16 days of activism against gender-based violence: Unite to eliminate violence against women

25 November 2015 was the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

The 16 days from then to 10 December (Human Rights Day) 2015 have been designated as ’16 days of activism against gender-based violence’.

Key Messages:

Violence against women is a global pandemic that occurs in many forms in both public and private spaces.

Violence against women may be physical, sexual or psychological.

Intimate Partner Violence

  • 1 in 3 women worldwide has experienced sexual or physical violence- mostly from an intimate partner.
  • In 2012, 1 in 2 women killed worldwide were killed by their partners or family. The proportion of men killed under such circumstances was 1 in 20.
  • Only 53 countries have explicitly criminalized rape within marriage (marital rape).

Sexual Violence

Sexual violence is any sexual act, attempt to obtain a sexual act, unwanted sexual comments or advances against a person’s sexuality using coercion, by any person regardless of their relationship to the victim, in any setting.

Sexual violence includes:

  • Rape (within marriage and relationships, by strangers, and during armed conflict)
  • Unwanted sexual harassment or sexual advances
  • Forced marriage or cohabitation, including child marriage
  • Sexual abuse of children

In some countries, up to one-third of adolescent girls report their first sexual experience as being forced.

Human trafficking and forced sexual exploitation

Human trafficking is the acquisition and exploitation of people, through means, such as force, fraud or deception.

  •  4.5 million people are victims of forced sexual exploitation
  • 98% of them are women and girls

Useful Links

Link to the UNiTE toolkit:


Link to UN fact sheet on Violence against Women:


Link to UNiTE brochure ‘A Promise is a Promise’:


Link to UNiTE to End Violence against Women web site:


Link to UN document ‘A Framework to underpin action to prevent violence against women’ (released November 2015):


Link to WHO Toolkit ‘Strengthen the Medico-legal response to sexual violence’ (released 25 November 2015):


Link to UN infographic on violence against women:


Link to UN page containing additional resources:


Link to UN End Violence Day page:


Link to WHO page on International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women:


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