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New UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women to assess the situation in South Africa

GENEVA (2 December 2015) – United Nations Special Rapporteur Dubravka Šimonović will visit South Africa from 4 to 11 December to examine the overall situation of violence against women and girls in the country, and gather first-hand information from victims and survivors of violence.

“Violence against women continues to be one of the most pervasive human rights violations globally, affecting every country in the world,” Ms. Šimonović said announcing her first visit to South Africa as the new expert charged by the UN Human Rights Council with monitoring, reporting and advising on the situation of women and violence across the world.

“When women and girls experience violence, they are denied access to fundamental human rights,” she stressed. “States have a primary responsibility to take effective action to eliminate violence against women, so it is ultimately up to State authorities to make its eradication a reality.”

During her eight-day visit, the Special Rapporteur will meet with Government authorities, civil society representatives and other stakeholders in Pretoria, Johannesburg, Diepsloot, Cape Town and East London. She will also visit shelters and a detention center, and will meet with individual victims of gender-based violence.

“I am grateful to the South African Government for the invitation to conduct an official visit to the country and I look forward to engaging in a constructive dialogue with all relevant authorities to address this scourge that continues to affect women and girls,” Ms. Šimonović added.

The Special Rapporteur will hold a press conference on the initial findings of her visit on Friday 11 November 2015 at 11:00 in the Sheraton Hotel Pretoria, (643 Corner Stanza Bopape and Wessels Street, Arcadia, Pretoria). Access to the press conference is strictly limited to journalists.

Based on the information obtained during the visit, Ms. Šimonović will present a report with final findings and recommendations to the Human Rights Council in June 2016.

Ms. Dubravka Šimonović (Croatia) was appointed as Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences by the UN Human Rights Council in June 2015, to recommend measures, ways and means, at the national, regional and international levels, to eliminate violence against women and its causes, and to remedy its consequences. Ms. Šimonović has been member of the CEDAW Committee from 2002 to 2014. She headed the Human Rights Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Croatia and was the Minister Plenipotentiary at the Permanent Mission of Croatia to the UN in New York. She was also Ambassador to the OSCE and UN in Vienna. She co-chaired the Ad hoc Committee (CAHVIO) of the Council of Europe that elaborated the Convention on Preventing and Combatting Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention).She has a PhD in Family Law and published books and articles on human rights and women’s rights. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Women/SRWomen/Pages/SRWomenIndex.aspx

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

For more information and media requests, please contact Ms. Nathalie Stadelmann (nstadelmann@ohchr.org / +41 79 201 0122), Ms. Aleksandra Plesko (aplesko@ohchr.org / +27 79 876 6802) or write to vaw@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)  

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