UN rights council: US faces continued violence against women

[JURIST] A report [text, PDF] by UN Special Rapporteur Rashida Manjoo [official profile, DOC] has said that there is a continued prevalence of violence and discriminatory treatment of women in the US, with a heightened impact on poor, minority and immigrant women. The 28-page report, delivered Wednesday, says the US has taken some positive steps with the passage of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) first passed in 1994 and the passage of the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (PREA) [text, PDF]. But the report concludes that a lack of substantive protective legislation at both the federal and state levels combined with the poor implementation of current laws is resulting in the continued prevalence of violence against women and a discrimination against victims, particularly affecting women in the military, women in detention, Native American women and other women in poor and/or immigrant communities:

The government has taken positive legislative and policy initiatives to reduce the prevalence of violence against women, including the enactment and subsequent reauthorizations of the Violence against Women Act, and the establishment of dedicated offices on violence against women at the highest level of the Executive. The government has also allocated substantial resources which are beneficial to advocates and service providers, particularly at the grassroots level... It is clear that multiple forms of discrimination against certain groups of women not only makes them more vulnerable, but also exacerbates the negative consequences that violence has upon them. Thus the implementation of current policy and programmatic initiatives must address the persistent structural challenges which are often both the causes and consequences of violence against women.
The report further says that rates of abuse against women are higher among the African American, Native American and immigrant communities. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website], which assisted Manjoo in the fact-finding [press release], called on the US to do more to protect women. Sandra Park with the ACLU's Women's Rights Project said, "[w]e hope that the government heeds the Special Rapporteur's call to improve policies and protect victims to end this vicious cycle of violence once and for all."

Domestic violence continues to be a global problem [JURIST report]. A 2010 Human Rights Watch report condemned [JURIST report] a United Arabic Emirates practice of a "husband['s] right to discipline his wife." The report noted that women in these countries still face many obstacles in achieving equality, and, despite some progress, women in the region still have little recourse for domestic violence and face discrimination in employment, education and politics. In August 2009, Pakistan [JURIST report] instituted the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, 2008 [text, PDF], moving a step closer to outlawing domestic violence in the country by protecting women, children and domestic employees from mental, physical, and sexual abuse. Also in 2009, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website] ruled [JURIST report] that the Turkish government was responsible for the death of a woman at the hands of her ex-husband because it failed to investigate complaints. In 2008, the India Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) [official website] announced that it would review [JURIST report] the country's controversial anti-dowry act [BBC backgrounder] because increasing numbers of Indian women had issued complaints about misuse. Despite legislation controlling the cultural and religious practice, India's dowry system continues illegally, leaving many women subject to abuse without enforcement of legal protections from so-called "dowry deaths". In 2006, the Council of Europe (COE) [official website] released a report criticizing [JURIST report] France's human rights record and identifying impunity for domestic violence as a shortcoming in the French judicial system.

 

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