The world is more aware than ever of the problem of sexist violence but there is still a lack of political will to end femicide, rape and sexual harassment, according to a UN official.
UN Women's deputy executive director Asa Regner told Efe that despite expectations generated by movements such as #MeToo, reality has barely changed and impunity remains the general rule.
Women lay on the ground pretending death as a tribute to the women victims of feminicide during a demonstration against all kinds of violence towards women in central in Brussels, Belgium, 24 November 2019. (EFE/EPA/STEPHANIE LECOCQ / MANILA BULLETIN)
The organisation has used the International Day for the Elimination of Violence, which is commemorated on 25 November, to launch a campaign focused on ending sexual assaults.
Regner said estimates that one in three women in the world has suffered physical and/or sexual violence are an injustice that occurs both in daily life as a couple and outside it and that is used as a weapon in wars.
The UN has been calling for an advance in the regulatory field, with laws that punish these crimes and policies that ensure the implementation of those laws.
Around three billion women live in countries where rape within marriage is not explicitly criminalized, according to the organisation.
In other cases, it is about fine-tuning laws or improving ways of investigating crimes that in many cases are difficult to prove.
Regner said levels of impunity are high throughout the world and almost total in some countries and contexts.
MORE PRESSURE NEEDED
She said movements such as #MeToo have generated rhetorical changes and also real ones in terms of legislation or attitudes in the workplace.
She warned that although there has been increasing awareness of the problem and legislative steps have been taken, there is still a lack of money to implement laws and effectively combat violence against women.
Regner denounced the fact that almost no countries invest enough, something she attributed to the lack of pressure and political will.
She said everything derives from an imbalance of power that is given to males in a world dominated by men.
She added that new generations are more aware of the problem but advances in gender equality never come automatically.
A DIVIDED WORLD
She said we are living in "a fairly divided world" on the issue.
There is a lot of support for gender equality work and support is stronger than before but there are also countries, organisations and ideologies against this agenda, she added.
Between 25 November and 10 December, UN Women will carry out its annual campaign against gender-based violence, which this year will focus on denouncing sexual assault around the world.