16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence

16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, which starts, today, November 25th, is an awareness campaign that calls for actions to challenge discriminatory attitudes, improve laws and services, and end gender-based violence.

Gender-based violence is an issue which affects women and girls, LGBTIQ people, as well as men, across the globe. Arbitrary societal norms which dictate what we should look like, how we should behave, how we should live our lives, or who we should love, often perpetuated by religious organizations and right-wing forces, puts those who do not fit within these narrowly defined definitions are at risk of gender-based violence. The 16 Days of Activism is a global effort to raise awareness, draw attention to this epidemic, and to build momentum for tackling it.

These 16 days are advocacy-packed. Six days in particular are worth noting. November 25 is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence; November 29 celebrates International Women Human Rights Defenders Day; December 1 is World AIDS Day; December 5 is International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development; December 6 is the anniversary of the Montreal Massacre, where gunman Marc Lépine killed fourteen female students. The massacre is observed as the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women in Canada. The 16 Days campaign ends with International Human Rights Day and the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10. Each day includes efforts to improve the lives of diverse women, whether it be an end to violence, disease control, or development programming.

Gender-based violence exists in countries across the world, and particularly affects women of all social classes, religions, of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities. As LBTIQ women face gender-based violence not only due to their gender, nationality, profession, religion or any other distinguishing factor, but also due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.

LGBTIQ people are at particular risk because they do not fit traditional, social, and religious norms. Consequently, they are subject to marginalization and abuse, such as corrective rape and so-called conversion therapy, to try to “cure” their nonconforming sexual orientations, gender expressions, and gender identities. They oftern lack the social inclusion and resources to stop systematic cycles of abuse.

Authorities can be stark opponents of progress for LGBTIQ equality. Even in countries where legislation recognizes LGBTIQ rights, LGBTIQ people STILL face gender-based violence and discrimination in public and private settings. Law enforcement, homeless shelters, healthcare, intimate relationships, sex work, and street violence are often not safe. OutRight has gender-based violence programs that tackle perceived gender roles and toxic masculinity attitudes in both the Philippines and the Caribbean where same-sex relations are still criminalized in some of the countries in the region. Who can they turn to when safety is an issue because of stigma and culture? Shifting behavior is a slow process. But true gender equality includes cooperation from everyone.

“In order to eradicate gender-based violence we must break free from socially imposed norms and prejudices,” says Priscila Bautista an Immigration officer from Antigua, who attended "Frontline Alliance: Caribbean Partnerships Against Gender Based Violence" training for first-responders.

OutRight Action International joins partners, allies and the global campaign, “16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence” by sharing stories, news, and information from LGBTIQ+ partners and activists around the world. Violence is not natural; it is preventable. Beginning on November 25, tweet #16Days, #OrangetheWorld, and #GenerationEquality to support 2019’s learning and action.