Document - Making Rights a Reality: Human rights education workshop for non-governmental organizations
Making rights a reality
Human rights education workshop for non-governmental organizations
[Back cover text]
Violence against women is a worldwide human rights scandal. From birth to death, in times of peace as well as war, women face discrimination and violence at the hands of the state, the community and the family.
This pack is designed for human rights educators working with non-governmental organizations. It includes detailed instructions on how to organize and run a series of workshops for staff, board members and volunteers of human rights organizations and other non-governmental organizations working in related fields.
The material explores the causes and consequences of violence against women and the legal mechanisms and tools available to combat such violence. It makes clear that women's rights are human rights and encourages participants to incorporate work on women's rights into their daily practice.
The pack includes all necessary supporting materials for each session, such as case studies, facilitator’s tips and handouts, as well as a set of useful resources and background information.
AI Index: ACT 77/050/2004
[inside cover text]
Some of the methods used in this workshop have been inspired by and, in some cases, adapted from the work of IMDEC, an NGO specializing in popular education in Guadalajara, Mexico. Session two contains ideas adapted from IMDEC's "Triple Self Diagnosis" method in Kane, Liam, Popular Education and Social Change in Latin America, Latin America Bureau, London, 2001.
Amnesty International Publications
First published in 2005 by
Amnesty International Publications
Peter Benenson House
1 Easton Street
London WC1X 0DW
© Amnesty International Publications 2005
AI Index: ACT 77/055/2005
Original language: English
DS Print/Redesign, Enfield, United Kingdom
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the publishers.
Amnesty International is a worldwide movement of people who campaign for internationally recognized human rights to be respected and protected.
Amnesty International’s vision is of a world in which every person enjoys all of the human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights standards.
In pursuit of this vision, Amnesty International’s mission is to undertake research and action focused on preventing and ending grave abuses of the rights to physical and mental integrity, freedom of conscience and expression, and freedom from discrimination, within the context of its work to promote all human rights.
Amnesty International is independent of any government, political ideology, economic interest or religion. It does not support or oppose any government or political system, nor does it support or oppose the views of the victims whose rights it seeks to protect. It is concerned solely with the impartial protection of human rights.
Amnesty International is a democratic, self-governing movement with more than 1.8 million members and supporters in over 150 countries and territories in every region of the world. It is funded largely by its worldwide membership and public donations.
Cover photo: A group of women participates in a parade to celebrate International Women’s Day in Montevideo, Uruguay, 8 March 2002.
© AP Photo/Marcelo Hernandez
This is one of seven documents making up a toolkit for activists working to stop violence against women. The toolkit, prepared by Amnesty International, is a contribution to the worldwide struggle to stop violence against women. The elements of the toolkit are: a guide to advocacy and campaigning; a human rights education pack introducing the basic concepts of gender and women’s rights; three human rights education packs written for particular audiences; and two handbooks on international law and international legal standards relating to violence against women, one dealing with states’ obligation to exercise due diligence in making women’s right to freedom from violence a reality and the second covering violence against women in armed conflict.
[inside back cover text]
This activists’ toolkit consists of seven related publications designed to be used by all those working to challenge violence against women:
Making rights a reality: Gender awareness workshops (AI Index: ACT 77/035/2004), a general human rights education pack on the basic concepts of gender and women’s rights.
Making rights a reality: Campaigning to stop violence against women (AI Index: ACT 77/052/2004), a guide to advocacy. It provides information on practical methods of securing change such as lobbying, using the media and legal advocacy in criminal and civil courts.
Making rights a reality: The duty of states to address violence against women (AI Index: ACT 77/049/2004), a guide to human rights law and standards relating to states’ duties under international law to address violence against women.
Making rights a reality: Violence against women in armed conflict (AI Index: ACT 77/050/2004), a guide to international legal standards relating to violence against women in armed conflict. Access electronic copy under ACT 77/050/2005
Making rights a reality: Human rights education workshop for youth (AI Index: ACT 77/053/2005*), a human rights education pack on women’s rights in international law aimed at young people.
Making rights a reality: Human rights education workshop for journalists (AI Index: ACT 77/054/2005*), a human rights education pack on women’s rights in international law aimed at people working in the news media.
Making rights a reality: Human rights education workshop for non-governmental organizations (AI Index: ACT 77/055/2005*), a human rights education pack on women’s rights in international law aimed at people working in non-governmental organizations.
