Friday, August 29, 2014

Tribute to Philippines Women Human Rights Defenders

Tanggol Bayi is an association of women human rights defenders in The Philippines dedicated to advance women's rights as human rights.

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Philippines: evidence of women rights violations

20 August 2014

Hon. Leila M. de Lima
Department of Justice
Padre Faura, Manila

Re: Reinstatement of the Provisions on “Justified Abortions” in the Draft Code of Crimes to Provide an Opportunity for Public Discussion on the Legal and Human Rights Implications of a Total Criminal Ban on Abortion

Dear Secretary de Lima:

We would like to draw the attention of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to the tragic reality that serious and widespread violations of women’s rights are being committed under the country’s absolute criminal ban on abortion and that, through the inclusion of provisions on justified abortions in the draft Code of Crimes by the Criminal Code Committee (the Committee), these violations could finally be publicly discussed and rationally deliberated upon before Congress and not just left to persist with unjustified impunity as  has been the case for over 80 years.

In 2010 and pursuant to the directive of President Benigno “Noynoy” the  DOJ constituted the Committee. The Committee’s initial draft of Book II of the Code of Crimes provided for “justified abortions” in cases where (1) abortion is performed after implantation of fertilized ovum arising from rape or incest, (2) continuation of pregnancy endangers life of pregnant woman or seriously impairs her physical, mental or emotional health, and (3) sonogram or other diagnostic test show the fetus suffers from incurable disease or serious deformity. However, these provisions on “justified abortions” were deleted from the draft only after one public consultation in Cebu and before extensive consultations in different parts of the country were conducted thereby pre-empting a national discussion about the need to consider exceptions to the total ban in light of compelling evidence of grave human rights violations. 

The Philippines has an antiquated law on abortion and one of a handful of countries to criminalize abortion without recognizing clear exceptions allowing the procedure even in circumstances such as to save the life or protect the health of a pregnant woman, when pregnancy is a result of rape or incest, or in cases of fetal impairment. The uncompromising nature of the country’s abortion law becomes even more pronounced when compared to developments in other predominantly Catholic countries and former Spanish colonies as well as in neighboring countries in East and Southeast Asia.  

The provision in the Philippine Constitution which declares that the State shall “equally protect the life of the mother and the unborn from conception” must not be so narrowly interpreted as totally proscribe abortion. Other countries with constitutions and laws explicitly protecting the life of the unborn or life from conception such as Ireland, Slovak Republic, Poland, Kenya, Hungary, and Costa Rica have recognized that abortion can be legally performed under certain exceptions and conditions. 
The criminalization of abortion does not prevent women from having abortions rather it forces women to resort to unsafe abortions which is a leading cause of preventable maternal deaths. In the Philippines, an estimated 560,000 abortions occurred in 2008 and this number has risen to 610,000 abortions in 2012. The adverse effect of the ban on abortion is also reflected in the latest data on the country’s maternal mortality ratio which has shown a dramatic increase within a four-year period (2006-2010) from 162 to 221 deaths per 100,000 live births – reneging from the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target of 52 per 100,000 live births. The incidence of unsafe abortion continues to rise and, in 2012 and 2013, abortion was reportedly one of the top 3 obstetrics-gynecological cases in 8 out of 9 hospitals managed by the Department of Health (DOH).

The problem of women suffering from complications from unsafe abortion is aggravated when they decide to seek post-abortion care (PAC), whether in public or private hospitals or clinics. It is estimated that 90,000 women were hospitalized for abortion complications in 2008 and over 100,000 women in 2012. There is indisputable evidence showing that in these settings, women are exposed to the risks of abuse, harassment, discrimination, prosecution, and punishment. Violations of women’s rights occur in this context due to the absence of clear exceptions to the criminal ban on abortion and the fear of health care providers that they will be subject to criminal proceedings either as accomplices or accessories which is fueled to a certain degree by the practice in hospitals of maintaining blotters and of threatening to report or actually reporting women to the law enforcement authorities.

