Vienna, 23 November 2007 - "Violence against women exists in all countries and cultures and in all social classes. According to the Council of Europe one woman in four suffers physical violence sometime in her life. We must encourage women worldwide not to condone violence but to speak out strongly against it. At the same time we must provide protection for women," said Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on 25 November.
"Victims of acts of violence are almost always women. Violence against women is a serious and cruel violation of human rights and brutally undermines efforts to achieve gender equality," said Plassnik.
"The protection of women who stand up for the human rights of others is a personal concern of mine. These courageous women are confronted particularly often by gender-specific forms of violence. We must endeavour to ensure that they can continue their important work without having to worry constantly about their personal safety," continued the Foreign Minister.
Plassnik pointed out that women in armed conflicts are particularly affected. "It is usually their responsibility to ensure the survival of their families while living at the same time in constant fear of sexual aggression." UN Security Council resolution 1325, which for the first time calls for both the protection and the active involvement of women in conflict and post-conflict situations, is of particular importance in this regard. "The implementation of this resolution is a personal concern of mine. The adoption of an Austrian action plan in August puts Austria at the forefront of international efforts," said the Foreign Minister. "One specific step towards the implementation of this action plan is the training of the Austrian soldiers sent to Chad in human rights with particular focus on the rights of women and children." Priority in this regard is the prevention of sexual aggression and the exploitation of women and girls.
"At the international level we must also step up our efforts to end all forms of violence against women and girls," said Plassnik. Austria supports the UN Trust Fund in Support of Actions to Eliminate Violence against Women and also proposes to respond to the reports of systematic and particularly cruel forms of rape in the Democratic Republic of Congo: "We will support campaigns against sexual aggression and aid programmes for victims in the east of the country. Austria cannot remain inactive here."
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