Violence and abuse against women and girls is a worldwide epidemic. One in every three women will suffer physical, sexual or other abuse by men at some time in her life.
This violence is found in every society and culture; from domestic violence to rape, from acid burnings and beatings to honour killings, Women and girls of all ages are affected.
And what makes this epidemic more shocking is that the violence can be ignored and even condoned by family and community members, religious and traditional leaders and the authorities.
This widespread and appalling abuse of human rights undermines the health of our societies and holds back development. It must be confronted, wherever it is found, by all our political, religious and cultural leaders.
Comprehensive international and national laws are supposed to protect women and girls from violence, but far too often they are ignored and the crimes continue, unpunished.
One in three women suffers abuse during their lives. In some societies, the figure can be as high as 70 per cent. The attacks can come from partners, from family or from strangers.
In the United States, there are nearly five million assaults and rapes on women by their husbands and partners every year. In South Africa, one in four men has admitted to raping a woman, often as a teenager as a "male rite of passage". In Russia, a woman is killed by her partner every 35 minutes.