The risk of criminal prosecution often deters women from seeking urgent medical attention even when faced with serious complications. Evidence shows that not only do health care providers threaten to report women who induce abortions, but they also threaten women who have not intentionally induced abortions but have experienced complications due to fetal death or a miscarriage. Even more appalling is the fact that some of these women who are threatened with criminal prosecution are in fact victims of domestic violence whose pregnancies ended abruptly because of physical violence perpetrated by their husband or partner.

The criminalization of abortion has significantly stigmatized a widely recognized and safe medical procedure. The lack of definitive exceptions under the criminal ban has led health care providers to view women presenting with complications from unsafe abortion as criminals instead of patients in need of urgent medical care, frequently resulting in the denial of non-judgmental and life-saving treatment or significant delays as an informal punitive measure. The ban has rendered nugatory the right of women to compassionate, quality, and humane PAC to which they are statutorily entitled under Republic Act No. 9710 otherwise known as “The Magna Carta of Women” and Republic Act No. 10354 otherwise known as “The Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012,” with the framework for such right having been earlier established in the DOH’s Administrative Order No. 45-B, s. 2000, otherwise known as the “Prevention and Management of Abortion and its Complications Policy.” The medical community itself has recognized that stigma associated with abortion, which stems largely from the criminal ban, has contributed to providers’ negative attitudes towards women who as a result become vulnerable to abusive and discriminatory treatment.

The rights of women to life, health, privacy, equality and nondiscrimination, and to be free from cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment are embodied in several international treaties and conventions voluntarily entered into by the Philippine government such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Convention Against Torture, Convention on the Rights of the Child and most notably, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women which establish binding legal obligations on the state.  United Nations treaty monitoring bodies have repeatedly urged the Philippines to review its law on abortion. Clearly, under international law, the Philippines has the obligation to immediately review its legislation on abortion and to take steps to allow abortion on certain grounds as a matter of human rights.

We believe that an evidence- and human rights-based approach is needed to review the criminalization of abortion in light of the human toll of the ban as exposed by the staggering number of unsafe abortions and deaths each year.  

Regrettably, on 19 August 2014, the DOJ announced that it has completed work on Book 2 of the Criminal Code on Crimes and Penalties. Reviewing the draft, we are deeply concerned that the Committee decided to continue criminalizing abortion without providing for any exceptions despite the overwhelming evidence of egregious violations of human rights as a result of the total criminal ban.

We are not putting forward before the DOJ the question of whether or not it supports the legalization of abortion but rather seeking its support on the need to talk about the impact of the penal provisions on abortion and the importance of having exceptions to them. It should be emphasized that the drafting of the Code was a crucial opportunity for the DOJ to create the possibility of making our penal statutes “relevant and meaningful to the people.” We are concerned that the Committee precluded an important national discussion by eliminating these proposed exceptions before they can even be considered by the nation’s legislative branch and the people that they represent. 

We are concerned that the DOJ turned a blind eye to the persistent and widespread occurrence of unsafe abortions and incidences of unnecessary and preventable deaths in the country.  The current situation in the Philippines demands an urgent response as each day approximately 3 women die as a result of abortion-related complications, 274 women are hospitalized for abortion, and 1,671 women undergo medically unsafe abortion procedures despite the risk of criminal prosecution.  We remain confident that the DOJ will not continue to condone the serious and widespread violations of human rights and will now take whatever steps are needed to protect the health and lives of Filipino women.

