In action against violence against women: Three female experts in conversation

Picture from the 16 days campaign of 2021.

Activists make a strong statement against sexualized violence at the beginning of the campaign "16 Days against Violence against Women" 2021 at the Bahnhofplatz Bern. Photo: Nathalie Jufer

The fight against violence against women and for gender justice is a central area of Mission 21's work. At the "Dialog International" event on November 17, three women experts who are active in this field and have a lot to report from the field exchanged views.

The entire event with the three experts from Indonesia, Peru and Switzerland is available here as a video for re-watching:

Karmila Jusup is a co-founder and consultant at the Durebang Women's Crisis Center in Bandung, Indonesia. The women's shelter is part of the project work of Mission 21 (► more about the project).

Clea Guerra Romero works for Flora Tristan, a partner organization of Mission 21 since 2021. (► More about the project). Flora Tristan is committed to women's human rights, sexual rights and civil rights in health, feminist research and rural development.

Susan A. Peter is managing director of the Zurich Women's Shelter Foundation. She was a long-time employee of the Frauenhaus Zurich and in various socio-educational institutions for women and girls.

Shocking numbers

The discussion revealed that violence against women, especially domestic violence, is enormously widespread in all three countries and globally. A few figures on this:

  • Globally, nearly one-third of women ages 15 to 49 who are in a relationship say they have been exposed to some form of physical and/or sexual violence by their intimate partner.
  • Globally, 81,000 women and girls were killed in 2020.
  • About 47,000 of the women and girls killed died at the hands of an intimate partner or family member.
  • This means that every eleven minutes, a woman or girl is killed in her home. This is according to data published in 2021 by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)

Insufficient data

All three experts stated that the data situation is poor. Many cases are not recorded. In Switzerland, for example, "femicide" is not a separate category in crime statistics. In Indonesia, on the other hand, statistics on violence against women from the Covid era are skewed - during the lockdowns, many facilities closed and stopped reporting cases to the authorities. In Peru, according to Clea Guerra Romero, violence against women is still so socially tolerated that it is often not even discussed, let alone reported.

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In addition, the "16 Days against Violence against Women" campaign is currently underway, with numerous institutions and organizations campaigning against violence against women.

Laws are there, but not enforced
The three experts agreed that one of the most important measures against domestic violence is to raise awareness of the issue and to remove the taboo surrounding it. Laws already exist in all countries, but they must be properly applied and enforced.

Susan A. Peter stated that Switzerland needs a national strategy. Until today, the protection of women who experience violence is regulated on a cantonal basis. How affected women are supported therefore depends on the canton of residence, although violence takes place everywhere.

Men play a key role

Barbara Heer, head of the women and gender desk at Mission 21, brought up another point: To address the problem of gender-based violence, it is essential to include men. Supporting victims is important, he said, but does not go far enough. "Men play a key role when it comes to implementing change," Barbara Heer said.

Therefore, starting next year, Mission 21 will involve men and boys more in its work on gender justice. Under the heading "Masculinities" (masculinities/images of men), several pilot projects will be funded in this area.

Persistent commitment is important

The discussion showed impressively how important it is to stand up against gender-based violence and for more gender justice - whether in Peru, Indonesia or Switzerland. Here you can find more information about Mission 21's work in this area:

Women and Gender Unit

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