The UN top official made the remarks in a pre-recorded video broadcast on Tuesday during a Spotlight Initiative townhall.
The Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Amina Mohammed says all persons must refuse to accept the conditions that make violence against women and girls possible.
The Spotlight Initiative, a new, global, multi-year initiative from the European Union (EU) and the UN, is determined to eliminate all forms of such violence against women and girls (VAWG).
“Around the world, violence against women and girls, especially rape is skyrocketing,” Mohammed said. “Many incidents have triggered widespread outrage. Yet some keep trying to play the oldest game in the book; the blame game. Blame the COVID-19 pandemic, blame social and economic stress, blame uncertainty. Even outrageously, blame the victim – usually a woman or, worse still, a girl. Blame anything, everything but the perpetrator.
“Let’s be really clear, sexual violence and any form of violence is violence. There is absolutely no excuse, there is no justification and there must be zero tolerance. All of us must stand together and speak out.”
The former Nigerian Minister of Environment called for more persons to support the Spotlight Initiative, which is designed to “bring focused attention to the issue, moving it into the spotlight and placing it at the centre of efforts to achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment, in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”
Below is an excerpt from Mohammed’s speech at the town hall meeting:
I am the proud mother of four daughters, but the loudest voices urging me to speak up came from my sons and they said, ‘Mom, this is already a dangerous issue – it is in our chat spaces; you need to do something about it, people will listen.
I am not sure people will listen but if I can make a difference in one woman’s life, then it is worth speaking about it.
When I asked what they were hearing, they said it varies. Some say violent is not right, but others, appallingly, say women asked for it. Really? You and I know that men and boys who commit violence against women and girls are just simply not men. They are weak, it’s shameful. They are, sadly, the textbook definition of a coward.
And for those who turn a blind eye or deaf ears saying it is a private matter, know that you too are accomplices to violence. Now, we can agree to disagree, but because of these attitudes, women and girls face a clear and present danger of the threat of violence and rape every day at home, in school and, these days, online. Men and boys, fathers and sons, husbands, we must have this conversation. Take responsibility, speak up. Stand with women and girls.
Let’s join hands with survivors of violence including rape. Listen to their stories. Let’s call out victim blaming and shaming. Let’s rally our communities to say ‘No’ to gender-based violence. Let’s remember that if not for a woman, and her nine months of labour, I am not sure that you men will be here today.
So, let’s stand with our mothers, our sisters, our daughters, our partners and, together, let’s declare in one voice, I am with her’.