Copy furnished:

Usec. Jose Vicente B. SalazarDepartment of Justice

Asec. Geronimo L. Sy, Chairperson, Criminal Code Committee

Ma. Monica P. Pagunsan, Director III, Planning and Management Service

Jan Chavez-Arceo, Member, Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) 

If you like to be a signatory, please e-mail
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Monday, August 25, 2014


                            EVERY WOMEN A HUMAN RIGHTS MENTOR,                                                                             --TO CLOSE THE GAP OF DIGNITY.
Women around the world calling for an in depth discussion on:                                                    The Meaning of Human Rights As Relevant to Our Daily Lives.                                 In a joint effort, each in our Community, accepting this vision and mission, we pledge to:           Raise our voice...--evoke and mentor an ongoing Narrative on unquestionable  equality, for all to realize in full equality, the freedom from fear and want                             
            Closing the gap of dignity between Women and Men, that is prevalent and hurtful everywhere in the world, is the most important promise, an imperative, the most important challenge for the 21st century.                                                                                       To achieve full equality, we women, wherever and whoever we are, must recognize our responsibility to become active partners in facilitating the implementation of an ongoing process of Learning. This process, in many forms, aims to have all women, men, youth and children learn, know, & OWN, human rights as relevant to our daily lives -as a way of life- and in community take the necessary actions, accordingly.              For this purpose we must join to create a global conscientiousness that will channel all people’s actions to achieve sustainable economic, social and human development in full equality, guided by the promise of the holistic vision and practical mission of human rights. It may seem impossible but it can be a dream to come true,                 Women, assuming in their communities the responsibility as mentors, can secure a future where all people belong in equality, in dignity, in community with others!             --A future where all community actions are guided by the comprehensive, interconnected, interrelated and indivisible Human rights framework; where meaningful  equality is presented in a wealth of norms and standards.                                                     These are Human  Rights!! – inalienable – no one can take them away!                    As mentors, we women, opening a discussion on Human rights as a way of life, stand to bring added strength and richness to all cultures and religions and imbed the recognition of the humanity of women...--of WE the “OTHER”!.                                                  In this process we will give a voice to all human hopes and aspirations. We will be holding in our hands a powerful tool to break through the vicious cycle of humiliation.           --Away from POVERTY, FEAR and GREED and the three oppressive “P”s:  Patriarchy, Politics and Power.                                                                                                     We call on Women everywhere, being discriminated against merely because we were born women, to shine the light on this learning journey and to facilitate in our communities discussions to re imagine, re-cast and re-define the ultimate meaning of our lives, in equality that is so well enunciated in the holistic human rights framework.         Women as mentors, stand to give real power to human rights; together learning to identify the difference between symptoms and causes of inequality..                                                                                                                                                                   

            Through systemic analysis, creating new realities for women as unquestionable full human beings, we will together move “power” to human rights! .-- a counter and necessary dynamic, to become full owners of economic and social Justice, fully adopting positive creative alternatives available to us. Together to curve the road that enables our walk towards new horizons of our own choice!!  --These guided by the extraordinary roadmap offered to us by the human rights framework,                                       In summation: we must learn to recognize the humanity of others as our own. We must learn to recognize women as full human beings with undeniable human rights, and most important: women must lead the discussions on the issues we are facing.                            We must learn to redirect our actions to effectively move on an horizontal plain towards new horizons, achieving new dreams, new hopes, --using an all together new language of hope, knowing that food, education, housing, healthcare and work at liveable wages are our inalienable human rights.  No one can take it away from us!!                   We must never again exchange our equality for survival and never abide by the injustices some call ‘justice’, assert and insure our belonging in dignity, whatever the life form we choose to abide by, without hurting the other...--whatever historic memories guide our desires...--whatever culture gives us a sense of security and being!!.                      Human rights close all gaps of unfulfilled dignity. Human rights are about inclusion. They extricate exclusion, as an important example, provide a meaningful way to overcome poverty,,,--people learn to claim irrevocably their human rights...-- knowing that these are unacceptable, egregious violation that must be eradicated!.            Whoever we are, we must build trust and respect and design a new future with full equality at its centre, in full respect and positive actions,. .                                                      Thus, for the multitudes that grew in 110 years, from one billion to seven billion, to own, to act and have the human rights framework guide our action is the way to go!.   This is a call on all women, we who stand to gain the most, join in an intense and ongoing process of MENTORING that will move charity to dignity.                                             Human rights learning and mentoring must become a never ending ongoing process,,,--joining to analyze how our lives affect the lives of others and together strategize how to close all gaps of unfulfilled dignity...—to reinvent our lives as we choose it to be...--add a new link to our past and to our historic memory. --Raising human rights to the level of a true way of life and self empowerment. .                                          No one should be left behind. We women --half of humanity --an acknowledged source of moral authority—need to assume the day-to-day mentoring of others towards integrating the holistic vision and practical mission of human rights as a world view, the absolute truth to guide our lives. A covenant must be made, one that assures that the sanctity of life will never be desecrated or stepped on.                                                         This step-by-step process of women mentoring communities is a sure way to acknowledge and achieve equality!!  --women and men learning to participate as equals in the decisions that determine our future, for all to learn human rights as a relevant to our daily lives!    Join us in this effort. The future of humanity is in your hands! . We have no other option!!                         Shulamith Koenig , Founding President , People’s Movement for Human Rights Learning .  ;

