Renowned Bangladeshi actress Jaya Ahsan has joined leaders and celebrities from across the Commonwealth for the 'Commonwealth Says NO MORE' campaign against domestic and sexual violence.
The Commonwealth Secretariat and NO MORE Foundation have launched the campaign designed to help tackle the immediate crisis of the rapid increase in domestic and sexual violence as part of the fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic, while also providing support for governments, organisations and individuals to confront this issue through longer-term prevention strategies and support.
"I feel proud to join Commonwealth in saying no more to domestic and sexual violence, and a pledge to say no more to domestic violence. For too long, people have said it is a private matter, but it's not. It's a pandemic that destroys lives and cripples the community. For too long, our society has not done enough to resist it," Jaya Ahsan said.
The campaign was launched with a special virtual event attended by representatives and advocates from across the Commonwealth.
At the event, the partners unveiled the first pan-Commonwealth digital portal designed to support governments and civil society in identifying and implementing joint solutions while also offering concrete actions individuals can take to support both the campaign and those affected by domestic violence.
The new campaign is launched at a time when organisations across the globe have seen calls to hotlines for victims of abuse and demand for support services rise from between 25 and 300 percent during coronavirus-induced lockdowns. Even before the pandemic, one in three women across the world were beaten or sexually abused within their lifetimes, making it a leading cause of death among females.
"The protection of women and girls from domestic and sexual violence must be at the heart of the governmental response and everything we do to create a safer, fairer and better world. Please join me and the Commonwealth in saying, no more," Jaya Ahsan said.
As part of the initiative, leaders, celebrities and individuals globally are taking the 'Commonwealth Says NO MORE' pledge towards ending domestic and sexual violence. Ahead of the launch, many shared video messages endorsing the effort and encouraging other people across the 54 Commonwealth countries to get involved.
Among them are: Kiribati President Taneti Maamau; Antigua and Barbuda's Governor-General Sir Rodney Williams; New Zealand's former prime minister Helen Clark; British singer and Royal Commonwealth Society's Ambassador Geri Horner; UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina J Mohammed; Indian actress and advocate for women's rights Shabana Azmi; Pakistani actress Mahira Khan; Ghanaian actress Joselyn Dumas; British actor Colin Salmon; and Australia actor Ryan Johnson.
"It is indisputable that while the virus will pass one day, for many women, the ever-present threat of violence will remain," said Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland.
"We need to say NO MORE because if we don't have peace in our homes we will never have peace in our world," she added.