U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has launched a multi-year campaign to end violence against women and girls. From U.N. headquarters in New York, VOA's Margaret Besheer has more.
The U.N. chief cited the ugly statistics on violence against women and girls around the world.
"At least one out of every three women is likely to be beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her lifetime," he said.
Mr. Ban noted that through the practice of pre-natal sex selection, countless other females are even denied the right to exist. Others suffer from trafficking, sexual harassment, female genital mutilation, dowry murder, honor killings, and female infanticide.
U.N. statistics show more than 100 countries have no specific legal provisions against domestic violence. Marital rape is not a prosecutable offense in at least 53 countries, and only 93 of nearly 200 countries reviewed have some legal provisions against human trafficking.
The secretary-general called for all governments to review their laws and to enact new ones to be sure that violence against women is made a crime.
Mr. Ban also warned that gender inequality is slowing progress toward the Millennium Development Goals, which aim to halve extreme poverty by 2015. He noted that violence against women also compounds the significant social and economic tolls on families and communities.
"And we know that when we work to eradicate violence against women, we empower our greatest resource for development: mothers raising children; law-makers in parliament; chief executives, negotiators, teachers; doctors, policewomen, peacekeepers and more," added Ban.
The "Unite to End Violence Against Women" campaign will continue until 2015 to coincide with the target date for the Millennium Development Goals.
The U.N. chief called for advocates from government, civil society and the United Nations to help end violence against women. He said each nation must devise its own strategy, but that there is one universal truth applicable to all cultures, and that is violence against women is never acceptable, excusable or tolerable.