* Please note updated index number
Making rights a reality
Human rights education workshop for non-governmental organizations
An activists’ toolkit 1
The Stop Violence Against Women Campaign 2
Who is this Human Rights Education workshop aimed at? 2
Important information about this workshop and accompanying
resources material 3
WORKSHOP CYCLE, ANNOTATED AGENDA AND
STEP-BY-STEP SESSION PLANS 6
Agenda: Human rights and the struggle to eliminate violence
against women 7
DAY ONE 15
SESSION 1: Introduction and expectations 15
Step 1: Welcome and introduction by facilitator 15
Step 2: Stepping stones (or paths): how, why and what? 16
Step 3: Expectations, sensitivity and ground rules 17
SESSION 2: Conceptualizing rights and reflecting on our practice 18
1: Brainstorming a spidogram on what we understand by
human rights and what we mean by women’s rights 18
Step 2: Participants' practice as human rights activists 19
SESSION 3: Context 20
Step 1: Decide key aspects of context and design visual feedback 20
2: Plenary presentation, interpretation, analysis and
of context. 20
Step 3: Relating context with practice 21
SESSION 4: Conceptualizing women's rights and analysis of root
and consequences of violence against women 22
Step 1: Are women’s human rights different to other human rights? 22
Step 2: Defining violence against women and its scope 23
Step 3: Root causes of violence against women 23
Step 4: Discrimination, power and lack of information 23
Step 5: The human face of violence against women 24
SESSION 5: Women’s rights as human rights 25
Step 1: Part 1 of presentation 25
Step 2: Time line of significant events 25
Step 3: Part 2 of presentation 25
SESSION 6: Wrap-up of Day One 26
Step 1: Wrap-up 26
Step 2: Outline Day Two agenda 26
Step 3: Thank participants 26
DAY TWO 27
SESSION 7: Warm-up 27
Step 1: Icebreaker 27
Step 2: Clarifications from Day Two 27
SESSION 8: States’ responsibility to protect women’s rights 28
Step 1: Part 2 of presentation 28
Step 2: Amnesty International's Stop Violence Against Women Campaign 29
Step 3: Concept of due diligence 29
Step 4: Brainstorming state's responsibilities 29
SESSION 9: Applying due diligence to cases of violence against women 30
Step 1: Read case studies in groups 30
Step 2: Group work on case studies 30
Step 3: Plenary feedback 31
SESSION 10: The costs of violence against women 32
1: Social, psychological, economic cost of violence against
Step 2: Socio-drama 32
Step 3: Plenary presentation and interpretation of socio-dramas 33
4: Mini-presentation by facilitator on costs of violence
against women 33
Step 5: What are the benefits of working on women’s rights? 33
SESSION 11: Return to practice 34
Step 1: Return to practice 34
Step 2: Changing their practice 34
Step 3: Gallery report back and discussion 35
SESSION 12: Final plenary 36
Step 1: Wrap-up workshop 36
Step 2: Outline Amnesty International’s Stop Violence Against
Women Campaign 36
Step 3: Evaluation 36
Step 4: Closure of the workshop 37
APPENDIX I: ENERGIZERS AND GROUP-FORMING
Ending the day 40
Exercises for dividing people into groups 40
APPENDIX II: RESOURCES 41
Resource 1: What is violence against women? 41
Resource 2: Scope of violence against women 42
Resource 3: Testimonies 43
Resource 4: Women’s Human Rights Presentation 44
Resource 5: Notes on women's human rights 47
Resource 6: Principle of non-discrimination 50
Resource 7: Due diligence 51
Resource 8: Case Studies 54
Resource 9: The social and economic costs of violence against women 64
Resource 10: Imagining a world free of violence against women 66
Resource 11: Amnesty International’s Agenda for Change 67
Resource 12: Evaluation 69
BIBLIOGRAPHY AND ENDNOTES 70
Violence against women (VAW) is a global outrage. All over the world, women continue to be raped, injured and killed with impunity. Although concerted efforts led by women have achieved dramatic changes in laws, policies and practices in recent years, there is a pressing need to spread the word about recent developments, and work with the next generations to bring an end to gender-based violence. This document is designed for human rights educators working with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working on human rights and other organizations working in similar fields.
This booklet includes detailed instructions on how to organize and run a series of workshops for staff, board members and volunteers of human rights organizations and other NGOs working in related fields.
The material encourages participants to:
Think about the causes and consequences of violence again women
Understand that women’s rights are human rights
Understand the legal mechanisms and tools available for combating VAW
Identify ways to incorporate work on women’s rights as human rights into the current practice and policy of participants’ organizations
All the materials in the pack are learner focused and a range of participatory education techniques are used, including: group work, drama, role plays, case studies, brainstorms, discussions, and art work. With tips for facilitators and ideas for extra group activities, this pack contains everything you need to organize sessions on VAW.
This booklet is part of a set of materials from Amnesty International (AI) – an activists’ toolkit – to assist activists working to stop VAW in promoting their message to a variety of audiences.
