The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, adopted at the UN’s Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China, 1995, is an agenda for women’s empowerment
In the midst of 16 days of activism against gender-base violence, United Nations Special Rapporteur on violence against women Dubravka Šimonovic has said violence against women and girl is deeply ingrained in society and present in all parts of the world.
“Rape is happening every day, but it goesunreported. It's a systematic means of discrimination,” she said.
She made the remarks at the Beijing+25 Regional Review Meeting - a forum for UNECE member states to review progress and identify challenges in the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action, in Bangkok, Thailand o Tuesday.
The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, adopted at the UN’s Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China, 1995, is an agenda for women’s empowerment.
It aims to remove all obstacles to women’s active participation in all spheres of public and private life, by ensuring women a full and equal share in economic, social, cultural and political decision-making. This means that the principle of shared power and responsibility should be established between women and men at home, in the workplace, and in the wider national and international communities.
The Declaration and Platform for Action affirm that equality between women and men is a matter of human rights and a condition for social justice. It is also a necessary and fundamental prerequisite for equality, development and peace.
Speaking to the Dhaka Tribune about how to get women to report their rapes in countries like Bangladesh, Šimonovic said: “It is still a major challenge that the majority of women do not report because of the stigma attached to rape and as the legal mechanism does not support them.
“Even when they do report, the culprits are not prosecuted, discouraging other women from coming forward,” she added. “In many countries, police are not really sensitive in cases of violence against women. On many occasions, police officers are arresting both the perpetrator and the victim without recognizing who is a victim and who is the perpetrator.”
She further said it is important to train police officers, judiciary and the judges.
Another challenge is that the criminal justice system is not at the level it should be with international standards.
“In order to make women report sexual abuse, the system should be able to provide support that will encourage them to speak up. Only when the legal system is sensitized to sexual violence, will women feel comfortable enough to go to them,” she said. “There are only few countries that have changed their definition of rape in criminal court.”
Calling the #metoo movement a catalyst of change, she said: “After the#metoo movement began, many women have been speaking up and women are protesting all over the world. They are challenging the system, and this is very positive.”
The Platform of 7 independent United Nations and regional expert mechanisms on violence against women and women's rights jointly call upon all States and relevant stakeholders worldwide to act against rape as a form of gender-based violence and a human rights violation, and to ensure that the definition of rape is based on the absence of consent, inline with international standards. More efforts must also be made to ensure prosecution of rape in times of peace and in conflict.