Violence against women isn't confined to one country, culture or way of life... To tackle it, we need to dig down into the root causes - the unequal power relations between women and men, and the attitudes, beliefs and behaviours which condone and promote violence. These don't change overnight, the world has been built on male privilege...
It's a sad fact that violent abuse is more often than not suffered behind the closed doors of the family home, indeed HALF of all women who die from homicide are killed by a current or former partner... This has got to stop, and yes, we do have the power to help our sisters through education and support.
While the government is taking important steps both here and abroad to address violence against women, its harsh asylum policies are still leaving thousands of women a year exposed to unacceptable levels of violence here in the UK. This is a well documented problem which has existed for far too long.
Today we celebrate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Two weeks ago on Armistice Day we remembered those who died in the wars of last century and this. In just over two weeks' time the Nobel Peace Prize will be presented in Oslo to three women. The connection is this. A century ago 80% of the casualties in war were soldiers, 20% were civilians; today that ratio is reversed. In war zones such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, the death toll has reached more than 5 million - the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II - where one of the main weapons of war is rape.