Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Child marriage : Gender inequality and Cultural Norms

In some cultures, child marriage for girls is common. This supports discrimination and the abuse of girls and women, treating them as commodities that can be traded for cash, goods or status. The expectation that a girl’s future lies with marriage and motherhood limits opportunities and can lead to the risk of serious abuses. In Niger, 77% of women aged 20 to 49 were married before the age of 18 compared to 2% of men.

Every year, millions of girls around the world become brides before the age of 18. It is also known as early forced marriage.
Girls who are required to enter into marriage at an early age are at greater risk of domestic violence and abuse. They are less likely to be able to escape poverty. Those having children too young have a significantly increased risk of health complications, death in childbirth and infant mortality.

Child marriage is prevalent in communities where poverty is widespread, birth and death rates are high and access to education and healthcare is low. It can be seen as a strategy for short-term financial security, often taking place in exchange for goods or resources that support the survival of other family members. Girls from the poorest households are at greatest risk of becoming child brides.

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Monday, August 21, 2017

"A Woman's Place"

 "A Woman's Place" by singer-songwriter Sara Thomsen

I am a woman, and my place is in the home
And my home is the whole wide world
We are world shapers, we are change makers
We are potters spinning clay, we are dreamers of a new day

We are asking questions, we are opening up the door
We are searching, finding answers,
We are wisdom seeking more
Rabbi, singer, teacher, professor, poet, preacher
Driving buses, styling hair
We are everywhere

We are women
We are sweeping the hearth
We are dreaming in the dark
We are weaving at the loom
We are the rhythms of the moon
We are world shapers, we are change makers
We are tenders of the earth, we are women giving birth

We are packing lunches,
We are sewing the clothes you wear
We are sleeping on park benches,
We are kneeling down in prayer
Doctor, dancer, scientist, carpenter and journalist
Telling stories, rocking chairs
We are everywhere

We are women
We are stirring the pot
We are keeping the fire hot
We are holding a child's hand
We are the rhythms of the land
We are world shapers, we are change makers
We are potters spinning clay, we are dreamers of a new day

We are laughing, crying, we are taking the time to play
We are singing, we are sighing,
We are making our own way
Politician, volunteer, refugee, and engineer
In the streets and on the air
We are everywhere

We are world shapers, we are change makers
We are potters spinning clay, we are dreamers of a new day
We are rule breakers, we are home makers
We are healers of the earth
We are mid-wives at the birth

We are women, and our place is in the home
And our home is the whole wide world

(c) 2006 Sara Thomsen.
(Everything Changes CD)

Photography credits:
Rick Lewis:
Heriberto Rodriguez: http://heribertorodriguez.photoshelte...
Julia Cheng:
Bob Fitch:
Dave Blumenkrantz:
Andrew Kielbowicz:
Nancy Siesel:
Helen Mongan-Rallis; Mary Engels; Doug Fairchild; James Gensheimer; R. V. Spencer; Dave Ballard; Kathy Sloane; friends and family; personal collection; various online sources

 Thanks to
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Saturday, August 19, 2017


Planning for one’s end of life expenses is, certainly, depressing and stressful in and of itself. Trying to plan for what happens after death is even more stressful when funds are limited and focused on providing the living with necessities.
Arranging these discussions as early as possible can take some of the stress away from having to do so when the situation requires it. It cannot be assumed loved ones will automatically know one’s wishes or how final expenses are to be paid for. Preparation is key and having certain steps in place will ease the burden on surviving family members.
Completing steps such as health care directives including a living will which will expressly detail your wishes and completing a durable power of attorney for health care, which will appoint a trusted someone to determine health care in the case of incapacitation, will lessen the stress and alleviate the emotional toll on loved ones.
Next, consult with a legal representative to determine whether a durable power of attorney for finances, a living trust or a will is most appropriate for the circumstances. Ensuring finances are in order not only protects loved ones left behind, it also ensures wishes are respected.
Working with a hospice and social worker can help maintain the legal, ethical and moral expectations which can be missed when preparation is not completed ahead of time. It can also help to prevent unnecessary life-prolonging treatments which were not desired but implemented due to a family member’s inability to let go.
Reading or hearing an individual’s wishes in their own words can help those left behind to cope and process their guilt and sadness. Planning for end of life is not only a kindness to loved ones, it is also a benefit for those working to aid survivors through the entire process.
When it comes to retirement, pre-retirees have many decisions to make and a new world of opportunity to consider. While many choose to stop working altogether, there are many others who continue to work part-time to maintain a sense of purpose and supplemental income for their golden years. Preparation is paramount to preventing stress when planning for retirement and especially when it’s finally time to enjoy life.
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Thursday, August 17, 2017


Hoping as the cost of living and inflation rise, salaries and Social Security benefits will increase as well is just wishful thinking. The Social Security’s annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) is an increased benefit which is provided monthly.
Unfortunately, there was no COLA for 2015 and only a 0.3 percent increase for 2016. Those receiving Social Security benefits were left to fight inflation while receiving minimal or no adjustment for the rising costs.
For the most recent 2017 benefit year, award benefits increased by 0.3 percent, the same as 2016.

