Fighting gender-based violence is a major concern for UN WOMEN, because violence against women is a universal problem and one of the most widespread violations of human rights.
One in three women will suffer some form of violence in her lifetime, becoming part of an epidemic that devastates lives, fractures communities and stalls development. Despite some progress on this issue over the past decade, its horrendous scale remains mostly unacknowledged. New dimensions include the global trafficking of women and girls.
For the better part of the 1990s, Caribbean women's organizations, national machineries for women, the courts and the police have been engaged in dialogue and action to ensure protection and justice for victims of gender-based violence. Through public education, advocacy, the extension of services and law reform, a change in cultural attitudes has occurred.
Freedom from violence is now understood as a human right to which women are entitled to and for which the State has an obligation to guarantee. However, in spite of the progress made, there is a widespread perception that violence against women is on the increase. An increasing number of women are being killed by their partners, though this rate varies considerably across the region. Some studies have also suggested an increase in rapes and sexual offences.
UN WOMEN, through its programmes, is supporting the states and NGOs to develop and strengthen integrated responses which address law enforcement, health, judicial, education, housing and community advocacy for the purposes of protection, provision of services; justice; and prevention.
Further, UN WOMEN continues to support women's organisations in their advocacy campaigns against gender-based violence, particularly through the Violence against Women Trust Fund and during the 16 Days of Activism, 25 November - 10 December, every year.