After a long night of tireless negotiation, the 193 United Nations member states finally agreed to a code of conduct that addresses violence against women and girls. The last time the UN attempted a similar accord, it was a decade ago and countries couldn't even agree on a draft of the convention.
As France 24 notes, some countries were harder to convince than others:
"Iran, Libya, Sudan and other Muslim nations ended threats to block the declaration and agreed to language stating that violence against women could not be justified by 'any custom, tradition or religious consideration.'"
The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt was in the news this week for calling the document "un-Islamic" and warned it would lead to the "complete degradation of society."
I would argue that tolerating violence against (more than) half of the population is what destroys the moral fabric of society, but I guess that’s where me and the Muslim Brotherhood differ. Thankfully the radical religious group doesn't get a seat at the UN and Mervat Tallawy, the head of the country's National Women's Council, does. She supported the declaration and explained it was needed to counter "a global wave of conservatism, of repression against women."
Ban Ki-Moon, the head of the United Nations, agrees. He thinks violence against women is "a global menace" and warrants "moral outrage." According to statistics around the world, the leader's remarks were no hyperbole.
According to PolicyMic pundit Soraya Chemaly, who wrote a brilliant piece on the global epidemic of violence against women, a majority of women (up to 53%) in the world are physically abused by an intimate partner. She also reports that in Sao Paulo, a woman is assaulted every 15 seconds, and a woman is beaten or assaulted every 9 seconds in the U.S. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, 48 women are raped every hour.
According to the Committee on the Judiciary, "domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 and 44 in the United States, more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined." Moreover, pregnant women are more likely to die from domestic violence more than any other cause. Horrifyingly, homicide is the leading cause of death for pregnant women.
What's more shocking than these statistics is the fact that we still need to debate whether this is a real problem or not. Gender-based violence should not be a divisive issue; it should be one we unilaterally all unite against. It’s encouraging to know that with the new UN convention we’re all on the same allegorical page. Maybe now that the we're done debating it, we can actually start enacting it.