Attempting to keep up with inflated costs on a fixed retirement fund budget negatively affects the purchasing power of retirees. When planning began, their financial roadmap may have aimed for one specific amount which would have addressed the mortgage/living situation, debt, pending auto loans, medical expenses, possible unexpected expenses and to maintain a certain lifestyle.
Sadly, inflation is causing as many as three out of five middle-class new retirees to outlive their retirement funds if they attempt to maintain pre-retirement style of living. Pre-retirees will have to factor in an annual inflation rate of about 3% to ensure they do not outlive their retirement funds.
Researching the Consumer Price Index will provide additional information as to how much consumers are paying for goods and services now versus how much was paid for those same goods or services in years past. For those who prefer a more precise look at inflation, the U.S. Inflation Calendar uses the latest data to determine a cumulative rate of inflation for any date between 1913 to 2017.
Pre-retirees should also keep an eye on investments when gauging how inflation will affect their retirement lifestyles. 401ks and IRA’s are both examples of investment vehicles susceptible to the effects of an increased cost of living can have on retirement. Verifying value and all terms with the investment company or your agent can provide much-needed insight to protect your retirement fund as much as possible.
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Tuesday, August 15, 2017


As most pre-retirees plan for a future with a reduced and fixed income, those who are homeowners face the harsh reality where, just because they retire, does not mean their mortgage or debt will go away. Sadly, they will have to find a way to continue to pay higher mortgages on an even more limited income.
With the fluctuating housing markets, the equity in their homes rises and falls every couple of years. Many homeowners have borrowed against the equity in their home for any number of reasons including vacations, home or auto repairs, medical expenses or to supplement their monthly income, just to name a few.
Some turn to newer financial vehicles to prevent defaulting on their home loans. Reverse mortgages are one such method which provides greater financial security for seniors who have been allowed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Rather than paying their loan payment every month, qualified homeowners are allowed to convert a portion of the equity in the home to cash and halt payments on the loan until such a time where the home is no longer used as a primary residence or they fail to meet the obligations of the mortgage.
Ongoing debt from sources such as credit cardsmedical expenses or financially assisting adult children can play a hefty role in increasing stress levels of pre-retirees and those already in retirement. Applying for consolidation loans, reduced monthly payments and using home equity to pay off other debt are all valid methods or addressing ongoing debt.
Working with a professional financial advisor to plan for and pay off ongoing debt can alleviate much of the unnecessary stress experienced by older adults. Understanding how variable interest rates, fees, and payment timetables can be adjusted and used to benefit the pre-retiree is just one way a financial advisor can work within the scope of an individual’s situation to provide relief they did not believe possible.
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Sunday, August 13, 2017


How secure will Social Security be down the line?
For the Baby Boomer generation, Social Security and pensions were touted as entitlements and assurances when it came time for retirement.
Sadly, the reality is both of these former benefits are on the financial endangered species list and those planning their exit from the workforce are left to almost fully fund their retirements.
While Social Security benefits were not intended to fund retirement fully, they were created to provide much needed income support for seniors, especially those with a limited income. Sadly, the amount of these benefits has decreased due to the increasing number of individuals submitting their claims for benefits.
While many falsely believe benefits cannot be claimed prior to the government set retirement age, which is currently 67, this is not accurate. To receive the full amount of Social Security, it is best to withhold a claim until the full retirement age has been reached.
However, if circumstances necessitate submitting a claim due to financial hardship or early retirement, a lesser amount will be awarded for the duration of the claim.
The online Social Security Benefits Planner (SSBP) can provide information regarding the number of credits an individual has earned and whether it is sufficient for benefits to apply.
Credits are earned based on covered earnings per calendar year and averaged out over the duration of an individual’s working years to determine the amount of monthly payment they are entitled to. The minimum number of credits is based on the birth year, with those born in 1929 or later necessitating 40 credits to qualify.
According to the SSBP, the amount of the monthly benefit can increase for each year a delay for the request or application for benefits is delayed with the highest amount awarded at the age of 70. While there is no one age which is best for all to apply for Social Security, individual circumstances should be considered including health, personal finances, and family longevity.
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Friday, August 11, 2017


