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.
Serious and widespread violations of the basic rights of women, including violence, are longstanding and commonplace throughout the Americas.
In 1979 the United Nations adopted a treaty which aims to end the discrimination at the heart of the human rights abuses that are the daily reality for women around the world. The UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women optimistically notes that “the establishment of the new international economic order based on equity and justice will contribute significantly towards the promotion of equality between men and women.” The UN has gone on to finalize a Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women. The Organization of American States has adopted the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women. But serious human rights violations and pervasive violence against women continue in every corner of the Americas.
A complex web of factors fuels violence against women, including gender discrimination, impunity, poverty and racism. Amnesty International is concerned that inadequate attention has been paid to the degree to which trade and investment policies can contribute to increasing economic inequality and vulnerability of women to violence. Far from realizing the UN’s hope of an economic order based on equity and justice, new economic policies are a backdrop to ongoing, serious human rights violations and violence for women throughout the Americas.
The theme of this article concerns “crimes of honor” – from a feminist, socio-legal perspective of gender and human rights point of view – involving different aspects relating to how the national legislation treats discrimination, especially crimes of violence against women, and, specifically, the way the national courts apply this legislation to concrete cases. Although there were international, regional and national advances in relation to the subject, especially during the nineties, there are still legislation and legal decisions, even in the twenty first century, violating women’s human rights, being marked by the impunity of the offenders and by the incorporation of stereotypes, prejudices and discriminations against women who are victims of violence.
Violence against women is the cruelest manifestation of gender-based discrimination and inequality, and despite numerous international agreements to eradicate it, the trend has continued, ever more bloodily, fueled by a patriarchal society in which women are the undervalued sex.
“The continuation of violence against women in the 21st century is inconceivable and unacceptable,” says Célia Leão, a state deputy from São Paulo, Brazil, and a key member of the first Parliamentary Investigation Commission on violence against women in that state in the mid-1990s.
One of society’s greatest challenges is for violence against women to be considered a human rights violation.
The Yemen Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) was carried by the Ministry of Health. Financial and technical support was provided by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and The Pan Arab Project for Family Health (PAPFAM), League of Arab States.
The survey has been conducted as part of the third round of MICS surveys (MICS3), carried out around the world in more than 50 countries, in 2005-2007, following the first two rounds of MICS surveys that were conducted in 1995 and the year 2000. Survey tools are based on the models and standards developed by the global MICS project, designed to collect information on the situation of children and women in countries around the world. Additional information on the global MICS project may be obtained from www.childinfo.org.
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The acceptability of domestic violence against women (DVAW) plays an important part in shaping the social environment in which the victims are embedded, which in turn may contribute either to perpetuate or to reduce the levels of DVAW in our societies. This study analyses correlates of the acceptability of DVAW in the European Union (EU).
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.
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.
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.