Violence against women is a major issue of concern and a challenge to the core principle of equality for the United Nations. It constitutes human rights violation, a form of discrimination and an aspect of inequality between men and women.
“Violence against women and girls continues unabated in every continent, country and culture. It takes a devastating toll on women’s lives, on their families, and on societies as a whole. Most societies prohibit such violence – yet the reality is too often, it is covered up or tacitly condoned” (UN SG-Ban Ki Moon, 8 March 2007).
Over 20 years the UN actions aim to unite international community and urge individual countries to work together in preventing violence against women and enhancing protection for victims.
Since the 1993 UN Declaration on Violence against Women, when the first internationally agreed definition of violence against women was introduced, and the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, when violence against women was further recognized as a hindrance to women’s full enjoyment of their human rights and fundamental freedoms, the United Nations have directed their efforts towards the elimination of violence against women and gender inequality, highlighting women’s right to be free from violence. Gender-based violence was defined in the 1992 General Recommendation of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
The UN adopted numerous resolutions calling upon States to prevent violence against women and girls, investigate acts of violence, and prosecute the perpetrators. The UN has also established the UN Task Force on Violence Against Women to provide enhanced and systematic support at the national level (A/RES/61/143), and created the Secretary-General’s Database on violence against women to gather information from the UN Member States about the comprehensive nature of all forms of violence and on the impact of various domestic responses to such violence. Additionally, many other projects, programmes and initiatives to combat violence against women and girls have been accomplished by the UN through its various bodies and agencies.
The initiatives of UNICRI are geared towards prevention of violence against women through research and data analysis, awareness activities; elimination of the phenomenon through capacity building of law enforcement, and protection of victims through women empowerment programmes and cooperation with civil society.
In the past, UNICRI has carried out the first International Crime Victimisation Survey (ICVS) to provide analysis of crime, security and safety and compare levels of victimisation across the EU. The survey was conducted in the European Union in 1989, 1990, 1999, 2000.
In addition to the in-house initiatives, UNICRI joined forces with the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign which aims to prevent and eliminate violence against women and girls in all parts of the world. In 2008 hosted thematic Workshop on Eliminating Violence Against Women - Forms, Strategies and Tools at the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice and published its proceeding.