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close this bookWomen against Violence: Breaking the Silence (UNIFEM, 1997, 116 p.)
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View the documentAcknowledgements
View the documentPreface
close this folderIntroduction: Violence Against Women
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View the documentViolence Against Women: The International Context
View the documentOrganizing Against Gender-Based Violence
View the documentKey Challenges for the Elimination of Gender-Based Violence
View the documentDeconstructing Traditional Power Structures and Cultural Assumptions
close this folderViolence Against Women: A Regional Crisis
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View the documentThe Latin American and Caribbean Network Against Sexual and Domestic Violence
View the documentResearch, Documentation and Communication
View the documentWhat Difference Has the Network Made?
View the documentExchanges and Evaluations
View the documentObstacles and Reflections
View the documentLooking Towards the Future
close this folderWomen's Human Rights and Latin American Criminal Law
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View the documentIntegrating Gender into the Democratization Process
View the documentInternational Discourse on Specific, Concrete Rights
View the documentWomen in Latin America's Criminal-Law Codes
View the documentAbortion and Infanticide
View the documentLack of Protection for Sexual Freedom
View the documentCriminalization of Extramarital Relations
View the documentDomestic Violence
View the documentEconomic Conditions
View the documentGuidelines for Criminal Law Reform with a Gender Perspective
View the documentDecriminalization of Behaviour Grounded in Reproductive Freedom
View the documentRepeal of ''Extenuating Circumstances'' Based on Women's Biology
View the documentTreatment to Protect Motherhood During Prison Terms
View the documentProtection for Sexual Freedom as Part of Personal Prerogative
View the documentRedefinition of the Crime of Family Abuse
View the documentProtection for Women in Prostitution
View the documentGreater Guarantees for the Enforcement of Support Obligations
close this folderCombatting Violence Against Women in the Caribbean
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View the documentSexual Offences
View the documentDomestic Violence
View the documentSexual Harassment
View the documentOther Responses
View the documentConclusions and Recommendations
close this folderUnequal Status, Unequal Development: Gender Violence in Mexico
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View the documentRape Crisis Brochures: A COVAC Study
View the documentThe Institutionalization of Gender Awareness
View the documentConstructing an Alternative Discourse
View the documentDemocracy and Citizenry: Preventing Gender Violence
View the documentFrom Victimization to Empowerment
close this folderThe Power Axis: Gender Violence in Brazil
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View the documentDomestic Violence
View the document''Safe Spaces'' for Women
View the documentConclusions
close this folderBeyond the Conventions: Violence Prevention in the Andean Region
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View the documentPrevention for Empowerment
View the documentParticipatory Methodology and Multiplier Effects
View the documentFilling Information Gaps
View the documentTraining: Targeting Strategic Players
View the documentResearch and Analysis of Laws
View the documentGender Training with a Long-Term Outlook
View the documentReflections
close this folderTaking Action Against Violence: A Case Study of Trinidad and Tobago
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View the documentThe Rape Crisis Society
View the documentWhere Does Violence Come From?
View the documentTaking Action Against Violence
View the documentA Wider View
View the documentThe Funding Dilemma
View the documentLessons Learned
View the documentViolence Against Women: Obstacle to Development
View the documentNotes on Contributors

Violence Against Women: The International Context

Understanding of the issue of violence against women has improved dramatically in the last 25 years. In 1975, at the UN International Women's Year Conference in Mexico City, violence against women was considered very much a family matter: policy recommendations emphasized the benefits of family counselling and the need for more responsive family courts. As the international women's movement gathered strength, understanding and public awareness gained both force and complexity. At the Second World Conference on Women in Copenhagen in 1980 and five years later at Nairobi, domestic violence was recognized as an obstacle to equality and an intolerable offence to human dignity. In 1985, the UN General Assembly passed its first resolution on violence against women, calling for concerted and multi-disciplinary action to combat domestic violence in all nations.

A few years later, the Committee which oversees the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) issued a recommendation extending the scope of discrimination to include gender-based violence, omitted in the 1979 original text. And in 1993, the General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, further defining this phenomenon and recommending measures to combat it. This was a landmark document in three ways:

· It situated violence against women squarely within the discourse on human rights, affirming that women are entitled to equal enjoyment and protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms, including liberty and security of person, and freedom from torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;

· It enlarged the concept of violence against women to reflect the real conditions of women's lives, recognizing not only physical, sexual and psychological violence but also threats of such harm; it addressed violence against women within the family setting as well as within the community, and confronted the issue of violence perpetrated and condoned by the state;

· It pointed to the gender-based roots of violence, reflecting the fact that gender-based violence is not random violence in which the victims happen to be women and girls; the risk factor is being female.

According to the Declaration, violence against women encompasses but is not limited to:

· Physical, sexual, and psychological violence occurring in the family, including battering, sexual abuse of female children, dowry-related violence, marital rape, female genital mutilation and other traditional practices harmful to women, non-spousal violence and violence related to exploitation;

· Physical, sexual, and psychological violence occurring within the community, including rape, sexual abuse, sexual harassment and intimidation at work, in educational institutions and elsewhere, trafficking in women and forced prostitution;

· Physical, sexual and psychological violence perpetrated or condoned by the state wherever it occurs.

Other forms of violence include violations of the rights of women in situations of armed conflict, in particular murder, systematic rape, sexual slavery and forced pregnancy, forced sterilization and forced abortion, coercive use of contraceptives, female infanticide and prenatal sex-selection.