Side Event: Remarks by Ambassador Berger on "Linkages between Violence against Women and Health"

Mar 6, 2013

(Remarks as delivered by Ambassador Berger at a side-event to the 57th session of the Committee on the Status of Women on "Linkages between Violence against Women and Health")

"Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, dear guests,

On behalf of the German Mission, I would like to extend a very warm welcome to all of you to today’s side event on “Linkages between Violence against Women and Health”, which has been jointly organized by the United Kingdom, the World Health Organization and Germany.

I am very glad and honored to welcome today’s panelists who will be introduced shortly by the chair and moderator of our panel, Ms. Karin Nordmeyer, President of UN Women's German National Committee.

Distinguished guests,

Violence against women and girls is a serious violation of human rights. The World Development Report 2012 describes violence against women as one of the greatest challenges in a country’s development.

Women are more likely to be killed or seriously injured than men, or to become victims of sexual violence. According to UN-Women, country data reveal that as many as 7 in 10 women in the world have experienced physical or sexual violence at some point in their life.

Addressing violence against women is central to the achievement of gender equality and women’s empowerment. It is also an important aspect of international peace and security. Almost a year ago the German Mission hosted the launch of a UN Guidance for Mediators on addressing Conflict- Related Sexual Violence in Ceasefire and Peace Agreements. This as one example for the great importance Germany has attached to this issue during our membership in the Security Council and we will continue to do so in the future.

All forms of violence are associated with considerable health, psychological and physical consequences. Besides direct consequences of injuries, there are indirect, long-term health effects for the victims and their children.

The health-related costs of violence against women are very high. The measurable costs include short-term medical and dental treatment for injuries, long-term physical and psychological care, lost time at work, use of transition homes and crisis centers. And to this we have to add the high “dark figure” of unreported or undetected cases.

We already know that dealing with the consequences of violence is for a society much more expensive than preventing violence.

Reducing violence against women requires action in multiple ways. We need to give better services for women who suffer or have suffered violence, we need to invest in prevention mechanisms and improve policies, but we also need to make necessary adjustments to our health care systems. 

Health care systems need to contribute to preventing violence against women. And they need to react more appropriately when violence against women occurs. Victims need timely and effective assistance through health and social services. They need service providers who focus on and target the specifically the needs of women affected by violence.

Our speakers today will be sharing their ideas, initiatives and experiences on how the health care sector can respond better to the scourge of violence against women.

And now I would like to give the floor to Ms. Nordmeyer and look forward to an interesting, lively and inspiring discussion.

Thank you."

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