More than 130 UN member states on Friday agreed [press release] to adopt new measures to prevent and eliminate violence against women and girls in a document produced at the conclusion of the 57th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women [official website] in New York City. The document, called the Agreed Conclusions, condemns violence against women in all forms and calls for prevention in the form of raising awareness through education as well as addressing political, economic and social gender inequalities. According to a statement released by the Commission, the document also "highlights the importance of putting in place multi-sectoral services for survivors of violence, including for health, psychological support and counseling, social support in the short and long term." UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said [press release] that he hopes all of the countries who participated in the "historic session" will "translate this agreement into concrete action to prevent and end violence against women and girls."
The UN and others have been working lately to increase awareness and prevention of violence against women. Earlier this month, UN officials urged governments [JURIST report] to take steps to "turn decades of empty promises into concrete change" when it comes to women's rights, and cautioned that violence against women is still a serious problem throughout the world. That same day, US President Barack Obama signed into law [JURIST report] an updated version of the Violence Against Women Act [text, PDF], which expired in 2011 and provides for legal assistance, counseling and other resources for domestic violence and rape victims. Days earlier, legislators from UN member states discussed the importance [JURIST month] of new laws punishing and preventing sexual, domestic and gender violence at the Commission on the Status of Women's annual session.