Friday, September 27, 2019

Justice for Women

Justice for women and girls is at the heart of the 2030 Agenda, with its commitment to  gender equality (SDG 5) and its promise of peaceful, just and inclusive societies (SDG 16). 

The High-level Group on Justice for Women worked to better understand common justice  problems for women, make the case for investment and identify strategies that work. 

In their report they call to action justice leaders of all countries and sectors, to accelerate implementation of the global goals for gender equality and equal access to justice for all.

Common Justice Problems for Women

Intimate Partner Violence 
The vast majority of people affected by intimate partner violence are women. The law does not protect them. Leaving an abusive relationship produces legal needs that have to be met. More than a billion women do not have legal protection from  intimate partner sexual violence.  {Source: World Bank}

Discrimination at Work
Labor legislation is often discriminatory and legal barriers to women’s entrepreneurship are pervasive, especially for married women. Women working in the informal sector are unable to protect themselves from arbitrary warrants, evictions, and confiscation of goods. Over 2.7 billion women are legally restricted from having the  same choice of jobs as men. {Source: World Bank}

Discriminatory family laws
Discriminatory practices in family life, codified into law are a major obstacle to justice for women. Divorce is one of the most common legal needs, for both women and men. In 57 countries, women do not have the same rights as men to  become the legal guardian of a child after divorce. {Source: OECD}

Unequal access to property
Women’s access and control over land is restricted by discriminatory laws and practices, which worsens the risk of poverty. Women account for about one-eighth of total land ownership in  developing countries, while representing about 43 percent  of all those working in agriculture. {Source: FAO}

Gaps in legal identity 
Women need legal identity documents - relating to property, business, housing, marriage, employment, children or immigration status - to protect their rights and access services, including access to finance and even a mobile phone. One billion people in the world face challenges in proving who they are. Over 45 percent of women lack an ID, compared to 30 percent of men, in low income countries. {Source: UNHCR- CEDAW}

Exclusion from decision making Women judges contribute to improved justice for women.  Yet women continue to be excluded from public life and senior roles, including the legal system. In 2017, only 24 percent of the constitutional court justices globally  were women. {Source: UN Women}

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Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Proposed action points responding to all forms of violence against women and girls

Action points

Participating States

 Establish coordinated, multisectoral response mechanisms with a sufficient capacity for service providers to deliver public services based on the specific needs of different groups of women and girls. At the same time, improve the quality of, and access to, specialized services for women and girls, including psychosocial support and shelters (free of charge). All specialized services should be accessible for all (available in minority languages) and should be integrated into the response mechanisms. 
 Inform women and girls about available services, including through easily accessible websites, and develop long-term information campaigns using innovative approaches (posters, radio, websites, public announcements) about the steps women can take to seek support.
 Ensure state-supported and/or NGO-provided legal aid.
 Train the police and judiciary on how to protect and support victims, applying a victim-centred approach and improving reporting systems (e.g., accommodating reporting in a confidential and safe way).
 Support and make available specialist support services that take into account the elevated levels of shame in relation to sexual assaults and address self-blaming and longer-term psychological consequences.

OSCE executive structures

 Contribute to a multisectoral approach to support women who have experienced violence, including by promoting better collaboration and co-ordination between security actors, the health sector and other service providers.
 Support the OSCE participating States in addressing low reporting rates of nonpartner and intimate partner violence to the police, including by sharing and reviewing different models and good practices in the OSCE region on the extent to which they protect victims and meet their needs in practice.
 Identify, collect and share good practices regarding victim/survivor protection and longer-term support for victims, including in cases of psychological violence, as well as access to justice in response to all forms of violence against women.
 Improve OSCE training manuals for security sector actors, and include the data and findings from the survey to better inform future projects and activities on all forms of violence against women and girls, including emerging forms. 
 Organize training events for the police and judiciary on practices that enhance victim’s access to justice. 
 Support participating States in developing protocols for maintaining confidentiality and providing victim support.

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Sunday, July 28, 2019

Poor awareness among women of specialized victim support services and the needs expressed by women

The data illustrates that a majority of women do not know what to do in case they experience violence and that they are not aware of local specialized organizations offering support. Awareness-raising campaigns on violence against women need to be based on credible data to ensure that they target their message at the right audience. 

 Overall, 42% of women across the area covered by the survey feel that they are not well informed about what to do if they experience violence, and nearly four in ten women (37%) indicate that they have never heard of any of the three specialized organizations they were asked about42. A similar proportion (41%) indicate being aware of just one of the three organizations, and only 6% say they have heard of all three. 

  The most-mentioned source of information, advice or support women say they wanted after their most serious incident of physical and/or sexual violence at the hands of a partner was just to have someone to talk to who could provide moral support (36%). Protection from further violence and harassment was particularly important for victims of previous partners and non-partners (20% and 16% respectively) and all the more so when the most serious incident included a form of sexual violence (increasing to 37% and 27% respectively). Practical help, medical help and financial support are other common needs. 

