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Thousands March to Protest Violence Against Women


Women march to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, in Mexico City, Nov. 25, 2017

Thousands of people marched in protests held in countries around the world Saturday to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

In Paris, hundreds marched after French President Emmanuel Macron announced an initiative to address violence and harassment against women in the country. He said 123 women had been killed by a partner or former partner in France in 2016.

Macron said plans included strengthening the law against those who commit violence against women, encouraging women to take action, and increasing education on the issue — starting from nursery school. He said he hoped to erase the shame victims of violence feel and to change France's sexist culture.

Women hold a banner reading in Italian, "Against the male violence on women we have a plan," as they take part in a march marking the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, in Rome, Nov. 25, 2017.
Women hold a banner reading in Italian, "Against the male violence on women we have a plan," as they take part in a march marking the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, in Rome, Nov. 25, 2017.

The group Dare Feminism said in a statement that Macron's proposals were positive, but the efforts needed to be met with proper funding.

Around the world

Protests also took place from Brazil to Mozambique to Turkey.

In Rome, the noisy procession included people who run safe houses for women who are escaping violent husbands or boyfriends.

A young woman dressed as a nun leads a group of women depicting pregnant schoolgirls in a march marking the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, in Asuncion, Paraguay, Nov. 25, 2017. According to officials there is at least one femicide reported per week in Paraguay.
A young woman dressed as a nun leads a group of women depicting pregnant schoolgirls in a march marking the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, in Asuncion, Paraguay, Nov. 25, 2017. According to officials there is at least one femicide reported per week in Paraguay.

Protesters urged Italy's politicians to focus attention on the issue and increase funding for shelters and other institutions that help women.

Turkish police, however, tried to stop several hundred women from marching, telling them their protest had been banned. But after talks with officials, the peaceful assembly was allowed to take place along Istanbul's main pedestrian avenue.

“First, the government needs to stop their discriminative policies, even supported by laws, against women, because women will always say no to this,” protester Fatos Ocal said.

A woman shouts a slogan during the rally on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women in Oviedo, northern Spain, Nov. 25, 2017.
A woman shouts a slogan during the rally on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women in Oviedo, northern Spain, Nov. 25, 2017.

Demonstrators criticized the Turkish government's gender policies and shouted chants that included “We won’t be silent” and “We aren’t afraid.”

“They do not even let this [march] happen. They cannot tolerate this. They do not want us, the women, to be free. But we will not leave the streets, as long as we can,” protester Aysegul Doker said.

The group FemicideMap reported that 1,915 women had been killed in Turkey in the past seven years. In 995 of those cases, the suspect was either the victim's husband or boyfriend, the report said.

Women protest violence against women in Lima, Peru, Nov. 25, 2017.
Women protest violence against women in Lima, Peru, Nov. 25, 2017.

'Devastating' problem

According to the United Nations, violence against women and girls “is one of the most widespread, persistent and devastating human rights violations in our world today.”

Data from 87 countries from 2005-16 showed that 19 percent of women between ages 15 and 49 said they had experienced physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner.

As part of the international activities, the U.N. is hosting 16 days of activism to bring attention to the issue of violence against women and girls.

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    Aline Barros

    Aline Barros is an immigration reporter for VOA’s News Center in Washington, D.C. Before joining VOA in 2016, Aline worked for the Gazette Newspapers and Channel 21 Montgomery Community Media, both in Montgomery County, Md. She has been published by the Washington Post, G1 Portal Brazilian News, and Fox News Latino. Aline holds a broadcast journalism degree from University of Maryland. Follow her @AlineBarros2.

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