The European Union and UN Women Call for Accelerating Progress towards Ending Violence against Women and Girls

Date: Thursday, December 19, 2019

Author: Radhiska Anggiana

EU Ambassador and Ambassadors of EU Member States took part in the HeForShe pledge, to reaffirm their commitment and to raise awareness on engaging men and boys to end all forms of violence against women and girls. Photo: UN Women/Oscar Siagian
EU Ambassador and Ambassadors of EU Member States took part in the HeForShe pledge, to reaffirm their commitment and to raise awareness on engaging men and boys to end all forms of violence against women and girls. Photo: UN Women/Oscar Siagian

To mark the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence, the European Union in Indonesia together with UN Women organized a public discussion on 25 November 2019 on women’s rights to live free from violence. In line with this year’s theme for the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence, Orange the world: Generation Equality Stands Against Rape, it was also highlighted how everyone can contribute to making a world that is equal and violence free, from supporting and believing survivors, to speaking out to end the rape culture that allows sexual violence to be normalized.

Jamshed Kazi, UN Women Representative emphasizes how everyone, women, girls, men, and boys have a role to play and to speak against normalizing violence against women, in his welcome remark to mark the start of 16 days of activism. Photo: UN Women/Oscar Siagian
Jamshed Kazi, UN Women Representative emphasizes how everyone, women, girls, men, and boys have a role to play and to speak against normalizing violence against women, in his welcome remark to mark the start of 16 days of activism. Photo: UN Women/Oscar Siagian

“Rape is often an uncomfortable topic, but it needs to be talked about,” said Jamshed Kazi, UN Women Representative and Liaison to ASEAN. “Rape is about power and trying to silence women. This is unacceptable and is something that all of us should take a stand against.”

Indonesian women face significant violence in both public and private spaces. According to the data from the National Commission on Violence against women in 2018, there were 406,178 reported cases of violence against women. However, many of the cases in Indonesia go unreported.

Vincent Piket, EU Ambassador to Indonesia, urged the audience to reject acts of violence against women and girls during his welcome remarks. Photo: UN Women/Oscar Siagian
Vincent Piket, EU Ambassador to Indonesia, urged the audience to reject acts of violence against women and girls during his welcome remarks. Photo: UN Women/Oscar Siagian

"Violence against women is often unreported due to stigma surrounding it and the impunity enjoyed by the perpetrators,” said Vincent Piket, the European Union (EU) Ambassador to Indonesia.

Actor Velove Vexia spoke with participants on the importance of using the platform that we have to start a conversation to challenge the social norms and negative stereotyping around gender that prevents women and girls from realising their rights. Photo: UN Women/Oscar Siagian
Actor Velove Vexia spoke with participants on the importance of using the platform that we have to start a conversation to challenge the social norms and negative stereotyping around gender that prevents women and girls from realising their rights. Photo: UN Women/Oscar Siagian

Victim blaming and stigma against survivors of violence was confirmed through the mini polling that Velove Vexia, Indonesian actor, conducted on her Instagram story ahead of the 16 Days of Activism. As an actor with more than one billion followers, she wanted to show that violence remains a major issue for Indonesian women. She asked six questions on her Instagram and the results were surprising.

“I asked whether the way women dresses are the cause of sexual harassment and 51 per cent of respondents said yes,” she said. “Fifty-two per cent also agreed that the way women act makes them sexually harassed. These answers have shown that the culture of victim blaming is rooted in society,” she said. “Every change starts from ourselves. My role here, with the platform that I have is to educate more women to know and claim their rights and to raise my voice so that those who are not ready to speak out can be heard.”

Budi Wahyuni from Indonesia’s National Commission on Ending Violence against Women stressed the urgency of Draft Law on the Elimination of Sexual Violence. Photo: UN Women/Oscar Siagian
Budi Wahyuni from Indonesia’s National Commission on Ending Violence against Women stressed the urgency of Draft Law on the Elimination of Sexual Violence.

The importance of speaking out to tackle violence against women was also mentioned by Budi Wahyuni, Vice Chair of National Commission on Violence against Women. “We appreciate all the survivors who have reported their cases,” she said. “When violence happens, it needs to be reported, so that the lessons can be learned for future prevention strategies. I encourage women and men to create an environment where women can make decisions about their own lives.”

Bagia Saputra explained how Aliansi Laki-Laki Baru (New Men’s Alliance) movement advocates to raise men’s awareness towards ending violence against women and promoting gender equality. Photo: UN Women/Oscar Siagian
Bagia Saputra explained how Aliansi Laki-Laki Baru (New Men’s Alliance) movement advocates to raise men’s awareness towards ending violence against women and promoting gender equality. Photo: UN Women/Oscar Siagian

The role of men to ending violence against women was also discussed in the talkshow. Bagia Saputra from the New Men’s Alliance mentioned how most men feel that violence against women is not a men’s issue, but that men are almost always the perpetrators. He highlighted the importance for more men to change attitudes and behaviours and to become more engaged in ending gender-based violence, “There are also men who are bystanders. We would like to encourage more men to speak out, stand against violence against women and become an active bystander.”

In conjunction with the public discussion, the EU Ambassador and the Ambassadors of EU Member States also took part in the HeForShe pledge, to reaffirm their commitment and to raise awareness on engaging men and boys to end all forms of violence against women and girls. Some of the Ambassadors’ pledges were displayed at the event, including:

“Ensure equal pay for equal work”

“Equality for women and girls delivers better outcomes for all”

“Women and girls must have equal opportunities”

The European Union and UN Women are long standing partners in the fight against gender-based violence, including through the HeForShe initiative. Through the HeForShe pledge, the EU will further strengthen efforts to mobilize men and boys as an advocate for gender equality to support women's rights.