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Tuesday, 25 November 2008


Today is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. The day was established by the UN in 1999 and was chosen to be on 25th November as it was on this day in 1960 that three Dominican sisters were murdered for campaigning against the dictator Rafael Trujillo.

Women's rights have progressed in the Dominican Republic and countless other countries since 1960. This is thanks to the leadership of the UN and other international organisations, not to mention the thousands of women - and men - on the ground who selflessly devote their lives to standing up for the rights of their sisters. But there is still a long way to go.

Just last week I co-signed a letter to the Nicaraguan ambassador to Brussels, written by my colleague on the Women's Rights and Gender Equality Committee, urging him to respect the human rights of women's rights activists in Nicaragua. In Nicaragua, a country where abortion is illegal in every instance, including when the life of the mother is at risk, women's rights defenders have faced physical harassment and intimidation by the government.

This is just one example of women still facing violence and harassment purely because they are women. It is clear that, on this day especially, we must ensure that we all continue to work to eliminate the horror of gender-based violence.

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