Following the death of the Count of Bulnes, Cristina Muñoz-Vargas y Sainz de Vicuña (CMV), the Count’s first-born child, instituted legal proceedings in Spain challenging the succession of her younger brother to the title of nobility. Under the Decree on the Order of Succession to Titles of Nobility, which was then in effect in Spain, a woman was entitled to inherit a title of nobility only if she was the first-born child and did not have a younger brother. Male children were given primacy over female children in the ordinary line of succession in all other situations.
CMV claimed that male primacy in the order of succession to titles of nobility was discriminatory and, therefore, unconstitutional. Domestic courts dismissed her claim on the ground that the primacy afforded to male children was compatible with the constitutional rights to non-discrimination and equality, owing to the honorary and historic nature of titles and because the brother’s succession to the title of Count of Bulnes occurred prior to the commencement of the Spanish Constitution.
The author subsequently submitted a communication to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (Committee) in which she claimed that male primacy in the order of succession to titles of nobility constituted discrimination on the basis of sex, in violation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in general, and articles 2(c) and 2(f) in particular. She further claimed that Spain was required by CEDAW to amend or revise its laws establishing male primacy in the order of succession to titles of nobility.
Ms. N.S.F. was a Pakistani asylum seeker living in the UK with her two children. In 1996 she married and had two sons resulting from this union. Shortly after, her husband began subjecting her to domestic violence. She endured marital rape and eventually divorced her husband in August 2002. She subsequently fled to a nearby village with her two sons where she continued to be harassed by her ex-husband after the divorce causing her to move two more times. She reported him to the police but did not receive any protection. In January 2003, the author’s ex-husband came to her home with other men armed with knives and threatened to kill her. After this incident, the author decided to flee the country and arrived in the United Kingdom, transiting through Cairo, Egypt, on 14 January 2003 with her two children, and applied for asylum the same day. In February the Immigration and Nationality Directorate of the Home Office rejected the author’s asylum application. The author appealed, claiming that her removal would be a violation of the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees and the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. She asserted that she had a well-founded fear of persecution by a non-state agent, under the 1951 Convention, due to her membership in a particular social group (women in Pakistan); that Pakistan did not offer her sufficient protection; that there was no real option of internal flight; and that article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms was violated.
The author of the communication, Constance Ragan Salgado, was a British citizen born who resided in Bogotá, Colombia, at the time of the communication’s submission. Her eldest son, Alvaro John Salgado, was born in Colombia in 1954 of a Colombian father. At that time, the author made an application to the UK Consulate to obtain British nationality for her son and was told that the entitlement to British nationality came through the paternal line; as his father was Colombian, her son was considered an alien.
The British Nationality Act 1981 (“the 1981 Act”), which entered into force in 1983, amended previous nationality legislation and conferred equal rights to women and men in respect of the nationality of their children under the age of 18. The author was told that her son still did not qualify for British citizenship under the 1981 Act. The author protested by letter to the British Consul and to the Home Office, claiming that, had her son claimed British nationality through a British father instead of through her, no age limit would have applied to him.
British nationality legislation again changed when the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 (“the 2002 Act”) entered into force on 30 April 2003 and added s. 4C to the 1981 Act (“Acquisition by Registration: Certain persons born between 1961 and 1983”). Children — by now adults — born abroad between 7 February 1961 and 1 January 1983 of British mothers would now be eligible to register as British nationals if they satisfied certain other conditions. In early 2003, the British Consul in Bogotá contacted the author to enquire as to whether she had any children born after 7 February 1961. She replied that her youngest son was born in 1966 and had acquired British nationality, but that her eldest son still had not. She was told that he did not qualify due to the fact that he was born before the cut-off date established under the 2002 Act.
The authors of the communication were the Vienna Intervention Centre against Domestic Violence and the Association for Women’s Access to Justice, two organizations in Vienna, Austria, that protect and support women victims of gender-based violence. From July 2003 Fatma Yildirim was subject to repeated death threats from her husband Ifran Yildrim, who also threatened to kill her children. On 6 August 2003 the police issued an expulsion and prohibition to return order against Irfan Yildirim. The police also reported to the Vienna Public Prosecutor that Irfan Yildirim had made a dangerous criminal threat against Fatma Yildirim and requested that Irfan Yildirim be detained. The Public Prosecutor rejected the request. On 14 August 2003, Fatma Yildirim gave a formal statement about the threats made to her life to the police, who in turn reported to the Vienna Public Prosecutor, requesting that Irfan Yildirim be detained. Again, this request was refused. On 11 September 2003, Irfan Yildirim fatally stabbed Fatma Yildirim near the family’s apartment.
