UN, Australian Embassy discuss role of media in fighting GBV

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Letty Chiwara, UN Women Representative to Ethiopia, AU and ECA

Discussions on how media can bring forth cases of abuse and violence against women and girls and increase the rate of conviction of perpetuators were held at a meeting organized by UN Women and the Australian Embassy. The event brought together journalists, editors, activists and those who work in the area of protection of women and girls.
“Every girl and woman has the right to live a life free of violence and discrimination. However, and unfortunately one in every three women has experienced physical or sexual violence at some point in their lifetime. Violence does not only have negative consequences on survivors, it also has negative consequences on their families, communities, on society and nations,” stated Letty Chiwara, UN Women Representative to Ethiopia, AU and ECA.
Chiwara cited a study by UN Women and the Economic Commission for Africa, which said that violence against women and girls, especially domestic violence costs countries like Ethiopia three percent of their GDP.
“Another recent study done by the World Bank also revealed that Nigeria, looses 90 million USD per year because of violence against women and girls. If we can address this issue in Ethiopia, we will not just be addressing the consequences of women and girls, but also will improve the economic status of the country,” Chiwara said.
One speaker said violence against women does not have boundaries, it transcends generations, nationalities and spheres of society. It is also irrespective of age; recent trends show older women, grandmothers, being sexually assaulted by younger men.
The theme of this year’s ‘16 Days of Activism’, an annual campaign that advocates stopping violence, is: ‘leaving no one behind’ and ‘ending violence against women and girls’.
“As UN Women we believe that the media can play a critical role in bringing the voices of those women who haven’t been able to speak. There are many times that violence against women goes unreported for various reasons. It goes unreported because sometimes it happens within a situation where you are in a work environment and it is perpetuated on you by your boss and you are threatened that if you say anything, you lose your job,”
“I can tell you myself, I am part of the ‘me too’ campaign, I have suffered in that way, I have been violated at work, at home but it hasn’t stopped me from moving on and surviving. I wish when it happened to me, it happened to me at a time where there was a media dialogue like this with media representatives; because maybe I could have come to you and told you my story, and maybe you could have shared my story. I kept quiet because I wanted to save my family, I wanted to save my job and I wanted to save my humility,” Chiwara said.
In Ethiopia, one in three women have experienced domestic violence. Two out of every three women and one out of every two men believe that wife beating is justified under some circumstances.
One out of every two girls aged 15 to 19 have undergone female genital mutilation. One out of every four women experience their first sexual experiences under coercion. In the country, there are only an estimated 12 shelters for female survivors of violence throughout the country.
Adding to the problem, poor data collection and under-reporting continues to be a challenge, there is also a weak enforcement of laws and policies that protect women’s rights.