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International Day on the Elimination of Violence against Women – 25 November 2018

End the global epidemic of femicide (#NiUnaMenos) and support women speaking up against violence against women (#MeToo)

GENEVA (24 November 2018)Ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, its Causes and Consequences (SRVAW) and the platform of key United Nations and regional expert mechanisms on Violence Against Women, including the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the United Nations Working Group on the Issue of Discrimination against Women in Law and in Practice (WGDAW),the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women in Africa of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the Rapporteur on the Rights of Women of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR),the Committee of Experts of the Follow-up Mechanism to the Belém do Pará  Convention (MESECVI)and the Council of Europe Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (GREVIO),*

 jointly call on all States and all relevant stakeholders worldwide to end the global epidemic of femicide or gender-related killings of women, and gender-based violence against women.

Available data from both States and the United Nations indicate that among the victims of all intentional killings involving intimate partners (in which there is an established intimate relationship between perpetrator and victim) almost 80% of victims are women. Most of these deaths are preventable. Intimate partner, family related, and other femicides, or gender-related killing of women persists in all corners of the world as a global epidemic that permeates both the private and public spheres (as recognized by the 2015 UN General Assembly resolution on taking action against gender-related killing of women and girls (A/RES/70/176)). The MESECVI and many States (Australia, Austria, Ecuador, Egypt, Canada, Colombia, Georgia, Guatemala, Italy, Nicaragua, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the UK and Mexico), some academic institutions and NGOs (from Croatia, Spain, the UK and Australia) have provided data on femicide to the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women that are available on the mandate website
(https://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Women/SRWomen/Pages/CallForFemicide.aspx).

Despite the global reach of Sustainable Development Goal 5, which calls for the achievement of gender equality, and specifically (target 5.1), which further commits States to eliminate all forms of violence against women, girls and adolescents, and reaffirms the aim of the international and regional women’s rights instruments in this regard, its implementation remains a challenge for all States. Additionally, there are numerous push back efforts that continue to undermine gender equality and empowerment of women by attacking and misconstruing the term gender, in spite of its use in UN documents (including the International Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, and CEDAW’s General Recommendation No. 35) to define violence against women as gender-based violence. 

Regional legal frameworks such as the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention), the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women (Belém do Pará Convention) and the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of  Women in Africa  ( the Maputo Protocol ) affirm that violence against women constitutes a violation of their human rights and a form of discrimination, that it is an offence against human dignity and that it is a manifestation of the historically unequal power relations between women and men.

The #MeToo movement has also demonstrated that violence against women, girls and adolescents is happening throughout our communities and affecting us all. It impacts women from all social backgrounds, of all ages, and in all professional settings, and is deeply linked to damaging gender stereotypes and women’s lack of equality.

While the movement has broken the silence on sexual harassment and other forms of sexual violence, for the most part, it has not always been followed by adequate reforms of laws and policies, nor has it produced much needed results and changes in women’s daily lives. International and regional mechanisms should capitalize on this transformative movement to re-affirm States’ obligations under various human rights instruments that protect women’s rights in order to promote lasting change.

The Experts also highlight that gender-based violence remains widely unpunished across the world. As women, girls and adolescents strive access to fair, unbiased and opportune justice, impunity prevails in cases of femicide, sexual violence, harassment and other violent and discriminatory crimes against them. As such, States must comply with their international and regional obligations in terms of their due diligence to investigate, identify those responsible and hold them accountable. The prevalence of impunity breeds social tolerance to this phenomenon which perpetuates these inadmissible crimes.

Indeed, new forms of gender-based violence against women have been emerging, including online violence against women, which is spreading rapidly and poses a significant risk. The so-called “doxing”, “sextortion” and “trolling”, as well as the non-consensual distribution of intimate content (or “revenge porn”), have already been used as methods of intimidation against women human rights defenders, women in politics, journalists, bloggers, young women, women belonging to ethnic minorities and indigenous women, afro-descendant women, LBTIQ women, women with disabilities and women from marginalized groups. Internet intermediaries (such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, Instagram and others), as well as States share a joint responsibility to prevent and address such cyber violence against women.

The lack of inclusion in political decision-making and societal leadership helps to fuel the myriad other human rights violations that women face on a daily basis, including acts of discrimination against women in the areas of work, education, marriage and property rights, as well as the denial of sexual and reproductive services and rights, including safe and legal abortion. Harmful practices such as disappearances, human trafficking for sexual purposes, female genital mutilation, child and forced marriage, and bride kidnapping, are all forms of gender-based violence that are exacerbated by the persistent discriminatory gender stereotypes that prevent women from fully exercising their autonomy and enjoying their rightful dignity as human beings.

In addition, as more women have become involved in politics, all of the international and regional mechanisms have received information on various manifestations of political violence, from harassment through social media or sexist media coverage of women politicians to the femicide of women politicians at the local level in several countries. The development of concrete tools to identify and address these emerging and increasing forms of violence against women who exercise their political rights is a crucial component of the protection of democratic governance.

Where national governments fail to take measures to prevent sexual violence and harassment or fail to ensure that perpetrators can be held accountable, international and regional mechanisms stand ready to hold them to account.  Regional human rights standards and human rights organizations have a key role to play in combatting gender-based killings, sexual violence, harassment and all other forms of violence against women.

The Experts, therefore, call for strengthened cooperation between independent global and regional mechanisms, as common synergies and efforts to address violence against women under the existing normative framework on human rights, which will contribute to closing gaps in combating and preventing violence against women worldwide. The Experts also call for the inclusion of monitoring mechanisms to ensure full implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 5.

In this regard, the undersigned mechanisms urge States, civil society and other stakeholders, to intensify efforts to eradicate violence against women and to ensure that gender-based violence is no longer tolerated, and reiterate their call to end the global epidemic of gender-based killings or femicides (#NiUnaMenos) and support the voices of those speaking up against endemic violence against women (#MeToo).

ENDS
 
(*) The UN and regional women’s human rights mechanisms are as follows: Dubravka Šimonovic, Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences; the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women; the UN Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice; the Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence of the Council of Europe;Lucy Asuagbor, Special Rapporteur on Rights of Women in Africa of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights; Margarette May Macaulay, ; and Sylvia Mesa, President of the Committee of Experts of the Follow-up Mechanism to the Belém do Pará Convention.

(*) Report of the Special rapporteur to the General Assembly of the United Nations on the modalities of establishing femicide watch (A/71/398)

For more information and media inquiries please contact:

For the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women: Ms. Orlagh McCann (+41 22 917 9002 / omccann@ohchr.org) or Maria Roberta Serrentino (mserrentino@ohchr.org/ +41 22 917 9915)
 
For the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights: +220 441 05 05 / 441 05 06 / au-banjul@africa-union.org    

For the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights: Ms. María Isabel Rivero (+1 202 370 9001 / mrivero@oas.org)

For GREVIO: Ms. Liri Kopaçi-Di Michele (+33667414625 / liri.kopaci-dimichele@coe.int)

For the Follow-Up Mechanism to the Belém do Pará Convention (MESECVI): Ms. Javiera Sandoval (+1 202 370 4572, jsandoval@oas.org)