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Our Beginnings

Violence is not our Culture

The Campaign was originally launched in Istanbul in 2007 as the ‘Global Campaign to Stop Killing and Stoning Women’ with the then-UN Special Rapporteur on VAW, Yakin Ertürk, to end the relentless misuse of religion and culture to justify the killing, maiming and torture of women as punishment for violating the imposed gender and sexual ‘norms’. The campaign evolved & changed its name to the Violence is Not our Culture (VNC) campaign in 2011.

The Campaign is not against any culture, religion or faith. We believe in promoting the positive, inclusive values and discourses that are part of our cultures. What we seek to challenge and oppose is the legitimacy given to legal, religious and cultural systems that promote discrimination and violence against women and girls. At its basis, 'culturally-justified' violence against women (CVAW) is an exercise in curtailing women’s fundamental rights to control their own bodies and make their own life choices on the basis of claims of cultural or religious authority and authenticity. Such claims must be rejected as there is no cultural or religious right to threaten, harm, torture or execute anyone because she is a woman exercising her human rights.

The Campaign grew from a diversity of grassroots struggles in Afghanistan, Iran, Indonesia, Nigeria, Sudan, Senegal and Pakistan, where movements opposing cruel and inhuman punishments against women and girls were taking on issues such as stoning, whippings, female genital mutilation and "honour killings". The Campaign recognizes that CVAW manifests in multiple and diverse forms across all cultures, and the Campaign acts as a platform for solidarity for those working to tackle CVAW across diverse religious and cultural contexts.

Local Struggles, Global Sisterhood

The Violence is Not Our Culture Campaign is actively being waged by the women's movements in countries such as Senegal, Nigeria, Sudan, Iran, Indonesia, Pakistan and Afghanistan, and is supported by numerous allies across the world.

In Pakistan

Women have been campaigning against so-called 'honour' crimes since the 1980s under the slogan "There is no honour in killing". Instigated by Shirkat Gah Women's Resource Centre, this movement has helped to put the spotlight on the issue. The media, politicians and general public have since taken a strong public stance against this practice. Women themselves have become more vocal in their refusal to be sidelined in the patriarchal decision-making process. This awareness raising is key to undercutting the perception by society, especially local communities, that 'honour' killings are an indisputable tradition.

In Nigeria

All stoning sentences have been overturned after interventions by local women’s movements. BAOBAB for Women's Human Rights has engaged in bridge building workshops, bringing people together of varying faiths to analyze and identify the ways in which religious texts are manipulated to justify violence against women and girls. Building these bridges of solidarity, BAOBAB takes a multi-pronged approach to addressing CVAW by providing legal support, trainings, outreach and more.

In Iran

The Stop Stoning Forever campaign continues to call for the abolition of stoning to death as a legal punishment for 'adultery' charges and for the immediate reversal of all stoning sentences. Although a moratorium on stoning was issues by the Head of the Judiciary, Ayatollah Shahroudi in 2002, stoning continues today due to the lack of state mechanisms and political will to enforce the moratorium. In the face of enormous challenges, the Iranian women`s movement is still active in pushing for legal reform, and launching initiatives that address how culture and religion intersect with violence against women.

In Indonesia

Solidaritas Perempuan launched their "Stop the Criminalization and Inhuman Punishment of Women" campaign in 2007. Women's rights defenders hold village discussions on the dangers of allowing culture and religion to justify violence against women. Grassroots women initiate dialogues with state representatives and policy makers, and engage in advocacy through radio shows, print media and film. Similarly, in Aceh, grassroots activists are fighting the Qanun Jinayat (Islamic Penal Code) passed in September 2009, which has introduced stoning to death as a legal punishment for adultery, as well as other kinds of physical and torturous punishments for various crimes.

In North Sudan

The Salmmah Women's Resource Center and various women's groups launched a campaign to reform Section 149 of northern Sudan's Penal Code, which equates the offence of rape with the offence of adultery, which discourages northern Sudanese women, including those in Darfur, to report rape. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement between northern and southern Sudan signed in 2005 requires the Khartoum government to align their laws with international human rights standards.

For more on our partners, click here.

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