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UN rights expert condemns recent killing of women in Pakistan, Afghanistan

UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women Rashida Manjoo [official profile] on Wednesday urged [press release] the governments of Pakistan [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] and Afghanistan [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] to end violence against women and to initiate investigations into the recent killings of two women. Fareeda Afridi, a human rights defender in Pakistan, was recently shot dead [Express Tribune report] by two men when she was walking to her office. The second case involved a public execution [Telegraph report] of a woman accused of adultery in Afghanistan. Manjoo stated that such violence against women amounts to "State crime when tolerated by public institutions and officials—when they are unable to prevent, protect and guarantee the lives of women, who have consequently experienced multiple forms of discrimination and violence throughout their lifetime." In her report [text, PDF] on violence against women in various countries, Manjoo concluded that measures taken by states to address gender-related violence against women have failed. She cited lack of social transformation, absence of rights-based discourse, and prevalence of sex and gender discrimination as causes. Manjoo provided six recommendations: (1) ensuring effective investigations, prosecution and sanctions; (2) guaranteeing access to adequate and effective judicial remedies; (3) treating women victims and their relatives with respect and dignity; (4) ensuring comprehensive reparations to victims and their relatives; (5) identifying certain groups of women as being at particular risk when adopting preventative measures; and (6) modifying the social and cultural patterns and eliminating prejudices, customary practices and other practices based on the idea of the inferiority or superiority of either of the sexes, and on stereotyped roles for men and women.

Violence against women remains an issue around the world. Last week Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] submitted a briefing [report, PDF] to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women [official website] detailing the failure of the Mexican government [JURIST report] to protect women from torture, killings, sexual violence and other ill-treatment. AI had reported that the violence increased rather than declined, especially the incidence of murder. During the same week, Women Under Siege [advocacy website] reported 81 instances of sexual assault [JURIST report] and rape by military forces in Syria since anti-government demonstrations began in March 2011. In June Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] reported that Syrian forces are sexually abusing [JURIST report] men, women and children who have been detained during the ongoing conflict. HRW also called on the Afghanistan government in March to release women and girls [JURIST report] who were imprisoned for "moral crimes" such as flight from unlawful forced marriage or domestic violence and "zina," which is sex outside of marriage due to rape or forced prostitution. In January, a UN expert on violence against women urged Italy [JURIST report] to stop the violence against women. The US has also been criticized [JURIST report] for its continued prevalence of violence and discriminatory treatment of women by Manjoo. In March 2011 UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] called on Tunisia and Egypt [JURIST report] to ensure the protection of women's rights guaranteed by their constitutions.

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