In this post, we look at how human rights offer protection for women facing gender-based violence.
What is International Day of the Elimination of Violence Against Women?
25 November every year marks a day to combat and raise awareness about violence against women. The day is the anniversary of the assassination of the Mirabal sisters. These sisters were political activists who were killed for opposing the Dominican dictator in 1960. In 1999, a UN resolution made VAW day official.
What is violence against women?
Violence against women is any act resulting in physical, sexual, or psychological harm or suffering to women based on their gender. It also includes threats of any such acts, coercion or deprivation of liberty, in public or private space.
A UN Women infographic breaks down the categories of violence against women. Take a look at this fabulous infographic for some shocking statistics, like 32 countries say that a man cannot be accused of raping his wife.
What is our government doing about it?
The UK has signed the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). CEDAW demonstrates a commitment to end discrimination against women in all forms, including violence against women. You can learn more about CEDAW here.
The UK government recognises its responsibility to protect the human rights of women who experience violence against women and there are laws and policies to protect survivors of violence against women. For example:
- a new domestic abuse law acknowledges that controlling and coercive behaviour can limit a victim’s human rights.
- Clare’s law allows police to disclose information about an individual’s partner’s abusive past.
- The new law against modern slavery creates a legal duty to try to tackle human trafficking.
- The law against female genital mutilation defines FGM and says that failure to protect a girl at risk of FGM is a criminal offence.
How does human rights law help?
- Right to life: Any form of violence against women that places a women’s life at risk raises concerns of the right to life. Read more about the right to life under Article 2 here.
- Right not to be subjected to torture or inhuman and degrading treatment: All forms of violence against women meet the definition of either inhuman treatment (treatment causing intense physical or mental suffering) or degrading treatment (when it humiliates or debases a person beyond usual punishment). This right extends to allegations of inhuman treatment, including date rape, and imposes a responsibility on the police to investigate such allegations. In terms of FGM, case law has held that FGM is a human rights issue, as it “will almost inevitably amount to either torture or to other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.” Read more about Article 3 here.
- Right to a home life: Women in the UK who have experienced domestic abuse and are reliant on their partner’s right to remain, can leave their partner and apply to settle in their own right under Article 8. Read more about Article 8 here.
- Right not to be discriminated against: Article 14 provides that everyone shall enjoy their human rights as set out in the ECHR without any discrimination. VAW is a form of discrimination which directly infringes on the enjoyment of various human rights.
Violence against women is one of the most prevalent human rights abuses around the world. Today we join activists around the world in the fight for its elimination.
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- To find out more about FGM, read about it here.
- To read more about why women’s rights are human rights, see here.
- Learn more about amazing people doing great things for women’s right here.
- Read no. 32 of our Top 50 cases about the Black Cab Rapist here.
- What Is CEDAW And Why Does It Matter To Women Worldwide? here