Women's Human Rights Resources Database

 

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Case Law

1
A v. Croatia, App. No. 55164/08, (2010)

In A v Croatia, the Court reaffirmed that a State failure to provide women with protection against domestic violence can violate Article 8 of the Convention, the right to respect for private and family life. In this case, the State failure was not systemic; rather, the violation was established on the basis that the authorities failed to implement measures ordered by a domestic court, thus failing to provide the applicant with protection against further violence. A and her daughter had been subjected to violence at the hands of her husband from 2003 to 2006, followed by a number of attempts by A to file complaints against her husband between 2004 and 2009. The protective measures ordered were simply not enforced and the husband's jail sentences were not served.

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2
Bevacqua and S. v. Bulgaria, App. No. 71127/01, (2008).

The Bevacqua case was the first to recognize that a failure to protect a woman and her child from violence and harassment can constitute a violation of Article 8 of the Convention, the right to respect for private and family life. Bevacqua, along with her minor son, left Bulgaria for Italy after her divorce. She applied for an interim custody order, stating that her husband had battered her. Over the course of one year, Bevacqua was unable to obtain the order, and continued to be harassed and assaulted by her ex- husband. Despite repeated assaults, the police did nothing to assist Bevacqua, and upon complaining of their inaction, Bevacqua was told her that the issue was a "private matter". The Court held that Article 8 was violated based on the Bulgarian authorities' failure to protect Bevacqua and punish her husband for the assaults. The Court also found that the categorization by the Ministry of the Interior of the issue as a "private matter" was incompatible with the state's obligation to protect the applicant's family life. It is especially noteworthy that the Court chose to interpret Article 8 not as requiring the State to stay out of private and family matters, but rather as requiring the State to intervene where women face situations of violence in the private sphere.

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3
Branko Tomasic and Others v. Croatia, App. No. 46598/06, (2009)

The Tomasic decision affirmed the holding in Kontrova that a failure to protect women from domestic violence can result in the violation of the right to life (Article 2). The Court found such a violation in this case on the basis that death threats were not followed up on, despite being made to officials during psychiatric treatment in prison. The applicants, relatives of the mother and child victims M.T. and V.T., claimed that the State failed to exercise due diligence to protect the victims after M.T.s husband was released from prison. The husband was serving a jail sentence, along with compulsory psychiatric treatment, for threatening to kill his wife and their baby with a bomb. Shortly after his release, the husband shot and killed his wife and baby. The Court held that State officials, in this case, should have required the husband to undergo a psychiatric assessment before his release, required the husband to undergo the psychiatric treatment that he was sentenced to while in prison, and should have searched his vehicle and home after the death threats were reported. A failure to undertake all these actions amounted to a violation of the States positive obligations to uphold the right to life.

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4
Da Penha (Fernandes) v. Brazil, Inter-Am. Commn H.R., Report No. 54/01, OEA/Ser./L/V/II.111 Doc. 20 (2001)

Da Penha v Brazil was the first decision, under the Inter-American system and worldwide, to hold that a State had committed a human rights violation for failing to protect a woman from domestic violence. Maria De Penha Fernandes filed a petition against Brazil in 1998, alleging that the Brazilian government condoned the ongoing domestic violence perpetrated against her by her husband, which culminated in two attempted murders, the first of which left her paralyzed. Despite clear evidence implicating the perpetrator, the initial investigation into the complainant's situation began eight years after the first murder attempt, and a final sentence had not yet been reached at the time of the complaint, seventeen years later. The Commission found that the States failure to effectively prosecute violated the American Convention of Human Rights (CADH), namely the rights to a fair trial and to judicial protection (Articles 8 and 25). Articles 2 and 18 of the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man and Article 7 of the Convention of Belem do Para were also found to have been violated. One of the key elements of the Commission's decision is its focus on the pattern of negligence and ineffectiveness in the prosecution of violence against women cases. This case is also noteworthy for its discussion of temporal jurisdiction and the requirement that domestic remedies be exhausted. In Da Penha, the Commission shows a willingness to interpret its jurisdictional rules in favour of assuming jurisdiction.

5
E.S. and Others v. Slovakia, App. No. 8227/04, (2009)

In E.S., the Court confirmed its previous decisions in Bevacqua and Opuz by holding that State failures to protect women and children from domestic violence can violate Articles 3 (freedom from inhuman and degrading treatment) and 8 (respect for private and family life) of the European Convention on Human Rights. E.S., who was recently divorced from her husband and had obtained legal custody of their children, filed a criminal complaint against her husband stating that he had mistreated both her and the children, and had sexually abused one of their daughters. She requested interim measures ordering her husband to move out of the flat in which they were joint tenants. The courts denied her request, finding that it did not have the power to restrict the husbands right to use his property. E.S. was consequently required to move away with the children. Though the property interests were eventually severed, the fact that domestic law prevented E.S. from obtaining protection when she needed it was found to be in violation of the Convention. In finding that the Convention had been violated, the Court stated that the domestic authorities failed to protect the applicant and her children from ill treatment, and also failed to meet their positive obligations to respect the family and private lives of the applicants.

