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UN Special rapporteur challenges Argentina to step up protection of women in “machismo culture”

BUENOS AIRES (21 November 2016) – Argentina has “significant shortcomings” in its systems to prevent violence against women, a United Nations human rights expert has warned.

Ending her first official visit* to the country, the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, Dubravka Šimonović, said violence was sometimes still tolerated in a “machismo culture”, and systems to prevent attacks were not fully functional.  

She praised the country for making strides forward in its efforts to tackle the killing of women (femicide) and other forms of violence, but said more work was needed for Argentina to meet its international obligations and to tackle entrenched patriarchal attitudes and gender stereotypes.

“The Government should now intensify its actions to prevent and combat femicide and other forms of gender-based violence, to secure the right of each and every woman and girl to live a life free from violence,” said Ms. Šimonović.

“Women who have suffered violence are faced with the lack of a systematic, coherent and effective implementation of international and federal legal standards across the country, resulting in significant variations between provinces and in differing levels of protection for women and girls.”

The Special Rapporteur said she was particularly concerned that under the federal Criminal Procedure Code, prosecution of sexual offences was not conducted ex officio, signifying that sexual violence was seen as a private matter.

“This type of regulation sends the wrong message that rape and sexual violence are a private matter and not a public concern,” she said.  “I am also concerned that the definition of rape is not based on lack of consent, but is connected with use of force, in violation of internationally recognized standards.” 

She urged the authorities to take concrete steps including implementing recently adopted legislation on comprehensive protection for women, building extra shelters and establishing full support services for victims.

The Special Rapporteur praised Argentina’s Ni Una Menos (Not One Less) movement for putting the issue of femicide in the “limelight” and attracting world attention.

Ms. Šimonović welcomed the decision of the Ombudsman’s Office to establish a femicide observatory, in line with the modalities provided in the mandate’s report to the UN general Assembly A/71/389, but called for improved collection of official data including on the killings of transgender people.

During her eight-day visit, Ms. Šimonović met federal and provincial officials, civil society organizations and victims of violence, as well as UN officials. She visited the capital, Buenos Aires, and the provinces of Buenos Aires, Tucuman and Corrientes.

Ms Šimonović highlighted significant progress including the adoption of the law on comprehensive protection and a National Action Plan for 2017-2019, providing an institutional and policy framework aimed at accelerating the elimination of violence and discrimination and promoting gender equality at federal level.

The Special Rapporteur also called for an increase in the budget of the National Council of Women and raising its visibility and status.
Other key areas of progress included the operation of a 24/7 hotline for victims and improvements to the legal aid system.

“This is particularly alarming taking into consideration the fact that one third of the country’s population lives below the poverty line and women in impoverished communities are the most likely to become victims and the least likely to be able to afford legal assistance,” said Ms. Šimonović.

The Special Rapporteur will present a report with final findings and recommendations to the UN Human Rights Council in June 2017.
(*) Check the Special Rapporteur’s full end-of-mission statement:
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=20901&LangID=E

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.

UN Human Rights, Country Page – Argentina: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/LACRegion/Pages/ARIndex.aspx

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