Kidman backs U.N. drive to end violence against women

UNITED NATIONS Mon Nov 26, 2007 3:23pm EST

Actress Nicole Kidman arrives for the European premiere of ''Happy Feet '' at the Empire cinema in London November 26, 2006. REUTERS/Luke Macgregor

Actress Nicole Kidman arrives for the European premiere of ''Happy Feet '' at the Empire cinema in London November 26, 2006.

Credit: Reuters/Luke Macgregor

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United Nations women's agency launched a campaign on Monday backed by actress Nicole Kidman to gather signatures on an Internet petition rejecting violence against women and urging action to stop it.

The launch of the petition titled "Say NO to violence against women," (www.saynotoviolence.org), is part of a 16-day U.N.-backed campaign to raise awareness about the issue and urge governments to make eliminating such violence a priority.

Joanne Sandler, acting head of the U.N. Development Fund for Women, UNIFEM, said she hoped for hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of signatures to add weight to calls for concrete measures to be taken by governments.

Kidman, an Australian who is a goodwill ambassador for UNIFEM, did not attend the launch at U.N. headquarters but said in a statement she was among the first to sign, calling violence against women, "an appalling human rights violation."

UNIFEM said statistics indicate that as many as one in three women will experience violence in her lifetime, whether it be domestic violence, genital mutilation, human trafficking or systematic rape in conflict zones.

(Written by Claudia Parsons; editing by David Wiessler)