An activists’ toolkit
The first element of the activists’ toolkit is a general human rights education pack on the basic concepts of gender and women’s rights, Making rights a reality: Gender awareness workshops (AI Index: ACT 77/035/2004).
The second is a guide to human rights law and standards relating to women’s right not to suffer violence. Making rights a reality: The duty of states to address violence against women (AI Index: ACT 77/049/2004) covers domestic violence, violence in the community, criminal law addressing VAW, and appropriate remedies for victims and survivors of VAW.
The third is a guide to international standards relating to VAW in armed conflict: Making rights a reality: Violence against women in armed conflict (AI Index: ACT 77/050/2005).
The fourth booklet – Making rights a reality: Campaigning to stop violence against women (AI Index: ACT 77/052/2004) – is a guide to advocacy and provides information on lobbying, campaigning and legal advocacy in criminal and civil courts, as well as ideas on how to address civil society organizations, state authorities and intergovernmental bodies.
This booklet – Making rights a reality: Human rights education workshop for non-governmental organizations (AI Index: ACT 77/055/2005) – is a human rights education pack for NGOs based on women’s rights in international law. It is accompanied by two further human rights education packs: Making rights a reality: Human rights education workshop for journalists (AI Index: ACT 77/054/2005); and Making rights a reality: Human rights education workshop for youth (AI Index: ACT 77/053/2005).
Facilitators should consider reading the Legal and Campaigning Components of the Toolkit before running the sessions. AI’s Stop Violence Against Women Campaign launch report, It’s in our hands: Stop violence against women (AI Index: ACT 77/001/2004), and the campaign website, at http://web.amnesty.org/actforwomen, also provide important background information on the issue of VAW.
The Stop Violence Against Women Campaign
Violence against women is endemic. It is one of the most pervasive human rights abuses, as well as one of the most hidden. It is almost universally under-reported.
Violence against women cuts across cultural, regional, religious and economic boundaries affecting women of every class, race, ethnicity, age, religion or belief, (dis)ability, nationality and sexual identity. Although VAW is universal, many women are targeted for specific forms of violence because of particular aspects of their identity. Women face additional discrimination because of their race, ethnicity, culture, language, sexual identity, poverty and health.
Values and beliefs in many societies that discriminate against women mean that VAW is too often seen as “natural” or “normal”, and so goes unchallenged.
AI’s Stop Violence Against Women Campaign was launched on 5 March 2004. The Stop Violence Against Women Campaign will focus initially on violence in the home and in conflict. The long-term campaign goals are to:
Abolish laws that support impunity for VAW and laws that discriminate against women.
Enact and implement effective laws and practices to protect women from violence in conflict and post-conflict situations and ensure that impunity is ended for combatants who commit acts of VAW, and their commanders.
Hold states individually and collectively accountable to their obligations under international law to prevent, investigate, punish and redress all acts of VAW whether in peacetime or armed conflict.
Secure effective action to stop VAW at the community level by local governments and civil society, including religious bodies, traditional and informal authorities.
Who is this Human Rights Education workshop aimed at?
This two-day workshop and accompanying resources are aimed primarily at staff, board members and volunteers of human rights organizations and other NGOs working in related fields. While AI recognizes the important work carried out by human rights organizations and others, it often lacks a focus on women’s rights or a gendered analysis. Without this, the differential impact of a violation/abuse on women cannot be identified, acknowledged or effectively tackled. The overall aim of the workshop is to increase understanding and knowledge of women’s rights as human rights and encourage human rights organizations and other NGOs in related fields to include a greater focus on women’s human rights in their working practice.
Specifically the workshop is designed to encourage participants to:
Think about conceptions of human rights and women’s rights
Discuss the causes and consequences of VAW
Examine the history of women’s rights as human rights
Understand better the legal mechanisms and tools available for combating VAW
Identify the social and economic costs of VAW
Reflect on working practices and identify ways to incorporate and further develop work on women’s rights as human rights into the current practice and policy of participants’ organizations
NB This training is NOT targeted at women’s organizations, although it can be used by women’s rights organizations for external training purposes.
It is recommended that a representative of a local women’s organization is invited to the workshop as a guest speaker for one or more of the sessions or as a co-facilitator. Running this workshop jointly with women’s rights organizations combines the benefit of having a specialist in the field on-hand with the opportunity for all involved to network and form alliances.
It is also recommended that participants have some basic understanding of gender issues as this will facilitate discussion during the workshop. Amnesty International has produced training resources on gender awareness, see Gender Awareness Workshops (AI Index: ACT 77/035/2004), and it may be appropriate to offer this training or some selected sessions to participants before the workshop.
