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24 November 2006

On the occasion of the International Day on the Elimination of Violence against Women (25 November), the Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, Ms. Sigma Huda issued the following press statement

The issue of violence against women has been a common phenomenon in all strata of society from the very early days of human history. In December 1999 the UN General Assembly at its 54th session adopted a resolution declaring November 25th the international day for the elimination of violence against women. This was in recognition of the magnitude of the problem and the need for serious commitment by the world community to address this issue as a key priority. In the Declaration on violence against women the UN came up with a definition of the concept that included all forms of violence: physical moral or psychological.

There are two broad categories of violence: one which happens in public places and includes harassment at work, sexual exploitation, prostitution and trafficking leading to sexual slavery, forced labour and forced marriages and the other which takes place in domestic settings. Many of these forms of violence against women and girl children are perpetrated for various reasons including the demand factor – demand in sending and receiving states and demand for individual survival. There is therefore a need for finding alternatives to debt settlements in sending states and to exploitation in the name of cheap labour in receiving states as well as reduction of poverty and more economical empowerment of women. Violence and abuse affect all kinds of people every day. It does not matter what race or culture you come from, how much money you have, how old you are or if you have a disability: violence does not discriminate.

Online pornography is the new techno version of violence during the last decade or so with the rapid advancement of Information Communication Technology - producing, distributing and receiving images of sexual exploitation has become easy, inexpensive and widespread. It is a booming business worth billions of hard cash each year which stems from internet relay chat, websites, webcams, emails, instant messaging, mobile phones, etc. Reports of child pornography submitted to the US national centre for missing and exploited children have increased from 24,000 in 2001 to more than 340,000 in 2005.

I therefore believe that there is a need to reiterate our pledge to look into the issues that perpetrate violence within the family, society, communities and nations. Violence often cuts across international borders and therefore on 25 November 2006 I call upon each and every concerned citizen, organization, government and international body to work effectively towards combating the crime of violence against women