|Dying of Sadness: Gender Sexual Violence and the HIV Epidemic (UNDP, 1999, 17 p.)|
The 1979 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women recognised violence against women as a human rights problem, a theme revisited and reinforced at subsequent international conferences and events:
· 1993 World Conference on Human Rights (Vienna)
· 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD- Cairo)
· 1995 World Summit for Social Development (WSSD - Copenhagen)
· 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women: Action for Equality, Development and Peace (Beijing)
· 1995 Crime Congress (Cairo)
· 1996 Second UN Conference on Human Settlements (Istanbul).
The Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1993, acknowledges that violence against women occurs both within the family and within the general community and that it may be perpetrated or condoned by the state. The Declaration defines gender-based abuse 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 definition goes on to distinguish between physical, sexual and psychological violence that:
· occurs in the family, including battering; sexual abuse of female children in the household; dowry-related violence; marital rape; female genital mutilation and other traditional practices harmful to women; non-spousal violence; and violence related to exploitation;
· occurs within the general community, including rape; sexual abuse, sexual harassment and intimidation at work, in educational institutions and elsewhere; trafficking in women; and forced prostitution;
· is perpetrated or condoned by the State wherever it occurs.
The 1993 World Conference on Human Rights laid extensive groundwork for eliminating violence against women, including the subsequent appointment of the Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women. The 49th World Health Assembly in 1996 recognised violence as a public health priority and endorsed the recommendations of prior international conferences to tackle the problem of violence against women and girls, and to address its health consequences.