GENEVA (16 June 2014) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Rashida Manjoo, warned that persisting and new challenges still obstruct efforts to promote and protect women’s rights and gender equality, and called for the adoption of different norms and measures to fight violence against women around the world.
In her latest report* to the UN Human Rights Council, Ms. Manjoo noted that the absence of a legally binding agreement at the international level to address violence against women, and the shift from gender specificity to gender neutrality in States’ responses to violence against women are among the main challenges to be addressed.
“The systemic, widespread and pervasive human rights violation, experienced largely by women, demands a different set of normative and practical measures to respond to and prevent it; and importantly to achieve the international law obligation of substantive equality,” the human rights expert stressed .
Her report highlights other continuing challenges to address violence against women, including the persisting public/private dichotomy in responses to violence against women; the shift in focus to a men and boys agenda; the failure of States’ to act with due diligence; and the lack of transformative remedies to address the root causes of violence against women.
“Twenty years after the adoption of the UN Declaration on the Elimination of violence against women and of the establishment of my mandate, I am encouraged by the milestones achieved in advancing women’s rights and gender equality, at the national, regional and international levels,” Ms. Manjoo said.
“Despite this progress,” she noted, “both persisting and new sets of challenges hinder efforts to promote and protect the human rights of women, largely due to the lack of a holistic approach that addresses individual, institutional and structural factors that are a cause and a consequence of violence against women.”
She also pointed out that the current austerity measures have had a disproportionate impact, not only in the availability and quality of services for women and girls victims of violence, but more generally, in areas such as poverty reduction measures, employment opportunities and benefit schemes.
“Such Issues affect women disproportionally,” the Special Rapporteur underscored.
“It is important to recognize that the reduction in the number and quality of specialized services for women does impact the health and safety of women and children, and further restricts their choices when considering leaving an abusive relationship, thus putting them at a heightened risk of re-victimization,” the UN expert stressed.
Ms. Manjoo urged States to prioritize violence against women in their national agenda, and called on Governments to reflect on the gaps in the international normative framework to address violence against women, with a view to enhancing monitoring, evaluation and accountability.