Thursday, March 14, 2013

Violence Agianst Women a Cross-Cutting Issue

VAW’s cross-cutting nature
The cross-cutting nature of the impacts of violence against women in terms of development was clearly brought to the fore, as almost every Head of a UN entity launched a statement on this day. For example, in Rome, the Heads of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) the World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Development Law Organization (IDLO) released a joint statement in which they noted with concern that little attention has been paid to the connection between gender, violence and food security. They explained that domestic violence does not only affect women as victims, but can also have an overall negative impact on family well-being (as seen in Mr. Carlson’s case above) and on agricultural and food production. Women collecting firewood for e.g. cooking purposes are still vulnerable to rape and other attacks; and e.g. in refugee situations, women can become forced to trade sex for food.

Guy Ryder, Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO), voiced that gender-based violence is clearly at odds with the meaning of decent work: full and productive employment for women and men in conditions of freedom, equity, security and human dignity. Identifying gender-based violence as exceptionally dehumanizing, pervasive and oppressive, Mr. Ryder called for action and prevention. He referred to ILO’s history in practical action against gender-based violence in the work place, both at policy and programme levels, and hailed the 2011 Convention on Domestic Workers, which requires that ratifying States along with trade unions and employers’ organizations take action against any form of violence, abuse and harassment at the domestic level.

In a background document, prepared for International Women’s Day 2013, the ILO notes that “sexual harassment and other forms of harassment and abuse (physical, verbal or psychological), bullying, mobbing, work-related stress and violence affect all professions and sectors, and both women and men.” For example, it shows that on average 40%-50% of women in countries of the European Union experience unwanted sexual advancements, physical contact or other forms of sexual harassment at their workplace. In the United States, 83% of girls aged 12-16 experience some form of sexual harassment in public schools. And also in other parts of the world, the situation is generally not much better.

Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), called for the adoption and enforcement of national laws addressing and punishing all forms of violence against women and girls, as well as approaches that bring together governments, civil society organizations, law enforcement and judicial systems, to ensure that victims have access to legal services, justice systems and support and that perpetrators are punished. To support her call, she explained that in more than 35 countries, marital rape is not considered a criminal offense; and that more than 630 million women live in countries where domestic violence is not yet considered a crime.

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