MASERU – The United Nations in Lesotho joined with private sector and international partners in a march around Lesotho’s capital of Maseru yesterday, in a show of unity and action to end violence against women and girls.
More than 150 people clad in bright orange began their march at Kick4Life, an HIV/AIDS NGO and continued on to several stops along a three-hour course, including the United Nations, the U.S. Embassy, the European Delegation, ending at Vodacom corporate offices.
Speaking at UN House in Maseru, Ms. Agi Veres, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative called for national action to prevent the spread of violence against women and girls in Lesotho.
“Violence against women harms families and communities across generations and reinforces other forms of violence prevalent in society,” Veres said.
“Violence against women is unacceptable and is a national emergency.“
According to the Lesotho Mounted Police, sexual offenses against women have increased since 2009, to about 1,650 per year. However, the majority of cases go unreported.
The march was a part of a call by the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to galvanize action to end violence against women and girls around the world. Under the umbrella of the UNiTE Campaign to End Violence Against Women, national and international partners were invited to mark “16 Days of Activism,” beginning on 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and concluding on 10 December, Human Rights Day.
For 2014, the United Nations invited people around the world to “Orange YOUR Neighbourhood” with creative and visually striking “Orange Events” organized in local communities.
Violence against women takes many forms, including physical, sexual, economic, and psychological. Damage to women is unspeakable and crosses the boundaries of age, race, economic status, or nationality. In Lesotho, 48% of men and 37% of women think that wife beating is acceptable in some conditions, including if the wife has refused sexual intercourse.
The event was organized and sponsored by Vodacom Lesotho, the U.S. Embassy, and the European Delegation. Private sector partners included Lesotho Flour Mills, G4S, and Alliance Insurance.