Issue 2: Gender Based Violence

FWCW, Beijing, 1995

  • Para 112. Violence against women is an obstacle to the achievement of the objectives of equality, development and peace. Violence against women both violates and impairs or nullifies the enjoyment by women of their human rights and fundamental freedoms. The long-standing failure to protect and promote those rights and freedoms in the case of violence against women is a matter of concern to all States and should be addressed. Knowledge about its causes and consequences, as well as its incidence and measures to combat it, have been greatly expanded since the Nairobi Conference. In all societies, to a greater or lesser degree, women and girls are subjected to physical, sexual and psychological abuse that cuts across lines of income, class and culture. The low social and economic status of women can be both a cause and a consequence of violence against women.

ICPD POA, Cairo, 1994

  • 4.9 Countries should take full measures to eliminate all forms of exploitation, abuse, harassment and violence against women, adolescents and children. This implies both preventive actions and rehabilitation of victims. Countries should prohibit degrading practices, such as trafficking in women, adolescents and children and exploitation through prostitution, and pay special attention to protecting the rights and safety of those who suffer from these crimes and those in potentially exploitable situations, such as migrant women, women in domestic service and schoolgirls. In this regard, international safeguards and mechanisms for cooperation should be put in place to ensure that these measures are implemented.

  • 7.39 Active and open discussion of the need to protect women, youth and children from any abuse, including sexual abuse, exploitation, trafficking and violence, must be encouraged and supported by educational programmes at both national and community levels. Governments should set the necessary conditions and procedures to encourage victims to report violations of their rights. Laws addressing those concerns should be enacted where they do not exist, made explicit, strengthened and enforced, and appropriate rehabilitation services provided.

ICPD + 5

  • 48. Governments should give priority to developing programmes and policies that foster norms and attitudes of zero tolerance for harmful and discriminatory attitudes, including son preference, which can result in harmful and unethical practices such as prenatal sex selection, discrimination and violence against the girl child and all forms of violence against women, including female genital mutilation, rape, incest, trafficking, sexual violence and exploitation. This entails developing an integrated approach that addresses the need for widespread social, cultural and economic change, in addition to legal reforms.

FWCW, Beijing, 1995

  • 99. Sexual and gender-based violence, including physical and psychological abuse, trafficking in women and girls, and other forms of abuse and sexual exploitation place girls and women at high risk of physical and mental trauma, disease and unwanted pregnancy. Such situations often deter women from using health and other services.

  • 113. The term "violence against women" means any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life.
    Accordingly, violence against women encompasses but is not limited to the following:
    (a) Physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring in the family, including battering, sexual abuse of female children in the household, dowry-related violence, marital rape, female genital mutilation and other traditional practices harmful to women, non-spousal violence and violence related to exploitation;
    (b) Physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring within the general community, including rape, sexual abuse, sexual harassment and intimidation at work, in educational institutions and elsewhere, trafficking in women and forced prostitution;
    (c) Physical, sexual and psychological violence perpetrated or condoned by the State, wherever it occurs.

  • 118. Violence against women is a manifestation of the historically unequal power relations between men and women, which have led to domination over and discrimination against women by men and to the prevention of women's full advancement. Violence against women throughout the life cycle derives essentially from cultural patterns, in particular the harmful effects of certain traditional or customary practices and all acts of extremism linked to race, sex, language or religion that perpetuate the lower status accorded to women in the family, the workplace, the community and society. Violence against women is exacerbated by social pressures, notably the shame of denouncing certain acts that have been perpetrated against women; women's lack of access to legal information, aid or protection; the lack of laws that effectively prohibit violence against women; failure to reform existing laws; inadequate efforts on the part of public authorities to promote awareness of and enforce existing laws; and the absence of educational and other means to address the causes and consequences of violence. Images in the media of violence against women, in particular those that depict rape or sexual slavery as well as the use of women and girls as sex objects, including pornography, are factors contributing to the continued prevalence of such violence, adversely influencing the community at large, in particular children and young people.

  • Strategic Objective D.1. Take integrated measures to prevent and eliminate violence against women (Copy all recommendations here or include a sample?)

Beijing +5

  • 14. Obstacles. Women continue to be victims of various forms of violence. Inadequate understanding of the root causes of all forms of violence against women and girls hinders efforts to eliminate violence against women and girls. There is a lack of comprehensive programmes dealing with the perpetrators, including programmes, where appropriate, which would enable them to solve problems without violence. Inadequate data on violence further impedes informed policy-making and analysis. Sociocultural attitudes which are discriminatory and economic inequalities reinforce women’s subordinate place in society. This makes women and girls vulnerable to many forms of violence, such as physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring in the family, including battering, sexual abuse of female children in the household, dowry-related violence, marital rape, female genital mutilation and other traditional practices harmful to women, non-spousal violence and violence related to exploitation. In many countries, a coordinated multidisciplinary approach to responding to violence which includes the health system, workplaces, the media, the education system, as well as the justice system, is still limited. Domestic violence, including sexual violence in marriage, is still treated as a private matter in some countries. Insufficient awareness of the consequences of domestic violence, how to prevent it and the rights of victims still exists. Although improving, the legal and legislative measures, especially in the criminal justice area, to eliminate different forms of violence against women and children, including domestic violence and child pornography, are weak in many countries. Prevention strategies also remain fragmented and reactive and there is a lack of programmes on these issues…

  • 69. (a) As a matter of priority, review and revise legislation, were appropriate, with a view to introducing effective legislation, including on violence against women, and take other necessary measures to ensure that all women and girls are protected against all forms of physical, psychological and sexual violence, and are provided recourse to justice;
    (b) Prosecute the perpetrators of all forms of violence against women and girls and sentence them appropriately, and introduce actions aimed at helping and motivating perpetrators to break the cycle of violence and take measures to provide avenues for redress to victims;
    (c) Treat all forms of violence against women and girls of all ages as a criminal offence punishable by law, including violence based on all forms of discrimination;
    (d) Establish legislation and/or strengthen appropriate mechanisms to handle criminal matters relating to all forms of domestic violence, including marital rape and sexual abuse of women and girls, and ensure that such cases are brought to justice swiftly;

World Summit for Social Development, 1995

  • Commitment 5 (h) Take effective measures, including through the enactment and enforcement of laws, and implement policies to combat and eliminate all forms of discrimination, exploitation, abuse and violence against women and girl children, in accordance with relevant international instruments and declarations;

World Summit for Social Development +5

  • Commitment 4 Para 61. Ensure continued and intensified action to combat all forms of gender-based violence, and recognize that violence against women, whether in private or public life, both violates and impairs or nullifies the enjoyment by women of their human rights and fundamental freedoms.

World Conference on Human Rights, Vienna, 1993

  • 18. … Gender-based violence and all forms of sexual harassment and exploitation, including those resulting from cultural prejudice and international trafficking, are incompatible with the dignity and worth of the human person, and must be eliminated. This can be achieved by legal measures and through national action and international cooperation in such fields as economic and social development, education, safe maternity and health care, and social support…

  • 38. In particular, the World Conference on Human Rights stresses the importance of working towards the elimination of violence against women in public and private life…

Millennium Declaration, 2000

  • 25. To combat all forms of violence against women and to implement the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.