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Themes

As violence against women and girls is present in all societies and takes different forms in different contexts, the number of possible campaign themes is immense. Many behaviour change campaigns have focused on domestic violence, warning perpetrators about its consequences and encouraging survivors to seek specialized support. Campaigns for institutional change have held governments to account on their obligations to translate relevant international Treaties into national legislation, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment. There are also  campaigns that tackle international and cross-border issues, such as trafficking of women and children, sexual violence as a tactic of warfare, and the role of international law and justice in protecting women’s and girls’ rights. Still others focus on issues rooted in local customs and traditions, such as child or forced marriage or harmful initiation rites. Where mass media play a strong role in shaping social norms, campaigns that tackle unhealthy gender stereotypes or degrading, sexist depictions of women in the media can contribute to preventing VAW.

The choice of the campaign theme depends on the local context, and the campaigners’ skills, resources and ability to mobilize support. A wide range of examples and case studies are included throughout this module.

Examples: Behaviour change campaign themes

Scotland - In response to the low conviction rate for rape (2.9%), and the well documented humiliation experienced by female victims in court, Rape Crisis Scotland started a campaign in 2008 with the theme of challenging prejudicial public attitudes that women ‘ask for it’ in certain circumstances – if they dress in a way considered ‘provocative’, if they drink, or if they are intimate in any way with their attacker before being assaulted. The campaign called ‘This is not an invitation to rape me’ produced a variety of publicity materials including posters, postcards and a downloadable briefing pack for activists and individuals interested in learning more about the campaign issue.

Afghanistan – The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) celebrated 2007’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women with a campaign called “Don’t destroy the future of your children by forced marriages.” The day was celebrated through conferences, meetings, gatherings and media broadcasts. Messages from the Chief of Justice, Speaker of the Parliament, Attorney General, Chief of Peace and Stability Commission and people from the general public condemning forced marriages were broadcast by the national and private television channels in Kabul. Billboards with messages on forced marriages were printed and installed in five main squares of Kabul, conveying messages on forced and underage marriages.

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