Gender-related killings of women Side Event convened by the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Ms. Rashida Manjoo, co-sponsored by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and UN Women 8 March 2013, 3-6 PM
Introduction Gender-related killings of women refer to the killing of women because of their sex and/or gender and constitute the most extreme form of violence against women. It results in clear violations of fundamental human rights of women, including the right to life, freedom from torture and the right to a life free of violence and discrimination. This is a global phenomenon and, as highlighted by the Secretary General of the United Nations, it takes place in many contexts, both in the private and the public spheres, including in the context of “intimate partner violence, armed conflict, witchcraft-related violence, dowry disputes or the protection of family honor”.
The mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, its causes and consequences, established in 1994 by the then Commission on Human Rights, now the Human Rights Council, has consistently looked at this phenomenon from the perspective of a continuum of violence. Gender-motivated killings of women are the final and the most serious consequence of a reality often characterized by pervasive discrimination, and acts of violence, which reflect women’s subordination and perpetrators’ impunity. In such contexts, women are confronted by a systematic disregard of their human rights as well as the failure of States to comply with their due diligence obligation to prevent, investigate, punish and provide compensation for all acts of violence against women.
In 2012 the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences dedicated her thematic report to the UN Human Rights Council1 to the issue of gender-related killings of women. The report provides an overview of the global trends and manifestations of gender-related killings of women, which are currently reaching alarming proportions. These include: killings of women as a result of intimate partner violence; killings of women due to accusations of sorcery/witchcraft; killings of women and girls in the name of “honour”; killings in the context of armed conflict; killings of indigenous women; extreme forms of violent killings of women, such as those related to gangs, organized crime, drug dealers, and human and drug trafficking chains; killings as a result of sexual orientation and gender identity; and other forms of gender-related killings of women and girls, such as female infanticide. Rather than a new form of violence, gender-related killings are the extreme manifestation of existing forms of violence against women. Such killings are not isolated incidents which arise suddenly and unexpectedly, but are the ultimate act of violence which is experienced in a continuum of violence.
All over the world, the manifestations of gender-related killings of women are culturally and socially embedded, and continue to be accepted, tolerated or justified - with impunity as the norm. States’ responsibility to act with due diligence in the promotion and protection of women’s rights, is largely lacking. Some steps taken by States to comply with their due diligence obligation to protect women victims of violence and to prevent violence against women include the adoption of specific legislation, the development of awareness-raising campaigns, and the provision of training for professional groups including the police, prosecutors and members of the judiciary. Some States have adopted national action plans on violence against women in an effort to coordinate activities between and within government agencies and to take a multi-sectoral approach to prevent violence. It is clear that while States have initiated various protective and preventive programmes, there are numerous gaps in their efforts. A holistic approach in preventing gender-related killings must be emphasized in all the measures taken by States to investigate and sanction violence, especially in crafting, implementing and evaluating legislation, policies and national plans of action.
The report concludes by recalling how international and regional human rights systems have interpreted the due diligence obligations of States in cases involving gender-related killings. These include ensuring early intervention by law enforcement and other support agencies, effective investigations, prosecution and sanctions; guaranteeing de jure and de facto access to adequate and effective judicial remedies; treating women victims and their relatives with respect and dignity throughout the legal process; ensuring comprehensive reparations to victims and their relatives; identifying certain groups of women as being at particular risk for acts of violence, due to multiple forms of discrimination, when adopting measures to prevent all forms of violence; and modifying the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women as well as eliminating prejudices, customary practices and other practices based on the idea of the inferiority or superiority of either of the sexes, and on stereotyped roles for men and women.
Alongside the research and policy work developed by the Special Rapporteur, OHCHR has been supporting efforts to address impunity for gender-motivated killings, especially by strengthening capacities of national actors to investigate these crimes. In particular, given the alarming rates of gender-motivated killings in several Latin American countries, the OHCHR has implemented a number of activities in this region, in close partnership with other actors. These include providing technical assistance to Governments to elaborate specific legislation on violence against women and the development of legal tools for the investigation of femicides.
In cooperation with UN Women, the Spanish Federation of Associations for the Defense and Promotion of Human Rights and the Carlos III University of Madrid, OHCHR has also supported the development of a regional Protocol for the investigation and documentation of cases of extreme violence against women, to be used as a reference by States of the Region. A draft text is being finalized for validation in the region in 2013.
Objective The Special Rapporteur intends to deepen the discussion around the findings of her report and exchange views on concrete follow-up steps in light of ongoing initiatives in this area.
More specifically the event is aimed at:
Providing a forum to disseminate the findings of her report
Exchanging of views on the measures taken by States to investigate and sanction violence, especially in crafting, implementing and evaluating legislation, policies and national plans of action as part of a holistic approach in preventing gender-related killings of women;
Identifying opportunities for further engagement, especially on how international and regional human rights systems have interpreted the due diligence obligations of States in cases involving gender-related killings;
Modalities Time: 8 March 2013 from 3-6 PM
Venue: Dag Hammarskjold Library Auditorium, UNHQ, New York
The event will be chaired/moderated by the Special Rapporteur. In addition the following speakers will provide contributions:
Ms. Rashida Manjoo, Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences
Short film – Andrea’s story (ABC Australia) introduced by Ms. Antoinette Braybrook, Chief Executive Officer, Aboriginal Family
Violence Prevention & Legal Service Victoria
Ms. Kyung-wha Kang, Deputy High Commissioner, OHCHR
Ms. Patricia Olamendi, Member of the UN Working Group on discrimination against women in law and in practice & Member of the Committee of Experts of the Belem do Parà Convention of the Inter-American Human Rights system
Mr. Fernando Arias, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Spain to the United Nations