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Now in its 4th decade, the Global 16 Days Campaign fights the most pervasive rights violation worldwide

The campaign dates were chosen to link violence against women and human rights. On Friday, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, the 16-day countdown began. It runs until Dec. 10, Human Rights Day.

Women light 16 symbolic candles in the Solomon Islands
Women light 16 symbolic candles in the Solomon Islands at the 2013 launch of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign, begun in 1991. (AN/Marni Gilbert)

WASHINGTON (AN) — They are disturbing numbers: One in three women and girls will suffer sexual or physical violence in their lifetimes. Seventy percent of women experience gender-based violence in humanitarian contexts.

One in five girls is married when still under the age of 18, and one in three women and girls lives in a country where marital rape is not an explicit crime.

Also widespread and often perpetrated without justice for survivors is gender-based violence against LGBTQI+ persons, persons with disabilities, older persons, and members of marginalized ethnic and racial communities.

The annual 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign has involved more than 6,000 organizations across 187 nations in targeting these disturbing trends since its launch in 1991. On Friday, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, the 16-day countdown began. It runs until Dec. 10, which is Human Rights Day.

"Violence against women and girls happens everywhere. It prevails in homes, schools, businesses, parks, public transport, sport arenas and, increasingly, online. It escalates in the context of climate change and in times of war," said Dr. Natalia Kanem, executive director of UNFPA, the U.N.'s sexual and reproductive health agency. "For women and girls, no place is completely safe."

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