Many pre-and post-retirees half-heartedly joke they can’t afford to die due to inflated funeral costs, yet they can’t afford to live because of increasing medical costs and decreasing medical coverage for seniors. The impact on retirees due to rising out-of-pocket expenses for premiums and prescription drugs is palpable.
With each changing administration, government policies and priorities change regarding health care benefits.
The inability to rely on a consistent plan with set premiums and costs makes it difficult for pre-retirees to plan for potential future medical costs effectively. Relying on Medicare to supplement medical expenditures means even the most conservative and well-intentioned estimations will most likely fall short of actual figures.
There are government resources available online provide a breakdown of costs associated with Medicare Part A, Part B, Part C and Part D for those in the pre-planning stages of retirement. These resources illustrate the costs for varying levels of coverage and financial status.
To ensure adequate funds are set-aside, and interpretation of plan requirements are met, it is highly advisable to review the official site to educate oneself on the ins and outs or Medicare coverage before enrolling.
Supplemental plans are also available from companies such as Scan and MetLife to provide yet another level of coverage for those needing medical coverage at retirement but whose medical need is greater than what can be covered by Medicare.
Supplemental plans are also for those who may have developed medical conditions and will need to see specialists, have frequent medical exams run, or who need assistance with increasing prescription costs.
Monthly Medicare premiums vary state to state and year to year.
In order to help mitigate rising costs, a Medigap policy known as Part F is available to cover Part A and Part B co-insurance and deductibles, as well as other services. Speaking with a financial or health insurance professional can provide you with a roadmap of what services are necessary to meet unexpected health care costs.
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Wednesday, August 9, 2017


Of all seven on this list, completely depleting a limited retirement fund is the underlying fear causing the most stress for pre-retirees.
Determining how much money is enough to last through retirement so retirees can enjoy the golden years is an estimated guess, at best. The dollar, over time, loses its value, and living off more than interest depletes the nest egg principal.
Unexpected expenses, rising healthcare costs, vanishing pensions and Social Security benefits are all factors to consider when attempting to calculate just how much is enough to live comfortably for the rest of one’s life.
As far as major life transitions go, retirement is one of the most life altering. It affects an individual’s financesself-esteemself-identity, and eveninterpersonal relationships.
Unfortunately for some retirees, retirement is a choice made for them and not by them. Health issues, familial responsibilities and changing work environments are all factors when someone is forced to enter retirement earlier than planned.
There are also those who have come to the realization they are unable to retire when planned due to a lack of proper planning and saving.
Prior generations were able to retire with the safety net of a company or government pension to supplement their retirement savings in years past. Currently, these same pensions are on the verge of extinction due to declining benefits packages offered to employees.
For most pre-retirees, their identity as provider for their children and sometimes even senior parents is a part of how they identify themselves. However, retirement generally brings with it a change in financial status which can affect their ability to act as monetary safety net for grown children.
Having this conversation early on with adult children to cut the cord of financial dependence can limit unexpected expenses and protect limited retirement funds.
Funding an emergency fund early on in the planning stages will aid in ensuring unexpected expenses are not used to deplete the retirement fund and it can be utilized for the retirees to maintain some semblance of the lifestyle which they enjoyed during employment.
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Monday, August 7, 2017


Planning for the known is possible, but full preparation for the unknown and unexpected is challenging and at many times, impossible. From illness to major home or automotive repairs, unforeseen costs can negatively impact the limited income of a retiree. When the unexpected illness of death of a partner creates a chasm in retirement plans, the surviving partner must re-strategize and prepare both mentally and financially for their future.
Major repairs to the home or vehicles are stressful enough when pre-retirees are still working. Yet, due to the full income of employment, these expenses can be managed and the repairs completed. However, when one is on the verge of leaving a career and the comfort of a steady, reliable paycheck, unexpected costs cause increased stress when the same amount is now expected out of a much stricter budget.
According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute49% of American workers plan to delay retirement due to a feeling of being unable to afford retirement.
They lack confidence in the size of their retirement fund and its ability to take care of most expected retirement costs, let alone the unexpected costs which are sure to arise in the future.
Finding a professional financial advisor is one step towards a secure retirement. These individuals will help pre-retirees to develop a plan for what they envision their retirement to look like as well as find a way to prepare for unplanned occurrences.
Together with the pre-retirees, the advisor will implement steps to increase health care coverage and increase savings goals from the six months of living expenses recommended for employed workers to 12 to 18 months.
For those able and willing, they can facilitate the creation of a separate fund for family trips, destination weddings, and other family fun events.
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Thursday, August 3, 2017


A founder of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and the pre-World War II Campaign for World Government, Rosika Schwimmer was born in Budapest on this date in 1877. Schwimmer founded the Hungarian Feminist Association in 1897. She also helped to found the Hungarian National Council of Women, among other women’s organizations. 

When Hungary gained independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918, Schwimmer became ambassador to Switzerland, but when Mikós Horthy’s government was ousted by communists, she fled to the U.S. Due to her lifelong pacifism, however, she was branded a socialist in the U.S. and was denied citizenship in the 1929 U.S. Supreme Court case, United States v. Schwimmer. In 1935, Schwimmer and historian Mary Beard formed the World Centre for Women’s Archives, and Schwimmer was awarded a World Peace Prize in 1937. She died in New York in 1948.