Important information about this workshop and accompanying resources material
The methodological framework, which lies behind the workshop’s design and activities, is participatory and interactive. The workshop has been developed to draw on the experiences of the participants and create an interactive dialogue of knowledge, ideas and experiences. The workshop’s atmosphere should support mutual respect, equality, and sharing for both participants and facilitators. As part of this atmosphere, facilitators should try to be open to learning and not limit themselves to simply conveying information.
The workshop and accompanying resources have been tested in different countries and, as far as possible, reflect an awareness and approach to the issues of women’s rights and VAW which are multicultural. Although regionally specific materials are provided at the end of the pack, the resources are not exhaustive. Facilitators should consider the following tips:
Prepare for the workshops beforehand to be familiar with all the sessions and activities and to develop a clear understanding of the issues being raised. Consider sharing the facilitation with an external specialist on some of the more substantive issues raised. Feel free to adapt the workshop order or particular sessions within the workshop to the needs of your target audience and the local cultural and political context, without changing the objectives of each session.
Obtain copies of the other materials available in the activist’s toolkit, in particular Making rights a reality: The duty of states to address violence against women (AI Index: ACT 77/049/2004) and Making rights a reality: Violence against women in armed conflict (AI Index: ACT 77/050/2005) which provide useful legal background information.
Use each session’s checklist to ensure you have all the materials you need before you begin the session.
This workshop has been designed for a group of 15-20 participants and session timings are based on such groups – if your group is significantly bigger or smaller you will need to adjust overall time allocations. Although facilitators should try to work within time frames provided, the timings are guidelines and every group is different. Use your own judgement to adjust where you can see more or less time will be needed. The key to timing is to be flexible but remember that if people have signed up for a two-day workshop, don’t cut it short to lunchtime on the second day or work until midnight, unless previously agreed!
Energizers or warm-up activities are not included in the main body of the workshop (except in the opening session). They are often useful to slot in after lunch or breaks to keep your participants active and alert, depending on the pace of the workshop and participants’ energy levels. Appendix A includes a short selection of energizer activities and some ideas for dividing participants into working groups.
Although the sessions encourage participants to engage actively, some members of a group are often more active and articulate than others. As the facilitator, it is important to encourage equal participation. Small group work and interactive techniques help ensure equal participation but sometimes you will need to find different ways to limit the participation of some while encouraging more input from others. Getting the right dynamic within the group is important. The key to the smooth running of a successful workshop is getting the whole group and smaller working groups to function well. Here are a few ideas to encourage equal participation:
Always respond to contributions from participants in a positive way, valuing what they have said even if you need to rephrase it or question it. Making people feel safe to speak even when unsure will encourage them to contribute to discussions.
Use body language to bring oral contributions to a close – this can be done by standing up and moving slightly closer to the person speaking, raising your hands slightly in front of you as if you were about to speak – then simply picking up on something being said and using the opportunity to move the discussion away from the individual to others or onto another subject.
Mix up the groups so the same people do not always work together.
Be aware that different people learn in different ways and at different speeds so keep an eye on how different participants react to new ideas and try to ensure you pace yourself at the mid-range level. Don’t make assumptions about participants’ knowledge but remember you are working with self-motivated adults.
Don’t single people out or force people to say something. Instead ask generalized questions such as “Would anyone who hasn’t spoken before like to add anything?” or “Let’s open the floor to others who haven’t had an opportunity to share as much”, although you should avoid direct questions which have a right or wrong answer such as “What does X mean?” as people can feel under pressure and embarrassed if they feel they cannot respond.
If a participant seems either withdrawn or too outspoken, use the break to casually raise the issue with that person BUT never within earshot of other participants.
Good facilitation is the most important ingredient:
Be an active facilitator but don’t dominate the workshop – your role is critical to ensuring the workshop is a success. Use your experience of what works well to engage the participants and to ensure they feel able to speak openly.
Be clear about the aims and objectives of each session as far as possible so participants understand what you are trying to achieve – although it is often important to draw out ideas from the participants so telling them too much could defeat your intended aim.
Be open to NOT being able to answer every question but try to ensure you are informed about the topic and confident about the stages of the workshop and their aim. “Demystify your role as [facilitator]. Unless the group understands your role they will probably view you as an authority and will not see that they have to take responsibility for their own learning process.”1
DON’T sit around doing nothing while participants are working in pairs or groups – one of the most demotivating things for participants to see is the facilitator doing nothing, looking bored while they are working hard in their groups.
Walk around checking that the groups are clear about their activity or task and are making progress.
Use the time to arrange the flip chart papers around the walls.
Check your notes for the next step or next session so you are ready to carry on when they are.
Very importantly, keep an eye on the time and give the participants notice before they have to complete any work.