Irfan Yildirim was arrested and convicted of killing Fatma Yildirim. At the time of the application he was serving a sentence of life imprisonment.
In 2007, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women considered Goekce v. Austria (C/39/D/5/2005 ). In 2002, the author's (Goekce's) husband shot and killed her in front of their two daughters. Before her death, the author had obtained three expulsion and prohibition-to-return orders against her husband in response to repeated episodes of domestic violence. The local prosecutor denied requests to detain the husband and terminated proceedings against him two days prior the author’s death. Police reports show that the law enforcement failed to respond in a timely fashion to the dispute that resulted in the author’s death. Representatives of the author submitted a complaint to the Committee, alleging that Austria’s Federal Act for the Protection against Violence within the Family provided inadequate protection for victims of spousal abuse, and stating that women are disproportionately affected by the State’s failure to effectively respond to domestic violence.
Decision. The Committee found that although Austria had adopted progressive legislation to address domestic violence, State authorities needed to investigate and respond to such complaints with increased diligence. Accordingly, the Committee concluded that the police knew or should have known that the author was in serious danger; thus, they were accountable for failing to protect her. By allowing the perpetrator’s rights to supersede the victim’s right to life and to physical and mental integrity, Austrian law enforcement violated its obligations under Article 2 to end sex-based discrimination through appropriate legislation, and its Article 3 duty to guarantee women’s equal access to human rights. The Committee recommended that Austria strengthen its implementation and monitoring of the Federal Act for the Protection against Violence within the Family, respond to complaints of domestic violence with due diligence, and provide adequate sanctions for the failure of authorities to do so.
Women’s human rights have long been marginalised in international human rights law. The public/private divide on which international human rights law rests has been constructed in a manner that obscures the experiences of women and fails to challenge women’s disadvantage. In this paper, I discuss the problem of the marginalisation of women’s rights in international human rights law and propose reforms to fully incorporate women’s experiences of human rights abuse. The focus of the analysis is on the public/private divide and its reflection in the conceptualisation of rights, the doctrine of state responsibility, and the principle of equality. The main argument of this paper is that the gendered nature of the divide needs to be transcended and the public/private divide re-conceptualised in a manner that challenges discrimination and violence against women in the private sphere, while protecting women’s freedom of self-determination and personal development in both the ‘public’ and the ‘private’ sphere. Such a re-construction of the public/private divide entails using gender analysis in interpreting rights, state responsibility, and equality.
An estimated one in three women in Albania have been hit, beaten or subjected to other physical violence within their families. Some have been raped, some have been killed.
Husbands, former husbands and partners are responsible for most of these acts of violence against women – abuses which are often condoned by the wider community. Violence against women is widely tolerated on grounds of tradition, even at the highest levels of the government, police and judiciary.
Violence against women is an abuse of the human rights of women and girls. It violates their rights to mental and physical integrity, to liberty and security of the person, to freedom of expression, the right to choice in marriage and the basic requirement of non-discrimination. Violence may amount to torture and in extreme cases, may violate the right to life.
In 1999 the applicant was taken into police custody on suspicion of being a member of an illegal organisation, the DHKP/C (Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front). Two hours after her arrest she was taken to hospital to be examined. A medical report indicated the presence of an abrasion under one eye but no signs of ill-treatment on her body. Further medical examinations were carried out which also concluded that her body showed no signs of ill-treatment. The applicant refused to undergo a gynaecological examination on the first and the last day of her arrest and no such examination was carried out. Before a public prosecutor she denied the allegations against her and maintained that the statement she had made to the police shortly after her arrest had been taken under duress. She stated that she had been hosed with cold water, subjected to electric shocks and Palestinian hanging. She repeated her allegations before an investigating judge. Criminal proceedings were initiated against her before a state security court. She wrote to the court retracting her statement which she maintained had been made under duress. She also described in more detail her ill-treatment in police custody. She was found guilty as charged and sentenced to 12 years and six months’ imprisonment. She appealed to the Court of Cassation, referring in particular to her ill-treatment in custody, but her appeal was rejected.
The author was a resident of the Netherlands, and worked as a part-time salaried employee as well as a co-working spouse in her husband’s enterprise. She took maternity leave in 1999 and in 2002. She was insured under the Sickness Benefits Act (Ziektewet – “ZW”) for her salaried employment and received benefits to compensate for her loss of income. She was also insured under the Invalidity Insurance (Self- Employed Persons) Act (“WAZ”) for her work in her husband’s enterprise but was denied benefits under this scheme by the “LISV”, the benefits agency, as s. 59(4) (the “anti-accumulation clause”) of the WAZ allowed payment of benefits only insofar as they exceeded benefits payable under the ZW.
