UN Release: Rashida Manjoo calls for a legally binding global treaty on violence against women

From a United Nations Press Release:

UN expert calls for a legally binding global treaty for the elimination of violence against women

NEW YORK / GENEVA (26 October 2014) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Rashida Manjoo, today told the UN General Assembly that the absence of a legally binding agreement at the international level represents one of the obstacles to the promotion and protection of women’s rights and gender equality.

The UN expert reiterated her concern that continuing 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. She also recommended the need to address the legal gap in protection, prevention and accountability in respect of violence against women.

“A different set of laws and practical measures are urgently needed to respond to and prevent the systemic, widespread and pervasive human rights violation experienced largely by women,” Ms. Manjoo said during the presentation of her last report* to the global body in New York.

She argued that with a specific legally binding instrument, a protective, preventive and educative framework would be established, reaffirming the international community’s assertion that women’s rights are human rights and that violence against women is a pervasive and widespread human rights violation, in and of itself.

“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,” she said.

“However,” Ms. Manjoo stated, “despite this progress, both continuing and new sets of challenges hamper efforts to promote and protect the human rights of women, largely due to the lack of a all-inclusive approach that addresses individual, institutional and structural factors that are a cause and a consequence of violence against women.”

The expert’s report analyses the impact of violence against women on the effective exercise of all human rights and also citizenship rights. By viewing violence against women through the citizenship framework, it emphasizes women’s participation, autonomy and agency, highlighting the importance of women participating as full citizens in their communities.

The report also exposes the role that gender-based violence plays in impeding women’s realization of a broad range of human rights that are essential to the exercise of full, inclusive and participatory citizenship.

“Violence against women is a pervasive human rights violation that needs to be seen as a barrier to the realization and enjoyment of all human rights,” the Special Rapporteur said.

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,” Ms. Manjoo highlighted.

The Special Rapporteur urged States to fulfill their responsibilities for preventing and responding to violence against women and girls, both in the public and private spheres.

“Transformative change requires that the words and actions of States’ reflects the acknowledgement that violence against women is a human rights violation, in and of itself; and more importantly it requires a commitment by States’ to be bound by specific legal obligations in the quest for elimination of this pervasive and widespread human rights violation,” she concluded.

(*) Check the Special Rapporteur’s report: http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N14/523/34/PDF/N1452334.pdf?OpenElement

ENDS

Ms. Rashida Manjoo (South Africa) was appointed Special Rapporteur on Violence against women, its causes and consequences in June 2009 by the UN Human Rights Council. Ms. Manjoo holds a part-time position as a Professor in the Department of Public Law of the University of Cape Town.

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 independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms of the Human Rights Council 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. Learn more, visit: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Women/SRWomen/Pages/SRWomenIndex.aspx

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