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6
Gonzales et al. (Cotton Field) v. Mexico, Preliminary Objection, Merits, Reparations, and Costs,, Inter-Am. Ct. H.R. (ser. C) No. 205 (Nov. 16, 2009)

The Cotton Field petition concerned the State's response to the disappearance, torture and murder of three young girls near Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, whose bodies were among eight found in a cotton field. This case is noteworthy for its application of the due diligence standard to assess the State's response to the girls' disappearances. The Court found the murders formed part of a systematic pattern of gender-based human rights abuses in the Ciudad Juarez region, as the murders shared common factors that were indicative of a pattern of violence against women. The Court highlighted that the victims were primarily girl children, a particularly vulnerable group identified in Article 9 of the Convention of Belem do Para. The Court also concluded that the police investigation of the disappearances was inefficient, incompetent and insensitive, and that this failure contributed to a climate of impunity in the Ciudad Juarez region. The Court consequently held that Mexico was in violation of Articles 4(1), 5(1), 5(2) and 7(1) of the American Convention on Human Rights (CADH), namely the rights to life, personal integrity and liberty of the named victims. The Court also found that these rights were violated in connection to Articles 19 and 1(1). However, the Court placed an important limitation on the States obligation of due diligence, noting that a pattern of systemic violence against women does not give rise in and of itself to obligations towards individual victims. It was only once the girls were reported missing by their families that a strict due diligence obligation was triggered.

7
Hajduova v. Slovakia, App. No. 2660/03, 53 Eur. H.R. Rep. 8, (2010)

In Hajduova, the European Court of Human Rights held that Article 8 of the Convention, the right to respect for private and family life, was violated on the basis of well-founded fears of violence. Hajduova had brought criminal complaints against her ex-husband after he attacked her and threatened to kill her. The State failed to punish the husband for offences for which he had been convicted in the past, and he was released without having undergone psychiatric treatment. Upon release, he continued to threaten Hajduova. Though those threats had not yet materialized, the Court stressed the importance of protecting the physical and psychological integrity of an individual from others, particularly in the case of victims of domestic violence.

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8
Ines Fernandes Ortega v. Mexico, Case 12.580, Inter-Am. Comms H.R., OEA/Ser.L/V/II. Doc. 51 (2009)

Ines Fernandes Ortega, an Indigenous woman who was raped by a member of the Mexican military, filed a claim centered on the State's failure to provide her with adequate medical and legal services after the incident. Ortega also alleged that the military's investigation of her case had been ineffective, as it had progressed little over the course of eight years. The Ortega case is noteworthy primarily for its discussion of rape as a form of torture under the Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture, as well as its attempt to analyze the case taking into account the victim's multidimensional identity as an Indigenous woman living in a marginalized community. The Court also found that the State was responsible for violating Articles 5 and 11 of the Convention in relation to Article 1(1), Articles 1, 2, 6, 8 and 25 of the Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture, and Article 7(a) of the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment, and Eradication of Violence against Women. One of the key holdings in Ortega is that rape never bears a link to military discipline, and that it will always be inappropriate for the military to assume jurisdiction over investigations of incidents of sexual violence.

9
Kontrova v. Slovakia, App. No. 7510/04, (2007).

Kontrova was the first case in which the European Court of Human Rights recognized a rights violation for failing to offer adequate protection from domestic violence. In 2002, Kontrova filed a criminal complaint against her husband, accusing him of assaulting her and beating her with an electric cable. Days later, she returned to the police station with her husband to modify the complaint such that her husband's alleged actions were treated as a minor offence, which called for no further action. The following month, the police were called by Kontrova and a relative to report that the husband had a shotgun and was threatening to kill himself and the children. A few days later, he acted on these threats and killed the children. Although the domestic courts found that the tragedy was a direct consequence of the police's failure to act, Kontrova was unsuccessful in seeking compensation. In light of these facts, the Court held that there had been a violation of Article 2, the right to life, given the domestic authorities' failure to protect the lives of the applicant's children. The Court found that the police had failed in their obligations by not accepting the criminal complaint, launching an investigation and commencing criminal proceedings. The Court also condemned the State's failure to take action pursuant to the emergency calls placed shortly before the murders. Finally, the Court held that the State had also violated Article 13, the right to an effective remedy, stating that Kontrova should have been able to apply for compensation where she had suffered harm as a result of police failures.

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10
Lenahan (Gonzales) et al. v. United States, Case 12.626, Inter-Am. Commn H.R., Report No. 80/11 (2011)

The Gonzales decision offers a concrete application of the due diligence standard in the context of domestic violence. Lenahan petitioned the Commission following the murders of her three minor daughters by her estranged husband. She alleged violations of her rights based on the failure of the police to respond to her calls on the night of the murders, and the failure to investigate the circumstances of the deaths, including possible errors by the police that may have contributed to the deaths. This case is particularly noteworthy for its canvassing of the international bodies' positions on the due diligence standard, which the Commission adopts and applies in this case. The Commission's analysis is also noteworthy for the emphasis placed on the existence of a restraining order as providing notice of danger to the State, as well as its discussion of the concrete steps that the police should have taken. The Commission re-iterated that a State's failure to act with due diligence to protect women from violence constitutes a form of discrimination, and that this responsibility extends to preventing, prosecuting and sanctioning acts of violence committed by private actors. The Commission held that in this case, the United States failed to exercise due diligence to protect Lenahan and her children from domestic violence, and was thus in violation of its obligations under the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man, namely the rights to equal protection before the law (Article II), life (Article I), special protection as girl children (Article VII) and judicial protection (Article XVIII).

