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International mechanisms

Various international bodies have monitoring of laws as part of their mandate.
See: International Standards on Domestic Violence and Their Implementation in the Western Balkans (2006).

Selected examples are presented below: 

Periodic Reports to the Committee to Eliminate All Forms of Violence against Women
States parties to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women are required to submit periodic reports to the Committee to Eliminate All Forms of Violence against Women. Based upon these reports and other information such as shadow reports by NGO coalitions, (see section on Non-governmental mechanisms) the Committee issues and publishes Concluding Comments/Observations for each country, which include a summary of the current situation in the country and actions which have been taken since the last periodic report was made. 

The Committee also makes recommendations to the government of the country to improve its response to all aspects of discrimination against women, including violence against women and girls. The Committee requests that the information in its observations be widely disseminated in the country to government officials, parliamentarians, and women’s organizations, among others, and that the State party respond to the concerns expressed in the concluding observations at the time of the next periodic report.

The periodic reports are a powerful mechanism for international and internal review of country legislation and conditions on violence against women. The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights publishes all concluding observations in several languages. To access the resources, visit the website.

For example, recent Concluding observations have been issued for Ukraine. The Ukraine report specifically addressed the issued of monitoring:

“…In addition, the Committee regrets the lack of information and sex-disaggregated statistical data regarding the types of violence against women and the number of female victims. (para. 26)

The Committee urges the State party to implement the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (2001) effectively and to monitor its impact on women. It urges the State party to work towards a comprehensive approach to preventing and addressing all forms of violence against women, in conformity with general recommendation 19, and to improve its research and data collection on the prevalence, causes and consequences of violence against women and to include the results in its next periodic report…”(para. 27)

See: Concluding observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, Ukraine (28 January 2010).

Reports by the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences
The Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, issues reports on this issue in various countries each year. The Special Rapporteur collects and analyzes data on violence against women in order to recommend measures to be taken at the international, regional and national level. The mandate of the Special Rapporteur has three elements:

  1. Collection of information on violence against women and its causes and consequences from a variety of sources, including government and intergovernmental organizations, specialized agencies and non-governmental organizations;
  2. Recommendation of measures at the international, regional and national levels to eliminate violence against women;
  3. Cooperation with other special rapporteurs, working groups and experts of the Commission on Human Rights.

See: UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, Its Causes and Consequences, Stop VAW, The Advocates for Human Rights.

For example, in Mission to Tajikistan (2009), the Special Rapporteur called upon the government of Tajikistan to prioritize statistics and data collection.

(See: 15 Years of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, Its Causes and Consequences (2009))

World Health Organization

The World Health Organization is the coordinating authority on health in the United Nations system. Its responsibilities include monitoring and assessing health trends.

Studies which monitor the prevalence of violence against women and girls can be important resources when monitoring the implementation of laws. For example, if few cases of domestic violence are reported to authorities, monitors can point to prevalence studies to support the idea that, in reality, there are many cases which are unreported and thus the law is not being implemented.

CASE STUDY:  The WHO Multi-Country Study on Women’s Health and Domestic Violence.

In 2005, the World Health Organization published the WHO Multi-country Study on Women’s Health and Domestic Violence against Women: Initial results on prevalence, health outcomes and women’s responses.  The study compared data from 24,000 women in 10 countries. It was the first to produce truly comparable data on physical and sexual abuse in various countries. The methodology consisted of household surveys in rural and urban locations.  A research team was established in each country and advisory groups were formed to oversee the implementation of the study. 

The study sought to estimate the prevalence of physical, sexual, and emotional violence against women. It placed a special emphasis upon intimate partner violence and its association with health outcomes. The study also sought to identify risk factors for intimate partner violence, how it could be prevented, and how survivors coped.

The WHO study contains extensive findings on these questions.  Among them are: the prevalence of lifetime intimate partner violence ranged from 23%-49%; most women who were victims of physical abuse experience repeated acts of violence; and there was an association between recent health problems and a lifetime experience of violence, suggesting that the physical effects of violence are long-lasting or cumulative.

The study issued a number of recommendations for government action, including:

  • Establish systems to collect data to monitor violence against women and the attitudes which perpetuate it.
  • Make physical settings, including schools, safer for women and girls.
  • Strengthen support systems for survivors of violence.
  • Sensitize the justice system to the needs of these survivors.

Council of Europe
The Council of Europe consists of 47 member states.  As part of its mandate under Council of Europe Committee of Ministers RecommendationRec (2002)5 on the protection of women against violence, it has assessed legislation on violence against women in many states. The Council of Europe recently conducted a monitoring study of the results of its Campaign to Stop Domestic Violence against Women. The Final Activity Report: Council of Europe Task Force to Combat Violence against Women, including Domestic Violence (2008), gave an overview and evaluation of measures to prevent and combat violence against women at the national and international level. It provided information on member states’ efforts to criminalize violence against women, protect victims, and ensure the effective implementation of legal remedies for all forms of violence against women. It reviewed core support services developed by member states, data collection efforts, and new initiatives, providing examples from many countries.

CASE STUDY: Monitoring Mechanism of the Istanbul Convention Promotes Focused Monitoring and Peer Review of Recommendations

The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (the Istanbul Convention) is the first legally-binding instrument in Europe on violence against women and domestic violence. It obliges states to reform laws, implement practical measures to aid victims, and allocate adequate resources for an effective response to violence against women and domestic violence. An ongoing list of signatures and ratifications can be found here. The Istanbul Convention is available here in 28 languages.

Chapter IX describes a monitoring mechanism similar to the reporting procedure of other human rights instruments. A group of experts on action against violence against women and domestic violence (GREVIO) will lead the monitoring process. At the beginning of each round of monitoring, GREVIO will select the specific provisions upon which the evaluation will be based, thus providing a focused monitoring procedure likely to be more fruitful than a general monitoring of the entire Istanbul Convention, which is very comprehensive and covers many forms of violence against women and numerous relevant issues. GREVIO will design a questionnaire for state parties and request a report on legislative and other measures to be submitted by state parties. Civil society and national institutions may also submit information to GREVIO. Additionally, GREVIO will consider data collection and research by state parties mandated under Article 11 of the Convention. GREVIO may also make country visits in order to monitor the implementation of the Istanbul Convention. GREVIO will prepare a draft report of its findings, submit it to the state party, and incorporate the state party’s comments when adopting the final report. The report and conclusions will be made public, sent to the state party, and to the Committee of the Parties authorized in Article 67.The Committee of the Parties may adopt, on the basis of the GREVIO report, recommendations for the state party and a date by which the state party must submit information on the implementation of the recommendations. The aim of the Committee of the Parties is to promote cooperation with the state party for proper implementation of the Istanbul Convention. By utilizing a Committee of the Parties to issue recommendations and a schedule for their implementation, the Istanbul Convention will promote regional cooperation and ownership of the monitoring and recommendation process.

 

European Union
The European Union, a political and economic partnership of 27 countries, has been the geographic focus of several monitoring studies:

A 2009 report entitled Violence in the EU Examined: Policies on Violence against Women, Children and Youth in 2004 EU Accession Countries assessed violence in the ten countries that joined the European Union in 2004. The report analyzed violence against women, children, and youth as well as efforts to combat violence, particularly from legislative changes made after accession into the EU. The effect of EU recommendations on issues of human trafficking, gender-based violence, sexual harassment, pornography, and prostitution are examined.

The report issued several recommendations on how to improve legislation on violence against women, children, and youth in the EU, based on analyses of legislation from the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia.

In 2009, a monitoring study entitled Different systems, similar outcomes? Tracking attrition in reported rape cases in eleven countries focused on attrition rates, institutional barriers to effective prosecution, and recent legislative advancements in the European Union.  The study is a follow-up to a 2003 report, Rape: Still a forgotten issue, which examined the issue of attrition in reported rape cases and the lack of reliable statistics on rape in European countries. The 2009 study examined reporting rates for 33 European Union member and accession states, Iceland, and Switzerland, and contains a more in-depth analysis based on case studies from 11 western and central European countries. 

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