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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Memorial to women who have been raped in conflict

International Gender/Post-conflict reconstruction specialist Lesley Abdela will chair a discussion courtesy of the British Council at their headquarters in London in November 2014 on the idea of a monument dedicated specifically to the female spirit of survival after rape used systematically as a strategy of war. World-wide there exists a deeply damaging and unfair attitude towards women who have experienced such sexual violence, and this remains an unconscionable stain on humanity.

Lesley Abdela has worked 'boots on the ground' on gender issues in post-conflict regions including Kosova, Sierra Leone, Aceh, Afghanistan, Nepal, and Iraq. She asks why men injured or killed in war are treated with respect, dignity and honour, with statues raised to them in every Capital, whereas women who have been raped in conflicts are met with shame and derision. Their dignity is stripped away to the point they can never talk to anyone about their experience, amplifying the medical and psychological suffering

'Rape has been a pervasive feature of war from ancient times. Unfortunately, it is both a very effective and ‘cost-effective’ tool of warfare, which has been used systematically and strategically linked to military objectives in innumerable conflicts. It is only relatively recently that rape has been recognized as a war crime and that prosecutions have been undertaken by international courts.'
'Sexual violence in warfare is the most obvious distinctive experience of women in armed conflict; it is not something that they experience to any great degree in common with civilians generally, it results in immense suffering and trauma, unrelated to any arguments as to military necessity, and is almost universal in all types of warfare.'
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Saturday, August 23, 2014

Women as full human beings

In a long and exciting journey undertaken to have all people around the world know and own human rights as a way of life , allow me to share a celebration which guides us on the road to understand the holistic vision and practical mission of human rights, for which we have no other option.
On the 3rd of December women and men around the world are celebrating the 30th anniversary of CEDAW, the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. Within the existing patriarchal order CEDAW is an extraordinary revolutionary document, unique in its perception of women as full human beings.
My friend and mentor, professor Upendra Baxi writes:

