Page last updated at 02:15 GMT, Wednesday, 25 November 2009

UN unveils Network of Men to fight abuse of women

UN Secretary-General Bn Ki-moon
Ban Ki-moon said men's attitudes to women needed to change

UN chief Ban Ki-moon has unveiled a Network of Men Leaders to act as male role models in a campaign opposing violence against women.

He urged all men to join the campaign, saying about 70% of women experience some form of physical or sexual violence from men.

The 14 men currently in the network include Spanish PM Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Wednesday is the International Day of Elimination of Violence Against Women.

This is the 10th anniversary of the founding of the day.

'Global chorus'

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini, Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho and Norwegian Justice Minister Knut Storberget are also among those chosen for the new list.

They had all demonstrated a commitment to oppose violence against women, said Mr Ban, adding that the group was expected to grow.

"These men will add their voices to the growing global chorus for action," he said.

Speaking at the UN headquarters in New York, the secretary-general called on men and boys around the world to join the campaign.

Victim of violence (posed by model)
Women are most at risk from violent partners or a man they know

"Break the silence," he said. "When you witness violence against women and girls, do not sit back. Act. Advocate. Unite to change the practices and attitudes that incite, perpetrate and condone this violence."

He said it was unacceptable that so many women experienced some form of physical or sexual violence from men - mostly from their husbands, intimate partners, or someone they knew.

He said men must teach each other that real men do not violate or oppress women - and that a woman's place is not just in the home or in the fields but in schools, offices and boardrooms.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the South African Nobel Peace Laureate, said: "You are a weak man if you use your physical superiority to assault and brutalise women.

"I will continue fighting until the end of my days for the right of women and girls to live a life free from violence and abuse."

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