Keynote Address of the launch of the Global Campaign by Ms. Yakin Ertürk

Yakin Ertürk, former Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, its Causes and Consequences
Publication Date: 
November, 2007
Yakin Erturk

On 25 November 1960, Mirabel sisters were assassinated under the Trujillo dictatorship in the Dominican Republic. The incident gave impetus to the anti-regime movement, resulting in the fall of the dictatorship the following year. The lives of the Mirabel sisters, now known as the 'unforgettable butterflies', became a symbol for women in Latin America and the Caribbean in their struggle to combat violence against women. They declared Nov. 25 as the day for no violence in 1981, the observance of which soon spread to other parts of the world. In 1999 the UN General Assembly adopted November 25th as the International Day to Eliminate Violence against Women. Women from around the world galvanized the 16 days from 25 Nov. to 10 Dec. – International Human Rights Day – as a period of activism to advance their agenda.

It is in this spirit that we meet here in Istanbul today. I would therefore, like to start by celebrating the lives of Mirabel sisters and many others like them as well as the work of the defenders of women‟s human rights who have done so much against all odds and risks for their own lives to bring about an awareness long overdue. In the past 15 years much progress has been achieved in making violence against women visible, in setting standards for its eradication and in guiding policy and legal reform in all countries. Violence against women is no longer a fate for the world‟s women. However, in all parts of the world women continue to face violence due to the patriarchal legacy which is sustained in different forms and degrees in asserting control over women‟s lives, particularly their sexuality. The gravest form of violence, no doubt is the killing of women. Femicide manifests in a number of forms, including murder in the context of intimate partner violence, sexually motivated murder, killings of prostitutes, killing in the name of honour, female infanticide, dowry deaths etc. While murder in itself is brutal, stoning to death is the cruelest form.

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