frontline military and police deaths in the same time.

Dec. 6 still matters because women in Canada still experience violence in appalling numbers. Not only are women killed in shocking numbers but tens of thousands more are battered and beaten, emotionally abused and sexually assaulted — 100,000 women and their children use battered women’s shelters every year in this country.

From Niger:

The news that 70 percent of women in parts of Niger find it normal that their husbands, fathers and brothers regularly beat, rape and humiliate them came as no surprise to human rights experts in Niger.

“Women here have been indoctrinated by their families, by religious officials, by society that this is a normal phenomenon,” said Lisette Quesnel, a gender-based violence advisor with Oxfam in Niger, which produced the statistic from a survey of women in the remote Zinder region of eastern Niger in 2006.

The frequency of the crimes and the impunity granted to the attackers partly explain the broad social acceptance of it, activists say.

Rape is not illegal under Nigerien law and according to Oxfam it is “increasingly common” in the capital Niamey.

Beatings and mental and physical abuse are “frequently” part of life in a typical Nigerien polygamous family, Oxfam says.

And women are often made destitute overnight when their polygamous husbands throw them out on the street. Divorces are passed by judges without even hearing “one word” from the women involved.

From Iran’s We Change coalition of women working to garner one million signatures to encourage their government to create more equitable laws for women.

Political party members! Parliament members! Artists! Athletes! Keyhan Newspaper! University Professors! Leftists! Conservatives! Government Supporters! Opposition groups! Gather around so I can tell you what happens to your sisters and mothers in the backrooms of their homes because of the law of Obligatory Sexual Obedience (Tamkin). I want to tell you that when your daughter was 9 months pregnant and her husband forcefully slept with her and she had to go to the hospital, she couldn’t tell you and she couldn’t tell the court because she had to be sexually obedient.

From Palestine:

Female victims of domestic violence here have little chance of escaping their situation or bringing the perpetrators to justice as they face a legal system stacked in favour of the accused. Moreover, many women who have been raped are killed by family members in “honour killings” for having “brought shame” to their family.

A Human Rights Watch report released last year said: “Palestinian women in violent or life-threatening marriages have two legal options available to them: pressing charges for spousal abuse or initiating a divorce on the basis of physical harm.” However, “neither Jordanian nor Egyptian penal codes in force in the West Bank and Gaza recognise sexual violence within marriage,” HRW said. –

From China

Domestic violence is widespread and on the rise in China, where complaints of abuse soared 70% last year, state media says, citing a women’s advocacy group.The All China Women’s Federation received 50 000 complaints last year, and the “number of cases (has increased) in recent years”, the China Daily quoted Jiang Yu’e, head of the group’s rights and interests department as saying.

“The increase indicates that domestic violence is widespread in China and women’s awareness of safeguarding their rights and interests has been improved with reinforced publicity by relevant institutions,” Jiang said. Women in rural areas, especially those who had gone to work in cities, were particularly susceptible.

“Female migrant workers are restricted in accessing legal assistance as they are constantly on the move,” Jiang said. Rising domestic abuse had also resulted in more women “fighting violence with violence”. A recent study of provincial prisons showed that about 46% of female inmates had been past victims of domestic abuse.

“Police and government agencies have begun to make joint efforts to address the problem,” Jiang said. Police needed to do more to encourage women to speak out in China, where traditional ideas about keeping family problems private remained strong.

From Iraq

At least 27 women have died in so-called “honour killings” over the past four months in northern Kurdish Iraq. Aziz Mohammed, human rights minister in the Kurdish regional government, said 97 women had attempted to commit suicide by self-immolation during this time.The UN Assistance Mission for Iraq has regularly highlighted “honour killings” of Kurdish women as among Iraq’s most severe human rights abuses.

Most of such crimes are reported as deaths due to accidental fires in the home.Aso Kamal, a 42-year-old British Kurdish Iraqi campaigner, says that from 1991 to 2007, 12 500 women were murdered for reasons of “honour” or committed suicide in the three Kurdish provinces of Iraq.

Iraq’s Kurdish autonomous region runs its own affairs and has enjoyed relative peace and growing prosperity since the US invasion of March 2003, while Arab areas of Iraq have been plunged into sectarian warfare.Crimes against women continue despite campaigns by human rights activists and regular denounciation of the oppression by the three women ministers and 28 female MPs in the 111-member autonomous Kurdish parliament. – Sapa-AFP

From the United States

More than 300 000 children are being sexually exploited in the United States, according to a new study.Many of them end up in Atlanta, which authorities say has become a hub for prostitution. Many are lured into prostitution by pimps who exploit the fears and low self-esteem of young girls who often come from dysfunctional families.

Now Atlanta law enforcement intends to spur new efforts to crack down on child predators.Prosecutors have started to bring felony rather than misdemeanour charges against men who use child prostitutes, and a 52-bed centre for sexually exploited girls will open this year to help girls emerging from prostitution. – Reuters

From Singapore

More than half of those queried in Singapore believe family violence is a private affair that will eventually stop by itself. And experts have called for increased public education campaigns.Those interviewed represented 1 015 people of all races in the city-state between 18 and 64.

A third of the respondents still believed that most family violence will stop on its own and that an abused spouse had a duty to stay in a marriage for the sake of a young child. About one in five said physical violence was a part of married life. Ten percent said they would not report an abusive spouse to authorities. Violence against children and the elderly was seen as unacceptable by nine in 10. – Sapa-DPA