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IN THE NEWS - International Day Aims to Bring Violence Against Women Out of the Dark

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This is IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English.

For years, activists for the rights of women have marked November twenty-fifth as an important date. It is a day to recognize the goal of ending violence against women.

November twenty-fifth was chosen to honor three sisters in the Dominican Republic. The Mirabel sisters -- Minerva, Patria and Maria Teresa -- were political activists. They were killed on November twenty-fifth, nineteen sixty-one, on orders from dictator Rafael Trujillo.

Activists light candles Friday in Mumbai, India, to protest violence against women
Activists light candles Friday in Mumbai, India, to protest violence against women

In December of nineteen ninety-nine, the United Nations recognized the observance. The General Assembly declared November twenty-fifth the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

The U.N. invited governments and international organizations to plan activities to increase public understanding of the problem.

Women face different forms of violence: physical, sexual and psychological. Having their property taken away when they have a legal right to it is considered economic violence.

It is difficult for researchers to understand the true extent of violence against women because the problem is often kept hidden. Many cases go unreported. The person responsible may be a stranger, but often it is a husband or someone else close to the victim.

In addition to November twenty-fifth, December tenth is observed each year as International Human Rights Day. The days in between are known as the "Sixteen Days of Activism Against Gender Violence." The idea is to make the statement that violence against women is a violation of human rights.

One of the events planned this week is a march by women and girls in London as part of an observance Saturday called Reclaim the Night.

In Senegal, organizers put together a four-day film festival in Dakar. Alia Nankoe is a program officer for the United Nations Population Fund in Senegal. She says the idea behind the film festival is to get people to face the issue of violence against women.

She is also working to organize local support systems for victims. She says this means that the police, the justice system and the social and health services are all trained and work together for the long term.

The images shown in the films may be difficult to watch. But the hope is that they will influence people to take action against a form of violence that many find difficult to talk about.

Victims are sometimes told to be quiet about their most horrible experiences. The worry is that they will become victims again -- this time, of the dishonor that may be placed on them by their communities.

The organizers of the film festival hope to make it a yearly event. After Senegal, the films will be translated into other languages and shown in other African countries.

IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English was written by Brianna Blake. You can download MP3 files and transcripts of our programs at www.unsv.com. I'm Steve Ember.

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