“No single phrase in recent human history has been more privileged to bear the mission and burden of human destiny than [the phrase] “human rights”… -- the greatest gift of classical and contemporary human thought is the notion of human rights. Indeed, more than any other moral language available to us at this time in history, the language of human rights is able to expose the immorality and barbarism of the modern face of power”. --From “Inhuman Wrongs and Human Rights”
Thirty years ago, this single powerful phrase ‘Human Rights’, was finally recognized as including and belonging to women too. CEDAW calls for equality and the elimination of discrimination, it also calls for the transformation of systems of oppression such as patriarchy and racism. Women’s human rights are about human rights for all, they speak to a life of shared and respected humanity. The elimination of discrimination against women is an imperative if we strive in earnest towards human flourishing through human rights.
CEDAW was a major radical step forward, an act of transcendence, embarked on in a world dominated by a Patriarchal order (in which women willingly and unwillingly participate as well …--differences becoming a liability rather than joy. ) CEDAW is recognizing and articulating the political, civil, economic, social and cultural human rights of women. It is a practical yet ground-breaking call that stands to make all religions, all cultures and economic and social organizations across the globe richer by accepting women as equal human beings. CEDAW gives women an important role as agents of change in the center of the State, communities and families.
It is important to stress again that CEDAW’s places an absolute prohibition on all forms of discrimination against women. Discrimination is defined as “any distinction, exclusion, or restriction, made on the basis of sex, with the purpose or effect” of obstructing the enjoyment of human rights by women and girls. Furthermore, in addition to demanding that women be accorded equal rights with men, the Convention prescribes the measures to be taken to ensure that women everywhere are able to enjoy their full human rights as full human beings to which they are fully entitled. The Convention covers all areas of life and frames them from a human rights perspective. Women’s right to political participation, education, health, equality in the family, a life free from violence and of an adequate standard of living are some of the human rights covered in the Convention. CEDAW talks about results, all actions taken by the government to improve the life of citizens should have lead to equal results and benefits for women and men. The understanding is that life with human rights for all is a win/win situation.

Currently, 186 countries - over ninety percent of the members of the United Nations are party to CEDAW. These nations are bound to put the provisions of the Convention into practice and translate human rights into a lived experience for all. The act of ratification of this human rights convention by a specific country is what gives “ teeth” to this call of equality and non discrimination for women. States that are party to CEDAW undertake the obligation to scrutinize their national laws accordingly and inform the population about it. Unfortunately too many States are slow in doing so. More upsetting and totally incomprehensible is the fact that the United States is not one of the 186 countries who are committed to upholding CEDAW. This fact speaks for itself and calls for change.
As part of the celebrations in commemoration of the adoption of the CEDAW, this article is a call for all readers to support and join actions to have the Convention ratified by the US Congress. After all, the Convention sets out internationally accepted principles that would be legally bounding in the United States after ratification. Just think about the ways CEDAW would enrich the current debates about healthcare reform. Imagine the possibility of sending children you love to learn about human rights in schools. Let’s bring CEDAW home, let’s make all human rights matter in this country. A first step is calling for ratification of CEDAW. Since learning about human rights is essential to the reader’s personal empowerment, I have included some information about the Convention that may be of use to you.
Yes. Human Rights is a way of life. We have no other option
Background information on the Convention

CEDAW was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1979 to reinforce the provisions of existing international instruments and thus making human rights indivisible, interconnected and interrelated designed to combating the continuing discrimination against women. CEDAW identifies many specific areas where there has been notorious discrimination against women, for example in regard to political human rights, marriage and the family, and employment. In these and other areas the Convention spells out specific goals and measures that are to be taken to facilitate the creation of a global society in which women enjoy full equality with men and thus full realization of their guaranteed humanity as full Human beings. When you read the summary below you will find several important areas of our lives that calls for change in the USA as well.
CEDAW is the most important internationally recognized document to overcome the roots of discrimination enabling us to decipher between symptoms and causes. It gives the world a new, unique moral and legal framework to guide our daily, decisions and relationships. It enables women and men to understand and acknowledge the energies and creativity women have towards making this a better world for all as full human beings. We women must participate in the decision that determine our lives; guided by the holistic human rights framework.
Posted by Shulamith Koenig

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Seyla Benhabib

Seyla Benhabib, born in Istanbul, Turkey, is the Eugene Meyer Professor of Political Science and Philosophy at Yale University and was Director of its Program in Ethics, Politics and Economics from 2002 to 2008. Professor Benhabib is the recipient of the Ernst Bloch prize for 2009 (one of Germany’s most prestigious philosophical prizes) and of the Leopold Lucas Prize from the Theological Faculty of the University of Tubingen for 2012.  She was the President of the Eastern Division of the American Philosophical Association in 2006-07 and has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences since 1995.  She has previously taught at the New School for Social Research and Harvard Universities, where she was Professor of Government from 1993-2000 and Chair of Harvard’s Program on Social Studies from 1996-2000. A Guggenheim Fellowship recipient (2011-12), she has been research affiliate and senior scholar in many institutions in the US and in Europe such as Berlin’s Wissenschaftkolleg (2009).

