Photo: Gender task force team, UNDP Lao PDR

Gender-based violence continues to deprive women around the world of their right to live a life of dignity and equality. The 16 Days of Activism Campaign began in 1991 as a call to end violence against women. Now, 30 years later, every year, we still need to make the same call.

This call is relevant in Lao PDR as much as elsewhere around the world.

A study conducted in 2014 revealed that more than 30 per cent of ever-partnered women in Lao PDR have experienced physical, sexual or emotional violence by a male partner in their lifetime. Women who experience physical or sexual abuse are more likely to suffer miscarriage, stillbirth, or abortion, as well as experience mental health issues such as insomnia, anxiety, or depression. Despite the devastating impact of violence, most women will remain silent. In Lao PDR, just two per cent of women will report experiencing acts of violence.

So why is this still happening, and why are so few reporting it?