This expert paper was written by Dr. Dubravka Simonovic, a member of the UN CEDAW Committee, for the expert group meeting on the ‘Prevention of violence against women and girls’ (September 2012). The purpose of the meeting was to contribute to a deeper understanding of violence against women and girls, in preparation for 57th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW).
In the introduction, the author writes about the importance of the CEDAW Convention (1979) and its Optional Protocol (2000). Although there is not a specific global convention on the prevention of violence against women, CEDAW protects women from all forms of discrimination, including violence against women. However, gender-based violence, especially domestic violence, remains the most common and widespread violation of women’s human rights. The author then goes on to describe the significance of CEDAW in international human rights law, highlighting important features, such as its comprehensiveness and adaptability. Although CEDAW does not contain an explicit article on violence against women, the CEDAW Committee has recommended an interpretation of violence against women as falling under the convention. Before examining this recommendation in more depth, the author describes the main principles and key concepts of CEDAW.
The following sections discuss the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (DATE), looking particularly at its relationship to CEDAW; the UN Declaration on Violence against Women (CEDAW), adopted in 1993; development at the regional level, with particular focus on the Istanbul Convention, adopted by the Council of Europe in 2011; and the jurisprudence of CEDAW, referring to specific cases on violence against women brought before the CEDAW Committee under the Optional Protocol. The final section describes the function of the CEDAW Committee’s concluding observations and related follow-up procedure (introduced in 2008), and provides a brief synopsis of the most important concerns raised by the Committee over the years regarding violence against women. This synopsis is divided into these topics: reservations, legislation and implementation, comprehensive approaches in preventing and combating violence against women, articles and stereotypes, provision of support measures for victims of domestic violence, and data and research. On this last topic, the author writes that, “the Committee has consistently called attention to the limited availability of data on various forms of violence against women and has called for data collection relevant for the prevalence of violence against women.