Women´s Issues After Beijing
Platform for Action of the Fourth World Conference on Women
Positions - Networks - Results
"Violence against women is an obstacle to the achievement of the objectives of equality, development and peace. Violence against women both violates and impairs or nullifies the enjoyment by women of their human rights and fundamental freedoms... In all societies, to a greater or lesser degree, women and girls are subjected to physical, sexual and psychological abuse that cuts across lines of income, class and culture. The low social and economic status of women can be both a cause and a consequence of violence against women. The term 'violence against women' means any action of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering of women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life."
The ever-present daily threat of violence
The Beijing Platform leaves no doubt that women are threatened by acts
of violence everywhere in the world at all times and every day and that
every woman is exposed to the risk - at least in the form of atmospheric
Not enough protection in any country
The Platform states that everywhere in the world too little is being
done against these violations of fundamental human rights. No country adequately
protects women against threats of violence. The only progress made since
Nairobi is that violence against women, its causes and consequences and
measures to combat it, has been more widely studied and documented.
Violence against women instils fear and insecurity into women´s lives
In many cases, violence against women and girls occurs in the family
or within the home and is often tolerated there. Neglect, physical and
sexual abuse and rape of girls and women by family members often go unreported.
The same applies to spousal abuse. Even when such acts of violence are
reported, the victims are often left unprotected and the perpetrators unpunished.
In all languages of the world there exists a wealth of proverbs bearing
eloquent witness to how much for granted people take violence against women.
"Beat your wife regularly, even if you do not know why, she will",
is regarded as a confirmed male view almost everywhere.
Violence against women derives from cultural patterns
The risk of women of becoming victims is exacerbated by the fact that many forms of violence violate women´s feelings of shame. Fear of exposure silences the victims because they, not the perpetrators, are subjected to public ostracization. The victims of violence suffer from lack of access to legal information, in effective protection by laws and in efficient aid on the part of public authorities. Laws that protect the perpetrators must be reformed. Violence against women is also ever-present in the media: women are raped and sexually enslaved, they are exploited as sex objects in pornography. Such images actually provoke acts of violence against women.
Feelings of shame silence victims and leave perpetrators unpunished
Strategies and actions to be taken:
The Platform lists forty-four actions to be taken under three
strategic objectives with which to make gender relations less prone to
violence. The objectives:
Education for mutual respect and cooperation
Even if knowledge about the causes and consequences of violence against
women and girls has expanded since the Nairobi Conference, it is not sufficient
to develop promising prevention strategies which include education. The
Platform therefore regards it as essential to promote a gender-based study
of violence in the home and in the community to be used for the prevention
and elimination of such violence.
Mobilize men as allies against violence
Whether acts of violence against women are perpetrated by the State
or by private individuals, they must be investigated, brought to the courts
and punished. In some countries, legislation generally has no penal, civil,
labour and administrative sanctions with which to punish the offenders
and redress the wrong done. In other countries they are not strong enough.
Consistent policy of eliminating violence
Outlawing violence is not enough
The Platform calls upon all Governments to eliminate gender-related prejudices, especially in the field of education. They should fight social and cultural patterns of conduct based on the idea "of the inferiority or superiority of either of the sexes". State institutions should cooperate with educational institutions, enterprises and women´s organizations "to raise awareness about violence against women as a violation of women´s enjoyment of their human rights". The Platform recommends campaigns in order to sensitize girls and boys and women and men to the detrimental effects of violence in the family and society. Learning programmes should teach methods of communicating without violence and how to apply these methods outside the programmes.
Education helps against violence
Those responsible in the media are encouraged to promote information and education about the causes and consequences of violence against women. The media should raise awareness about the fact that media presentation of gender roles and the way in which they depict the relationship between men and women provides an important orientation for the way in which men and women deal with each other in their real lives. They cannot be neutral in respect of acts of violence. It would also be the task of the media to look self-critically at the impact of gender role stereotypes and how they are perpetuated by commercial advertisements.
Use the orientation provided by the media
Governments who have not yet done so are called upon to ratify international conventions on trafficking in persons and on slavery and carry them out consistently in their policies. More international cooperation is required in the fight against traffic in women in order to defeat the trafficking networks which are operating world-wide. Legislation to protect the women and girls concerned is not only non-existent; the penal and civil code must also be developed further in order to be able to punish perpetrators more effectively. Sex tourism is another issue where too little is being done.
Be determined in the fight against traffic in women
Programmes to heal and rehabilitate in society victims of trafficking are also in short supply everywhere. There is a lack of social, medical, psychological and legal assistance to the victims. The Platform calls for further efforts and more financial resources in this area.
© Friedrich Ebert Stiftung | technical support | Net Edition mv&ola | Oktober 1997