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Ending violence against women begins with change in attitudes – Migiro

“We need strong laws and we need to enforce them. But our first task is to change attitudes,” Ms. Migiro said in remarks to the Association for Women’s Sanctuary and Development in the capital, Addis Ababa.“Attitudes are changing but we need to do better. We need to make sure that universal values prevail over societal norms,” she added.She noted that a 2005 study showed that over 80 per cent of Ethiopian women and 50 per cent of Ethiopian men believe that beating one’s wife could be justified under certain circumstances.“This is absolutely false and dangerous,” said Ms. Migiro. “There is never any excuse for any form of abuse against any woman. Domestic violence is a crime and an abomination.”Many Ethiopian women and girls still suffer harmful practices, such as female genital mutilation/cutting and early marriage, she pointed out. “We have to speak out against these practices. Respect for culture is important but only as long as there is no harm. We cannot continue so-called traditions that cause pain and suffering.” Ms. Migiro paid tribute to the brave women at the Association. “You are all inspiring. Your strength in the face of daunting circumstances proves the power of women to survive and thrive. You are demonstrating how important it is to provide services to victims of gender-based violence everywhere…“This safe house is evidence of progress. But we have a long way to go to protect women and girls and to truly empower them,” she added.The Deputy Secretary-General also highlighted the priority given to the global campaign to fight violence against women and girls by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in particular through his ‘UNiTE to End Violence against Women’ campaign.Launched by Mr. Ban in 2008, the campaign calls for all countries to put in place strong laws, action plans, preventive measures, data collection, and systematic efforts to address sexual violence by 2015.Later this week the UN will observe the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Numerous events will be held worldwide in connection with the Day, observed annually on 25 November and which this year focuses on youth leadership in preventing and ending gender-based violence. 22 November 2011Strong laws are vital to ending violence against women, but the long road to tackling this scourge begins with a change in attitudes, Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro stressed today during a visit to Ethiopia. read more

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WHO satisfied China has excellent SARS response measures in place

“We’ve seen that there has been a massive effort to mobilize the population both in urban and rural areas across the country, encouraging people to monitor themselves for fever and to ensure that SARS cases are quickly identified, isolated and treated,” David Heymann, WHO’s Executive Director for Communicable Diseases, said at a press briefing on the situation of SARS control in China.The briefing – where he was joined by China’s Executive Vice Minister of Health, Gao Qiang – marked the first joint news conference between high-ranking Chinese and WHO officials since the SARS outbreak began late last year.Initial WHO assessments, issued in late April following a visit to Guangdong Province, expressed serious concern over the lack of urgency in reporting SARS cases, and criticized the Chinese Government for not immediately treating the outbreak as a public health emergency.Dr. Heymann noted the vast difference in approach now, praising the openness with which the Ministry of Health welcomed the WHO team. He cited the high level of commitment and determination at all levels of the health system as largely responsible for the recent dramatic decline in the number of cases seen throughout mainland China.Indications of the effectiveness of control measures cited by Dr. Heymann include the very short time now occurring between the onset of symptoms and the detection and isolation of cases, and the speed and efficiency of contact tracing.The WHO team, however, said it was still concerned by the lack of a reliable, sustainable surveillance system to detect the first hints of a resurgence of cases, some delays in meeting WHO requests for further information, and wide variations in application of the national case definitions, which can lead to under-reporting of cases.The briefing followed a day of intensive meetings during which WHO officials reviewed data and statistics from selected provinces, voiced their concerns, and received frank and detailed answers. The team has been in China since Tuesday. Listen to UN Radio report read more