Gender Based Violence

“Violence against women both violates and impairs or nullifies the enjoyment by women of their human rights and fundamental freedoms… In all societies, to a greater or lesser degree, women and girls are subjected to physical, sexual and psychological abuse that cuts across lines of income, class and culture.”
Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, paragraph 112

Gender Based Violence encompasses a wide range of human rights violations, including sexual abuse of children, rape, domestic violence, sexual assault and harassment, trafficking of women and girls and several harmful traditional practices.

The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women, does not include a concrete provision on gender-based violence. Nevertheless, discrimination against women includes gender- based violence. The most relevant CEDAW provision to domestic violence are:

  • Article 2 (comprehensive state obligation to eliminate discrimination against women)
  • Article 5 (elimination of prejudices and practices, based on the stereotyped roles of women and men)
  • Article 16 (elimination of discrimination against women in marriage and family relations: equality of women and men, same rights and responsibilities)

The CEDAW General Recommendation No. 19 states that “gender-based violence is a form of discrimination that seriously inhibits women’s ability to enjoy rights and freedoms on a basis of equality with men.” It also states that gender-based violence, which impairs or nullifies the enjoyment by women of human rights and fundamental freedoms under general international law or under human rights conventions, is discrimination within the meaning of article 1 of the Convention. These rights and freedoms include:

  • (a) The right to life
  • (b) The right not to be subject to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
  • (c) The right to equal protection according to humanitarian norms in time of international or internal armed conflict
  • (d) The right to liberty and security of person
  • (e) The right to equal protection under the law
  • (f) The right to equality in the family
  • (g) The right to the highest standard attainable of physical and mental health
  • (h) The right to just and favourable conditions of work.”