We must be unsparingly honest with ourselves and recognise that violence against women and children is all around us. Whether in Ukraine, where Russian soldiers are using sexual violence as a weapon of war. In Iran, where women demanding their rights are being beaten up, arrested and executed. Or in Afghanistan, where they have been defending themselves against bans, discrimination and arbitrary actions since the Taliban seized power. And in Germany, too, women are still not safe: one in three have been affected by physical and/or sexual violence at least once in their lives.
Violence against women and children has many faces: from everyday sexism to sexual violence and femicides. We have to recognise that this violence is an integral part of patriarchal power structures and that it is intersectional. For indigenous women and women of colour, women with disabilities and queer people are particularly affected.
We have to address the root causes of this problem if we are to effectively tackle violence against women. In addition to strengthening women’s rights and resources, we need to ensure that women are more involved in decision-making processes. This is the only way to bring about genuine change in the spirit of a feminist foreign policy – in close cooperation with civil society and local stakeholders on the ground.
In order to ensure that those responsible for violence against women are held to account, the German Government is stepping up its commitment to accountability and criminal prosecution. Crimes against women and children in Ukraine, in Iran and elsewhere must not go unpunished. We are calling at European and international level for the accession of more countries to the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, known as the Istanbul Convention.
Women’s rights are human rights. Everyone who demands and defends these rights on a daily basis has my respect and full support.