“I have no sense of nationalism, only a cosmic consciousness of belonging to the human family.” —Rosika Schwimmer
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End It Now: Understanding and Preventing Child Abuse

Child Abuse is much more common than we think. The statistics are staggering, with 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys being molested by the age of 18. "End It Now" gives us an inside look at this silent killer, and the dramatic effect it has on a person's life as they mature into adulthood. The video seeks to raise awareness and train audiences how to respond if they witness abuse, or if they're experiencing it themselves.
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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Measures to fight harmful traditional practices 15/15

111. In the broader context of the protection of women’s rights, Australia reported on national action against female genital mutilation (FGM), through multi-sector efforts and collaboration. At the international level, Australia was supporting a number of resolutions and agreements that encouraged coordinated action on FGM and support for the women, girls and communities affected. A recent review of FGM laws found that Australia had a comprehensive legal framework in place to criminalize FGM.  

112. Belgium reported on its holistic approach to the problem of FGM, with particular attention to the prevention and comprehensive care for victims. Several civil society organizations working in the field contributed to the elimination of FGM by preventive measures, awareness-raising, training and facilitation among targeted communities in Belgium. Several publications were developed on various aspects of FGM, a brochure on professional secrecy and a guide for the professions concerned
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Sunday, July 30, 2017

Measures against trafficking in women and children 14/15

108. Australia reported that it had funded a range of domestic, regional and international anti-trafficking measures pursuant to its 2003 strategy to combat human trafficking and slavery. Key measures included the establishment of specialist teams within the Australian Federal Police to investigate human trafficking and slavery matters, an Australian Policing Strategy to Combat Trafficking in Persons, a victim support programme which provided individualized case management support, visa arrangements to enable suspected victims and witnesses of human trafficking and slavery to remain in Australia and support the investigation and prosecution of offences, regional activities to deter human trafficking and slavery, to train law enforcement officials and to assist victims under Australia’s overseas aid programme, as well as regional engagement in the AsiaPacific on human trafficking issues through the Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime.

 109. Belarus reported on its international centre for the training, advanced training and retraining of personnel working in the area of migration and the combating of trafficking in persons, which was the main institution where experts from Member States of the Commonwealth of Independent States received specialist training. Since its establishment in 2007, around 1,100 individuals from 16 States, including the United Kingdom, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, were trained at the Centre.

110. In Belgium, awareness campaigns were conducted in the States of origin of trafficking victims, especially women and children, in order to inform them of the practices of traffickers. A flyer was developed in 2009 to inform visa applicants of the existence of labour exploitation networks and also provided relevant information of services that can help victims. Furthermore, judges received training on trafficking in persons in 2011, organized by the Judicial Training Institute.

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Friday, July 28, 2017

Victim protection, support and assistance 13/15

97. In addition to the information on the legal and policy framework for measures to protect, support and assist victims, several States made reference to good practices in this regard. Some States had established toll-free telephone helplines offering counselling and advice on violence against women (Belgium, Chile, Germany and Saudi Arabia).

98. The Angolan police provided counselling and psychological support for victims, to re-establish the victim’s emotional balance and ensure the conditions and individual and social welfare necessary to prevent the victim from becoming an aggressor.

99. In Canada, the RCMP had adopted a national policy on violence in relationships, which required swift police intervention to protect victims. Supervisors were directed to ensure that all investigative files were reviewed periodically.

100. In Chile, centres were established to provide psychosocial and legal assistance free of charge to women over 18 suffering from violence within a partnership. Further measures included the use of shelters for women and their children, safe houses for women victims of trafficking, prevention centres and services for women victims of sexual assault, hosting meetings and coordinating community awareness to prevent violence against women, emergency care or panic buttons, as well as legal representation in matters of femicide cases. Furthermore a victim assistance network was initiated.

101. In Mexico, the existing 66 shelters for women victims of violence and their children were in the process of standardization. By July 2012, a total of  46,209 protection orders had been issues, over 70 per cent of which by judicial organs. Between 2007 and 2011, medical services used available measures to assess the risk and detect violence against women in 4,413,900 cases, representing a coverage of 13.4 per cent for 2011.

102. In Germany, an Internet platform ( offered women safe, anonymous and universally accessible online contact with hotline staff.  103. Saudi Arabia reported on new social protection centres in various areas of the Kingdom.

104. Spain reported on specialized police units to prevent gender-based violence and to ensure the execution of judicial protection orders. Several instruments had been enacted to promote inter-agency collaboration on prevention of such violence and victim protection. A cooperation protocol between the local and the national police forces was in place to protect victims more effectively.

105. In Tunisia, specialized counselling units regarding women victims of violence were established.

106. Turkey reported on the implementation of protective measures under the  2007 Witness Protection Act, which had been ordered by 92 court decisions for  159 individuals and 95 individuals had been granted new identity documents. A pilot project on the use of electronic support technologies to fight violence against women was being implemented in two provinces, where potential victims were provided with a panic button device to electronically submit location data and emergency calls in order to obtain assistance from the nearest police unit. Reference was also made to the work of violence prevention and monitoring centres, which provided support and protection to victims of violence against women, as well as to available temporary women’s shelters.

107. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland reported on statutory domestic homicide reviews that were put in place to establish lessons learned regarding the way in which local professionals and organizations work individually and together to safeguard victims. Other relevant instruments included Domestic Violence Protection Orders to prevent the perpetrator from returning to a residence and from having contact with the victim for up to 28 days and the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme enabling the police to disclose to the public information about previous violent offending by a new or existing partner.

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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Public information and awareness-raising measures 12/15

94. In Belgium, 70,000 copies of a brochure in seventeen languages was distributed to inform victims of the possibilities of support and advice. Further measures included annual awareness campaigns, particularly on the international day against violence against women, a play to address in an innovative way the issue of violence between partners, a national website on partner violence and a television commercial to draw attention to the issue of domestic violence, as well as posters of child victims of violence (committed by friends or relatives) or sexual abuse on display in the streets.

 95. In Ecuador, the campaign “NO estàs sola Denuncia!” was launched, which included an academic forum on a human rights based approach to gender equality and a fair on free legal advice and psychosocial care.

96. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland reported on its national prevention campaign “This is Abuse”, aiming to encourage teenagers to rethink their views about rape, consent and abuse. In 2010, in Wales the “Right to be Safe” Strategy was launched, which focused on reducing the incidence of violence against women and domestic abuse and increasing the safety of those experiencing it. The Strategy identified four key priority areas, namely prevention and raising awareness, providing support to victims and children, improving the response of criminal justice agencies and improving the response of health services and other agencies.

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Monday, July 24, 2017

Prevention and other operational measures 11/15

92. Most States reported that their police had a specific role in crime prevention efforts. This role included situational prevention, such as patrols, supervising and monitoring in areas where national action plans were applied, as well as involvement in social prevention. Some States noted that the police had specialized expertise on prevention, assistance and protection women victims of violence, or  that the police participated in the training of young leaders, in awareness-raising campaigns and in forming coalitions with national and local stakeholders.

93. States reported on the establishment of victim protection, counselling and assistance measures as well as public awareness programmes, involving campaigns for non-violence, websites or establishing helplines. The media were also used as a tool in preventing violence against women and girls through promotional spots, interviews and participation in radio and television programmes. Several States9 also reported on prevention programmes focusing on other vulnerable groups such as migrants, trafficked persons, indigenous groups and women affected by harmful traditional practices.

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Saturday, July 22, 2017

Mechanisms to learn from past experience 10/15

88. Canada provided examples of relevant federal-provincial-territorial working group reports as well as coroner’s inquests and domestic violence death review committee reports that examined issues related to the investigation and prosecution of gender-related killing of women and girls.

89. The national commission on the status of women of Pakistan had the power to gather information and maintain a database regarding cases of violence against women, as well as the powers of a civil court to summon anybody within the framework of its inquiries into violations of women’s rights.

90. Turkey made reference to the annual meetings of its national committee to monitor violence against women, under the coordination of the Directorate-General on the Status of Women and with the participation of public institutions, civil society and academia, which evaluated relevant activities and improvements achieved and provided suggestions.

91. In the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, a national group on sexual violence against children and vulnerable people was established as a panel of experts to coordinate and implement the learning from recent inquiries into historic child sexual abuse and current sexual violence prevention issues. A national oversight group, chaired by the Home Secretary, was established to follow up on recommendations by the Inspectorate of Constabulary concerning current police practice on domestic violence.
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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Inter-agency coordination and cooperation with other relevant actors 9/15

83. Canada reported on a policy of the RCMP, which directed units to participate in multi-agency community-based initiatives or programmes to reduce the incidence of violence in relationships, improve public awareness, and develop protocols for responding to violence in relationships. A number of police projects on unresolved homicides and missing persons were developing good practices relating to information-sharing, file management, file coordination and disclosure to be shared with other investigative units or replicated in other parts of the country.

84. In Greece, cooperation between the police and other public and private bodies was considered to be very important for preventing and effectively addressing violence against women, as well as for assisting and protecting them. The police was working very closely with the National Centre for Social Solidarity/Ministry of Labour, the body for exercising social policy and for providing social care and social solidarity services. The police also cooperated with the General Secretariat for Gender Equality and other co-competent bodies in order to render support to women who became victims of violence

85. In Peru, an inter-sectorial body was established in 2012 to oversee the National Programme against Family and Sexual Violence. It elaborated an  inter-agency care pathway for cases of “feminicide” and was currently developing an inter-agency protocol on this matter.

