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UK demands 'real action' from global meeting on violence against women

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Mon, 21 Jan 2013 16:45 GMT
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LONDON (TrustLaw) - Britain has urged governments to ensure this year's global meeting on the status of women delivers real action in tackling violence against women - and avoids last year's failure to reach any conclusions at all.

The elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls will top the agenda of the next meeting of the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) - the U.N. policymaking body dedicated to promoting gender equality and the advancement of women.

Last year, no agreed conclusions were adopted on the Commission's main theme - the empowerment of rural women and their role in poverty and hunger eradication.

In a letter to Michelle Bachelet, the executive director of UN Women, Britain's International Development Secretary said last year's failure must not be repeated.

"As you are only too aware, every year sees far too many horrendous acts of violence against women and girls," Justine Greening said.

"This year we have a unique opportunity to turn the tide on this enduring tragedy … We must work together to galvanise a global consensus to end all forms of violence against women and the culture of impunity associated with it," she added.

Britain, which holds the rotating presidency of the G8 group of rich nations, will press this year for a much stronger international effort to prevent and respond to sexual violence in conflict, to erode the culture of impunity and to increase the number of perpetrators brought to justice, Greening said.

Several high-profile attacks on women and girls have sparked global condemnation over the past year - including the gang rape of a 23-year-old medical student on a New Delhi bus and the shooting of 15-year-old school Malala Yousufzai by the Pakistan Taliban for advocating girls' education.

But rights activists and aid workers say there are many acts of violence being perpetrated against women that do not receive the same media attention - such as endemic rape in eastern Congo, female genital mutilation in parts of Africa and the Middle East, honour crimes and acid attacks.

A report by the World Health Organisation examining domestic violence in 10 mainly developing countries gives some idea of the scale of the problem, finding that:

    * between 15 percent of women in Japan and 71 percent of women in Ethiopia reported physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime;

    * between 0.3 percent–11.5 percent of women reported experiencing sexual violence by a non-partner since the age of 15;

    * 17 percent of the women in rural Tanzania reported that their first sexual experience with men was forced; in rural Peru it was 24 percent and in rural Bangladesh it was 30 percent.

The CSW is due to convene in New York from March 4 to 15.

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