Women 2000: Gender Equality, Dev., and Peace

From: WEEAPUB@edc.org
Date: Mon Jul 26 1999 - 10:40:38 EDT

Beijing Plus 5 meeting

The UN General Assembly (resolution 52/231) will convene a Special Session,
Women 2000: Gender Equality, Development and Peace (5-9 June 2000), that
is critical to women around the world. The Session will assess the
progress achieved in the implementation of the Nairobi Forward-looking
Strategies for the Advancement of Women and the Beijing Platform for
Action, five years after its adoption. It will also consider further
actions and initiatives. This session will be pivotal to women's future!

The Commission on the Status of Women is the preparatory committee for
the review. In March 2000, the Commission on the Status of Women will
hold a session to review and appraise progress, and consider further
actions and initiatives.

This is a tremendous opportunity to have an impact on the status of
women around the globe! But we must act quickly! We would like to present your
input into the regional meetings which will prepare for the Commission on the
Status of Women's global meeting 5-24 March 2000.


Thus, we propose the following Agenda beginning Monday, 26 July 1999.
The Beijing Platform for Action defines "violence against women" and
presents three major Strategic Objectives (SOs) and several "Actions to
be Taken" to end that violence. We have presented the PFA definition of
violence against women at the end of this message.

During the coming months, we will post each SO and the "Actions to be
Taken," and ask you to:

* Develop a consensus on core, absolutely essential actions that must be
taken by governments, community organizations, non-governmental
organizations, educational institutions, commercial enterprises, and the
mass media. These can include both actions already embodied in the
Platform as well as new actions/initiatives

* Determine progress that has already been made to achieve the Strategic

* Identify the lessons learned, and specific good practices, successful
strategies and activities that have been conducted, which further the
Strategic Objectives (you have identified many of these, but we want to
link them directly to the Strategic Objectives)

* Identify the obstacles that remain, and propose recommendations for
overcoming them

During this period, members are also welcome to raise other topics they
would like to discuss - please let us know.

As ever, with deep thanks for your generous contributions and wonderful

The UNIFEM Task Force

* * * * * * * * * * * *


Excerpt: D. Violence against women

112. Violence against women is an obstacle to the achievement of the
objectives of equality, development and peace. Violence against women
both violates and impairs or nullifies the enjoyment by women of their
human rights and fundamental freedoms. The long-standing failure to
protect and promote those rights and freedoms in the case of violence
against women is a matter of concern to all States and should be
addressed. Knowledge about its causes and consequences, as well as its
incidence and measures to combat it, have been greatly expanded since
the Nairobi Conference. In all societies, to a greater or lesser
degree, women and girls are subjected to physical, sexual and
psychological abuse that cuts across lines of income, class and culture.
The low social and economic status of women can be both a cause and a
consequence of violence against women.

113. 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 private life.

Accordingly, violence against women encompasses but is not 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,
     non-spousal 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.

114. Other acts of violence against women include violation of the human
rights of women in situations of armed conflict, in particular murder,
systematic rape, sexual slavery and forced pregnancy.

115. Acts of violence against women also include forced sterilization
and forced abortion, coercive/forced use of contraceptives, female
infanticide and prenatal sex selection.

116. Some groups of women, such as women belonging to minority groups,
indigenous women, refugee women, women migrants, including women migrant
workers, women in poverty living in rural or remote communities,
destitute women, women in institutions or in detention, female children,
women with disabilities, elderly women, displaced women, repatriated
women, women living in poverty and women in situations of armed
conflict, foreign occupation, wars of aggression, civil wars, terrorism,
including hostage-taking, are also particularly vulnerable to violence.

117. Acts or threats of violence, whether occurring within the home or
in the community, or perpetrated or condoned by the State, instil fear
and insecurity in women's lives and are obstacles to the achievement of
equality and for development and peace. The fear of violence, including
harassment, is a permanent constraint on the mobility of women and
limits their access to resources and basic activities. High social,
health and economic costs to the individual and society are associated
with violence against women. Violence against women is one of the
crucial social mechanisms by which women are forced into a subordinate
position compared with men. In many cases, violence against women and
girls occurs in the family or within the home, where violence is often
tolerated. The neglect, physical and sexual abuse, and rape of girl
children and women by family members and other members of the household,
as well as incidences of spousal and non-spousal abuse, often go
unreported and are thus difficult to detect. Even when such violence is
reported, there is often a failure to protect victims or punish

118. Violence against women is a manifestation of the historically
unequal power relations between men and women, which have led to
domination over and discrimination against women by men and to the
prevention of women's full advancement. Violence against women
throughout the life cycle derives essentially from cultural patterns, in
particular the harmful effects of certain traditional or customary
practices and all acts of extremism linked to race, sex, language or
religion that perpetuate the lower status accorded to women in the
family, the workplace, the community and society. Violence against
women is exacerbated by social pressures, notably the shame of
denouncing certain acts that have been perpetrated against women;
women's lack of access to legal information, aid or protection; the lack
of laws that effectively prohibit violence against women; failure to
reform existing laws; inadequate efforts on the part of public
authorities to promote awareness of and enforce existing laws; and the
absence of educational and other means to address the causes and
consequences of violence. Images in the media of violence against
women, in particular those that depict rape or sexual slavery as well as
the use of women and girls as sex objects, including pornography, are
factors contributing to the continued prevalence of such violence,
adversely influencing the community at large, in particular children and
young people.

119. Developing a holistic and multidisciplinary approach to the
challenging task of promoting families, communities and States that are
free of violence against women is necessary and achievable. Equality,
partnership between women and men and respect for human dignity must
permeate all stages of the socialization process. Educational systems
should promote self-respect, mutual respect, and cooperation between
women and men.

120. The absence of adequate gender-disaggregated data and statistics on
the incidence of violence makes the elaboration of programmes and
monitoring of changes difficult. Lack of or inadequate documentation
and research on domestic violence, sexual harassment and violence
against women and girls in private and in public, including the
workplace, impede efforts to design specific intervention strategies.
Experience in a number of countries shows that women and men can be
mobilized to overcome violence in all its forms and that effective
public measures can be taken to address both the causes and the
consequences of violence. Men's groups mobilizing against gender
violence are necessary allies for change.

121. Women may be vulnerable to violence perpetrated by persons in
positions of authority in both conflict and non-conflict situations.
Training of all officials in humanitarian and human rights law and the
punishment of perpetrators of violent acts against women would help to
ensure that such violence does not take place at the hands of public
officials in whom women should be able to place trust, including police
and prison officials and security forces.
122. The effective suppression of trafficking in women and girls for the
sex trade is a matter of pressing international concern. Implementation
of the 1949 Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and
of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others, 20/ as well as other
relevant instruments, needs to be reviewed and strengthened. The use of
women in international prostitution and trafficking networks has become
a major focus of international organized crime. The Special Rapporteur
of the Commission on Human Rights on violence against women, who has
explored these acts as an additional cause of the violation of the human
rights and fundamental freedoms of women and girls, is invited to
address, within her mandate and as a matter of urgency, the issue of
international trafficking for the purposes of the sex trade, as well as
the issues of forced prostitution, rape, sexual abuse and sex tourism.
Women and girls who are victims of this international trade are at an
increased risk of further violence, as well as unwanted pregnancy and
sexually transmitted infection, including infection with HIV/AIDS.

123. In addressing violence against women, Governments and other actors
should promote an active and visible policy of mainstreaming a gender
perspective in all policies and programmes so that before decisions are
taken an analysis may be made of their effects on women and men,

(The entire PFA can be found at

Forwarded from END-VIOLENCE
Susan Carter

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