Protesters mark UN International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women

Protesters in cities across Europe and around the world marked the UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on Sunday.

In Brussels, European Parliament President Antonio Tajani drew a red line under his eye with make-up while attending a major Brexit summit following the lead of famous footballers such as Cristiano Ronaldo in backing an Italian anti-violence campaign.

"It is not normal that it is normal," the Italian politician said during the summit, referring to domestic violence.

"Violence against women is unacceptable. I learned this from my mother and I'm teaching it to my children," he later tweeted.

Footballers from top Italian clubs sported red lipstick marks on their cheeks in games over the weekend in support of an Italian campaign to fight violence against women which uses the hashtag #unrossoallaviolenza - meaning a red card to violence.

A third of women suffer violence

Data from the United Nations suggests that a third of women worldwide have suffered sexual or physical violence, and one in 10 girls have been raped or sexually assaulted.

Tajani said the European Parliament would be lit up orange for Sunday's International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, which marks the start of a 16-day campaign.

"Nobody can try to impose themselves with violence or through violence. Notably against women," he said. The campaign backed by Tajani was set up by the Italian humanitarian organization WeWorld Onlus, the players' association and the Lega Serie A - Italy's top football league.

Activists marched in more than 40 cities and towns and thousands in Madrid joined a feminist group and shouted "no more victims, we want freedom" as they marched through the Spanish capital's center.

The names of the 44 women killed in domestic violence in Spain last year were read out at the rally in Madrid.

Hundreds of women in Guatemala took to the streets with banners such as "Sexual violence is a crime." According to the National Institute of Forensic Science, 772 women were murdered in 2017 and a further 314 in the first five months of 2018.

Violence underreported

Rights groups say that domestic violence and rape remains hugely underreported in Europe, despite movements like #MeToo which have spurred women to speak out about sexual violence.

In Turkey, hundreds of women gathered in Istanbul's Tunel Square to march on the city's main pedestrian Istiklal Avenue. Dozens of police formed a barricade and prevented the group from marching, saying their demonstration was not permitted. Police fired several rounds of tear gas to stop the group.

Rights groups have said that violence against women is widespread in Turkey, and an online database called the Monument Counter says at least 337 women were killed by domestic violence in 2018.

The women's activist group Mor Cati said Turkey was more concerned with stopping protests than "preventing male violence."

Only eight out of 31 European countries surveyed by Amnesty International define rape as sex without consent, the group said on Saturday, urging other nations to overhaul "outdated" laws that let rapists off the hook and perpetuate victim-blaming.

av/jm (AP, Reuters, AFP)

Each evening at 1830 UTC, DW's editors send out a selection of the day's hard news and quality feature journalism. You can sign up to receive it directly here.