She therefore received only partial compensation for loss of income during her maternity leave. The author lodged an objection to the decision, which was rejected. Her appeals were rejected by the District Court and the Central Appeals Tribunal which found that s. 59(4) of the WAZ did not result in unfavourable treatment of women as compared to men.
Andrea Szijjarto was sterilized without her informed consent by a Hungarian hospital during an emergency cesarean section procedure. While in a state of shock due to blood loss, Szijjarto was asked to provide her written consent to tubal ligation by signing an illegible hand-written note describing the procedure in terms she did not understand. Szijjarto charged the hospital with negligence in failing to obtain her full and informed consent to the coerced sterilization. Both the town and county courts held that the hospital was at least partially negligent in its legal duties to Szijjarto, but rejected her claim and appeal for failure to prove a lasting handicap and causal relationship between permanent loss of reproductive capacity and the conduct of the hospital’s doctors. The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women held that Hungary violated Szijjarto’s rights under article 10(h) of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) on access to information on family planning, article 12 guaranteeing women appropriate medical services in connection with pregnancy, and paragraph 1(e) of article 16 on a woman’s right to freely choose the number and spacing of her children. The Committee recognized the serious consequences of coercive practices including forced sterilization under its General Recommendation No. 21, and held that the Hungary had violated Szijjarto’s right to information on family planning and the sterilization procedure. The Committee also held that lack of informed consent constituted a breach of the obligation under article 12 and General Recommendation No. 24 to ensure the delivery of acceptable medical services in a manner that respects a woman’s dignity. Accordingly, the Committee recommended the State provide compensation to Szijjarto and amend its Public Health Act allowing doctors’ discretion to administer sterilization procedures when “appropriate in given circumstances.”
Since its first session in 1982, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women has made a concerted effort to develop appropriate working methods. These methods continue to evolve.
The present overview is designed to update States parties and others interested in the implementation of the Convention, including United Nations programmes and funds, specialized agencies and civil society organizations, on the current working methods of the Committee.
The A.S. v. Hungary (C/36/D/4/2004)complaint was filed under the Optional Protocol to CEDAW on behalf of a Hungarian woman of Roma origin who was coercively sterilized in a public hospital. The complaint was filed jointly by the Budapest-based Legal Defense Bureau for National and Ethnic Minorities (NEKI) and the European Roma Rights Center (ERRC), and charges the Hungarian government with violating A.S.’s rights to appropriate health care, family planning information, and free and informed decision-making over the number and spacing of her children as guaranteed under CEDAW. In November 2005, the Center submitted supplementary information to the CEDAW Committee in support of A.S. v. Hungary. The Center’s submission provided information from UN treaty monitoring bodies and international health and medical organizations underscoring women’s rights to receive accurate information on sterilization and other family planning services, and to informed consent to health care. In September 2006, CEDAW ruled in favor of A.S.
In 2006, the Committee on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women considered Kayhan v. Turkey (C/34/D/8/2005). The author, a teacher in Turkey, was charged with the crime of “breaking the peace, silence and working order of the institutions with ideological and political reasons” for wearing a headscarf to her place of employment. On 9 June 2000, she was expelled from the civil service and her teaching position. On 23 October 2000, the author challenged her termination in an Administrative Court; the Court found the author’s termination lawful and dismissed her complaint, as well as her subsequent appeal. On 20 August 2004, the author submitted a complaint to the Committee, arguing that by terminating her status as a civil servant for wearing a headscarf, the State had violated Article 11 (discrimination against women in the field of employment) of the Convention.
Decision: Although the author’s employment was terminated before the entry into force of the Optional Protocol, the effects of this termination continued, thus eliminating any issue of temporal jurisdiction. However, the Committee still found the communication inadmissible, noting that the author failed to raise her claims of sex and employment discrimination in domestic courts before bringing these claims to the Committee. Thus, the author had not properly exhausted domestic remedies.
The UN Secretary-General's in-depth study on all forms of violence against women, mandated by General Assembly resolution 58/185, aims to highlight the persistence and unacceptability of all forms of violence against women in all parts of the world. It also seeks to strengthen the political commitment and joint efforts of all stakeholders to prevent and eliminate violence against women as well as to identify ways and means to ensure more sustained and effective implementation of State obligations to address all forms of violence against women, and to increase State accountability.
