"We need to break the silence and cycle of violence”: ESCAP chief Noleen HeyzerListen /
"Violence against women was the darkest secret – couched in silence and taboo – a manifestation of unequal power relationships, the low status of women and entrenched structural discrimination," said Dr. Noeleen Heyzer, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).
She told an event in Bangkok commemorating International Women's Day that "We cannot have, in the 21st century, missing women and girls, female infanticide, bride burning, acid attacks, and violence in our homes". She said "We need to break the silence and the cycle of violence. We cannot allow violence against women to be normalized and accepted as cultural. It is not cultural, it is criminal".
Speaking about the long and inspirational history of International Women's Day, Dr. Heyzer said: "The movement to end violence against women is perhaps the best example of transformational leadership, and the greatest success story of international mobilization and leadership around a specific human rights issue. It has led to our articulation of international norms and standards that say 'never again!'"
The commemoration honored survivors of violence through the personal testimonials of four extraordinary women from throughout the Asia-Pacific region, who have channeled their own experiences into activism.
This year's Asia-Pacific commemoration was dedicated to ending violence against women and girls.
Donn Bobb, United Nations.