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24 November 2022
International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women
25 November 2022
GENEVA (24 November 2022) –Increased and relentless attacks on the bodily autonomy of women and girls on the basis of religion, culture and politics are among the most pervasive manifestations of violence against them, UN experts* said today. Ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, the experts issued the following statement:
“We remain deeply concerned about the intensification of the well-organised global pushback against gender equality and increasing threats preventing women and girls from living a life in dignity, security and freedom from violence. Women and girls all over the world continue to experience multiple manifestations of gender-based violence.
Among the most pervasive and worrisome manifestations of violence against women and girls are the increased and relentless attacks on their bodily autonomy and access to sexual and reproductive health rights under social, cultural, religious, or political arguments, putting their lives, health, and well-being at risk.
Violence against women and girls continues to be amplified in digital spaces, particularly targeting those who are active in political and public life, exercising their freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly, and association. Women human rights defenders, women lawyers, women politicians and journalists and women and girls belonging to minority groups are often targets. While several State and non-State actors have taken important initiatives to strengthen normative frameworks for the prevention of online violence against women and girls and to improve protection, much remains to be done. Technology providers and intermediaries need to strengthen cooperation with human rights mechanisms and develop coordinated strategies in partnership with States, tech companies and other relevant stakeholders.
These realities are concerning, given the multiple large scale and compounded crises that the world is facing today. In recent years, all States and societies have been confronted with the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the food crisis, and the climate crisis - all of which have proven to be gendered crises that have affected the lives of women of all ages differently and disproportionately. Extreme poverty as well as socioeconomic inequality is expected to increase drastically for women in comparison to men.
While violence against women of all ages and girls is rampant both in times of peace and conflict, sexual violence continues to be regularly and systematically weaponised in conflict settings. Access by victims and survivors of sexual violence in conflict to justice, assistance, protection, and reparations often continues to be inexistent. The intensification of gender-based persecution in several countries marred by conflict is particularly alarming.
We remain concerned by the continued appalling treatment of women and girls across various jurisdictions, which prevents women and girls from participating fully in all public spheres of life and deprives them of their human rights by virtue of being women and girls.
Despite the spate of violence against women and girls specifically, few countries have criminalised femicide or gender-related killings of women and girls as a separate crime, while the collection of sufficient and relevant data is severely lacking. Investing in the collection of comprehensive reliable data, disaggregated by sex, age and gender, is an essential and minimum first step that would allow countries to meaningfully tackle this reality.
It is also time that States recognise the nexus that exists between violence against women and violence against children, particularly in the management of custody cases. Several international and regional human rights mechanisms already voiced their concern over patterns across various jurisdictions of the world that ignore intimate partner violence against women in determining child custody cases. We therefore remind States of their due diligence obligation under international law to take all measures necessary to prevent gender-based violence against women and children, including harmful practices.
Despite the monumental collective challenges confronting women and girls worldwide, established normative frameworks that ensure the enjoyment of human rights by women and girls and their protection are being systematically undermined by a range of State and non-State actors attempting to reverse the gains made in achieving gender equality. States must demonstrate active commitment to their responsibilities by countering false narratives that seek to discredit these crucial legal frameworks and to ensuring their relevance and viability.
To address the ongoing complex crises of our times, as well as other issues that affect the lives of women and girls, all stakeholders must apply a robust and transformative gender lens and human rights-based approach to all their undertakings and initiatives.”
*The experts: Reem Alsalem, Special Rapporteur on violence against women and girls, its causes and consequences; Dorothy Estrada Tanck (Chair), Ivana Radačić (Vice-Chair), Elisabeth Broderick, Meskerem Geset Techane and Melissa Upreti Working Group on discrimination against women and girls; Victor Madrigal-Borloz,Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity; Siobhán Mullally,Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children; Mama Fatima Singhateh,Special Rapporteur on sale and sexual exploitation of children;Clément Nyaletsossi Voule, Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association; Ian Fry, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of climate change; Fernand de Varennes,UN Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues; Mary Lawlor,Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; Felipe González Morales,Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants; Michael Fakhri, Special Rapporteur on the right to food; Claudia Mahler Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons;
Morris Tidball-Binz,Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Nazila Ghanea, Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief; Mr. Saad Alfarargi, Special Rapporteur on the right to development; Ana Brian Nougrères Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy; Pedro Arrojo-Agudo,Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation; Muluka-Anne Miti-Drummond, Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism,; Miriam Estrada-Castillo (Chair-Rapporteur), Mumba Malila (Vice-chairperson), Priya Gopalan, Matthew Gillett, and Ganna Yudkivska – Working Group on arbitrary detention; Fernanda Hopenhaym (Chairperson), Pichamon Yeophantong (Vice-Chairperson), Elżbieta Karska, Robert McCorquodale and Damilola Olawuyi, Working Group on Business and Human Rights, Alioune Tine, Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Mali, ; Mohamed Abdelsalam Babiker, Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Eritrea; Yao Agbetse Independent Expert on the Human Rights Situation for the Central African Republic; Catherine S. Namakula, Chair, Barbara G. Reynolds, Vice-Chair, Dominique Day, Miriam Ekiudoko and Sushil Raj Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent;Sorcha MacLeod (Chair-Rapporteur), Jelena Aparac, Ravindran Daniel, Chris Kwaja, Carlos Salazar,Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination; Richard Bennett, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan; Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women; Committee on the Rights of the Child, Tomoya Obokata, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, including its causes and consequences, Ms. Paula Gaviria Betancur, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons.
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.
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