Mr Palm' s address during the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on 7 December 2010
16-days of Activism against Gender Violence 2010
Who do we think should be doing something about it? The police, the courts, some women’s group, the UN? Whose business is the prevention of violence against women and girls?
The extent of the problem is huge. I am not sure that the press has taken the issue seriously so far. Every day, in every city and in many rural areas, women get beaten and maltreated by their husbands. Children experience violence at home and in schools. Because it happens all the time, right in front of our eyes, many of us think it is normal. And many think that it is not worthy to report in the news.
Gender based violence is one of the most persistent and widespread troubles in society. To speak out against violence against women and girls is all our business. Those, who look the other way, and don't say anything, do not understand the severity of the issue. Everybody must play its role in ending this mindless violence. Domestic violence is not a matter that can stays within the home. It is a public concern. We - you - have to get this message out to those, who have not understood it yet.
I know that many people say, a little discipline of the women or the child has been a “traditional behavior”. So there is no concern for alarm. But responsible journalism has to rise beyond protecting encrusted traditions, if they are harmful to the individual. Responsible journalism has to help a country that prepares to enter the European community, and has embraced human rights, and ratified the international convention on elimination of all forms of discrimination against women.
Journalism, and the free press, are especially challenged to report about violence, when it seems to have become normal. Because it is happening all the time, everywhere, nobody takes note. A free press and journalists are often the only hope for the victims. A free press is the main tool for raising public awareness, and changing traditions that are hopelessly outdated and antiquated.
The media have the role to form and to model social behaviour. It is the media that decides what is cool, and what is out. Violence against women and children is not cool. It can kill and cause untold harm. Violence is unacceptable. Violence is out.
In other parts of the world, men and boys join the efforts to prevent this scandalous violation of women’s human rights. Many men from around the world are clear in their message: “It’s time to end violence against women and girls!” I challenge you to find the men and boys, who will speak out and become a role model against violence. The media, your TV channels or newsmagazines are the platform to do so. Give the platform to the women and men who will speak out.
We encourage everyone to be active against violence. The media have the most important role. You have a huge obligation. Your role is more important than that of many specialized agencies or myself, or anyone else. You are not only observing or reporting. You are the driver for change and the driver for a better world. You have to take the lead. Not only for 16 days of activism, but as long as it takes to end domestic violence and violence against women.