Professor Benhabib holds Honorary Degrees from the Universities of Utrecht (2004), Valencia (2010) and Bogazici University in Istanbul (2012).

She is the author of Critique, Norm and Utopia. A Study of the Normative Foundations of Critical Theory (1986; German, Kritik, Norm und Utopie, Fischer Verlag, 1992); Situating the Self. Gender, Community and Postmodernism in Contemporary Ethics (1992; winner of the National Educational Association’s best book of the year award; German, Selbst im Kontext, Suhrkamp 1995) ; together with Judith Butler, Drucilla Cornell and Nancy Fraser, Der Streit um Differenz 1993; in English,  Feminism as Critique (1994); The Reluctant Modernism of Hannah Arendt (1996; reissued in 2002; Hannah Arendt und die Melancholische Denkerin der Moderne,Suhrkamp 2006); The Claims of Culture. Equality and Diversity in the Global Era, (2002); The Rights of Others. Aliens, Citizens and Residents (2004), which won the Ralph Bunche award of the American Political Science Association (2005) and the North American Society for Social Philosophy award (2004); translated as Die Rechte der Anderen (Suhrkamp 2008); Another Cosmopolitanism: Hospitality, Sovereignty and Democratic Iterations, with responses by Jeremy Waldron, Bonnie Honig and Will Kymlicka (Oxford University Press, 2006); German, Kosmopolitismus und Demokratie (Campus 2008), and Dignity in Adversity. Human Rights in Troubled Times (UK and USA: Polity Press, 2011). 
She has most recently edited, together with Judith Resnik, Migrations and Mobilities: Gender, Borders and Citizenship (NYU Press, 2009; named by Choice one of the outstanding academic books of the year), and also, Politics in Dark Times. Encounters with Hannah Arendt (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010)

Her work has been translated into German, Spanish, French, Italian, Turkish, Swedish, Russian, Serbo-Croatian, Hebrew, Japanese and Chinese and she has also edited and coedited 10 volumes on topics ranging from democracy and difference to feminism as critique; the communicative ethics controversy and identities, allegiances and affinities.

Professor Benhabib has held many prestigious visiting professorships such as the Spinoza chair in Amsterdam (2001);  the Gauss Lectures at Princeton  (1998); the John Seeley Memorial Lectures (Cambridge University, 2002), the Tanner Lectures (Berkeley, 2004) and was the Catedra Ferrater Mora Distinguished Professor in Girona, Spain (Summer 2005). 

She has been Adjunct Faculty in Law at the Yale Law School (2011; 2008; 2007); a Visiting Professor of Law at the University of Tel-Aviv’s Zvi Meitar Center for Advanced Legal Studies (2010) and is a Straus Fellow at NYU’s Straus Center for Advanced Studies in Law and Justice (2011-2012).

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Equity or Equality

As Shanti Dairiam pointed out the CEDAW Convention secured a normative framework of substantive equality for women. This has been re-emphasised with all relevant examples of CEDAW General Recommendations and Concluding Observations in the CEDAW Commentary, Oxford University Press, 2012 and in my article on Gender and Democratic Citizenship – Confronting Traditionalism and Neo-liberalism: the Impact of CEDAW, Cardozo L. Rev., 10 International Journal of Constitutional Law 512 (2012).

It is of immediate importance to reassert women's universal human right to substantive equality. Other values such as equity, complementarity and human dignity allow interpretation which is consonant with traditional patriarchal values and does not secure equality for women, either in the public space or in the family. Equity, complementarity and human dignity can only be properly understood where they are well founded on women's right to equality and interpreted in accordance with women's universal right to equality.