86. Spain reported on the conclusion of a protocol on coordination between law enforcement bodies and judicial organs.

87. In Sweden, the Prosecution Development Centre Gothenburg, cooperated with other agencies within the judicial system, in particular the national police board, on combating violence in close relationships and other issues. The Swedish Prosecution Authority engaged in experience exchange, knowledge dissemination and cooperation on special projects concerning violence in close relationships, together with the Ombudsman for Children in Sweden, the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention, the Crime Victim Compensation and Support Authority, the Swedish National Courts Administration and the National Police Board.

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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Training of criminal justice officials in charge of investigation and prosecution 8/15

74. The Angolan police (General Command of the National Police) carried out a range of awareness-raising campaigns targeting cross-province police units, including lectures, seminars and training to provide the police with the knowledge and skills required in situations of domestic violence, including gender-based violence.

75. In Canada, the RCMP was provided with training through a domestic violence investigations course. The RCMP also developed a training standard on domestic violence that included components on forced marriage and honour-based violence.

76. In Finland, police and prosecutors received training for technical or tactical investigation concerning homicide and other violent offences.
77. Greece reported that its police personnel were being sensitized on issues concerning the protection and support to all vulnerable individuals for preventing their victimization.

 78. In Italy police training focused on victims and more effective ways to detect and prevent recurrence of violence. Specific initiatives included specialization courses for specialized units on investigation techniques concerning crimes against minors and sexual crimes and, on managing family disputes and domestic violence, as well as annual refresher courses on domestic violence, stalking, violence against women and measures against discrimination for all police staff.

79. The national police of Pakistan supported the provincial police through a gender-responsive policing project. Several training sessions had been organized for police trainers on the application on the standard operating procedures for dealing with women victims of violence and on improving the gender orientation of police officers.

80. Slovenia was implementing a country-wide training project for police officers and criminal investigators based on the train-the-trainer principle. The project aimed at enhancing the quality of responses to family violence and at raising public awareness of the police procedure in cases of family violence. The project also included training of police officers in operation and communication centres (for professional and appropriate answering of emergency calls of family violence victims, appropriate response and feedback) and the dissemination of information concerning the police procedure in cases of family violence (comprehensive information for the wider public assessed by the media as highly relevant).

 81. In Sweden, regular training programmes were held for police authorities concerning initial response, the preservation of evidence and contact with victims. Prosecutors used legal handbooks in day-to-day operational activities concerning violence in close relationships. Training was provided for prosecutors on processing of offences in close relationships, honour-related violence and offences against children.  82. Turkey reported on official study visits and training workshops for judges and prosecutors on domestic violence, trainings on violence against women for the Gendarmerie and on the planned introduction of gender equality in the curriculum of all schools affiliated to the Gendarmerie.

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Sunday, July 16, 2017

Special units or specialized expertise within the police, prosecution and courts 7/15

61. Some States reported on the creation of special units with specialized expertise within the police, e.g. on domestic violence (Bosnia and Herzegovina), hate crime (Canada), violence and victim protection (Italy), or violence against women and children (Japan and State of Palestine). Several States also referred to specialized expertise available within the prosecution service (Sweden), or even in the judiciary (Jordan).

62. The police of Sarajevo Canton in Bosnia and Herzegovina had established a special department to deal only with investigations related to domestic violence.

63. Several Canadian police services have established hate crime units for the reporting and investigation of hate crimes. Many of these hate crime units work directly with the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, which provides police training to improve the identification and documentation of hate crimes. In 2011, a National Centre for Missing Persons and Unidentified Human Remains was established as a division of the RCMP’s Canadian Police Centre for Missing and Exploited Children.

64. Canada also reported on specialized information system that facilitated violent crime investigations through the collation and comparison of data to identify serial crimes. The Violent Crime Linkage Analysis System was a national computer program capturing information on homicides, sexual assaults, abductions and other violent crimes. Through the examination of victimology, offender characteristics and physical, verbal, or sexual offence behaviour, analysts were enabled to link violent, predatory serial crimes which were likely committed by the same offender. This information was provided to investigators in the field to aid in their investigations.

65. In 2005 in China, criminal investigation departments across the nation set up the Nationwide Information System for Missing Persons in response to the murder of missing persons, and in particular the abduction and murder of women. They have also compiled and circulated relevant documents enabling advanced involvement in the search for missing persons and investigation into suspected cases of violation against such persons, in particular suspected cases of violation against women. Those initiatives have resulted in the successful detection of a large number of cases of murder.

66. Although in Finland no difference was made between male and female victims in the process of investigation and prosecution, a social worker was at the disposal of almost every police department to provide assistance when needed in cases of domestic or partner violence. Special units within the criminal police were in charge of investigating different kinds of violence.

67. Specialized police units were established at the provincial level in Italy. These were entrusted with enhancing cooperation with agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) regarding a “network” for victim protection and with setting up dedicated reception centres for violence reports.

68. In Japan, police headquarters established Juvenile and Women Aegis Teams (JWAT), exclusively tasked to identify persons showing signs of possible sexual abuse, including accosting and stalking, and to mitigate risks of sexual offences targeting women and children by issuing warnings, guidance, etc.

