Author(s): Chinkin C
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Abstract PIP: Violence against women has only recently become an international legal concern, because human rights law has been directed to protect men in their public lives. The failure of human rights law to protect women from gender-specific violence has occurred because much of the violence against women occurs in private and because cultural assumptions are used to justify the oppression of women. The silent nature of this violence has masked the reality of the international nature of the problem. Also, international law primarily regulates the behavior of states. Women have lobbied for recognition of the problem of violence against women within the UN agencies concerned with crime and those concerned with women's issues. It is illustrative of the marginalization of women's human rights issues that the international instrument which guarantees women's equality, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), was not drafted through the Human Rights Commission. CEDAW's Recommendation 19 directs the attention of states towards the elimination of gender-based violence, but the participation of the 139 states which are party to CEDAW is limited by reservations the states have attached to their participation. Wider commitment to the eradication of violence against women has been sought using other UN bodies, and, in 1993, the Declaration and Programme of Action of the World Conference on Human Rights called for the integration of women's human rights into all UN human rights activities, the General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and the Security Council of the International Tribunal was established to prosecute offenses committed in the former Yugoslavia, including rape. In 1994, the UN appointed a Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women to provide a continuing focus on gender violence. These calls for the recognition of the human rights of women and girls must be reinforced by the Fourth World Conference on Women. Such international instruments will not change women's lives alone, however. Improvement in the status of women will depend upon education, support services, and training of public officials. While working for social change, activists must also work to insure implementation of the instruments governments have adopted.
This article was published in Gend Dev
and referenced in Journal of Civil & Legal Sciences