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Global Demonstrations Demand 'Concrete, Practical Action' to End Violence Against Women

Women in Spain demonstrating on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women had the far-right Vox Party to contend with as its leaders called for the repeal of an anti-violence law.

Women during a protest on the commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, in Nantes, France, on November 25, 2019. (Photo: Estelle Ruiz/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Women during a protest on the commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, in Nantes, France, on November 25, 2019. (Photo: Estelle Ruiz/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

With mass demonstrations and other public actions, women and their male allies around the world on Monday marked the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and kicked off a two-week campaign demanding gender equality across the world.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres called for a show of solidarity with survivors and women's rights defenders against some of "the world's most horrific human rights violations," which affect one in three women around the world.

"Sexual violence against women and girls is rooted in centuries of male domination," Guterres said. "Let us not forget that the gender inequalities that fuel rape culture are essentially a question of power imbalances... I call on governments, the private sector, civil society, and people everywhere to take a firm stand against sexual violence and misogyny."

Monday's demonstrations and rallies began more than two weeks of public actions to spread awareness and express support for survivors of gender-based violence, culminating Dec. 10 with International Human Rights Day.

Landmarks and public buildings around the world Monday night were lit up and decked with orange decorations as part of the U.N.'s "Orange the World" campaign.

As part of the global effort, the International Labor Organization (ILO) called for ratification of its new Convention, adopted in June, to recognize the right of all people to be free from harassment and violence in their workplaces.

"This commitment now needs to be turned into concrete, practical action," the ILO wrote. "Violence and harassment in the world of work has enormous human, social and economic costs. Violence and harassment constitutes one of the greatest threats to decent work. No more excuses. Let's work together and make the promise of Convention No. 190 a reality for all."

Women and men alike marched in France, Spain, Uganda, and other countries on Monday to demand that their elected officials work to end violence against women.

In Spain, tens of thousands of people marched to recognize the day. But as the New York Times reported, the country's far-right Vox Party—which, though still a minority party, doubled its representation in Parliament in recent elections—used the opportunity to affirm its opposition to a law aimed at protecting women from gender-based violence.

Women gathered at City Hall in Madrid shouted, "This is shameful!" as Vox secretary-general Javier Ortega Smith spoke out against the law and called for national attention to men who are killed by their partners.

Around the world, about one in 20 men who are murdered are the victims of violence by their family members or partners, compared with one in two women who are murdered.

At the march in Madrid, demonstrators shouted, "Listen Vox, the victims have a voice!"

"We will not let the far right block gender-equality policies," Rosa Solbes of the feminist journalism collective Les Beatrius told El Pais.

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