69. Spain reported on a practical guide for the effective forensic investigation of the crime of femicide that had been developed by civil society and experts from Spain and Latin American States and was already being used in some Latin American States.

 70. In 2008, the State of Palestine established a women’s protection department within the police force to receive women and children victims of domestic violence and deal with cases of sexual abuse committed both within and outside the family  sphere. It compiles reports, investigates victims of attack and takes legal action in complete confidentiality. In addition to legal measures, the department aims to preserve social and family cohesion by attempting to resolve issues and providing additional professional services in collaboration with partner institutions and relevant government ministries.

71. In Angola, the General Command of the National Police/Ministry of Interior, through the National Criminal Investigation Bureau, created a department for domestic violence, decentralized into Provincial Criminal Investigation Offices and Criminal Investigation Departments covering each municipality in Luanda, which was responsible for compiling evidence for criminal proceedings, recording all complaints filed by victims and initiating the relevant proceedings in court as promptly as possible.

72. Sweden reported that most local public prosecution offices had specialists on violence in close relationships. Expertise was maintained through experience gained in operational activities, training and regular network meetings. The specialists on violence in close relationships ensured that competence with respect to legal regulations, practice, methods and evidence was maintained among prosecutors of violent offences in close relationships within the office or, where relevant, a specific team.

 73. In Jordan a specialized judicial body was established within the High Criminal Court to consider cases allegedly involving honour. Training was provided for judges and prosecutors concerning amendments in legislation regarding excuses in murder cases involving adultery.

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Friday, July 14, 2017

Investigation and prosecution 6/15

56. Most of the States indicated that investigations and prosecutions were carried out under the responsibility of the ministry of the interior, the police or the ministry of justice.

57. Sweden reported that the National Board of Health and Welfare had been charged with collecting information from relevant authorities concerned with the investigation of lethal violence and providing feedback to these authorities on how to better prevent and respond to similar cases in the future.

58. In Canada, specific spousal abuse policies were introduced in all jurisdictions within the country by the mid-1980’s to ensure that the same criminal standard was applied to spousal offences as would be applied to any other crime against the person. Such pro-prosecution policies required that spousal abuse cases should be prosecuted where, based upon all of the evidence, there was a reasonable prospect of conviction and it was in the public interest to prosecute. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) had established a national policy on violence in relationships, which requires swift police intervention to protect victims.

59. In Guatemala, a series of general guidelines regulated the investigation and prosecution, crime scene management, collection and preservation of evidence, as well as for the application of the law against femicide and other forms of violence against women. Its primary objective was to institutionalize a working methodology to strengthen and guide the investigation and criminal prosecution of the crime of femicide.

60. The national police of Pakistan had established a Gender Crime Cell with the responsibility to develop policies for police concerning the prevention of  gender-based crime, which had formulated standard operating procedures for dealing with women victims of violence in 2009. The national police monitored the implementation of these procedures.
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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Statistical data 5/15

41. Several States provided statistical data on a variety of issues related to  gender-related killing or violence against women,8 including information from the criminal justice system or from population-based surveys on female victimization in relation to murder or other forms of violence. However, not all States recorded criminal justice data disaggregated by sex and the motivation of crimes was generally not recorded by responding States, except for those with specific legislation on hate crimes.

42. Data from different States suggested that men outnumbered women as victims of homicide and other forms of crime (Australia, Austria, Canada and Japan), but that women were more likely to be victims of intimate partner homicide (Australia, Canada, Denmark and Italy) and were disproportionately affected by domestic and/or sexual violence (Belgium, Germany and Slovenia).

43. Two States reported on specific studies on gender-related killing. In Mexico,  a joint report, prepared by a parliamentary commission, the national institute  of women, UN Women and the Colegio de México (an academic institution), analysed available official data on deaths of women with a view to identifying patterns of “femicidal violence”. The report concluded that, between 1985-2010, 36,606 women had been killed. In Australia, a research paper, published in 1999 and entitled “Femicide: the killing of women in Australia 1989-1998”, considered factors associated with the occurrence of femicide and found that, during the period under review, women in Australia were killed at an average annual rate of 1.4 per  100,000 population and men at an average annual rate of 2.4 per  100,000 population.

44. In Austria, while motivations of offenders were not recorded in the Electronic Justice Register, age, sex and nationality of a victim started to be recorded in the second half of 2011. In criminal proceedings conducted in 2012, 278,160 persons were recorded as victims of a criminal act. 135,431 thereof were male and  86,875 female; 55,584 victims were unknown or not recorded. Regarding the sex of the victims: 60.9 per cent were male and 39.1 per cent female. The number of male defendants in criminal proceedings in 2012 was higher than that of male victims of crime.

