16 Days of Activism is an international campaign calling for an end to violence against women. From the 25 November to the 10 of December thousands of organisations and individuals across the globe will took a stand against gender-based violence. Amnesty International Australia is focused on the unacceptable levels of violence against women in our nearest neighbour, Papua New Guinea (PNG).

Across Papua New Guinea, two thirds of women experience physical violence at the hands of their husbands. Outside the home the violence faced by women in PNG can be as extreme as ‘payback’ rape in connection with tribal fighting and murder for those accused of sorcery.

Women human rights activists in Papua New Guinea have long been at the forefront of efforts to prevent violence against women. They do essential work offering shelter, counselling, or legal advice to survivors of violence, with little or no support from the government. Take action to let them know we are not prepared to let this appalling level of violence, torture and abuse continue unnoticed.

In addition to PNG, Amnesty International Australia is continuing its campaign launched in 2005 for a National Plan of Action to eliminate violence against women in Australia. The Australian Government has now committed to introducing such a national plan, to be agreed by state and territory governments, in 2010.

We must ensure that the plan put in place is to the highest standard possible, and meets the international good practice that has been shown to be successful. If it does not, women in Australia will continue to be at risk of violence.

Why these 16 days?

On 25 November we remember the three Mirabal sisters, political activists from the Dominican Republic who were assassinated on that day in 1960. The sisters - Patria Mercedes (36), Minerva Argentina (34) and Antonia Maria Teresa (25) - were jailed, persecuted and then killed on the orders of their country’s ruler, Rafael Trujillo, because of their opposition to his dictatorship.

Started by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership in 1991, the 16 days commenced on 25 November with the United Nation’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and ends on 10 December, World Human Rights Day.

Violence, women and poverty

Violence, for women, is both a cause and a consequence of poverty - violence keeps women poor, and poor women are most exposed to violence. Women who suffer from violence lose income and their capacity to earn a wage is impaired. Being poor may make women make difficult choices which puts or keeps them at risk from violence. A woman who is economically dependent on her abusive partner may see no way to support herself and her children if she leaves. A girl who becomes pregnant as a result of a rape may find herself excluded from school, with fewer prospects of finding safe work and an independent future.

Poverty is more than lack of income. It is also lack of security, lack of voice, lack of choice. The voices of women who live in poverty are rarely heard. To read more about the specific ways that poverty affects women, and the ways in which violence and poverty perpetuate each other, see Amnesty International’s new report The gender trap: women, violence and poverty (pdf 808kb).

What you can do right now

Sign our petition to provide real resources to eliminate the causes of violence and tackle customary attitudes that reinforce women as property in Papua New Guinea.

Send a wake up call to Canada:Take action to stop violence against indigenous women

Get involved in your area

There are events happening around Australia as part of 16 Days of Activism. Find out what’s happening near you.