Gender Based Violence

Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. Council of Europe; 2011. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Stalking, sexual harassment, sexual violence and rape, physical, sexual and psychological abuse at the hands of intimate partners, forced marriage, and forced sterilisation are deeply traumatising acts of violence. The overwhelming majority of victims are women. Adding female genital mutilation and forced abortion as forms of violence that only women can be subjected to, shows the shocking level of diversity in cruel and degrading behaviour that women experience. If we consider the fact that most violence is carried out by men, it is just a small step to understanding that violence against women is structural violence – violence that is used to sustain male power and control. This is even more obvious if we look at the patchy attempts of the police, courts and social services to help women victims which is seen in many countries across the world. 

The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence is based on the understanding that violence against women is a form of gender-based violence that is committed against women because they are women. It is the obligation of the state to fully address it in all its forms and to take measures to prevent violence against women, protect its victims and prosecute the perpetrators. Failure to do so would make it the responsibility of the state. The convention leaves no doubt: there can be no real equality between women and men if women experience gender-based violence on a large-scale and state agencies and institutions turn a blind eye. 

Because it is not only women who suffer domestic violence, parties to the convention are encouraged to apply the protective framework it creates to men, children and the elderly who are exposed to violence within the family or domestic unit. Still, it should not be overlooked that the majority of victims of domestic violence are women and that domestic violence against them is part of a wider pattern of discrimination and inequality.

A Long Way to Go: Implementation of the Elimination of Violence against Women Law in Afghanistan. UNAMA; 2011. Publisher's VersionAbstract

This report is based on research carried out by UNAMA/OHCHR human rights officers in Kabul and in eight UNAMA regional offices between March 2010 and September 2011. UNAMA/OHCHR officers gathered detailed statistical and substantive information on implementation of the EVAW law by prosecutors, judges and police officers, and on the status of operations of provincial Commissions for Prevention of Violence against Women. 

Dinkel C, Haile HA, Sarr A, Wiatrowski C, Biller D. Analysis of International Jurisprudence Involving Sexual and Other Gender-Based Violence During Conflict. Ithaca: Cornell Law School International Human Rights Clinic and Avon Global Center for Women and Justice; 2011. Publisher's VersionAbstract

The analysis that follows is the product of a project undertaken by the Avon Global Center for Women and Justice, in collaboration with the Cornell Law School International Human Rights Clinic. The research team analyzed jurisprudence involving sexual and other gender-based violence in cases before the following international war crimes tribunals and special courts: the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY); the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR); the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) and the International Criminal Court (ICC). The purpose of this review is to highlight the development in each tribunal of jurisprudence involving the redress of gender crimes during conflict. The charts that follow present information relevant for further comparison and analysis of progress and persistent gaps in international law, with an aim towards contributing to the furtherance of effective prosecution and prevention of sexual and other gender-based violence. 

Women, Peace and Security: Canada Moves Forward to Increase Women's Engagement. Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights; 2010. Publisher's VersionAbstract

From September 2009 to April 2010, the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights conducted a study of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution 1325 on women, peace and security, which was adopted unanimously by the Council in October 2000. The Committee focused its study on the implementation of the resolution by the UN and, in particular, Canada. Resolution 1325 was the first adopted by the Security Council to explicitly address the impact of armed conflict on women. It introduced a set of international standards for all UN member states, conflict belligerents, the UN system and its peacekeeping forces, and other stakeholders. Under the resolution, these actors must take varying steps to ensure that efforts to prevent resolve and rebuild from armed conflict incorporate the perspectives of women. They must facilitate women‘s full involvement in relevant decision-making. The resolution also calls for full implementation of international law relevant to armed conflict, condemning any violations of the rights and security of women.

This landmark resolution has since been strengthened by three additional Security Council resolutions. Resolution 1820 on sexual violence in armed conflict (2008) has as its sole objective the improvement of efforts to protect women and girls in conflict situations and to prosecute cases of human rights abuses against women therein – particularly sexual violence. Resolution 1888 (2009) institutes more robust implementing commitments. Resolution 1889 (2009) targets post-conflict peacebuilding.

Towards a Europe Free from All Forms of Male Violence against Women. European Women's Lobby; 2010. Publisher's VersionAbstract

This position paper constitutes the basis for the European Women’s Lobby (EWL) and its members to develop advocacy work on the issue of male violence against women at European and national level. It highlights the EWL position on the issue and presents its recommendations towards a Europe free form all forms of male violence against women.

Barrow A. UN Security Council Resolutions 1325 and 1820: constructing gender in armed conflict and international humanitarian law. International Review of the Red Cross. 2010;92 (877) :221-234. Publisher's VersionAbstract

*The full article is available through this link. This article may be available free of charge to those with university credentials.

