Violence against women is not acceptable and can be prevented

25 Nov 2013

New York – Every year, at least two million women and girls are trafficked into prostitution, forced slavery, and servitude. Up to 60 percent of women experience some form of physical or sexual abuse during their lifetime.

On the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is calling for renewed efforts to end violence against women.

Gender-based violence hurts women, their families and their countries, and it reinforces inequalities between men and women throughout the world. Marital rape is still not considered a criminal offense in more than 35 countries. More than 603 million women live in countries where domestic violence is not considered a crime.

“This is not acceptable: better laws and their enforcement are needed,” said Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme.  She called for law enforcement and judicial systems to work together with governments, civil society and international partners  to tackle the root causes of violence against women, support victims, and bring perpetrators to justice.

Gender-based discrimination remains the single most widespread driver of inequalities in today’s world. This is captured in UNDP’s new Regional Human Development Report (HDR) 2013-2014 Citizen Security with a Human Face: evidence and proposals for Latin America, which sets out that gender-based violence contributes to insecurity in Latin America and is a persistent threat and obstacle to human development, public health and human rights.

According to the report, almost all the assessed countries in the region recorded increases of domestic violence, rape and female murders. Among UNDP-surveyed inmates who had committed sexual offenses, between 75 percent and 90 percent reported knowing their victims before the crime and between 20 percent and 40 percent were family members.

While the evidence linking gender-based violence and poverty grows, so does a global call to include men's voices in the solution to violence against women. A recent UN study carried out in the Asia Pacific region found that of the 10,000 men surveyed, nearly half reported using physical and/or sexual violence against a female partner.

Although the study's dire findings reaffirm how widespread the problem remains, it also identified that the majority of factors associated with men's use of violence against women can be changed. The study recommends that development interventions should address social norms related to the acceptability of violence and dominant gender stereotypes, as well as focusing on ending impunity for perpetrators.

This same message is set out in the report A Million Voices: The World We Want, which synthesizes the results of an unprecedented global consultation involving over a million people across all countries and backgrounds on what the world’s future development agenda should look like. It states that the current Millennium Development Goals framework, which reaches its deadline in 2015, is silent on violence against women and girls, even though one of the eight goals is on gender.

Any future development agenda, the report states, must have a strong focus on gender-based inequalities and gender-based violence, without which the world will be neither able to address the drivers of conflict and violence nor guarantee accelerated and sustainable development.

UNDP works with countries around the world on initiatives to prevent and respond to gender-based violence, including in crisis countries where rape and sexual assault are used as a tool of war. It reaffirms its commitment to end gender-based violence and calls for increased efforts to tackle specific patterns of violence in development and crisis contexts, working with women’s organizations as well as men and boys.

Notes to the editor

More information on the Asia Pacific study referenced above, called “Partners for Prevention” and carried out jointly by the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), UN Women and United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme, can be found here:

     You may also be interested in the Synthesis Report on the Global Thematic Consultation on Addressing Inequalities:

Contact Information

vincenzo.pugliese@undp.org; +1 212 906 5296