Press Release: For 3/08 International Women’s Day: End violence and human rights violations against women

1. On this International Women’s Day, Human Rights Now (HRN), a Tokyo-based international human rights NGO, calls on the international community to eradicate violence and human rights violations against women. Even today, women across the world will have suffered significant violence as a result of armed conflict, domestic abuse or hostility in their communities. Many of the armed conflicts and military operations perpetrated as part of the ‘war on terror’ violate international human rights and humanitarian law, leading to the loss of innocent lives, including those of women and girls. Such acts, many constituting war crimes, continue with impunity and compensation for the victims has not materialised. The international community must create policies for tackling these serious issues as a matter of urgency.
Furthermore, rapes and extrajudicial executions of women (such as honour or dowry killings) continue unpunished across the globe. In many traditional societies, the practice of child marriage is still prevalent. More alarming still is the number of countries that continue to constrain women’s actions and autonomy with legal rules and punishments, resulting in incarceration or even execution perpetrated brazenly and sanctioned by domestic law. Little progress has been made in protecting women imprisoned or sentenced to die under oppressive domestic law.

2. It has been almost two decades since the Fourth World Conference on Women, held in Beijing in 1995. The international community continues to look towards 2015 when new development goals will be set. The international community is called upon to overcome the lack of political will, agree specific goals and indices, and take sincere and effective steps towards the eradication of violence and human rights violations against women. HRN specifically urges (a) the identification of women’s empowerment and gender equality as an independent objective, (b) the substantiation of this objective with clear target indices, and (c) the creation of mechanisms to monitor steps taken towards this objective.

3. In particular, HRN seeks the international community’s agreement emphatically to pursue the eradication of sexually discriminative restrictions on freedom of action and unjust laws providing for the punishment (including execution) of women.
Across the world today women are being cruelly punished, imprisoned, and even executed for daring to exercise the freedom and autonomy to which they are rightly entitled as human beings. All domestic laws which purport to legitimise these unjust human rights violations against women clearly contravene the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and must be immediately abolished. In order to eliminate these serious human rights violations against women, HRN seeks the creation of international public dialogues and the presence of advocates at the UN human rights mechanisms. HRN is to launch a campaign calling on the international community, beginning with the UN, to unite in support of the much-needed progress. We call on the UN Secretary-General, leaders from States around the world, and civil societies to consider the severe human rights violations against women across the globe and take co-operative steps towards their eradication.