11
Opuz v. Turkey, App. No. 34401/02, 50 Eur. H.R. Rep. 28, (2009)

Opuz is the case in which the Court established that State failures to protect women from violence can violate the right to non-discrimination, enshrined in Article 14. Turkeys failure to set up a system to protect domestic violence victims and punish offenders was also found to violate the rights to life (Article 2) and freedom from degrading or inhuman treatment (Article 3). Opuz alleged that State authorities had failed to protect her and her mother from domestic violence at the hands of her husband, which led to the infliction of life-threatening injuries on the complainant and to the death of her mother. Several complaints had been filed over the course of seven years, with no action by the authorities. It was only when Opuzs mother was murdered that her husband was arrested, though he was released pending his appeal, and continued to threaten Opuz. The States failures in this case were recognized to be systemic, as the Turkish legal system did not offer many of the measures generally used to protect victims of domestic violence.

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12
Valentina Rosendo Cantu et al., Case No. 12.579, Inter-Am. Commn H.R., OEA/Ser.L/V/II, doc. 51 (2009)

The Cantu decision analyzes rape as torture and attempts to recognize the victims' multidimensional identities as Indigenous females living in poverty. In Cantu, the Court emphasizes the victim's status as a child and the role that that status plays in determining the scope of the States obligations. This factor was considered in conjunction with the victim's status as an Indigenous woman, which also led the Court to conclude that the State was to be held to a higher standard of conduct. Cantu reaffirmed the test used in Ortega to determine whether rape constitutes torture under the Inter- American Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture. It also confirms one of the key findings in Ortega that military involvement in rape investigations is always inappropriate.

 
Documents by United Nations Bodies and Agencies

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Arrangements and Practices for the Interaction of Non-Governmental Organizations in All Activities of the United Nations System, Report of the Secretary-General, A/53/170, July 10, 1998.

Also know as the 'Sorenson Report', this 1998 publication addresses the participation of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) throughout the United Nations system. The activities of non-state actors have become essential to international public life and the United Nations is recognizing this revolution. Topics addressed in this report include current and potential institutional arrangements for NGO participation and NGOs as operational partners. This aspect includes the possibilities of and constraints on NGO participation and the need for clear but flexible guidelines that would bridge the work of NGOs and the UN. The report suggests websites, conferences, newsletters, and diverse regional participation and capacity-building in developing countries could be employed to these ends. [Descriptors: Applying Human Rights Law - International, International]

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14
Communications Procedures, Fact Sheet No.7, Office of the High Commissioner For Human Rights

This fact sheet provides an overview of the different procedures that are available to bring a communication or complaint before the various human rights organs of the United Nations. Part I of the Fact Sheet discusses complaints under the international human rights treaties. Part II discusses complaints to the Commission of Human Rights and the Commission on the Status of Women. The Fact Sheet also includes a "Model Complaint Form" for use before the Human Rights Committee, the Committee against Torture and the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. [Descriptors: Applying Human Rights Law - International, International]

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15
Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, Concluding Comments of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women: Burundi, 40th Sess, U.N. Doc. CEDAW/C/BDI/CO/4 (2008)

Commenting on the country report submitted by Burundi for its 40th Session, the Committee expresses its concern over the high number of women and girls who are victims of sexual violence, as well as the impunity enjoyed by perpetrators and the amicable settlement of cases through forced marriage of the victim to the perpetrator. Sexual violence is also present in detention centres, where women are not always separated from male prisoners. The Committee also notes the absence of effective measures within Burundi to combat trafficking in women. The Committee makes clear that a comprehensive strategy involves legislation, public-awareness campaigns, training for the judiciary, law enforcement, legal professionals and health professionals, and enhanced access to justice and legal, medical and psychological support for victims.

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16
Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, Concluding Comments of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women: Colombia, 37th Sess, U.N. Doc. CEDAW/C/COL/CO/6 (2007)

Commenting on the country report submitted by Colombia for its 37th Session, the Committee notes the positive steps that Colombia has taken to combat VAW, including measures to strengthen legislative, policy and institutional frameworks with respect to persistence of violence. The Committee is concerned, however, that the general climate of violence and insecurity negatively impacts the full implementation of the Convention and that the links between drug trafficking and other forms of trafficking, including sex tourism and economic exploitation, are particularly harmful to women.