Be friendly, approachable and have a sense of humour, although DON’T ever make inappropriate jokes!
Remember language is a powerful medium not only in terms of content but also in terms of the inclusiveness of what is said – you may want to include yourself in the language and ideas being shared by saying ‘we’ instead of ‘you’. This a choice that the facilitator(s) should make prior to the start of the workshop.
Finally it is strongly recommended that you are alert to the sensitive nature of the topics under discussion and: Let participants know before the workshops about the content that will be explored and make sure they are clear about the aims of the workshops. You can adapt the facilitator’s agenda (see workshop cycle and annotated agenda on pages 6-13) by cutting and pasting the first two columns to create an outline agenda for participants. Send this to participants at least one week before the workshop begins. Raise the sensitive nature of the topics explicitly at the beginning of the workshop in order to create a safe working environment and underline the importance of respect throughout the workshop. The key to a workshop where we discuss deeply held views and issues of prejudice and discrimination is to allow people to express their views, even if we do not share them, but not to allow any participant to directly offend another. Sexist or prejudiced views expressed as ideas should be accepted but then questioned, deconstructed, and fed back to the participants asking them to step into different shoes, revealing the root causes of such views and the consequences. Try to use an unrelated example which illustrates the same point. Race has been a very useful topic to use to help participants relate to issues of prejudice and discrimination, particularly in workshops in some cultures where participants have expressed views on cultural relativism.
NB Abusive or personally directed offensive remarks should be openly dealt with by making it clear to the person concerned that such behaviour will not be tolerated. Be aware that participants should not be directly invited to share personal experiences of VAW. Any sharing should emerge from the exercises in this pack as volunteered information and needs to be handled with sensitivity. (See the guidelines on disclosure below.)
Allow adequate time for de-briefing in sessions where participants may have shared personal stories or if disclosure takes place – NEVER cut a participant short if they are recounting a personal experience of VAW even if this means the session will run over its allotted time.
(Adapted from Advice for Handling Questions or Inquiries from Persons Alleging Violence Against Themselves or Someone Else, AI Canada (Eng), 2004.)
It is internationally recognized that one in every three women will at some point be a victim of physical abuse.
Although participants should not be directly invited to share personal experiences of VAW, the facilitator should be prepared for a participant disclosing that they themselves have been a victim of abuse or have been brought up in an abusive household.
Disclosure in workshops where participants have not been directly asked to share personal experiences of violence is most often from women who are no longer being abused. However, the facilitator should also be sensitive to the fact that there may be women in the group who are currently being abused and it is possible that perpetrators of abuse may also be present.
If anyone discloses that they have experienced or witnessed VAW the following steps should be taken:
1) Respect the person and do not judge. Take the disclosure seriously and provide a supportive environment to the individual making the disclosure regardless of the nature or extent of the violence. It is not necessary or appropriate to judge whether what the person has experienced is violence. It should always be noted that violence against women and girls includes physical, emotional, and psychological abuse. Acknowledge the violence whoever the perpetrator is. Kind words and support from an understanding and compassionate individual at the moment of disclosure are crucial.
2) Have ready a list of addresses and phone numbers of individuals and groups who can help. If a participant is reaching out, looking for support, having phone numbers and contacts for appropriate resources is critical. Have the names and phone numbers or web addresses of organizations that can support or provide assistance to women and girls who have experienced violence always available during the workshops. It is a good idea to leave these in a discreet place where participants can access them privately if they so wish. A blank grid for you to fill in with organizations relevant to the participants in your group is included in the materials section at the back of this pack.
It is important to negotiate and seek the explicit approval of organizations before referring individuals in need of their support. Groups or individuals involved in providing support and counselling to individuals traumatized by violence have standard guidelines which you need to be aware of and incorporate in your referral role.
Do not try to counsel the individual BUT do make time to listen. A Human Rights Education (HRE) facilitator is not trained to provide counselling to individuals who have experienced violence and you should never present yourself as such. An HRE facilitator is responsible for facilitating discussions on VAW and gender and creating an environment that enables learning around the topic and issues. If confronted with a situation of disclosure, acknowledge the personal experience and find the time and the space to speak to that person in a safe and secure environment. Explain what you can and cannot provide and encourage them to contact organizations that can provide support.
The Workshop Cycle, Annotated Agenda and Step-by-step Session Plans
Below you will also find a step-by-step guide to facilitating each session of this workshop, explaining in detail how each exercise is intended to work. Each session has a particular aim and the sessions are planned to follow naturally after each other. (See the Workshop Cycle below for the content of the workshop – feel free to share this with participants if you wish.) A timeframe for each session has also been included although you should use your experience and judgement to adapt timings based on the number of participants.
