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RCOG statement: the United Nations’ International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

News 25 November 2014

Today is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women which marks the start of a sixteen day campaign against gender-based violence. The campaign will run until Human Rights Day on 10 December 2014.

This year, the United Nations Secretary-General’s campaign UNiTE to End Violence against Women is inviting the public to “Orange YOUR Neighbourhood” in order to raise awareness and trigger action to end the global scourge of violence against women and girls.

A new Series published in The Lancet last week outlined that every day millions of women and girls worldwide experience violence. This abuse takes many forms, including intimate physical and sexual partner violence, female genital mutilation, child and forced marriage, sex trafficking, and rape. It is estimated that:

  • 35% of women and girls globally experience some form of physical and or sexual violence in their lifetime with up to seven in ten women facing this abuse in some countries.
  • Up to 30 million girls under the age of 15 remain at risk from female genital mutilation, and more than 130 million girls and women have undergone the procedure worldwide.
  • Worldwide, more than 700 million women alive today were married as children, 250 million of whom were married before the age of 15. Girls who marry before the age of 18 are less likely to complete their education and more likely to experience domestic violence and complications in childbirth.

Professor Lesley Regan, RCOG Vice President for Strategic Development, said:

“The costs and consequences of violence against women last for generations and are a global problem.

“Women who are victims of violence have often suffered from problems such as psychological trauma during childhood or substance misuse and abuse. With increasing ethnic diversity in the UK, we encounter other social problems such as female genital mutilation, child marriage and honour-based violence, which as a society we are only just beginning to fully understand.

“As healthcare professionals, we deal with the consequences of actions arising from violence against women and girls that are beyond our control, for example, teenage pregnancy, obstetric fistula, STIs and HIV and preterm birth, to name a few.
“We have a duty to speak out on behalf of these women and the RCOG has been actively engaged in helping to ensure that human rights principles become embedded into women’s health and the curricula of medical training.

“Healthcare professionals are frequently the first port of call for vulnerable women and therefore it is vital that we identify such girls and women sensitively so that we can provide them with the support and protection they need.”

“Any kind of violence against women and girls is unacceptable. We all need to stand up against this violence and become champions for women’s human rights.”


For further information, please contact the RCOG Media and PR team on +44 20 7772 6300 or email

The RCOG will be marking International Women’s Day 2015 with a one-day conference and workshop to highlight the important issue of domestic violence against women.

The day will combine high profile keynote speakers with interactive discussions that will reveal the close interplay between domestic violence, social trends and inequalities. A key focus will be the role of healthcare, teaching, social services, the police and legal professionals in protecting those at risk and supporting survivors.

More information about the RCOG’s event to mark International Women’s Day 2015 is available here.

More information the United Nations’ International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and the UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign is available here.