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Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, Concluding Comments of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women: Cook Islands, 39th Sess, U.N. Doc. CEDAW/C/COK/CO/1 (2007)

Commenting on the country report submitted by the Cook Islands for its 39th Session, the Committee expresses concern about the persistence of VAW, the failure to recognize marital rape as an offence under the penal code, and the extent of prostitution linked to the country's tourism industry. The Committee recommends the development of a comprehensive strategy in conformity with General Recommendation 19, including public- awareness campaigns, service provision for victims, and training for the judiciary and public officials. It also encourages the State to pursue a holistic approach to addressing prostitution which involves providing women with educational and economic alternatives, taking steps to discourage the demand for prostitution, and ensuring the effective prosecution and punishment of those who exploit prostitution.

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Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, Concluding Comments of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women: France, 40th Sess, U.N. Doc. CEDAW/C/FRA/CO/6 (2008)

Commenting on the country report submitted by France for its 40th Session, the Committee notes with approval the State party's VAW awareness-raising programs, research initiatives and the adoption of legislation to strengthen the prevention and punishment of domestic violence and violence against children. The Committee expresses concerns, however, about the prevalence of domestic violence and trafficking in women and children. The Committee recommends that the State analyze all cases, especially those that result in murder, to ensure the adoption of effective measures to protect women from violence. The Committee emphasizes the need for coordinated action between the police, the public prosecutor and NGOs. It calls upon the State to study and identify the root causes of trafficking in order to formulate and implement policies to address them.

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19
Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, Concluding Comments of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women: Guinea, 39th Sess, U.N. Doc. CEDAW/C/GIN/CO/6 (2007)

Commenting on the country report submitted by Guinea for its 39th Session, the Committee expresses concern over the persisting stereotypes, and cultural norms, customs and traditions, such as female genital mutilation (FGM), that are harmful to women and girls. It also notes with concern the prevalence of violence and persisting patriarchal attitudes that deem such conduct acceptable, and the lack of information about the extent of trafficking within Guinea, particularly from rural to urban areas. The Committee encourages the State to "view culture as a dynamic dimension of the country's life and social fabric, subject to many influences over time and therefore subject to change". Consequently, it recommends that the State put in place a strategy with clear goals, timelines and monitoring mechanisms to modify or eliminate harmful cultural stereotypes or practices and their underlying justifications. The Committee also offers recommendations specific to the issue of FGM.

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Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, Concluding Comments of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women: Indonesia, 39th Sess, U.N. Doc. CEDAW/C/IDN/CO/5 (2007)

Commenting on the country report submitted by Indonesia for its 40th Session, the Committee commends the State party for its new legislation combating domestic violence and trafficking in women. It does note, however, three particular areas of concern  the prevalence of female genital mutilation (FGM), the abuse of domestic workers by employers, and the persistence of domestic and cross-border trafficking in women and children. Recommendations include enacting new legislation, undertaking public awareness campaigns and increasing monitoring of employers of female domestic workers.

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21
Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, Concluding Comments of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women: Jordan, 39th Sess, U.N. Doc. CEDAW/C/JOR/CO/4 (2007)

In commenting on the positive steps reported by Jordan during the 39th Session, the Committee takes note that it amended its penal code so that it no longer exonerates perpetrators of crimes committed in the name of honour and that it established the Family Reconciliation Centre as a refuge for women fleeing abusive situations. The Committee also identifies a number of areas of concern, including the prevalence of VAW and harmful social attitudes that may deter victims from reporting abuse, the fact that honour crimes are treated differently from other crimes of violence, the persistent lack of shelters and services for victims of VAW and the practice of putting women at risk in "protective custody" which deprives them of their liberty.

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Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, Concluding Comments of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women: Malawi, 35th Sess, U.N. Doc. CEDAW/C/MWI/CO/5 (2006)

Commenting on the country report submitted by Malawi for its 39th Session, the Committee commends Malawi on its recently adopted Prevention of Domestic Violence Act. It expresses concern, however, about the fact that marital rape is not criminalized and that violence against women and girls and the perpetuation of negative cultural practices continues to persist. It also notes the increase in sexual exploitation of young girls in schools by teachers, continued prevalence of prostitution due to the poverty of women and girls, and alleged cases of trafficking of women in Malawian refugee camps.

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Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, Concluding Comments of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women: Sweden, 40th Sess, U.N. Doc. CEDAW/C/SWE/CO/7 (2008)

Commenting on the country report submitted by Sweden for its 40th Session, the Committee commends the State party for its 2007 action plan on VAW, new legislative initiatives with respect to domestic and sexual violence, the introduction of a provision criminalizing human trafficking, and the possibility of issuing time- limited residence permits to victims and witnesses of trafficking. The Committee does note, however, that the provision of support services varies between municipalities, to the detriment of particularly vulnerable victims, such as those with disabilities. It is also concerned with insufficient data on the prevalence of trafficked women and girls within Sweden, and the occurrence of trafficking, prostitution and related issues committed by Swedish citizens abroad.

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Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women: Iceland, 41st Sess, U.N. Doc. CEDAW/C/ICE/CO/6 (2008)

Commenting on the country report submitted by Iceland for its 41st Session, the Committee commends Iceland for positive amendments to its penal code, the reappointment of the government's Committee on VAW and the re-launch of a national domestic violence projected entitled "Male Responsibility". The Committee does, however, note several areas of concern, including light penalties for crimes of sexual violence, the lack of detailed information regarding the use and effectiveness of restraining orders, obstacles faced by immigrant women and women of vulnerable groups when seeking protection, the absence of appropriate measures regulating prostitution, and the lack of a victim and witness program for trafficked persons.

