March 22, 2024

‘Her name was Liza.’ Violence against women is on the rise worldwide

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March 6, 2024, Warsaw, Poland. ‘We don't want to be afraid anymore,‘ reads a plackard held by a protestor during a march following the death of 25 year-old

Picture by: Przemysław Stefaniak

UN Women states that globally almost 30% of women aged 15 and above have experienced physical and sexual intimate violence at least once in their lifetime.

‘Her name was Liza, she was 25, her eyes were brown and she was talented in making knitted beanies’ – reads a Facebook event inviting people to march for Lizaveta Hertsen who was raped and brutally murdered in the heart of Warsaw.

After dying in hospital several days following the attack, thousands rallied in the streets of the Polish capital against sexual violence by lighting candles and laying flowers.’

Maja Stasko, an artist and feminist activist present at one march, commented to media how Liza “came here to Poland for a better life and in Poland, her life was taken away.”

“She was completely alone in this place. We are here for her right now,” Stasko continued, likely in reference to local reports that some citizens witnessed the crime but did nothing to help.

Liza is not the only example of a person who suffered sexual violence. It happens every day, in every corner of the globe. She joined a long list of worldwide victims as UN Women reports how ‘all types of violence against women, particularly domestic violence, has intensified’.

Women feel unsafe walking back home in the streets of many countries. To avoid street harassment, many spend money on private transportation. When I talk with my female friends, they usually plan their evening city route to avoid unlit areas. Some would not dare to listen to the music on earplugs when they walk in the evening.

UN Women states that globally almost 30% of women aged 15 and above have experienced physical and sexual intimate violence at least once in their lifetime. The World Health Organization pleads that ‘violence can negatively affect women’s physical, mental, sexual and reproductive health’ however, less than 40% of the women who experience violence ‘seek help of any sort’. Most women look for support from family or friends and it is estimated that fewer than 10% seek help from the police.

Violence against women and girls is often experienced by those who already suffer discrimination, such as refugees and migrant women. Research has additionally shown how violence disproportionately affects women living in low and lower-middle-income countries.

It also can result in significant costs – according to the UN, violence across the European Union was estimated to cost around €366bn a year.

Reflecting the global dangers women face, ending all violence and exploitation of women is part of one of the multiple targets that the UN aims to achieve by 2030.

UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) are a set of 17 related global plans which aim to address the world’s various social, economic, and environmental challenges.

The goals are ‘designed to end poverty, hunger, AIDS, and discrimination against women and girls’. This includes the goal to ‘achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls’. All UN countries have agreed to work towards achieving them by 2030. The main plan is to provide a framework for collective action and achieve a more sustainable and fair future for women worldwide.

The COVID-19 pandemic, and escalating conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza, might be the main issues which can be a hindrance to achieving these goals. According to the SDG 2023 report, existing evidence suggests that violence against women was heightened by the global pandemic.

With continuing and rising violence against women worldwide, it’s clear that this goal is unlikely to be achieved by its 2030 date. The UN progress update has acknowledged that this seems ‘even more distant than before’.

 

For migrant women who have experienced or are experiencing violence in Poland and looking for emotional support, they can call +48 22 255 22 02 or write an email to slowopomoc@forummigracyjne.org

For other EU countries, Women against Violence have provided a comprehensive list of national helplines for 46 European countries

Written by:

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Klara Hammudeh

Journalist

Warsaw, Poland

Born in 2008 in Warsaw, Poland, Klara joined Harbingers’ Magazine to cover international affairs, crime and music.

In the future, she plans to study ‘psychology, international politics, or criminology‘, preferably in the United States.

In her free time, she enjoys reading, dancing, listening to music and exploring the realm of pop culture, with a particular focus on how Broadway and West End create musical adaptations of classic Disney stories.

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