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RCOG statement: 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence

News 25 November 2016

Today marks the start of 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence; a global campaign that runs from the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (25 November) to Human Rights Day (10 December).

In support of this initiative, the United Nations Secretary-General’s campaign, UNiTE to End Violence against Women, aims to raise awareness and increase global action to end all forms of violence against women and girls around the world. The theme for 2016 is ‘Orange the World: Raise Money to End Violence against Women’.

This year, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists is joining the movement by turning its National Trainees Conference orange on 5 December. With more than 250 delegates expected at the event at Sage Gateshead in Newcastle, visitors will be encouraged to wear something orange and have their photo taken as part of a call to action. In addition, the College has organised for the city’s Millennium Bridge to join landmarks around the world in lighting up orange as a symbol of a bright future, free from violence against women.

Despite many positive developments, a staggering one in three women experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. It is also estimated that:

  • As many as one in four women experience physical or sexual violence during pregnancy. This increases the likelihood of miscarriage, stillbirth, pre-term delivery and low birth weight babies.
  • Women who have been physically or sexually abused by their partners are more than twice as likely to have an abortion, almost twice as likely to experience depression, and in some regions, 1.5 times more likely to acquire HIV, as compared to women who have not experienced partner violence.
  • More than 700 million women in the world today were married as children (below 18 years of age). Child brides are often unable to effectively negotiate safe sex, leaving them vulnerable to early pregnancy as well as sexually transmitted infections including HIV.
  • At least 200 million women and girls alive today have undergone female genital mutilation/cutting in 30 countries.

Mr Hani Fawzi, Vice President for Global Health for the RCOG, said:

“Domestic violence is a global problem, with one in three women worldwide having experienced some form of abuse. It may be physical, psychological, sexual, financial or emotional, and can lead to serious health problems.

“As healthcare professionals, we have a role to play in preventing violence against women and girls and providing care and support to victims. Often we are their first and only point of contact when victims are left with the impacts of violence, such as teenage pregnancy, obstetric fistula, STIs/HIV, and preterm birth.

“Healthcare professionals need to be trained to understand domestic and sexual violence to ensure women’s safety. This includes being able to recognise the signs of violence and knowing how to act and who to refer victims to. It is of vital importance that women and girls receive the support and protection they need.”

Ends

For media enquiries, please contact the RCOG press office on +44 (0)20 7045 6773 or email pressoffice@rcog.org.uk

Notes

For more information:

The National Trainees Conference and the 16 Days of Activism 2016 campaign will be covered on the RCOG Twitter page with the hashtags: #RCOGNTC, #16days and #orangetheworld. They will also be featured on the College’s Storify pages: National Trainees Conference 2016 and 16 Days of Activism.

For more information and advice about domestic violence, please visit: