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Tackling new challenges to end violence against women

Graphic: A candlelight is held to protest rising incidents of violence against women in India

Governments should be held accountable for failures to act on violence against women, an independent UN expert has told a major regional conference.


Greater efforts should be made to hold States responsible for failures to act with due diligence to eliminate violence against women, an independent UN expert has told a major regional conference on gendered violence.

The UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Rashida Manjoo, told the 300-strong gathering in Sydney that pervasive levels of violence, and a culture of impunity, fundamentally jeopardise the realisation of women's right to a life free of violence and the right to participate fully in their communities.

However, while offender accountability has been a primary focus in efforts to end violence against women for many years, Ms Manjoo said that less attention had been given to ensuring that governments fulfil their responsibility to promote, protect and fulfil these fundamental rights.

It was an issue that she had raised with governments in her recent reports to the UN Human Rights Council and the General Assembly, she said.

The UN Special Rapporteur also highlighted a number of other continuing and emerging challenges, including the persisting public-private dichotomy in responses to violence against women; the global financial crisis and austerity measures, including cuts to spending on social services; and the growing move to focus on men and boys.

Speaking outside the conference, Ms Manjoo said that national human rights institutions (NHRIs) have a "very powerful role to play in promoting accountability with governments", as well as advancing concrete actions to address violence against women.

She said that NHRIs could, for example, conduct research to examine systemic problems relating to violence against women; prepare independent reports and recommendations for regional and international human rights mechanisms; and use their public education function to engage with different groups in society to identify gaps and challenges.

The Inaugural Asia-Pacific Conference on Gendered Violence and Violations, held from 10-12 February 2014, featured presentations from a number of high-profile speakers.

Topics included domestic and family violence, sexual assault, intimate partner violence, child sexual abuse, trafficking for domestic and sexual slavery, conflict-related sexualised violence, and gendered violence in indigenous, migrant, refugee and diaspora communities.

The conference was hosted by the Gendered Violence Research Network, a joint initiative of University of New South Wales (UNSW) Arts and Social Sciences and UNSW Law.

The APF and the Australian Human Rights Commission co-sponsored the conference.

Date: 16 February 2015


Image credits

  1. A candlelight is held to protest rising incidents of violence against women in India - ZeHawk, Flickr Creative Commons