Gender-related violence. How can Parliaments act against it?

AGORA moderator's picture

Across the world—in rich and poor countries alike—women are being beaten, trafficked, raped and killed. These human rights abuses not only inflict great harm and suffering on individuals—they tear at the fabric of entire societies.

November 25th is known worldwide as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls. Gender-related violence is still a big issue in numerous countries, with up to 70% of women experiencing domestic violence globally.  More and more international organizations, NGOs and even companies are taking a strong stance against it, through awareness-raising actions and aid programs. Aside from them, it is important that national institutions act and take the appropriate measures in combatting this phenomenon.

National parliaments have the ability (and the duty) to set up the national legal framework for combatting domestic and gender-related violence. Prevention is an important part in the fight against domestic violence, therefore it is for parliaments to state, by means of political declarations, that they consider this phenomenon intolerable and they will act upon it. The power of example is also important: men and women MPs must show each other the utmost respect and tolerance, taking a united position against gender-based violence.

 Legislatives can pass the appropriate legislation on violence against women, which includes provisions on prevention, protection, support and assistance for victims, investigation of alleged offences, as well as on domestic restriction orders. These laws will address the issue directly, a comprehensive response to this problem, that will assure an effective and coordinated response to violence against women.

Parliaments also have an essential role in the a posteriori verification on how the legislation is implemented and applied by the executive branch. MPs have to make sure that the appropriate financial means are allocated by the government in order to achieve the objective of the respective legislation. Aside from this, parliaments have to make sure that the legislation is actively implemented and that the executive is pursuing the ultimate objective of combatting gender-related violence.   

The UN provides a complete set of guides and handbooks for parliamentarians, in order to provide them with the best international practices on elaborating legislation against gender-related violence. Some of them can be found below.

Useful links:

·         UN – Handbook on Legislation on Violence against Women;

·         UN – Supplement on Handbook on Legislation on Violence against Women;

·         Parliamentary Forum on Small Arms and Light Weapons –Small Arms and Violence against Women: Parliamentary Handbook.

This is a blog post by Cosmin Octavian of the United Nations Development Programme.