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UN expert calls for gender equality in criminal justice systems

The UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers [official website] Gabriela Knaul [profile] called Friday for integration of a gender perspective [report, PDF] into countries' criminal justice systems. The annual report "addresses the need to consider and integrate a gender perspective in the criminal justice system as a fundamental step towards allowing equal access to justice for women and men and in respect of the role to be played by judges and lawyers." During the presentation of her report [press release] to the UN General Assembly [official website], Knaul stated that "[g]iven the historical and pervasive discrimination against women throughout the world, we have to look at how women are represented and treated in the criminal justice system." Knaul stressed the necessity of integrating gender perspective into judicial procedures to allow women's perspectives to challenge the "traditional notions of judging and judicial authority." The report includes a number of recommendations to states on how to improve gender equality in their criminal justice systems including identifying judicial regions most affected by gender-based discrimination, encouraging women to apply for high level criminal justice positions, and providing training geared on gender equality and women's rights.

Equality and women's rights continue to be an issue for much of the world. Earlier this month, the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women [official website] Rashida Manjoo [official profile] appeared in front of the General Assembly to urge states to fulfill their obligations to prevent violence against women [JURIST report]. Manjoo's presentation followed her August request for the US government to reevaluate its domestic violence policies [JURIST report]. Manjoo also released a report in June that said there is a continued prevalence of violence and discriminatory treatment of women in the US [JURIST report], with a heightened impact on poor, minority and immigrant women. In March, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] pressed [JURIST report] Tunisia and Egypt to ensure that women's rights receive constitutional protection and to include women in the dialogue to shape the future of their countries. Last year, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [official website] called on the Afghan government to protect the rights of women [JURIST report] during integration and reconciliation efforts conducted with the Taliban [GlobalSecurity backgrounder] and other militants. Earlier in 2010, India's upper house of parliament, the Rajya Sabha [official website], approved a bill [JURIST report] to ensure that one-third of seats in parliament are reserved for women.

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