The immediate relevance of this issue is evident in the resolutions, in 2010 and 2012, of the Human Rights Council to restore traditional values to the interpretation of international human rights. Furthermore, last Friday the Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on the Protection of the Family.

This resolution on Protection of the Family fails to recognise the diversity of families or to include any reference to the right to equality within the family. The former problem regarding the failure to recognise diverse families was the chief concern expressed by those states which opposed the resolution or proposed amendments to it.

However, the second problem - the failure to assert the right to equality for family members within the family - seems to have passed under the radar of the opponents to the resolution.Since the 1948 UDHR and as later detailed in CEDAW article 16,  human rights regulation of the family has recognised the individual rights of family members to equality within families:  "equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution".The absence of an equality clause in the resolution threatens the loss of this essential fundamental right, especially for women and girl children. What women and girls must be guaranteed within the family is first and foremost equality.

Frances Raday
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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Femicide: A Global Problem

About 66,000 women and girls are violently killed every year, accounting for approximately 17 per cent of all victims of intentional homicides. While the data on which these conservative estimates are based is incomplete, it does reveal certain patterns with respect to the male v. female victim ratio in homicides, intimate partner violence, and the use of firearms in femicides—defined here as ‘the killing of a woman’.
This Research Note examines lethal forms of violence against women.
It relies on the disaggregated data on femicides produced for the Global Burden of Armed Violence 2011
(Alvazzi del Frate, 2011, p. 113).

The gendered dimension of homicide
When it was coined by the feminist movement in the 1970s, the term femicide referred exclusively to the gender-based killing of women by men. Since then, however, its definition has broadened to encompass any killing of a woman 

Diana Russel, an architect of the term femicide, indicates that the concept has been in use for centuries. In 19th-century Britain, for example, it was used to designate the ‘killing of a woman’ (Russel, 2008, p. 3). The feminist movement politicized the use of the word femicide in the 1970s, restricting its meaning to the killing of a woman or a girl based on her sex (Bloom, 2008, p. 178). 
With time, this definition has expanded to refer to any killing of a woman. While such an approach dilutes the political connotation of violence against women based on their sex, it facilitates the comparability of cross-national data on lethal violence against women. 
A number of recent studies and data collection exercises focus on the issue of femicide in a stricter sense. Qualitative studies of the killing of women in Latin America, for example, seek to assess the intent of the perpetrator. Furthermore, some countries in Latin America have implemented specific laws 
on femicide in recent years, such as Guatemala in 2008 and 
Chile in 2010 (Guatemala, 2008; Chile, 2010). These laws take into consideration the targeting of a woman for misogynous or gender-based reasons and foresee stricter penalties if there is evidence of such circumstances. Source: Alvazzi del Frate (2011, p. 116)
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Friday, August 1, 2014

Istanbul Convention for Women against Violence Europe (WAVE)

