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Vientiane, 27 November 2012 - To mark the celebration of the "International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women", the Lao National Commission for the Advancement of Women (LaoNCAW) with the support of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), conducted a scientific seminar focused on prevention and elimination of Violence Against Women, with the aim to raise awareness about this issue in Lao PDR.

Taking place at the ICTC on November 27, the seminar was chaired by Dr. Khamlien Pholsena, Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Planning and Investment and Vice-Chair of the Lao National Commission for the Advancement of Women. The event saw the participation of around 80 representatives from the government ministries, UN agencies and civil society organisations.

On behalf of the United Nations, Dr. Esther Muia, UNFPA Representative, said "To end violence against women, we have to work with young people in particular in Lao PDR where half of our population is below the age of 25. According to the recent results of the Lao Social Indicator Survey, more than half of young women and men (15-19 years old) believed that a husband is justified in beating or hitting his wife or partner in any circumstance. That is unacceptable"

The event also marked the start of the 16 Days of Activism that will lead up to Human Rights Day on 10 December. A number of activities will be conducted by different government agencies as well as development partners including: seminars, workshops and media campaigns.

Every day, women and girls around the world face violence in the home, in communities, in conflicts, in aftermaths of natural disasters. It is estimated that up to 70 per cent of women - which is 7 out of every 10 women - experience some form of violence in their life. As many as a quarter of all pregnant women are affected.

The impact of violence, and especially rape and other forms of sexual violence are often devastating both physically and emotionally. Consequences may include injuries, unintended pregnancies and HIV/AIDS. Damage to mental health may lead to anxiety, post-traumatic stress, depression, and suicide. Social consequences include stigmatization and ostracizing by families and communities. All too often, perpetrators go unpunished. Women and girls are afraid to speak out because of a culture of impunity.

The United Nations General Assembly designates 25 November as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. The premise of the day is to raise awareness of the fact that women around the world are subject to rape, domestic violence and other forms of violence, and the scale and true nature of the issue is often hidden.

Media Contact:
Mr. Diego DE LA ROSA, Advocacy and Comms Officer, UNFPA, Mob: + 856 20 5993 6509