Guest Post : From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Let’s Challenge Militarism and End Violence Against Women!

Text and Photos by DushiYanthini Kanagasabapathipillai who blogs at and  is the first Sri Lankan woman blogger to be selected and awarded scholarship for the BlogHer conference in New York.

Original post at

“Men of Quality are NOT afraid of Equality” ~SANGAT, Indian Feminist Organisation (1998 ~ )

An international campaign of Activism Against Gender Violence is currently being carried out globally. In Sri Lanka too women’s rights activists are involved in many activities such as discussion about the Security Council Resoultion 1325, sticker campaign and website launch.

Respect Humanity ~ STOP sexual harassment ~ Let’s stand up against sexual Harassment

“Most of the people are not aware of the law. More awareness should be created among the people about the current law” says Najeem from Saainthamruthu, east cost of Sri Lanka.

Over the span of 65 countries, there are more than 250,000 rape cases that were recorded according to UN report.

Wearing a “White Ribbon” promotes awareness as to educate about what’s been happening and to give women that have endured such difficulties, a voice of hope. Show your support by wearing a White Ribbon from the 25th of November until the 10th of December to subdue this misconception.

“Women have suffered due to the war in Sri Lanka. Violence against Women still continues in the North in many forms” shares Kanthimathy Mahathevan from Mannar district, North West of Sri Lanka.

Sexual harassment leads to 5 years in jail in Sri Lanka

Men either have disappeared or died due to the war. Many women in the North are struggling for survival.

“There are 40,000 war widows in the North of Sri Lanka. Most of them are very young and have children. Since there is no man in the family, they are forced feed the families. Militarisation and sexual violence against women continue in war torn areas in the North” says Saroja Sivachandran, Director of Centre for Women and Development, a Jaffna based non~profit organistaion.

The Annual Theme

Every year, Centre for Women’s Global Leadership composes a Campaign theme in consultation with women’s human rights advocates worldwide and then circulates an announcement for the campaign as widely as possible. Over the years, Campaign themes have included:
•”Violence Against Women Violates Human Rights” (1991/1992)
•”Democracy without Women’s Human Rights . . . is not Democracy” (1993 • •”Awareness, Accountability, Action: Violence Against Women Violates Human Rights” (1994)
•”Vienna, Cairo, Copenhagen and Beijing: Bringing Women’s Human Rights Home” (1995)
•”Demand Women’s Human Rights in the Home and in the World” (1997)
•”Building a Culture of Respect for Human Rights” (1998)
•”Fulfilling the Promise of Freedom from Violence” (1999)
•”Celebrating the Tenth Anniversary of the Campaign” (2000)
•”Racism and Sexism: No More Violence” (2001)
•”Creating a Culture That Says ‘No’ to Violence Against Women” (2002)
•”Violence Against Women Violates Human Rights: Maintaining the Momentum Ten Years After Vienna (1993-2003)” (2003)
•”For the Health of Women, For the Health of the World: No More Violence,” (2004-2005)
•”Celebrate 16 Years of 16 Days: Advance Human Rights ‹—› End Violence Against Women” (2006)
•”Demanding Implementation, Challenging Obstacles: End Violence Against Women!” (2007)
•”Human Rights for Women ‹—› Human Rights for All: UDHR60″ (2008)
•”Commit ▪ Act ▪ Demand: We CAN End Violence Against Women” (2009)
•”Structures of Violence: Defining the Intersections of Militarism and Violence Against Women” (2010)
•”From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Let’s Challenge Militarism and End Violence Against Women! (2011)

To explore some of the deeper social structures that promote and perpetuate violence against women and girls, last year the Center for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL) launched a multi-year campaign theme on the intersections of militarism and violence against women. While there are many different ways to define militarism, our working definition outlines militarism as an ideology that creates a culture of fear and supports the use of violence, aggression, or military interventions for settling disputes and enforcing economic and political interests. Militarism also privileges certain violent forms of masculinity, which often has grave consequences for the true safety and security of women, of men who do not conform to these roles, and of society as a whole. Current world events – including military interventions, femicides, attacks on civilians participating in political change, ongoing conflicts etc ~ exemplify the distinctive way in which militarism influences how we see our neighbors, our families, our public life, and other people in the world.

Gender Based Violence (GBV)

End Violence Against Women

Violence is an act to intimidate, humiliate, hurt or destroy by the use of force. It includes all action taken by one against another with the intention to dominate.
Rape is a form of sexual violence. Violence can also be verbal or emotional. Therefore calling someone derogatory names or telling them they are stupid is a violent act, which can hurt as much as a physical attack.

Gender based violence is a form of a discrimination that seriously inhibits women’s ability to enjoy rights and freedom on a basis of equality with men.
Gender –based violence, which impairs or nullifies the enjoyment by women of human rights and fundamental freedom under general international law or human rights conventions, is discrimination within the meaning of Article 1 of the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women(CEDAW).

Traditional attitudes by which women are regarded as subordinates to men or as having stereotyped roles to perform, perpetuate widespread practices involving violence or coercion, such as family violence and abuse, forced marriage, dowry deaths, acid attacks and female circumcision. Such prejudices and practices may justify gender-based violence as a form of protection or control of women. The effect of such violence on the physical and mental integrity of women is to deprive them of the equal enjoyment, exercise and knowledge of human rights and fundamental freedom.

“Incidence of domestic violence is as high as 60% in some areas in Sri Lanka according to surveys. Violence against women is widespread in Sri Lanka. Incidences of rape, sexual harassment, domestic violence, incest, assault, obscenity against women, unwanted advances, perverted acts, forced pornography, forced prostitution and media violence all prevail in Sri Lankan society. These issues receive attention from diverse sectors, the State, non government sector and civil society, which address preventive measures and provide redress for victims. Despite this attention, violence against women continues to take place in the private and public sphere and the measures taken to prevent and redress, remain insufficient.

Violence Against Women in cartoons

In Sri Lanka, gender based violence ranges from sexual harassment in public spaces to acts of violence within the privacy of the home or at workplaces. It is acknowledged that the issue of who or which group in society has more power than others and who can exert acts of gender based violence is not restricted to economic power but is very much rooted in notions of social power and hierarchies in access to exercising such power. Thus the concept of gender based violence necessarily includes two aspects – violence which arises out of asymmetrical power relations resulting from socialisation processes, as well as gender based discrimination arising from structural violence against women, as can be seen, for example through the impact of violence against women as a result of armed conflict” according to Women in Need.

What is 16 Days Campaign?

16 Days Logo

The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence is an international campaign originating from the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute sponsored by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership in 1991. Participants chose the dates November 25- International Day Against Violence Against Women- and December 10- International Human Rights Day- in order to symbolically link violence against women and human rights and to emphasize that such violence is a violation of human rights. This 16-day period also highlights other significant dates including November 29, International Women Human Rights Defenders Day, December 1, World AIDS Day, and December 6, which marks the Anniversary of the Montreal Massacre.

The 16 Days Campaign has been used as an organizing strategy by individuals and groups around the world to call for the elimination of all forms of violence against women by:~
•raising awareness about gender-based violence as a human rights issue at the local, national, regional and international levels
•strengthening local work around violence against women
•establishing a clear link between local and international work to end violence against women
•providing a forum in which organizers can develop and share new and effective strategies
•demonstrating the solidarity of women around the world organizing against violence against women
•creating tools to pressure governments to implement promises made to eliminate violence against women


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