The EU Istanbul Convention enters into force on 1 August 2014. This is an important milestone in the history of the Women’s Movement and much remains to be done to improve the situation of women survivors of violence and their children.
On the 1st of August 2014, the Istanbul Convention will come into force. For Women against Violence Europe (WAVE) and all of our Focal Points and Partners, the upcoming event is a tremendous accomplishment in the history of the Women’s Movement. The Istanbul Convention is the first ever truly comprehensive instrument at the European level which addresses violence against women. As of beginning of July 2014, 13 countries have already ratified the Convention, and 23 have signed it. The Convention’s coming into force is an important step, and strong implementation and commitment of member states is needed to effectively work towards preventing and combating violence against women and their children.
Important themes of the Convention include Prevention, Protection, Prosecution, Substantive law and Monitoring. Prevention of violence against women and domestic violence is essential to save multiple lives and lower human suffering. The Convention sets requirements for governments for preventative work to function, including training of professionals who are in contact with victims, working closely with NGOs, involving the media and private sector in eradicating gender stereotypes and other points. Along with the state, it is also important that each individual challenges gender stereotypes, harmful traditional practices and discrimination against women.
Protection – The Convention strives to provide victims and witnesses with protection and support, including police intervention and protection through support services such as specialist service provision including women’s shelters, telephone helplines, etc. In order to incorporate protection into a women’s life, it is significant to ensure that victims have access to adequate information on available services. In addition, it involves having well distributed women’s shelters and 24/7 telephone helplines free of charge.
Substantive law – With regards to substantive law, the Convention tries to push state parties to introduce a number of new offenses which have not existed before such as psychological and physical violence, sexual violence and rape, female genital mutilation, forced marriage, forced abortion and forced sterilization.
Monitoring – Lastly it is essential to make sure that state parties live up to their obligation, meaning that once the Convention will come into force, a group of independent experts called GREVIO will measure the extent to which state parties have implemented the Convention.
Prosecution – The Convention does not stop at the identification of the different forms of violence against women, but it also requires state parties to integrate these new offenses into their national legislation, and ensure the effective investigation of any allegation of violence against women, and domestic violence. The prosecution and punishment of perpetrators is essential for survivors to achieve justice, and resume lives free from violence.
In order to support the implementation of the Istanbul Convention, at the onset of 16 days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence 2013 Campaign, WAVE launched the ‘ISIGN’ campaign, part of the Autonomous Women’s Center (Serbia)-led project ‘Coordinated Efforts – Toward New European Standards in Protection of Women from Gender Based Violence’. The campaign has been simultaneously carried out together with three Focal Points from two Western Balkan States (Macedonia and Serbia) and Slovenia, one organization from Bosnia and Herzegovina, one organization from Croatia, and with the European Women’s Lobby (EWL). The main goal of this project is the realization of democracy, Human rights, social inclusion and thus harmonization with the values promoted by the European Union regarding preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. The project strives to promote the ratification by other countries of the Convention, and to observe how countries’ legislation match the obligations of the Convention, which are then reviewed. The website of the campaign is available at: The campaign is also active on Facebook at I Sign Campaign, and Twitter @ISignCampaign.
The area of specialist victim support for women survivors of violence and their children is expected to experience improvement, if states commit themselves to effectively implement the Istanbul Convention. WAVE’s work in promoting the establishment and improvement of women’s services is long-standing. On an annual basis, with support from co-funding by the European Commission, WAVE publishes the Country Report, providing information on the current situation of available specialist services across 46 European Countries. Findings of the WAVE Country Report 2013 indicate an existing gap of approximately 55,242 shelter places in the 46 countries, while also showing that not every country in Europe has yet established a 24/7, free of charge, national women’s helpline. In consequence, WAVE recommends improving and extending services for women survivors of violence, and importantly, women’s shelters. Moreover, report findings showed that, while women’s helplines exist in 31 out 46 European countries, only 17 of them operate 24/7 and are free of charge, resulting in only 37% of covered countries meeting the relevant Council of Europe Taskforce Recommendation. More importantly, there is currently no women’s shelters in Hungary, Latvia and Lithuania. This is why WAVE calls upon the European countries to invest more funding into shelters, and to ensure that national women’s helplines operate 24/7, and free of charge. In fact, our expectation is that every day a new women’s shelter should be created.
WAVE calls upon European countries to sign and ratify the Istanbul Convention, and welcomes the progresses made to date. It also recognizes that significant efforts and commitments by states are still needed to effectively contribute to preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. WAVE hopes that, by working cooperatively with governments and the civil society, all forms and types of violence against women can one day be history.
Contact: Maria Rösslhumer, WAVE Manager - ;
or the WAVE Office -

For more information about WAVE activities and publications, and subscribe to the WAVE Newsletter, go to the WAVE website –  
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