Violence against anyone is a human rights violation. Today, 25th of November is a special day to focus on violence against one group – women. Set aside by the United Nations (UN) as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, this day is one of commitment to stop the violence against women and to affirm that it is NOT right for women and girls to face any form of violence in the home, at school, at the workplace and in the streets. The sobering fact, according to UN, is that globally, seven in 10 women face some form of violence in their lives. In Singapore, research conducted by the International Violence against Women Survey indicated that 9.2% of the 2006 Singaporean women surveyed experienced some form of violence during their adult lives (from the age of 16) .
MARUAH, a human rights organisation, wishes to state that violence – physical, sexual, psychological, emotional, financial – are all actions that prevent women from enjoying equality, are acts that are discriminatory and often have devastating effect on the survivors of violence.
Singapore has ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) whose Concluding Observations (2011) indicate State Obligations towards eliminating violence against women. There are also other relevant international and regional agreements that Singapore is party to and we ask that eradication of violence against women and girls be prioritised at the national level.
This 25th of November, MARUAH urges attention and action in the following areas:-
- Marital rape be recognised without the current onerous prerequisites and that partner rapes be recognised.
- Forensic Rape kits be administered FIRST to the alleged victim even if no police report had been lodged. These kits can be destroyed after 72 hours if the woman does not lodge a report with the police.
- Offer more temporary housing schemes to enable women and children who have faced acts of violence and are ready to move on with their lives.
- Offer sex-disaggregated data on acts of violence as part of the information-sharing with the public.
- Include an open and comprehensive approach to sexuality education for girls and boys.
- Gender mainstreamed education in schools to promote equality and respect.
Singapore has made significant strides in protecting women from violence. Nevertheless policy is only as effective as its implementation and there needs to be continued education and training of frontline staff like police officers and hospital staff, to ensure that they are equipped to support and meet the needs of survivors of violence, rape and sexual assault.
Today on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, MARUAH supports all groups working in this area and recognises all the hard work that has been done to make Singapore a safer place for women. Nevertheless violence against all women still takes place. We need to continue to protect women and create a society in which women are respected and valued.