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Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women: Nigeria, 41st Sess, U.N. Doc. CEDAW/C/NGA/CO/6 (2008)

Commenting on the country report submitted by Nigeria for its 41st Session, the Committee notes with approval the awareness-raising campaigns, training programs, and support service provision undertaken by the State party. It also raises concerns about the lack of a comprehensive national law and strategy within the State on VAW, and the lack of government support for NGOs working to combat VAW. The Committee's recommendations focus specifically on combating trafficking, enacting comprehensive legislative on violence against women, and increasing support for NGOs.

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26
Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women: United Republic of Tanzania, 41st Sess, U.N. Doc. CEDAW/C/TZA/CO/6 (2008)

Commenting on the country report submitted by Tanzania for its 41st Session, the Committee focuses on three particular areas of concern  the high prevalence of violence against women and girls coupled with a widespread attitude of impunity for perpetrators, the continued prevalence of female genital mutilation (FGM) and the persistence of trafficking and sexual exploitation of women and girls. The Committees recommendations centre on awareness and legal measures to combat violence against women generally, as well as female genital mutilation and trafficking in particular.

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27
United Nations, Ending violence against women: From words to action, Study of the Secretary-General , (2006)

This study provides an overview of the context and structural causes of violence against women, describes the types and forms of violence experienced, and its consequences and costs. The study discusses States responsibilities to address violence against women and identifies gaps in the implementation of international standards. The study describes promising practices currently in action as well as challenges in implementation of law and services for the prevention of violence against women. Lastly, the report calls on states to prioritize efforts to eradicate violence against women at the local, national and international levels

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28
Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, General Recommendation 24 (Women and Health), U.N. Doc. A/54/38/Rev.1 (1999)

The Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) issued General Recommendation 24 to address women's health. The Committee emphasizes that States have a duty to take appropriate measures "to the maximum extent of their available resources" to ensure that women have access to health care. Transferring State health functions to private agencies does not absolve State parties of responsibility in these areas. Because of unequal power relations, women and adolescent girls are often subjected to harmful traditional practices and sexual abuse, which may expose them to a greater risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases. Therefore, States should ensure the right to access sexual health information, and education and services for all women and girls, including those who have been trafficked, on an equal basis as men.

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29
Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, General Recommendation No. 12 (Violence Against Women), U.N. Doc. A/44/38 (1989)

In its General Recommendation 12, the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) states that articles 2 (policy measures), 5 (guarantee of basic human rights and fundamental freedoms), 11 (employment), 12 (health), and 16 (marriage and family life) of CEDAW require States to act to protect women against violence of any kind through the use of legislation and other appropriate measures, the provision of support services for victims, and the aggregation of statistical data on the incidence of VAW. States should also include information on VAW in their country reports to the Committee, including measures introduced to combat VAW.

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30
Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, General Recommendation No. 14 (Female Circumcision), U.N. Doc. A/45/38 (1990)

In its General Recommendation 14, the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) notes that action must be taken to eliminate the practice of female circumcision (female genital mutilation) and other practices harmful to women's health and well-being. Such action may include the collection of data about such traditional practices, the encouragement of all political and community leaders to influence attitudes towards the eradication of FGM, the introduction of appropriate public-awareness programs and health policies, and coordination with appropriate UN organizations.

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31
Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, General Recommendation No. 19 (Violence Against Women), U.N. Doc. A/47/38 (1993)

General Recommendation 19 is the CEDAW's key recommendation on violence against women. The Committee notes that gender- based violence in all forms "impairs or nullifies the enjoyment by women of human rights and fundamental freedoms" and that States are responsible for violence perpetrated by public authorities and for private acts with respect to which they have failed to act with due diligence to prevent, investigate and/or punish the violation of rights. Thus, laws against family violence and other forms of VAW must reflect the seriousness of such offences, give adequate protection to all women in all areas, and respect their integrity and dignity. Such legislation should also be coupled with appropriate support services. Because certain entrenched prejudices and traditional practices may justify gender-based violence as a form of protection or control over women, States must act to overcome and eliminate such harmful attitudes and customs. States must also take all appropriate measures to suppress all forms of trafficking in women and the exploitation and prostitution of women, including by taking preventive and punitive measures against traffickers and by addressing vulnerabilities raised by poverty, unemployment, armed conflict and the occupation of territories. Unequal access to health care, compulsory sterilization and forced abortion put the health and lives of women at risk and, therefore, also constitutes VAW.

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32
UN Division for the Advancement of Women, Handbook for Legislation on Violence Against Women, ST/ESA/32 (2010)

This handbook is intended to help States and stakeholders develop and enhance existing laws to protect women based on the results of an expert group meeting by the UN Division for the Advancement of Women. The handbook outlines the international and regional legal and policy frameworks which mandate States to enact and implement comprehensive and effective laws addressing violence against women. A model framework for legislation is offered, which includes recommendations on legislative content and examples of best practices. The handbook also identifies considerations relevant to drafting legislation on violence against women.