As noted in the introduction the workshop, sessions and resources have been developed for a multicultural audience including women and men using test groups. Use your judgement and experience as a facilitator to adapt the materials where necessary to meet the needs of your audience.
The following diagram sets out the logic of the workshop cycle:
The workshop cycle
Introduction, objectives and expectations
Our conceptions, and practice in the field of human rights
International, regional and national context in which we work
Women's rights, VAW – understanding root causes and consequences
Women's rights as human rights – historical development and key moments
International human rights law and due diligence
Applying legal remedies: case studies
Social and economic costs of VAW
Return to practice – what we can and will do differently
Agenda: Human rights and the struggle to eliminate violence against women
This section includes an annotated agenda. This section is intended as a quick reference to be used by the facilitators throughout the workshop BUT is not meant to be shared with the participants.
Length: Two-Day Workshop
Target Users: Human Rights Educators
Target Audience: Human Rights or other NGOs (BUT not women’s rights organizations)
Participants: Maximum 20 (10 NGOs – ideally two participants per NGO)
To increase understanding and knowledge of women’s rights as human rights and encourage human rights organizations and other NGOs in related fields to incorporate a greater focus on women’s human rights in their working practice.
To generate reflection on the causes and consequences of violence again women
To create understanding that women’s rights are human rights
To understand the legal mechanisms and tools available for combating VAW
To identify paths for incorporating work on women’s rights as human rights into their organizations current practice and policy
Session 1: Total Time: 60 mins (9.30-10.30)
Intro to workshop
Go round circle, each person says their name, NGO, position in organization.
Stepping stone activity. Participants given three stepping stones and write answers on a stepping stone (one answer per stone – different coloured stones for each question) and lay them out – answer following questions:
Why did you become involved in human rights issues?
Why are you interested in women's rights?
What do you hope to gain from this workshop?
Cut out card in shape of stepping stone
Outline aims of workshop series by facilitator. Refer back to expectations and what can realistically be provided.
Agenda – aims/objectives on flip chart or OHP
Coffee/Tea break (10.30-10.45)
Session 2: Total Time: 75 mins (10.45-12.00)
What do we understand by human rights? And what do we understand by women's human rights?
Spidogram – using words/very short descriptions only (use different colour pen for words on human rights and words on women's rights) – can either be done in plenary at same time or in two groups. Ask about human rights first and then about women's rights. If you are working with two groups one can brainstorm on human rights and the other on women's rights.
2 or 4 pieces of flip chart joined together & coloured pens
What is our practice as NGO staff activists?
What is the aim and objectives of their work?
(What kind of issues do you focus on? /Who do we work with and for? eg target groups, key stakeholders)Discuss above questions:
(i) In pairs from same organization
(ii) In groups of four
Feedback to plenary
[NB This exercise does not explicitly ask about their work on women's rights. If you choose to ask specifically how their current practice focuses on women, you will need to carefully focus questions and discussions when the group "returns to practice" on day 2.]
Session 3: Total Time: 45 mins (12.00-12.45)
Our work context/obstacles/ challenges/ opportunities
In same small groups discuss and agree the context in which participants are working – locally, regionally and internationally, they can choose all three, or the particular context that affects their work most. They should then present their collective ideas visually with no or very few words – so by a drawing/graphic representation.
In a plenary ask other groups to analyse/interpret each group's drawing before the group itself explains the drawing. Stick these somewhere on a wall in the workshop so that people can review them/be reminded of the different skill sets and areas of work. This is especially useful for networking during breaks!
Lunch break (12.45-2.00)
What do we understand by women's rights, are they different from other human rights? Should we give them special focus?
In plenary or in smaller groups if the group is very big. Either way the facilitator refers back to session 2, picking out some of the things listed – then initiate this discussion on difference/special focus and flip chart responses – discuss.
Definition of VAW
How would they define VAW? – Discuss and then from their ideas bring in AI's definition of VAW and why we feel it is necessary to pay special attention to women's human rights.
Handout definition of VAWHandout scope of VAW
Invisibility/ Root Causes/ Power
Play some pop or folk music from the country or region showing women in particular roles as the session opens. Or you could choose a well-known story depicting women in traditional role or use images from a magazine or newspaper/advert etc. Get participants to listen and reflect on these words/images, the way women are portrayed and ask if this relates at all to VAW.
Then in groups do Roots and Fruits exercise. – Use tree or any other visual format to identify the causes (roots) and consequences (fruits) of VAW. Each group can either make their own tree or after they have worked in groups to list roots and fruits you can make one large tree to be filled in jointly in the plenary.
