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The Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women

Violence against women and girls is a major human rights issue. At least one in five of the world's female population has been physically or sexually abused by a man or men at some time in their life. Many, including pregnant women and young girls, are subject to such violence.

The Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women was adopted by the United Nations in the year 1993. This was adopted to completely stop down the violence against women. This deceleration speaks about the sexual, physical, and even mental violence against women and the way to stop such violence. This declaration concentrates on violence against women happening in every place including their home.

The deceleration has totally 6 Articles addressing upon the violence against women. The declaration also defines "violence against women", that is "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". This definition adopted by United Nation the declaration is accepted widely.

The reason and purpose for adopting DEVAW is to recognize that violence against women and girls. These violence are not only a grievous human rights abuse in itself, but is a serious hindrance to the realization of many other rights for women and girls. Although the declaration is not legally binding on States, it sets out international rules that States have recognized as fundamental to our efforts to eliminate all forms of violence against women.

The declaration has 6 Articles:

  • Article 1 Defines violence against women
  • Article 2 Three categories of violence against women
  • Article 3 Rights women are entitled to
  • Article 4 - Responsibility of States
  • Article 5 Responsibility of UN Agencies
  • Article 6 - Condition

According to the Declaration, violence against women is rooted in the historically unequal power relations between women and men. It also explains that violence against women is 'one of the crucial social mechanisms by which women are forced into a subordinate position compared with men.'

The UN member states are therefore urged to legislate against the violence, work preventively and improve the situation of victimised women. United Nations main concern was on the violence against women which always been an obstacle or hindrance for achieving equality, development and peace.

Violence against women:

Article 1 defines violence against women:
For the purposes of this Declaration, 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.

Three categories of violence against women:

Article 2 classifies three categories of violence against women which is prevalent throughout the world they are:
  • Violence perpetrated by the State, such as violence against women in custody and as part of warfare;
  • Violence occurring within the general community, including rape, sexual harassment, trafficking in women and intimidation at work;
  • Violence in the family and in the private sphere, for example incest and selective abortions.

Rights women are entitled:

According to article 3 women are entitled to all sorts of human rights such as political, cultural, social, economic, civil and other rights also. This definition also includes all the basic human rights.

Responsibility of States:

Article 4 deals with the responsibilities of the state that has adopted the declaration. This article requires States to take various measures to eliminate violence against women. These include exercising "due diligence to prevent, investigate, and, in accordance with national legislation, punish acts of violence against women, whether those acts are perpetrated by the State or by private persons".

It also proclaims that:
"States should condemn violence against women and should not invoke any custom, tradition or religious consideration to avoid their obligations" to eliminate such violence.

States should also "adopt all appropriate measures to modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women and to eliminate prejudices, customary practices, and all other practices based on the inferiority or superiority of either of the sexes and on stereotyped roles for men and women".

Responsibility of UN Agencies:

Article 5 of the declaration outlines the responsibilities of UN entities. These include cooperating to develop regional strategies to eliminate violence against women, raising awareness, analysing trends, incorporating the issue of violence against women into our programmes, formulating guidelines and manuals, and cooperating with NGOs to address the issue.

UN agencies are also required to "consider the elimination of violence against women, as appropriate, in fulfilling their mandates with respect to the implementation of human rights instruments". UNHCR has a responsibility to ensure that human rights are respected and promoted in its operations. Consequently, promoting the elimination of violence against women and girls is an integral part of UNHCR's protection activities.

The last 6th article clearly states that this declaration will not violate any other provision that is more effective for abolishing violence against women.

Thus this deceleration is one of the most important declarations for protection of women against violation.

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