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United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, Handbook on National Action Plans for Violence Against Women , (2012)

This handbook is designed to help States develop and enhance their national action plans in order to effectively deal with the issue of violence against women. Based on expert advice and good practices currently existing in national action plans, this handbook examines existing human rights treaties and policies and provides a model framework on how to develop a States national action plan on violence against women. Intended to both prevent and respond to violence against women, it includes advice on implementation, guiding principles and how to effectively monitor the action plans outcomes.

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34
Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, Ms. A.T. v. Hungary, Comm. No. 2/2003, U.N. Doc. CEDAW/C/36/D/2/2003 (2005)

In A.T. v Hungary, the complainant ("author") alleges that Hungary has violated articles 2(a) (equality in legislation), (b) (legislative measures prohibiting discrimination), and (e) ("all appropriate measures" to eliminate discrimination), 5(a) (modification of social and cultural patterns) and 16 (marriage and family life) of the Convention by failing to take all positive measures to provide her with effective protection from her common-law husband, who was allowed to return to their apartment based on arguments regarding his right to property, notwithstanding pending criminal charges of battery against the author. The author could not move to a shelter as there was none in the country equipped to house her disabled child. The Committee finds that Hungary has violated all the articles of the Convention alleged by the author, because of the inadequacy of the legal and institutional arrangements in Hungary to provide immediate protection, the primacy given to privacy and property rights by Hungarian courts over the author's rights to life and security, and the lack of alternative avenues for the author to pursue protection.

35
Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, Ms. Fatma Yildirim (deceased) v. Austria, Comm. No. 6/2004, U.N. Doc. CEDAW/C/39/D/6/2005 (2007)

In Yildirim v Austria, the authors alleged that the State failed to protect their deceased mother from her abusive former husband. The authors alleged that Austria violated articles 1 (discrimination), 2 (policy measures), 3 (guarantee of basic human rights and fundamental freedoms), and 5 (sex role stereotyping and prejudice) of the Convention by failing to take positive measures to protect the deceased's right to life and personal security. They argued that women are disproportionately and negatively affected by the inappropriate prosecution and punishment of offenders in domestic violence cases, the lack of coordination between the judiciary and law enforcement officials, and the lack of training for law enforcement and judicial personnel about domestic violence. The Committee concluded that in Yildirim's case, the State should have known that the victim was in a dangerous situation, thereby creating a duty to act to protect her. The Committee also emphasizes that a woman's right to life must not be superseded by a perpetrator's right to privacy or liberty. The Committee lists a number of recommendations aimed at preventing all forms of domestic violence and providing access to protection and redress to all victims.

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36
UN Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, Statement of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women on the 10th Anniversary of Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security (2010),

With the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security in 2000, the international community signaled its commitment to addressing the inequalities that exist between men and women in armed conflict. While attempts have been made to address the inequalities, progress has been limited and sexual violence and rape continue to be used as a means of war. One of the primary issues is the lack of an accountability mechanism to ensure implementation of the resolution. CEDAW is requesting that Member States collaborate with civil societies and NGOs to improve implementation. The Committee notes that states can help reduce the level of violence during armed conflict by responding to womens needs and protection, prosecuting the individuals responsible for the violence, and encouraging the involvement of women in decision-making.

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Government Bodies

37
Status of Women Canada, Canada and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW): An Overview, Ottawa: Status of Women Canada

This document provides a basic overview of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and of the Convention's Optional Protocol. The Optional Protocol permits individuals or groups to petition the Convention's monitoring committee with respect to alleged treaty violations and also permits the committee to make inquiries with respect to serious violations by States Parties. With respect to individual or group petitions, the document states how a communication (petition) must be made in the Canadian legal system, given existing methods of redress for human rights violations in Canada. [Descriptors: Applying Human Rights Law - Domestic, CEDAW Convention, Canada]

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38
Government of Canada, Canada's Report to the CEDAW Committee (Fifth Periodic Report of States Parties - Canada), CEDAW/C/CAN/5 (April 9, 2002)

Canada submitted its Fifth Periodic Report to the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW Committee) in April 2002. The report was considered by the CEDAW Committee at its 28th Session, 13-31st January, 2003, at U.N. Headquarters in New York. The report outlines Canada's measures to achieve equality for women in accordance with its obligations under the CEDAW Convention. The report is divided into four sections with Part I of the report providing an overview of the situation of women in Canada generally, and Parts II, III & IV containing a review of the measures adopted by the federal, provincial and territorial governments respectively. [Descriptors: Applying Human Rights Law - Domestic, CEDAW Convention, Canada]

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39
Status of Women Canada, Canada's Response to the UN Questionnaire to Governments on Implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action (1995) and the Outcome of the Twenty-Third Special Session of the General Assembly (2000), Ottawa: Status of Women Canada