Plenty of flip chart paper, tape and coloured marker pens
To look at some specific examples of VAW
Use empirical examples to do so. Draw out root causes, power etc, to link up to previous exercise.
Testimonies (and video if you have one available in relevant language which show examples of VAW)
Development of women's rights as human rights.
First part of presentation only at this point – Three phases outline.
Presentation notes (each facilitator should make PowerPoint Presentation or OHT or flip chart to support their presentation)
Women's rights as human rights in your country and region
Time line of significant events participants chart international, regional and national events which relate to women's rights in their country and region. Represent this on a large time line and stick to wall.
Flip chart paper/coloured pens, 3 pieces of flip chart paper joined together end to end to form a long line
Introduce reference to legal standards and mechanisms etc
Second part of presentation – outlining legal mechanisms but give very brief overview (on day two you can go into more detail).
Handout on due diligence
Finish up by emphasizing principle of non-discrimination (extra handout on this)
Handout on non-discrimination principle
Session 6: Total Time: 30 mins (5.00-5.30)
Wrap up and explain readings, outline day two
Session 7: Total Time: 10 mins (9.30-9.40)
with gender focus/ Re-cap on previous day
Session 8: Total Time: 50 mins (9.40-10.30)
legal tools – international
and regional mechanisms
Briefly re-cap on development of different legal mechanisms introducing them in more detail, referring participants to particular documents and/ or articles within documents.
Give out copies of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). Highlight articles from other major human rights standards and also any relevant regional human rights documents.
Concept of due diligence
Show campaign launch video (this leads very nicely into due diligence explanation)
Campaign launch video
Key push is to help everyone understand the concept of due diligence which renders governments responsible for violations by non-state actors and discussion. You may need to clarify with participants the meaning of state and non-state actors.
Handout on due diligence
Coffee/Tea break (10.30-10.45)
Who is the perpetrator of the violence?
Have the authorities failed to act with due diligence? If so, which authorities, government, local or municipal authorities, community and religious leaders?
If so, what have they failed to do?
What action should be taken to remedy any failures?
What human rights mechanisms in Country X would apply? What are the benefits of using these mechanisms compared to other channels you use in your work?
Are there circumstances in which the concept of due diligence would not be useful in this case study?
Case studies/CEDAW/flip chart paper and colour pens
Write up response to above questions on flip chart paper Prepare a poster, postcard, pamphlet, short radio broadcast, street theatre or other – to raise awareness about this case and call for action.
Plenty of flip chart paper, tape and coloured marker pens
Lunch break (12.45-2.00)
Session 10: Total Time: 60 mins (2.00-3.00)
What are the costs of VAW to society (social,
psychological, economic etc)
In groups discuss and agree what you think are the costs of VAW – each group puts main ideas on flip chart but also prepares and presents socio-drama on an aspect of the costs of VAW.
Plenary discussion with some facts and figures presented by facilitators on above issue.
Handouts on social and economic costs of VAW
What are the benefits of working on women's rights?
Finally get the group reversing the costs and imagining the benefits of eliminating VAW. This can be at a very general level with a selection of the participants' thoughts on the benefits of eliminating VAW in their communities etc (you could play some positive music while participants imagine their new VAW-free world.)
Music (optional if time allows) and Resource 11
Session 11: Total Time: 75 mins (3.15-4.30)
Return to NGOs practice and analyse
In groups from day 1: relate this back to their conception, practice and their work context. Ask how they thought they were already incorporating women's rights into their work, encourage critical reflection on inconsistencies in their practice.
1. What would you do differently?
2. What can you do differently? Be realistic!
3. What will you do differently? Get pairs or groups from the same or similar NGOs to state two or three action points (or next steps) at the organizational level. Each pair /group pins their flip chart paper up on the "gallery" wall and others take post-it notes and add in suggestions of support /networking /collaboration.
Plenary report back /discussion – with specific emphasis on what have you learnt about yourselves, your practice. Did it surprise you?
Finally ask individuals to write onto postcards action points at the individual level (which can be mailed back to participants in a month's time to encourage them to keep their word!)
