Violence against women is a human rights issue
Sunday, Feb 6, 2011 6:19 pm
Violence against women is a violation of women’s fundamental human rights;
The right not to be treated in an inhuman and degrading way
The right to respect for private and family life (including the right to physical and psychological integrity)
The right to life
In his 2006 report on violence against women, the UN Secretary General calls for States to implement a Plan of Action in order to ensure compliance with their UN commitments. He states that ‘the continued prevalence of violence against women is testimony to the fact that States have yet to tackle it with the necessary political commitment, visibility and resources... Work to end violence against women requires not only a clear demonstration of political commitment but also systematic and sustained action, backed by strong, dedicated and permanent institutional mechanisms.’
The report calls for a more cohesive and strategic approach from governments.
Violence against women is an equality issue

Violence against women is both a cause and a consequence of inequality.
EVAW is a member of the Equality and Diversity Forum which is a network of national organisations committed to progress on age, disability, gender, race, religion and belief, sexual orientation and broader equality and human rights issues.
Equality and Human Rights Commission

The Equality & Human Rights Commission (EHRC) was set up in October 2007. It replaces the existing equality commissions, the Equal Opportunities Commission, the Commission for Racial Equality and the Disability Rights Commission.

Inquiry into Human Rights in Britain

The EHRC has launched an inquiry to find out how human rights works in Britain, in line with the Commission's powers under section 16 of the Equality Act 2006. The inquiry was launched on 21 April 2008 and is expected to be completed in December 2008. The Commission has issued a call for evidence and invitation to tender as part of the inquiry. Further details on the Inquiry and call for evidence is here.
UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women

For the purposes of this Declaration, the term “violence against women” means any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life. Violence against women shall be understood to encompass, but not be limited to, the following:
(a) Physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring in the family, including battering, sexual abuse of female children in the household, dowry-related violence, marital rape, female genital mutilation and other traditional practices harmful to women, nonspousal violence and violence related to exploitation;
(b) Physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring within the general community, including rape, sexual abuse, sexual harassment and intimidation at work, in educational institutions and elsewhere, trafficking in women and forced prostitution
(c) Physical, sexual and psychological violence perpetrated or condoned by the State, wherever it occurs.
The Declaration calls on States to act with due diligence to prevent and respond to violence against women.

General recommendation 19 of the Convention on the Elimination Of All Forms Of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) defines gender-based violence as violence that is directed against a woman because she is a woman or that affects women disproportionately and declares it to be “a form of discrimination against women that seriously inhibits women’s ability to enjoy rights and freedoms on a basis of equality with men”.
The general recommendation makes clear that “states may be …responsible for private acts if they fail with due diligence to prevent violations of rights or to investigate and punish acts of violence, and for providing compensation”.
The UK signed up to the Optional Protocol to CEDAW at the end of 2004. This entitles individual women and groups of individual women to petition CEDAW on violations of the Convention. It also allows the Committee to launch enquiries into grave or systematic violations, including all forms of violence against women.
In July, the UK is reporting to the CEDAW Committee. EVAW is attending and has submitted a Shadow Thematic Report on Violence Against Women in the UK. Click here to download the report.
Click here for the UK Government's 6th Periodic CEDAW Report and here for the Women's National Commission's Shadow Report.
UN Special Rapporteur

The United Nations Commission on Human Rights appointed a Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, including its causes and consequences, in 1994. In 2003 the Commission agreed this resolution:“... emphasized the duty of Governments to... exercise due diligence to prevent, investigate and, in accordance with national legislation, punish acts of violence against women and to take appropriate and effective action concerning acts of violence against women, and to provide access to just and effective remedies and specialized, including medical, assistance to victims; affirmed, in this light, that violence against women constitutes a violation of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of women and that violence against women impairs or nullifies their enjoyment of those rights and freedoms.”
European action

The Roadmap for Equality between women and men (2006-2010) was adopted by the EC on 1 March 2006. One of its six priority areas for action is the eradication of all forms of gender-based violence.
The Council of Europe (COE) Member States adopted an action plan in 2005 which included two concrete measures to combat violence against women:
to set up a task force to combat violence against women, including domestic violence, and
to launch a campaign.
The campaign was launched in November 2006, and is being carried out jointly with the Parliamentary Assembly of the COE and the Council of Regional and Local Authorities. It focuses on domestic violence and covers four thematic areas: legal and policy measures, support and protection of victims, data collection and raising awareness.
The COE has encouraged Member States to make progress in these areas during the campaign and requested that each State appoints a high-level official and focal point for the COE campaign. Member States have also been urged to run their own national campaigns in parallel or as a follow up to the COE campaign. The UK Government has not yet launched a parallel national campaign.
In 2006 the Council of Europe published a stocktaking study which assessed progress on the protection of women from violence. The stocktaking study was drawn from the results of the monitoring framework to evaluate progress and implementation of the recommendation that was sent to all member states in 2005.
In 2007 the COE published an analytical study based on the results of the stocktake, to assess progress. However, the UK is notable for its absence, as it did not submit a response to the COE.
Click here for the COE report Combating violence against women: minimum standards for support services by Prof L Kelly and L Dubois

Human Rights Act 1998

The Human Rights Act incorporates the European Convention on Human Rights into domestic law. Articles of the Convention include:
The right not to be treated in an inhuman and degrading way
The right to respect for private and family life (ncluding the right to physical and psychological integrity)
The right to life.