This document is a report prepared as an update on measures taken by the Canadian government to implement the Beijing Platform for Action. It describes steps taken by provincial and federal governments since the adoption of the Platform in 1995 and an analysis of the status of gender equality in Canada according to employment trends and sociological data available. The bulk of the document is devoted to examining federal government measures to address the Platform's areas of concern, including: women and poverty, education and training of women, women and health, violence against women, women and armed conflict, and the human rights of women. The document also describes Canadian mechanisms for advancing women's rights. [Descriptors: Applying Human Rights Law - Domestic, Canada]

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40
Australian Human Rights Commission, Mechanisms for advancing women's human rights: A guide to using the Optional Protocol to CEDAW and other international complaint mechanisms, (2011)

This guide, published by the Australian Human Rights Commission, is designed to provide practical information for women experiencing violations of their rights, their lawyers and advocates on how to access the Optional Protocol to CEDAW and other international complaint mechanisms. It provides detailed information on CEDAW and its Optional Protocol, including a thorough explanation of the means through which it can be accessed, namely the communication and inquiry procedures. The guide also provides information on other international complaint mechanisms, as well as practical considerations such as seeking legal assistance. The appendices include sample communication procedure forms and inquiries.

Australian Human Rights Commission, Mechanisms for advancing women's human rights: A guide to using the Optional Protocol to CEDAW and other international complaint mechanisms, (2011), online: .

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Information from Non-Governmental Organizations

41
Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 2007: the state of the worlds human rights (2007),

This report by Amnesty International documents the toll that fear takes on victims of armed conflict. The document is divided into regional overviews, looking at issues in Africa, the Americas, Asia-Pacific, Europe-Central Asia and the Middle East-North Africa. The document begins with an editorial examination of the toll the conflict takes on women and the difficulties involved in addressing these problems; while many actions taken appear to be intended to address crime, they are often more concerned with maintaining the status quo by controlling the population through fear. The document notes the inadequacy of funding to protect women and examines controversial laws in different countries which regulate womens attire. The report discusses difficulties that women face specific to rape and sexual assault, lack of political power, and unequal access to justice.

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42
Human Rights Internet, For the Record: A Focus on Canada - Bringing Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Home), Vol. 3 (no date)

This comprehensive report addresses economic, social and cultural rights both on a global level and within Canada. The Canadian section includes information on Government of Canada reports submitted to various United Nations (UN) bodies and the UN responses, including Canada's reports under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the subsequent concerns and recommendations of the UN treaty monitoring body. The report also summarizes reports by the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, with links to the full reports. The second part of the report includes summaries of Canadian legal cases which interpret the international law on economic and social rights. Several of these cases deal specifically with the human rights concerns of women. [Descriptors: Social and Economic Rights, Applying Human Rights Law - Domestic, Canada]

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43
Committee on African Affairs of the New York City Bar, Gender-Based Violence Laws in Sub-Saharan Africa (2007),

This report provides an overview of legislation in sub-Saharan Africa intended to combat gender-based violence against women, specifically rape, sexual assault, and domestic violence. The report reviews prohibitions on gender-based violence in international and regional instruments, including decisions from international tribunals and assesses applicable constitutional provisions in certain sub-Saharan African states. The report identifies what should be included when drafting and implementing relevant legislation, such as training for public officials and provision of services to victims. The report is intended as a guide for countries in sub-Saharan Africa that have not yet passed legislation addressing gender-based violence.

Committee on African Affairs of the New York City Bar, Gender-Based Violence Laws in Sub-Saharan Africa.

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44
Organization of American States, Legal Standards Related to Gender Equality and Womens Rights in the Inter-American Human Rights System: Development and Application, 2011,

This report examines the impact of orders from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (Court) on jurisprudence in the Americas relating to womens human rights. The report supports the standards of the Court and advocates an expansion of its recommendations. The report examines issues of violence and discrimination against women, and outlines the position of courts in the Americas on the merits of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). Subsections of the report include discussions of domestic violence, violence against women and homicide, violence against women and divorce, human trafficking, reproductive rights, political rights, and labour rights. The report ultimately recommends holding nations responsible for enforcing the legal policies they have committed to and notes the importance of the judicial branch in this endeavour. Finally, the report notes positive legislative and policy developments that have occurred in the Americas since the IACHR standards were established.

OAS, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Legal Standards Related to Gender Equality and Womens Rights in the Inter-American Human Rights System: Development and Application, OR OEA/Ser.L/V/II.143/Doc.60 (2011), online: http://www.oas.org.

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45
International Women's Rights Action Watch, New Guidelines for Human Rights Treaty Reporting: Opportunities for Women's Human Rights NGOs, (2009)

This guide, prepared by International Women's Rights Action Watch, provides NGOs who wish to submit shadow reports to CEDAW with information on new opportunities presented by the UNs Harmonized Guidelines for reporting. Under the new structure, reporting State Parties and NGOs can submit a common core document that includes a full account of laws, policies and infrastructure relating to human rights policy and implementation rather than separate, targeted documents prepared for each separate treaty monitoring body. The guide provides practical suggestions on how to prepare a shadow report to CEDAW.