The study sets out the broad context of violence against women and summarizes the knowledge base with regard to its extent and prevalence. It exposes the gaps and challenges in the availability of data, including methodologies for assessing the prevalence of such violence. It synthesizes causes and consequences, including costs. The study also discusses States' responsibilities for preventing and addressing violence against women, and identifies promising practices and effective strategies for addressing it.
gives an overview of the historical overview of the development of international awareness and action on male violence against women (section II);
sets out the broad context within which violence against women occurs and persists (section III);
synthesizes the knowledge regarding the extent and prevalence of different forms and manifestations of violence against women, in the main settings: that is, within the family, the community, and perpetrated or condoned by the State, including in conflict settings; and reviews the consequences of such violence, including its costs of forms and manifestations of violence against women and its consequences, including costs (section IV);
discusses the gaps and challenges in the availability of data, including in methodologies for assessing the prevalence of different forms of violence (section V);
highlights the responsibilities of States to address and prevent violence against women (section VI);
gives examples of promising practices in the areas of law, service provision and prevention (section VII); and
puts forward a blueprint for action by all stakeholders—by States, at the national level, and by intergovernmental bodies and UN entities—to make measurable progress in preventing and eliminating violence against women (section VIII).
The recognition of a duty incumbent upon states ‘to take action’ is, at base, the common denominator of all understandings of the notion of ‘positive obligations’. In the specific context of international human rights law, the notion is one which has been frequently invoked both by treaty-monitoring bodies and in the academic literature; however, the term apparently bears differing meanings for different writers, depending on the context and the obligation under discussion. A number of different uses can accordingly be discerned, which to some extent overlap and interact.
This is my third report to the Commission in my capacity as the Special Rapporteur on the violence against women, its causes and consequences, submitted pursuant to Commission resolution 2005/41. Chapter I of the report summarizes my activities in 2005 and chapter II examines the due diligence standard as a tool for the effective implementation of women’s human rights, including the right to live a life free from violence.
The failure of international human rights law to adequately reflect and respond to the experiences and needs of women has stimulated much debate on the mainstream application of human rights standards. This has resulted in the transformation of the conventional understanding of human rights and the doctrine of State responsibility.
The 1993 Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women as well as other international instruments adopted the concept of due diligence, in relation to violence against women, as a yardstick to assess whether the State has met its obligation. Under the due diligence obligation, States have a duty to take positive action to prevent and protect women from violence, punish perpetuators of violent acts and compensate victims of violence. However, the application of due diligence standard, to date, has tended to be State-centric and limited to responding to violence when it occurs, largely neglecting the obligation to prevent and compensate and the responsibility of non-State actors.
The current challenge in combating violence against women is the implementation of existing human rights standards to ensure that the root causes and consequences of violence against women are tackled at all levels from the home to the transnational arena. The multiplicity of forms of violence against women as well as the fact that this violence frequently occurs at the intersection of different types of discrimination makes the adoption of multifaceted strategies to effectively prevent and combat this violence a necessity.
In this regard, the potential of the due diligence standard is explored at different levels of intervention: individual women, the community, the State and the transnational level. At each level, recommendations for relevant actors are highlighted. The report concludes that if we continue to push the boundaries of due diligence in demanding the full compliance of States with international law, including to address the root causes of violence, against women and to hold non-State actors accountable for their acts of violence, then we will move towards a conception of human rights that meets our aspirations for a just world free of violence.
A Draft Protocol for adaptation to specific country, legal, social, cultural and economic situations.
The Articles below describe acts and attitudes which are, in most countries, already proscribed under the general principles of international laws ratified by governments. Here they are spelled out specifically.
It is hoped it will be a useful lobbying tool for widows’ groups, women’s organisations, and inform the relevant Ministries (Women, Justice, Health etc.) of the principle issues.
We, Heads of State and Government of the Member States of the Council of Europe, meeting in Warsaw on 16 and 17 May 2005, have outlined the following action plan laying down the principal tasks of the Council of Europe in the coming years.
I - PROMOTING COMMON FUNDAMENTAL VALUES: HUMAN RIGHTS, RULE OF LAW AND DEMOCRACY
1. Ensuring the continued effectiveness of the European Convention on Human Rights
◦ We shall ensure the long-term effectiveness of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms by all appropriate means. To this end we shall provide the European Court of Human Rights with the necessary support and implement all the reform measures adopted at the 114th Session of the Committee of Ministers in May 2004, in accordance with all the modalities foreseen. This includes, as envisaged, the ratification of Protocol No. 14 to the Convention, which is essential for the future effectiveness of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Violence against women hinders progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). This document highlights the connections between the MDGs and the prevention of violence against women by showing how: a) working towards the MDGs will reduce violence against women; and b) preventing violence against women will contribute to achieving the MDGs. It provides recommendations to address violence against women and promote progress towards the 8 MDGs.