Friday, September 8, 2017

General recommendation No. 35 on gender-based violence against women, updating general recommendation No. 19 1/4

The Committee acknowledges the valuable contribution of more than a hundred civil society and women's organisations, States parties as well as academia, UN entities and other stakeholders that provided their views and comments during the elaboration of this general recommendation.  The Committee also acknowledges with gratitude the contribution of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences to this work and to the present document.

1. General recommendation No. 19 on violence against women, adopted by the Committee at its eleventh session in 1992,2 states that discrimination against women –as defined in article 1 of the Convention- includes gender-based violence, that is, ‘violence which is directed against a woman because she is a woman or that affects women disproportionately’, and, as such, is a violation of their human rights.

2. For over 25 years, the practice of States parties has endorsed the Committee’s interpretation. The opinio juris and State practice suggest that the prohibition of genderbased violence against women has evolved into a principle of customary international law. general recommendation No. 19 has been a key catalyst for this process.

3. Acknowledging these developments, as well as the work of the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, and of human rights treaty bodies4 and special procedures5, the Committee has decided to mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of its adoption of general recommendation No. 19 by providing States parties with further guidance aimed at accelerating the elimination of gender-based violence against women.

4. The Committee acknowledges that civil society, especially women’s nongovernmental organisations, have prioritised the elimination of gender- based violence against women; their activities have had a profound social and political impact, contributing to the recognition of gender-based violence against women as a human rights violation and to the adoption of laws and policies to address it.

5. The Committee’s concluding observations6 and their follow up procedures, general recommendations, statements and views and recommendations following communications7 and inquiries8 under the Optional Protocol to the Convention condemn gender-based violence against women, in all its forms, wherever it occurs. They also clarify standards for eliminating this violence and the obligations of States parties in this regard.

6. Despite these advances, gender-based violence against women, whether committed by States, intergovernmental organisations or non-state actors, including private persons and armed groups9, remains pervasive in all countries of the world, with high levels of impunity. It manifests in a continuum of multiple, interrelated and recurring forms, in a range of settings, from private to public, including technology-mediated settings10 and in the contemporary globalized world it transcends national boundaries.

7. In many states, legislation addressing gender–based violence against women remains non-existent, inadequate and/or poorly implemented. An erosion of legal and policy frameworks to eliminate gender-based discrimination or violence, often justified in the name of tradition, culture, religion or fundamentalist ideologies, and significant reductions in public spending, often as part of “austerity measures” following economic and financial crises, further weaken the state responses. In the context of shrinking democratic spaces and consequent deterioration of the rule of law, all these factors allow for the pervasiveness of gender-based violence against women and lead to a culture of impunity.

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