International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (IDEVAW)
On 17th December 1999, by Resolution 54/134, the United Nations General Assembly designated 25th November as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. This date was chosen in recognition of the brutal assassination if the three Mirabal sisters, Patria, Minerva and Maria from the Dominican Republic (D.R) who took a stand against the Dominican Dictator, Rafael Trujillo.
Trujillo was President of D.R from 1930 to 1938 and again from 1942 to 1952, at which point he became its dictator. The sisters came from a prosperous Dominican family and they were all well educated, at a time when this was not always the case. Initially only Minerva was involved in the political movement against Trujillo, but later her two sisters and most of her family also became active.
The anti-Trujillo movement was growing and by the late 1950s all three sisters were involved in the underground movement to overthrow Trujillo. They were repeatedly arrested and so were their husbands and for a long period they were in and out of prison. They became almost like folk heroes. In early November 1960, Trujillo declared that his two problems were the Church and the Mirabal sisters.
On 25 November 1960, the sisters were assassinated (ambushed and clubbed to death) in an “accident” as they were being driven to visit their husbands who were in prison. The accident caused much public outcry, and shocked and enraged the nation. The brutal assassination of the Mirabal sisters was one of the events that helped propel the anti-Trujillo movement, and within a year, the Trujillo dictatorship came to an end. and Trujillo arranged for them to be assassinated.
In 1981 women’s activists began to recognize the day as being pivotal in the fight against violence to women and as the women’s movement grew, November 25 came to be regarded as a special day, ultimately leading to the adoption of the UN Resolution in 1999. The sisters are known as the “Unforgettable Butterflies” and have become a symbol against the victimization of women.
To mark the event, men and boys are urged to wear white ribbons as a visible pledge never to commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon pointed out that violence against women and girls is widespread throughout the globe. This violence, he said, includes rape, domestic violence, harassment at work, abuse in school, female genital mutilation and sexual violence in armed conflicts. He went on to say that men are predominantly responsible for this violence against women and our challenge is to ensure that the message of zero tolerance is heard far and wide.
Many young men, he said, still grow up surrounded by outmoded stereotypes. It is up to these young people to generate the lead that can help to end the pandemic of violence.
Note: IDEVAW is being celebrated today – Monday, November 26 – since November 25 was on a Sunday.
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