International Women's Rights Action Watch, Producing NGO Shadow Reports to CEDAW: A Procedural Guide (January 2009), online: < http://www1.umn.edu/humanrts/iwraw/procedural guide-08.html>.

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46
Organization of American States, OEA/SCR.L/V.II., Access to Justice for Women Victims of Violence in the Americas (2007),

This report by the Organization of American States examines the impediments to access to justice faced by indigenous women and makes note of institutional and private racism in the Americas that contributes to these impediments. The report focuses on inadequacies in the judicial system in regards to violence against women, noting problems with the administration of justice and existing laws. The report examines efforts to improve the administration of justice in regards to acts of violence against women through an examination of the justice sector, the passage of laws, and the implementation of government programs intended to address issues that predominantly affect women and concludes that they are insufficient. Finally, the report provides a list of general and contextual recommendations for improving access to justice for women victims of violence in the Americas.

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47
International Women's Rights Action Watch, Our Rights are Not Optional: A Resource Guide, International Women's Rights Action Watch - Asia Pacific (2005)

This resource guide seeks to inform readers on the context, intended role and actual text of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), with a specific focus on the Optional Protocol to the Convention (OP-CEDAW). The purpose of the guide is to provide information to enable a more holistic and effective approach to research, training and advocacy around the CEDAW Convention and OP-CEDAW. It includes an overview of CEDAW and OP-CEDAW and then offers practical advice on how the international review mechanism presented by OP-CEDAW functions. Recommendations for improvements to the current system are also included. The final section of the guide explains the ratification process and provides advice for enhancing advocacy and using OP-CEDAW. [Descriptors: CEDAW Convention, Implementing Women's Rights - International, International]

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48
International Law Association Committee on Feminism and International Law, Part II: Feminism in International Law: Committee Report, 72 INTERNATIONAL LAW ASSOCIATION REPORTS OF CONFERENCES, 601-643 (2006)

This Report forms part of a series of four Reports on various aspects of women and migration. The report continues the work on trafficking introduced in the 2004 Berlin Interim Report. The main focus of the report is on the legal framework of women's international labor migration. The author references the Workers Convention, international human rights and labor law conventions. The Report discusses the legal and gendered aspects of of female migrant workers' mobility in relation to their migration status, and advocates for a rights based approach to international migration.

49
International Women's Rights Action Watch, Producing NGO Shadow Reports to CEDAW: A Procedural Guide, Revised: June 2003

These procedural and format guidelines are designed to assist nongovermental organization in producing shadow reports during the state reporting process under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). The CEDAW Committee reviews shadow reports along with the official government reports when evaluating government efforts to meet the obligations of the CEDAW Convention. This guide includes background information on the state reporting procedure, advice on organizing a shadow report for maximum impact, suggestions for an executive summary, a list of useful materials, and advice on approaching the CEDAW Committee. [Descriptors: Applying Human Rights Law - International, CEDAW Convention, International]

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50
Human Rights Watch, Soldiers Who Rape, Commanders Who Condone (2009),

This report addresses sexual violence and military reform in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo (FARDC), the government army, is one of the primary perpetrators of sexual violence. In this report, Human Rights Watch (1) provides a background of the abuses of sexual violence committed by FARDC, (2) examines efforts to stop that violence and (3) considers why such efforts have been unsuccessful. Senior officials of FARDC have escaped prosecution entirely and to date the only military personnel that have been prosecuted for sexual violence have been lower-ranked soldiers. Military commanders have also been documented to go to great lengths to shield their soldiers from prosecution. The report recommends that the Congolese government focus on strengthening the weak military justice system, improving living conditions of soldiers and removing officers from FARDC who have been responsible for past crimes. As these initiatives will take time to implement, the report recommends establishing a mixed chamber to prosecute high-ranking officers, armed group leaders, and civilian leaders responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity who would otherwise not be tried by the International Criminal Court.

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International Conventions and Declarations

51
, The Optional Protocol to the Women's Convention, A/RES/54/4, 1999

The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (OP-CEDAW) was adopted by the UN General Assembly on October 6, 1999 and entered into force December 21, 2000. The Optional Protocol provides for two procedures: 1) a communications procedures that allows women to submit claims of violations of rights potected under the Convention to the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women; and 2) an inquiry procedure enabling the Committee to initiate inquiries into situations of grave or systematic violations of women's rights. [Descriptors: Applying Human Rights Law - International, CEDAW Convention, Key Texts, International]

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Other

52
Organization of American States, Report of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on the Status of Women in the Americas, OEA/Ser.L/V/II.100, Doc. 17, October 13, 1998

This report brings together the results of the study conducted by the Special Rapporteur on women's rights as to how member state legislation and practices that affect the rights of women comply with the obligations of equality and nondiscrimination in the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man and the American Convention on Human Rights. Chapter I describes the Inter-American human rights system and how it can be used to protect women's rights; Chapter II outlines the methodology and mandate of the study; Chapter III presents the report's findings around a series of core issues pertaining to women's rights in the Americas; Chapter IV sets forth recommendations aimed at remedying discrimination and addressing its consequences. [Descriptors: Applying Human Rights Law - Regional, International - Latin America, International - North America]

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