 45. In Belgium, a recent study indicated that 12.5 per cent of the respondents had experienced at least one act of violence by their partner or ex-partner in the last  12 months (14.9 per cent women and 10.5 per cent men). Sexual violence during the life disproportionately affected women (5.6 per cent female victims, compared to 0.8 per cent male victims). The vast majority of sexual abuse before age 18 was made by relatives or family members, especially for women.

46. While women in Canada were less at risk of homicide or attempted murder than men, the nature of violence against women was distinctively different from violence directed at men. Data collected in Canada for 2012 indicated that 63 per cent of the victims killed by a family member and 83 per cent of those killed by an intimate partner were female. Age also played an important role in intimate partner violence, with the likelihood of female victims of intimate partner violence  aged 15 to 24 years being eight times higher than males of the same age group. However, between 1991 and 2011, the rate of homicides against female spouses dropped by 46 per cent, while the rate of dating homicides against women fell by  65 per cent. Decreases were also recorded for attempted murder and physical assault of female intimate partners, according to police-reported trend data for the  years 2009 to 2011. In 2011, approximately 8,200 girls under the age of 12 were victims of violent crime, representing half of all child victims of violent crime. As with most crimes, males were most often identified as the perpetrator of violence against girls. In 2011, the rate of violence against female youth (between the ages of 12 and 17) was 8 per cent higher than the rate for male youth, partly reflecting girls’ higher risk of sexual violence. Between 2001 and 2011 at least 8 per cent of all murdered women aged 15 years and older were Aboriginal, double their representation in the Canadian population which was 4 per cent. Aboriginal females were found to have a homicide rate of almost seven times higher than  non-Aboriginal victims (5.4 per 100,000 compared to 0.8 per 100,000).

47. The numbers of homicide cases registered in Denmark, in the years 2012 and 2013 were 40 and 42 respectively. In 2008-2013, 16 decisions on killings and attempted killings regarding female victims were published in the Danish Weekly Law Reports and the Journal of Criminal Law. In five of the 16 cases the convicted person was in an intimate partner relationship or married to the victim. In four cases the victim and the convicted person had previously been in an intimate partner relationship. In two cases the victims were related to the convicted person. In  one case the killing was honour-related and in another case the motive was revenge for sexual assault. The last three cases concerned random victims.

48. Germany reported that forty per cent of women in the country had at some point become victims of physical or sexual violence. Twenty-five per cent of women had suffered physical or sexual violence by their partners at least once in their lives. Thirteen per cent had been a victim of sexual violence.

49. In Greece, criminal statistics showed that a significant percentage of murders of women were committed against elderly women during robberies. The percentage of murders of women from domestic violence was smaller, but not less significant. In most cases the perpetrator was the husband or partner, sometimes a relative. In these cases, almost all perpetrators of homicides against women were men.

50. In Italy, the greater part of violent acts against women (about 70 per cent) took place in the framework of family/emotional relationships.

51. Japan reported that the percentage of women among the victims of non-traffic penal code offences involving fatal/bodily damage in Japan had been stable at around 30 per cent over the last 10 years. However, the total number of victims killed was decreasing since 2003, including the number of female victims killed.

52. Peru reported that 609 women had been victims of the offence of “feminicide” between 2009 and 2013, of which 74.9 per cent were killed by a current or former intimate partner and 13.5 per cent by a family member. In 2013 alone, 131 cases and 151 attempts of “feminicide” were registered. However, only about 15 to 26 per cent of the cases were brought to the attention of the criminal justice system. Since the creation of the offence in 2011, there had been a steady increase in the number of cases entering the criminal justice system, with a total of 351 cases at various stages of the proceedings by 2013. The number of offenders in detention increased from  16 offenders in detention in 2012 to 57 in 2013, all of them male and only two of them sentenced. However, it was acknowledged that, in several cases, the penalties imposed on perpetrators were lower than the legal minimum of 15 years’ imprisonment and that in some cases existing alternatives to imprisonment were improperly applied. The amount of civil damages award to the victims varied widely (between 800 PEN and 50,000 PEN or approximately 290 USD and 17,900 USD) and was often not superior to 5,000 PEN or approximately 1,790 USD per case.

53. In Slovenia, police data suggested that in a high percentage of family violence cases, the victims were female (in 92 per cent of cases investigated by the police by  mid-2013). Annually, the police investigated about 2,100 cases of family violence. The number of cases was slowly decreasing after a peak in 2009. The data on crimes of murder and manslaughter committed within the family showed that the victims were predominately female. (In 2009 for example, 10 women were victims of murder or manslaughter within the family, out of 19, in 2012 8 women out of 13.)

54. Regarding data on murder, in Tunisia, the number of cases of murder  against women reached 42 cases in 2010, 34 cases in 2012 and 49 cases in the  first ten months of 2013.  55. In 2012 and 2013, in the State of Palestine 12 cases of murder were received by the Public Prosecution where the victim was a woman or a girl. Of the 98 cases of threats to kill a woman or a girl received by the public prosecution, 97 were deferred to court while 1 case was still under investigation.

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