If, on November 25, you see three masked women standing outside a train station, don’t pass by. What you might think is an annoying performance art exhibition is actually a commemorative act to mark 16 Days of Action, a worldwide event protesting violence against women.

Now in its 18th year, the 16 days begin on November 25, the UN-recognised International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. The date commemorates the death of the Mirabel sisters, three Dominican women killed by their government in 1960 for protesting the dictatorship.
Also known as White Ribbon Day, it marks the beginning of an anti-sexual violence protest which runs until December 10, World Human Rights Day.

With events engaging millions of women worldwide, Amnesty Australia’s actions will include a silent protest outside 16 major train stations for 16 days. Town Hall, Central, Newtown and Petersham along with other key stations will feature three masked women -” two dressed in black and one in red -” standing vigil to highlight the startling statistics on violence against women and to encourage people to write to their local member.

The action remains important because unfortunately abuse continues today, both in Australia and around the world. One in three women have or are likely to suffer violence in their lifetime, that’s all around the world, including Australia -” that includes everything from domestic violence to sexual violence and unfortunately murder as well, said Amnesty Australia’s campaign coordinator, Sophie Peer.

This is a time to reflect on that and call on governments to live up to their international obligations to women as well as their domestic obligations. It is also a time to remember the women who have suffered and died and celebrate the amazing commitment and courage a lot of women have shown in defending their own and other women’s rights.

What we are calling for in Australia is a national plan of action. A cohesive and integrated plan to address violence against women, so it’s not just something that’s dealt with by the women’s office but from the perspective of health, justice and housing as well. We’re asking people to write to their local member to add their support to such a plan.

There will also be a protest outside federal MP Anthony Albanese’s office from noon on November 25. Actions in other states include protests outside the Victorian and Tasmanian parliaments.

info: For more information on white ribbon day head to www.whiteribbonday.org.au.

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