While the Geneva Conventions contain gender-specific provisions, the reality of women’s and men’s experiences of armed conflict have highlighted gender limitations and conceptual constraints within international humanitarian law. Judgements at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) ad hoc tribunals have gone some way towards expanding the scope of definitions of sexual violence and rape in conflict. More recent developments in public international law, including the adoption of Security Council Resolutions 1325 and 1820 focused on women, peace and security, have sought to increase the visibility of gender in situations of armed conflict. This paper highlights important developing norms on women, peace and security. Although these norms are significant, they may not be radical enough to expand constructions of gender within international humanitarian law. This leaves existing provisions open to continued scrutiny.

Cusack S. Advancing Sexual Health and Human Rights in the Western Pacific. World Health Organization; 2010. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Widespread criminalization of sex work has had the effect of undermining the sexual health of sex workers, for instance by preventing them from accessing health care services for fear of criminal prosecution if found to be a sex worker. Moreover, laws permitting mandatory HIV or STI testing of sex workers and mandating disclosure of private health information to employers sanction direct interference in the private lives of sex workers.

Kelly S. Recent Gains and New Opportunities for Women's Rights in the Gulf Arab States. Freedom House; 2009. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Please access the home page of this site to locate this publication.

As the societies of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) undertake the difficult process of enacting social and political change, the unequal status of women stands out as a particularly formidable obstacle. This study presents detailed reports and quantitative ratings on the state of women’s rights in the member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC): Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It is the first installment of a larger project encompassing the entire MENA region, which will be completed in November 2009. Although the study indicates that a substantial deficit in women’s rights persists in every country of the Gulf region and is reflected in practically every facet of their societies, its findings also include the notable progress achieved over the last five years, particularly in terms of economic and political rights

Silence is Violence: End the Abuse of Women in Afghanistan. UNAMA; 2009. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Afghanistan is widely known and appreciated for its rich history, culture, literature and arts as well as its magnificent landscape. It is also widely known that large numbers of Afghans die, or live wretched lives, because violence is an everyday fact of life. Such violence is not openly condoned but neither is it challenged nor condemned by society at large or by state institutions. It is primarily human rights activists that make an issue of violence including, in particular, its impact on, and ramifications for, women and girls in Afghanistan. It is also left to a handful of stakeholders to challenge the way in which a culture of impunity, and the cycle of violence it generates, undermines democratization, the establishment of the rule of law and other efforts geared to building an environment conducive to respect for human rights. 

The report seeks to put back on the agenda some of the issues pertaining to the enjoyment of all human rights by all Afghan women that are being increasingly ignored. The problems identified in this report require further discussion and public debate, with a view to informing appropriate legal, policy and awareness-raising measures. 

including Task Force to Combat Violence against Women DV (EG-TFV). Council of Europe Task Force to Combat Violence against Women, including Domestic Violence (Final Activity Report). Council of Europe - Gender Equality and Anti-Trafficking Division. 2008. Publisher's VersionAbstract


The Council of Europe will take meas- ures to combat violence against women, including domestic violence. It will set up a task force to evaluate progress at national level and establish instruments for quantifying develop- ments at pan-European level with a view to drawing up proposals for action. A pan-European campaign to combat violence against women, in- cluding domestic violence, will be pre- pared and conducted in close co- operation with other European and na- tional actors, including NGOs. 


including Task Force to Combat Violence against Women DV (EG-TFV). Council of Europe Task Force to Combat Violence against Women, including Domestic Violence (Final Activity Report). Council of Europe - Gender Equality and Anti-Trafficking Division. 2008. Publisher's VersionAbstract



The Council of Europe will take meas- ures to combat violence against women, including domestic violence. It will set up a task force to evaluate progress at national level and establish instruments for quantifying develop- ments at pan-European level with a view to drawing up proposals for action. A pan-European campaign to combat violence against women, in- cluding domestic violence, will be pre- pared and conducted in close co- operation with other European and na- tional actors, including NGOs. 


Philippines National Demographic and Health Survey. National Statistics Office; 2008. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Document is top result

The National Statistics Office (NSO) is pleased to present this final report on the 2008 National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS). The survey is the ninth in a series of surveys conducted every five years since 1968 designed to assess the demographic and health situation in the country. The 2008 NDHS provides basic indicators on fertility, childhood mortality, contraceptive knowledge and use, maternal and child health, nutritional status of mothers and children, and knowledge, attitude and behavior regarding HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. For the first time, data on violence against women were collected in this round of the DHS. Fieldwork for the 2008 NDHS was carried out from August 7 to September 27, 2008 covering a national sample of approximately 13,000 households and 14,000 women aged 15 to 49 years.