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Friday, July 26, 2019

Lack of satisfaction with the police and legal services

Victims’ lack of satisfaction with the police and legal services needs to be addressed by applying existing response and protection measures and monitoring their implementation.  
 Almost half (49%) of women who reported a most serious incident of non-partner violence to the police were satisfied with the contact they had, but 45% were dissatisfied, including 33% who were very dissatisfied. Satisfaction is lower when violence by a previous partner (46%) or a current partner (39%) was reported.  In regard to legal services, 58% of women contacting such services in relation to a nonpartner were satisfied.  
 In the qualitative research, survivors described mostly negative experiences with the police. Some women said their complaints were completely ignored, were not followed up thoroughly enough or were not dealt with appropriately, e.g., the perpetrator was merely given a verbal warning. Lack of confidentiality, particularly in rural areas, was also mentioned throughout the area covered by the study. 
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Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Barriers to reporting violence against women

Barriers to seeking help are rooted in attitudes that silence women and protect abusers  and in women’s lack of trust in the authorities to help and protect them. Shame and a lack of expectations of help from the authorities play a particular role when it comes to sexual violence by intimate partners and other perpetrators. The response of professionals has to be based on a zero-tolerance policy for violence that is free of any victim-blaming attitudes and makes the victim’s needs the priority.
 The main reason for not reporting their most serious incident of violence to the police is that the victims decided to deal with the incident on their own, perhaps only involving friends and family This reason for non-reporting is cited by more than half of victims of intimate partner violence (53% of victims of their current partner and 51% of victims of a previous partner) and 36% of non-partner violence. The belief that the incident was too minor to report, wanting to keep things private, feelings of shame and embarrassment, fear of the offender and a belief that nothing would be done were other common reasons.
 Women who agree that domestic violence is a private matter are less likely to contact the police or any other organization following their most serious incident of  non-partner violence (56% did not report the incident, compared to 49% among those who disagree), current partner violence (84% versus 77%) and previous partner violence (69% versus 63%).
 Victims of non-partner sexual violence who did not call the police are particularly likely to believe that the police would not do anything (22%). Shame (38%) and wanting to keep the matter private (27%) are also prevalent reasons. Among victims of intimate partner violence, fear of the perpetrator (their partner) is more pronounced when the violence was sexual (mentioned by 28%) than when it involved some form of physical violence only. Shame is also a common barrier for these women, particularly victims of previous partners (37%).

In the qualitative research, several barriers were identified that may play a role in women’s decision not to seek help after incidents of violence:

 Shame - including shame associated with certain types of violence and with divorce.  Financial reasons - including concerns that the woman would not be able to financially support herself and her children and would not receive support  from her family.

 Lack of trust in institutions - women did not expect an effective response from the police or feared that they would not be believed.
 Lack of awareness of specialist services - women did not know where else they could go to get help.
 Fear of repercussions from the perpetrator - women were afraid that the  violence could escalate.
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Monday, July 22, 2019

Reporting rates to the police and other institutions are low

Based on the data from the survey, it is clear that women do not report the vast majority of incidents to the police, and they rarely seek support from other institutions. The findings suggest that only in cases of more extreme violence do women seek help from the police or another support organization. Even then, the vast majority of cases are never brought to the attention of the authorities or a specialized service. Very few women contact a shelter or victim support organization. 

 Eighty-one per cent of victims of current partner violence, 65% of victims of previous partner violence and 53% of victims of non-partner violence did not contact the police or any other organization about their most serious incident.  

 Victims of non-partner violence are most likely to report their most serious incident to the police (19%). Victims of previous partner violence (15%) are more than twice as likely as victims of current partner violence (7%) to go to the police.  

 When the most serious incident involves a sexual assault, victims of all three perpetrator types (non-partner, current partner and previous partner) are less likely to contact the police than if the assault was of a physical nature. 

 Among victims of sexual harassment, only 2% contacted the police about their most serious incident. The figure is higher among victims of stalking, with 13% reporting their most serious incident to the police. 
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Saturday, July 20, 2019

Long-term impact of violence on women’s health and public health

The experiences women shared in the survey make it clear that violence against women is a public health issue with significant direct and long-term consequences that may translate into economic costs for the health sector. Well-trained healthcare professionals can play a significant role in identifying and helping prevent cases of violence against women.
 Fifty-five per cent of victims of the most serious incidents of intimate partner and nonpartner physical and/or sexual violence have experienced one or more physical consequences as a result of the incident. This translates into approximately 3.25 million women in the area covered by the survey who were left with an injury or physical consequence of the violence they experienced, considering only the most severe cases they identified during their adult lifetime. More specifically:

– 2.5 million had bruises or scratches

– 700,000 suffered wounds, sprains or burns

– 652,000 experienced concussion or another brain injury

– 352,000 had fractures or broken teeth

– 147,000 experienced internal injuries

– 82,000 experienced a miscarriage

– 70,000 contracted an infection or sexually transmitted disease

– 53,000 became pregnant

– 29,000 were left infertile or unable to carry a pregnancy to term

The psychological impact of violence can be severe and long-lasting. The majority of survivors of physical and/or sexual violence develop longer-term psychological symptoms. Anxiety was mentioned most often (39%) among the women surveyed, followed by feelings of vulnerability (32%). About three in ten women say they have experienced difficulties in their relationships (29%) or depression (28%) as a result of their experience.
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