Preventing violence against women: beyond 16 days

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16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, an annual, global civil society campaign calling for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls, ended on Dec 10. This year, the 30th anniversary of the event, carries particular poignancy. Violence against women and girls, already at high levels before COVID-19, has risen markedly during the pandemic and increased in severity, according to Oxfam. Government responses to the pandemic included lockdowns, suspension of social services, and economic hardship, many of which had the consequences of placing women at increased risk of violence, while in many countries, financial and logistical support for violence response services was withdrawn.

For too long violence against women has been positioned as a domestic issue, deflecting attention from the fundamental gender disparities in society as a whole that facilitate and tolerate it. The Lancet Commission Countering the Pandemic of Gender-based Violence and Maltreatment of Young People is working to bring an intersectional and interdisciplinary, gender-identity inclusive, all-of-society approach to understand such violence and how societal norms play a role. The Commission seeks to advance an agenda to address gender-based violence, to review both the economic and health costs, to show the urgency to act, and to recommend effective policies and tools that can be rapidly scaled up.

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