Sexual and Reproductive Rights
Violence Against Women
In the 1993 Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women, the United Nations General Assembly defines violence against women as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.” The 1993 declaration mentioned thee types of violence against women: physical, sexual and psychological (verbal and non-verbal communication). The 2003 UN declaration on the elimination of violence against women added economic exploitation as a fourth type. A perpetrator of an act of violence against women can be of either gender (though the majority is male), it can be a person close to the victim (like a family member) or an abstract entity such as society’s harmful traditions or the State.
How violence affects sexual and reproductive health
A publication on violence against women and sexual and reproductive health by Canadians for choice states that “when women are facing violence in their lives it presents an immense barrier to making family planning and reproductive health decisions.” Particularly if the perpetrator is a partner or family member, negotiation of contraception and engaging in sex with mutual consent might be thwarted. Moreover, an abusive relationship can pose a serious threat to a pregnancy. It’s therefore important for health care professionals to be aware of the health impact of violence against women.
The World Health Organization estimates that up to one in three women experiences violence during her lifetime, possibly causing trauma and sometimes death. As the UN Economic Commission for Europe points out on its website about violence against women, “victims represent a multitude of socio-economic status, level of education, culture, and ethnicity”.
International legislation for violence against women
The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms” mentioned in the Declaration “without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, (…).”
In 1979 the UN General Assembly adopted The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women that set up an agenda to end such discrimination. By accepting the convention, states committed themselves to incorporate the principle of equality of men and women in their legal system.
The 1993 Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women linked discrimination with violence against women and mentioned “historically unequal power relations between men and women, which have led to domination over and discrimination against women by men and to the prevention of the full advancement of women (…).”
In 1999 the UN designated November 25 as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women in order to raise public awareness of the problem.
The 2003 UN declaration on the elimination of violence against women added economic exploitation as a type of violence against women (the others being physical, sexual and psychological violence).
|“The Commission on Human Rights (…) affirms that the term “violence against women” means any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life, and including domestic violence, crimes committed in the name of honour, crimes committed in the name of passion, trafficking in women and girls, traditional practices harmful to women, including female genital mutilation, early and forced marriages, female infanticide, dowry-related violence and deaths, acid attacks and violence related to commercial sexual exploitation as well as economic exploitation (…)."|
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