UNITED NATIONS - Nicole Kidman has urged world leaders and ordinary people to join the global fight to end violence against women.

The actress, seven months pregnant and passionately committed to her role as a goodwill ambassador for the UN Development Fund for Women, said Tuesday the violence was probably the "most widespread human rights violation of our time."

"One in three women will encounter violence in some way, shape or form against them in their lifetime," Kidman told a news conference at UN headquarters. "That's an extraordinary statistic. Yet do we ever hear it?"

The 40-year-old Australian star became a goodwill ambassador in January 2006 for the UN fund, known as UNIFEM. Its acting executive director, Joanne Sandler, said Kidman wanted to focus on an issue "where she could make a difference."

She came to UN headquarters Tuesday to join Sandler, UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro and UN Foundation president Timothy Wirth to promote UNIFEM's "Say NO to Violence Against Women" campaign."

Since the yearlong campaign was launched Nov. 26, Sandler said some 210,000 people have added their names to a web page calling on world leaders to end impunity for perpetrators, provide services for survivors and, most important, invest in prevention.

Kidman urged people of all nations to add their names and demand "that ending violence against women be made a top priority for governments everywhere."

She also encouraged the private sector to contribute to the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women, which provides grants for programs in the developing world to help fight the scourge.

In January, the UN Foundation said it would donate $1 to the fund for each of the first 100,000 signatures and Wirth said he was happy to pay up.

Sandler said progress has been made and 89 countries have laws on domestic violence, more than 100 have made rape a crime, 90 have provisions against sexual harassment and 93 on human trafficking. There are 192 UN member states.

Kidman is expecting her first child with country singer husband Keith Urban.

In 2005, she starred in the movie "The Interpreter," a thriller in which she played a UN interpreter caught up in a cloak-and-dagger assassination attempt.


On the Net: Say NO to Violence Against Women: http://www.saynotoviolence.org

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