Error message

Deprecated function: The each() function is deprecated. This message will be suppressed on further calls in menu_set_active_trail() (line 2404 of /data/www/arc/includes/


Media Advisory: UN Women Forum to focus on strategies to end the pandemic of violence Survivors’ voices to be at the centre of the dialogue



Date: 11 December 2012



For immediate release 
11 December 2012

WHAT: In the lead up to the 2013 Commission on the Status of Women, from 13-14th December, UN Women will host a high-level Stakeholders Forum to build consensus and identify common strategies on ending the pandemic of violence against women and girls. Up to seven in ten women continue to be targeted for physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime and 603 million women live in countries where domestic violence is still not a crime. The discussions will contribute to the 57th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW57) which will focus on the “Elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls.

Bringing together governments, activists, civil society and the UN system, the Forum will consist of five interactive panel discussions which will enhance dialogue, build alliances and raise awareness of the existing global commitments and standards for ending violence against women. A key session of the Forum is a panel with survivors of violence who have used their experience to usher broad reforms in their communities. UN Women Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director Michelle Bachelet will chair the closing speech on 14th December.


WHERE: UN Headquarters, North Lawn Building, Conference Room 2


WHEN: 13-14 December 2012 (Programme)


WEBCAST: The Survivors' Forum and the opening and closing panels will be webcast live at


The Forum is open to accredited media but seats are extremely limited. Please rsvp to media contacts to attend or to schedule interviews.


Participants of the Survivors' Forum who are also available for media interviews include: Ms. Mayerlis Angarita (Colombia); Ms. Sacide Akkaya (Turkey); Ms. Cathy Eatock (Australia); Ms. Autumn Burris (USA), and Ms. Maria da Penha (Brazil, via video). Ms. Antonyia Parvanova (Bulgaria), Member of the Gender Equality Committee of the European Parliament, will moderate the Forum.

- See more at:



Summary of Forum

Breaking the silence: Survivors of violence tell how they used their experience to enact change



Date: 14 December 2012



Cathy Eatock is an aboriginal woman and survivor of child sexual assault who pressed charges against her assailant despite resistance from her own community. She has since worked tirelessly on policies to protect women and children from abuse and defend the rights of indigenous peoples. She is now Senior Policy Officer for the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs of the Government of Australia.

“My own experience raised a number of issues around legislative and policy approaches which I've since highlighted, she recounted. She was one of five women who spoke at a Survivor's Forum about how they have used their own experiences with violence to successfully promote legislation or public policy reforms in their country.

Their panel was part of the Stakeholders' Forum on Preventing and Eliminating Violence against Women, organized by UN Women and held from 13-14 December in New York. The event aimed to foster dialogue, build alliances and provide a platform for sharing strategies that yield results.

“This month I was the subject of two attacks; one with firearms, the other where the paramilitary attacked us, recounted a passionate Mayerlis Angarita, a survivor of conflict-related violence and activist from Colombia who founded the Narrating for Living Foundation (Fundación Narrar para Vivir). Her non-governmental organization successfully influenced the Victims and Land Restitution Law passed by the Colombian Congress in 2011, which established women's rights to land.

“We went, as a group of 17 women, to the Congress to present our vision for the new law and we achieved the inclusion of a gender perspective in the chapter on land restitution, reflects Mayerlis (for more, watch her video interview in Spanish). “It is also a testimony to … what armed conflict has caused and how they used our bodies as a tool of war. … The struggle wasn't easy… But we have had an effect.

From Turkey, Sacide Akkaya is a survivor of domestic violence and a prominent activist with the women's organization KA-MER. She has been fighting against honour killings and contributed strongly to a decree to prevent violence against women, which came into force on 8 March 2012. “Almost 70 percent of the things we proposed have been included in the law, she said, stressing that her organization continues to lobby for changes.

“I think to have these survivors voices on this panel is ground-breaking and I want to thank UN Women for having this insight, said Autumn Burris, a survivor of sexual assault, rape, sexual exploitation and domestic violence from the United States of America. Burris was instrumental in providing leadership, for many years, at Standing Against Global Exploitation (SAGE) – an organization located in San Francisco which has lobbied strongly for a law against trafficking in the United States. “Some of the challenges are the lack of survivor-informed policies and services, lack of survivor-informed programmes, and coordination between governments and NGOs, she said.

Through a video statement from Brazil, Maria da Penha told her story of perseverance. A survivor of domestic violence, she survived two murder attempts by her husband in 1983, which left her paralyzed. “We lived a life filled with physical and psychological violence, and I could not get out of that relationship because, at that time … women were killed when they tried to leave a violent relationship. … In general, the aggressor got away without penalty.

- See more at: