Throughout this knowledge module, reference to certain provisions or sections of a piece of legislation, part of a legal judgment, or aspect of a practice does not imply that the legislation, judgment, or practice is considered in its entirety to be a good example or a promising practice.

Some of the laws cited herein may contain provisions which authorize the death penalty. In light of the United Nations General Assembly resolutions 62/14963/16865/206, and 67/176 calling for a moratorium on and ultimate abolition of capital punishment, the death penalty should not be included in sentencing provisions for crimes of violence against women and girls.

Other Provisions Related to Domestic Violence LawsResources for Developing Legislation on Domestic Violence
Sexual Harassment in Sport Tools for Drafting Sexual Harassment Laws and Policies
Immigration Provisions Resources for developing legislation on sex trafficking of women and girls
Child Protection Provisions Resources on Forced and Child Marriage
Other provisions related to dowry-related and domestic violence laws
Related Tools


Last edited: October 30, 2010

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Global Campaigns

  • UNiTE to End Violence Against Women. The campaign focuses on global advocacy, strengthening partnerships and efforts at the national and regional levels, and leading by example through the UN leadership. States are encouraged to enact, strengthen and enforce laws regarding violence against women. The Secretary-General is also forming a global network of male leaders to help mobilize men and boys and engage them to help end violence against women. (In Russian).
  • Say No to Violence Against Women (UNIFEM). This campaign is a global effort using the internet to promote advocacy to fight violence against women. The movement seeks to make ending violence against women a priority for all governments.
  • The Sixteen Days Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership. Provides tools to run campaigns at the regional, national, or community level. Campaign materials and links to other information are provided on their website.
  • White Ribbon Campaign. The White Ribbon Campaign (WRC) is the largest effort in the world of men working to end violence against women (VAW). In over fifty-five countries, campaigns are led by both men and women, even though the focus is on educating men and boys. In over 60 countries, annual awareness-raising and public education campaigns are led by both men and women, even though the focus is primarily on educating and involving men and boys in ending violence.

Issue Specific Campaign Examples

Domestic Violence

  • Croatia – A 2003 survey in Croatia indicated that dating violence among teens was a prevalent concern, but that little information on the topic was available for youth. Based on the results of the survey, the Centre for Education, Counselling and Research created curricula and a website as part of a Dating Violence Prevention Programme. Trained instructors have presented the program with more than 2000 students in 22 Croatian cities and are advocating to make it part of the standard curriculum in schools. See: UNIFEM, A Life Free of Violence is Our Right!, 27 (2007).
  • Denmark – The Ministry of Social Affairs and Gender Equality launched a month-long public awareness campaign called Stop Violence Against Women – Break the Silence. The campaign used outdoor posters, buses, trains, television and the internet as mediums for dissemination. Materials were produced in nine languages, including Danish, English, Bosnian, Turkish, Arabic, Somali, Thai, Russian and Farsi.
  • USA – The Clothesline Project was started in the United States by a group of women who wanted to raise awareness about the issue of violence against women. They made shirts that expressed their experiences with violence and hung them on a clothesline for display in a public area. The project has since become an international movement with more than 500 projects around the world and some 50,000 shirts created by women to raise awareness about violence.

Dowry Violence

  • Pakistan – The Society for the Advancement of Community, Health, Education, and Training developed an awareness program on dowry violence in response to requests from the public. Called Fight Against Dowry, the campaign focused on identifying perceptions, attitudes, and practices in connection with dowry in Pakistani society; informing primarily youth and students about the social, economic, psychological, and health hazards of dowry and dowry violence; engaging mass media in promotion and dissemination of awareness against repercussions of dowry; lobbying for legal reforms, and mobilizing students and parents against dowry. The group produced a book about dowry violence as well as developing a television program called “FAD-jahez k khilaf jang”. Each of the 13 episodes of the program dealt with a different topic related to dowry violence, including legal protections and loopholes. See: Fight Against Dowry, The Communication Initiative Network.

Female Genital Mutilation

  • Senegal –The NGO Tostan coordinated a successful community-based education program in one region of Senegal where FGM rates were estimated at more than 85%. Using its Community Empowerment Program structure, the program incorporated human rights education with health education and empowerment activities for women and men. The program measured attitudes among those in the community that received the educational program, as well as measuring reported rates of FGM/C. Both types of measures showed positive change, indicating that there likely was some effect from the program. See: The Tostan Program – Evaluation of a Community Based Education Program in Senegal (2004).
  • Tanzania – As part of the global StopFGM/C network, the Tanzania Media Women’s Association conducted a multifaceted campaign addressing various media - the press, radio, and TV, as well as traditional theatre and poetry. In 1998, Tanzania passed the Sexual Offences Special Provision Act that for the first time outlawed FGM/C. Recognizing that communities were still carrying out the practice in secret despite the law, the association launched a large-scale media campaign. The program included surveys of journalists and the public, development of a media kit, training for journalists, as well as materials produced for the media, including radio spots, TV stories, and press releases. A total of 120 articles on FGM were published by print media, including 39 in English and 91 in Kiswahili which almost 90% of Tanzanians understand. News pieces were also broadcast by TV stations. See: TAMWA Model Campaign with the Media, StopFGM/C.org.

Forced and Early Marriage

  • Afghanistan – The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) celebrated 2007’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women with a campaign called “Don’t destroy the future of your children by forced marriages.” The day was celebrated through conferences, meetings, gatherings and media broadcasts. Messages from the Chief of Justice, Speaker of the Parliament, Attorney General, Chief of Peace and Stability Commission and people from the general public condemning forced marriages were broadcast by the national and private television channels in Kabul. Billboards with messages on forced marriages were printed and installed in five main squares of Kabul, conveying messages on forced and underage marriages.
  • Benin – The Women’s Legal Rights project of USAID carried out an education campaign relative to the new Family Law in Benin that had increased the minimum age for marriage. The project first brought together key civil society groups to collaboratively work on developing materials that could help make the family law understandable for people at the local level. The groups designed a simple version of the law that was translated into five languages. Those organizations involved in the design then all agreed to use the materials to ensure a consistent message in all regions. Along with information in the media, special events, and t-shirts advertising the new marriage age, the simple version of the law was transmitted through face-to-face workshops around the country presented by trained local facilitators who used the local language. The booklet was so simple to read that organizations began using it in their literacy education workshops as well. The education program also incorporated traditional cultural practices and involved local leaders. See: USAID, Annual Report on Good Practices, Lessons Learned, and Success Stories, 13-14, 17-18 (2006).


Traditional Practices and Faith-Based Initiatives

  • Mauritania – A project started by midwives in Mauritania to assist survivors of sexual violence benefited immensely from the participation of local imams. The Mauritanian Association for Mother and Child Health (AMSME), a local NGO, was funded by UNFPA and others to increase their training and community education activities around sexual violence. AMSME provides a variety of programs for women and girls, but one of their key strategies in working to change public opinion was to bring imams on board with the project. Project founders targeted progressive imams and gained their support. Imams attended local sensitization workshops and justified the project as a humanitarian program that would benefit the suffering and vulnerable. Imams ultimately developed religious rationales for project activities such as counseling and providing medical care to rape victims. Imams gathered evidence from the Koran and took it to police, magistrates, and government officials to garner support for assistance to rape survivors. See: UNFPA, Programming to Address Violence Against Women: 10 Case Studies, 1-10 (2006).

Honour Crimes

  • Syria – In 2008, after a widely publicized honor killing in Damascus, the Syrian Commission for Family Affairs convened the first National Conference on Honor Crimes to raise awareness and encourage dialogue on this issue among government and religious officials. The meeting was also attended by civil society representatives and legislators. The outcome of the meeting was a recommendation for abrogation of certain provisions in Syrian law that allow for impunity for honor crimes. See: National Forum on Honor Crimes; First National Meeting on Honor Crimes, UN Secretary-General’s database on violence against women.

Maltreatment of Widows

  • Awareness-Raising about Marriage Contracts in the Mahgreb – The international NGO Global Rights collaborated with local partners to carry out community consultations to increase women’s knowledge and understanding of marriage contracts under Islamic law. Marriage contracts can be an important method to protect the rights of married women, and ultimately the rights of women who become widows and wish to remarry or remain unmarried. Dozens of consultations across Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria reached more than 1400 women. While the primary objective of the community consultations was to gather the women’s perceptions, experiences, opinions and points of view, the discussions also played a considerable role in awareness raising with regard to the marriage contract and to women’s rights in general, not only among the participants but also among external stakeholders and people in the communities where they were held. All of the partner organisations indicated that following the community consultations, many participants and their acquaintances came to the organisation’s office to seek legal assistance. See: Conditions not Conflict: Promoting Women’s Rights in the Maghreb through Strategic Use of the Marriage Contract, Global Rights (2008).

Sexual Assault

  • Scotland – Government support for an NGO coordinated campaign against sexual assault in Scotland led to a five-year national social marketing campaign. Social marketing uses principles from commercial marketing and advertising to change social norms and behaviors. Messages focused on the fact that women are not to blame for sexual violence and used the phrase “no man has the right” along with imagery on buses, billboards, and other public locations. See: UN Secretary-General’s In-depth Study on All Forms of Violence Against Women, 97 (2006).
  • Cape Verde – In 2004, the government of Cape Verde initiated a campaign, Quebrar o Silêncio, in order to alert victims, and society as a whole, to the problem of violence and the importance of reporting. The campaign, funded by UNFPA, ran for a year throughout the country and had a positive impact, as reflected in the increased reporting of violence and the greater number of victims requesting support. The campaign consisted of radio and television spots, billboards, leaflets, advertisements, awareness-raising sessions, as well as training and capacity building for specialists in the area of gender-based violence. Its main message was that victims should report abuse and seek help since that is the only way to end the violence.
  • Mongolia – The National Centre Against Violence in Mongolia has stepped into a void to provide information about violence against women, including sexual assault, to key decision makers in Mongolia. The Centre distributes a quarterly newsletter “Khelkhee” to parliamentarians, government officials, police, the judiciary, and the public. The newsletter highlights new data about violence, international standards, and local actions related to violence. See: Organizations Addressing VAW: Mongolia, UNIFEM-ESEAsia.

Sexual Harassment

  • Europe – In 1998, the EU’s Daphne project funded an initiative with trade unions in Spain, Sweden, and Ireland to survey union members about their experiences of sexual harassment and raise awareness about the results. The project, called Pandora, highlighted the survey results through press conferences and a publicity campaign and also developed guides on sexual harassment for use by unions and workers. See: An end to sexual harassment at work, Daphne Illustrative Case #6. In 2006, several countries in the European Union implemented an awareness campaign on sexual assault in the workplace. The campaign focused on young women, women looking for their first job, and women who had experienced sexual harassment in the workforce. The campaign ran for a month in specific cities in Finland, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland. See: Work as a safe place for woman - Information campaign against woman sexual harassment at work, Daphne Toolkit.

Sex Trafficking

  • Cambodia – Radio broadcasts on sex trafficking and other forms of sexual violence against women were aired nationwide as part of a campaign coordinated by the NGO Banteay Srei. The broadcasts featured interviews with government officials and dramatic episodes that were written in consultation with women’s groups and legal experts. The project also featured an evaluation component in which community monitors brought community members together to listen to the broadcasts and conducted pre and post surveys of knowledge about laws on violence against women. Surveys demonstrated increases in knowledge after listening to the broadcasts. See: UNIFEM, A Life Free of Violence is Our Right!, 17 (2007).
  • Israel – In order to raise awareness about trafficking and to encourage promising practices to bring an end of trafficking the government of Israel created the Official Medal of Honor for the Fight Against Trafficking. Medals are awarded each year in three categories: governmental body, a public body, or an individual and only if that body or individual made a considerable contribution to the fight against human trafficking. The awards are presented on December 2, which is the International Day to Eradicate Slavery, and although they do not come with a monetary award they provide recognition to those carrying out excellent anti-trafficking work in Israel. The awards were established by Government Resolution No. 2671 in 2007.