Gender Indicators: What, Why and How?. OECD; 2007. Publisher's VersionAbstract

This brief focuses on the use of gender indicators as a way of measuring change. It asks: what are indicators, and why should we develop gender indicators? It also addresses the often political issue of what we should be measuring, providing some broad principles that can be considered in making these decisions, as well as some questions donors can ask themselves when they are developing gender indicators. The brief also offers examples of existing indicators noting that they always need to be adapted to specific contexts. 

Motoyama H, Yanagimoto Y, Smee S. Violations of Women's Rights in Japan. UN Committee Against Torture; 2007. Publisher's VersionAbstract

This report was designed to supplement the NGO Shadow Report on the general situation of torture in Japan, in order to ensure that women’s issues are brought to the attention of the United Nations Committee against Torture (“CAT”) in its consideration of, and response to, torture and ill-treatment in Japan, given the Government’s failure to recognize the scale and seriousness of gender-based violence. The report was presented by OMCT and AJWRC at the CAT’s 38th session held in May 2007 in Geneva.1 Torture and other manners of ill-treatment of women in Japan, including rape, domestic violence and trafficking, persist in Japanese society under silent acquiescence, open tolerance, inaction and sometimes direct involvement of state agents including: police, immigration control officers and the judiciary. Further, the Japanese State continues to fail to provide redress and remedy for the victims of such crimes, including the military sexual slavery during the Second World War. Even though several international bodies, such as the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (“CEDAW”) and the International Labour Organization (“ILO”), have made recommendations to the Japanese State, for it to address these issues in a responsible manner, it has failed to take necessary actions.

Papua New Guinea: Violence Against Women: Never Inevitable, Never Acceptable!. Amnesty International; 2006. Publisher's VersionAbstract

This report explores how the State and civil society in Papua New Guinea are responding to gender-based violence against women. All States have a duty under international human rights law to prevent, prohibit and punish violence against women and to provide redress. Amnesty International found that in practice the Government of Papua New Guinea has done little to fulfil this obligation. Papua New Guinea ratified the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) over a decade ago yet women continue to be denied their enjoyment of human rights because of gender-based discrimination.

Researching Violence Against Women: A Practical Guide for Researchers and Activists. World Health Organization and Program for Appropriate Technology in Health; 2005. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Produced by PATH and the World Health Organization, this guide draws on the experience of researchers from more than 40 countries and presents methods for performing surveys and qualitative research on gender-based violence in low-resource settings. It covers all aspects of the research process, from study design to training field workers. It also describes ways to use findings to influence decision-makers. Most important, it presents clear guidelines for protecting the safety of women participating in the research.

Each chapter can be viewed or downloaded separately under the section "INDIVIDUAL CHAPTERS".

Etienne M. Addressing Gender-Based Violence in an International Context. Harvard Women's Law Journal. 1995;18 :139. Publisher's VersionAbstract

This Article, exploratory in nature, revisits the feasibility of establishing workable international standards for addressing the dehumanizing violence and discrimination that women suffer by virtue of their gender. It concludes that human rights activists and organizations seeking justice for women must not rely on contemporary international law, but must instead focus on local grassroots and watch group institutions that are intimately aware of the abuses faced by women. Part I examines the nature of abuses against women qua women and looks critically at the United Nations' response to these crises. Part II discusses the deficiencies in public international law, namely the United Nations' Charter and the Women's Convention, and the inherent limitations of the framework of international law in addressing the issue of gender-based discrimination. Part III suggests local and regional solutions, particularly the development of extra-legal strategies and institutions to counter more effectively gender-based abuses and to change public attitudes about gender equity. This Article neither attempts nor claims to solve the problem of international human rights for women. It suggests seeking justice for women in an alternative setting: Human rights for women can be attained more fruitfully through localized structures that both prioritize education, control, and management and seek concrete solutions in the struggle against gender bias.

Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women. United Nations. 1993. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Document can be located under A/RES/48/104

The UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1993. It covers physical, sexual and psychological violence as well as violence both at home and elsewhere in society.

The definition of violence against women that the UN presents in the Declaration is currently the most widely accepted definition:

‘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 in private life.’

The Declaration states three categories of violence against women: violence perpetrated by the State, such as violence against women in custody and as part of warfare; violence occurring within the general community, including rape, sexual harassment, trafficking in women and intimidation at work; and violence in the family and in the private sphere, for example incest and selective abortions).

According to the Declaration, violence against women is rooted in the historically unequal power relations between women and men. It also explains that violence against women is ‘one of the crucial social mechanisms by which women are forced into a subordinate position compared with men.’

The UN member states are therefore urged to legislate against the violence, work preventively and improve the situation of victimised women.