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March In Dnipro Urges Ukrainian Women Not To Remain 'Silent' On Domestic Violence

Activists in Dnipro, Ukraine's fourth-biggest city with about 1 million people, hold single-letter posters on November 24 that spell out, "Don't be silent," to protest violence against women.

DNIPRO – About two dozen men and women assembled on November 24 in the center of Dnipro, Ukraine's fourth-biggest city, ahead of a yearly worldwide campaign to protest domestic violence against women.

They carried single-letter posters, which together spelled, "Don’t be silent," to start what the UN Women's agency calls, 16 days of activism against gender-based violence.

Organized by the regional development group Insight Dnipro, its chief coordinator Heorhiy Markov told RFE/RL that, according to police statistics, about 1,000 domestic violence complaints are called in every month in the city of about 1 million people where only one shelter for battered women operates.

The shelter can house up to 14 women, Markov said, adding that the shelter receives 400 phone calls for help per month.

At least 600 women in Ukraine die due to gender-based violence each year, compared to around 170 annual deaths because of the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine, according to the UN.

The problem is systemic in Ukraine where 90 percent of all cases of gender-based violence affect women.

About 1.1 million women in Ukraine experience physical or sexual abuse each year, but only 16 percent report the incidents to police and even less, about 1 percent, turn to medical professionals.

Over the weekend, tens of thousands of people assembled in Paris and Brussels to draw attention to domestic violence ahead of the November 25 International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, which is promoted by the UN.

About 130 women are believed to have been killed by their partner in France this year, Reuters reported.

Other marches took place in French cities such as Lyon, Strasbourg, Bordeaux, and Lille.