Ending violence against women, an international perspective

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2013 National Women's Conference
15 October 2012

Conference applauds the excellent work which UNISON at branch, regional and national level does in campaigning to end violence against women in all its forms.

However, conference also notes that UNISON has a role to play in raising awareness of the atrocities which are committed against women across the globe.

Rape and sexual violence continue to be used as weapons of war, with the United Nations (UN) Security Council reporting that “women and girls are particularly targeted by the use of sexual violence, including as a tactic of war to humiliate, dominate, instil fear in, disperse and/or forcibly relocate civilian members of a community or ethnic group.” The UN further estimates that at least one in three of all women worldwide will be beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her lifetime.

In the Middle East, women protestors are being targeted for violent and sexually abusive treatment, and despite their active participation in the recent uprisings they are now being excluded from the political discussions on how their future should be shaped.

Culturally violent abuses continue, with female genital mutilation and practices such as breast ironing continuing; so-called honour crimes going unpunished, whilst in some countries women receive harsh and even fatal punishment for adultery; women being forced into marriage and trafficked for sexual exploitation.

In South Africa, despite progressive equality legislation and the prohibition of homophobic hate crime, lesbians are still subjected to “corrective rape”, assault and murder, while the police are slow to investigate complaints and the courts are reluctant to convict the perpetrators.

Conference agrees that this miserable catalogue of abuse against women must end, and calls upon the national women’s committee to:

1)continue to work with the NEC, international committee, Labour Link and UNISON’s partner organisations to lobby and campaign for an end to violence against women;

2)engage with the UN Committee on the Ending of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which will be examining the UK government’s record on gender equality in 2013, and push for the UK government to actively support action to end violence against women internationally.