Postcards for the participants to fill in
Session 12: Total Time: 60 mins (4.30-5.30)
Final plenary to outline AI campaign
If time available outline main aims of AI's SVAW campaign
Wrap up workshop
Final plenary wrap up by facilitators/final Q&A
Spoken and written evaluation
Evaluation handout (Resource 12)
Session 1: Introduction and expectations
For participants to get to know one another
To understand the reasons which lead participants to attend the workshop
To understand participants’ expectations of the workshop
To review the agenda
Participants’ packs containing copy of participants’ agenda (facilitator to draft outline agenda from annotated facilitator’s agenda)
Note pad and pen/pencil; name badge/sticker
Flip chart paper and coloured marker pens
Three different pieces of coloured paper or card per participant – this can be cut into the shape of stepping stones, foot-steps or just small A6 sized pieces
Post-it notes, if available
Step 1: Welcome and introduction by facilitator
It is recommended that you begin with a five-minute introduction to the subject at hand – you may want to relate it to the work of your own organizations or refer directly to Amnesty International’s Campaign to Stop Violence Against Women. See It’s in our hands: Stop violence against women (AI Index: Act 77/001/2004) and visit Amnesty International’s website http://www.amnesty.org/actforwomen. Ask participants to fill out their name badge with their preferred name and wear it throughout the workshop, if they haven’t done so already. Then go round the room and ask participants to introduce themselves briefly to the group with:
the organization they work or volunteer with, and what the organization does
their role within that organization
As an experienced facilitator you may have your own preferred method of starting a workshop and our most important recommendation is that you choose something you feel comfortable with, but as the next part of the session draws out more detailed information from each participant do keep these first introductions brief.
Step 2: Stepping stones (or paths): how, why and what?
The aim of this exercise is to draw out interesting information from the participants, in a non-threatening way, about:
1 How they first came to work or volunteer in human rights or a related area?
2 Why they are interested in women’s rights?
3 What they hope to gain from the workshop?
Write the three questions above onto a large piece of flip chart paper. Write a colour in brackets after each question which matches one of the coloured cards you have handed to participants. When participants feed back, you will be able to see which question is being answered.
Each participant is given three pieces of different coloured card or paper. You can cut this into stepping stone shapes or footsteps – whichever you feel is most appropriate for your participants. (Please note if you have any physically disabled participants you could use a different metaphor such as road map or paths.)
Once the participants begin the activity, it is worth repeating the colour categories. Participants often just start writing and only realise they have done something different from the others at the feedback stage.
Explain that you would like them to write short answers to the three questions on the different colour cards ready to share back with the whole group in five minutes or so. Walk round the room checking everyone has understood and keep an eye on the average speed. Once about half of the participants appear to be finished, explain to the others they only have one or two minutes left.
While participants are completing their answers place a piece of A4 paper with “Protecting women from violence” in the middle of the wall with room around the side to stick the pieces of card. Once everyone has finished, ask people to volunteer their answers, taking all three answers from each participant at once, and starting with their answer to question (i) at the edge, stick their colour cards in a line towards “Protecting women from violence”. See diagram below:
Protecting women from violence
When everyone has finished (it is quite nice for the facilitators to join the exercise as you also share information about yourself and form part of the group dynamic), you will have a colourful image wall map to refer to and will have heard some of the participants’ experiences, ideas and expectations. This will be useful to return to during the final evaluation of the workshop.
This exercise can take a long time for large groups so stress from the beginning you’re looking for fairly brief answers. Perhaps explain how you came to work in human rights yourself - although be cautious as examples given by facilitators, especially in the initial stages of a workshop, are often thought to be the “correct” answers and participants feel a pressure to duplicate them.
Step 3: Expectations, sensitivity and ground rules
Read out a few of the expectations for the workshop after all the contributions have been shared and cards posted on the wall. Lead from this into jointly reviewing the agenda in terms of content and structure, emphasizing several key points:
(a) The workshop is participatory and interactive. It is designed to draw on their experiences, their ideas and knowledge in this area. Nobody, including yourself and other facilitators, has all the answers. It is an opportunity for all of you to share and learn together.
(b) Give the statistic from Amnesty International that one woman in three worldwide will be a victim of violence during her lifetime. Highlight that it could mean that there may be people in the room who have suffered or witnessed violence. (Please note this figure includes countries in conflict, and that in some countries the figure will be lower. For example one woman in four will experience violence in the UK.) Stress that you are NOT asking anyone to identify their personal experiences but everyone in the room should be aware that personal stories may emerge during the workshop and no judgements should be made. (Read the notes on Disclosure on page 5 above to prepare yourself for any situations which may arise.)
(c) Because this is a workshop about human rights and women’s rights, it is important that there is open and free discussion. Even though we may not always agree with each others’ point of view, we should listen and respect any contribution while they are made. People are free to politely question or challenge views or ideas afterwards. Reinforce the need to listen to each other, to allow everyone an opportunity to speak and finally be very clear that directly offensive or abusive language or behaviour will not be tolerated.
Depending on time, participants can add to your list. Key words such as “listen”, “respect” etc can be listed on flip chart paper as ground rules for the workshop. (You may prefer alternative ways of saying “ground rules” such as “creating our working environment”, “agreements for workshop participation” etc.)
Session 2: Conceptualizing rights and reflecting on our practice
To encourage participants to share their conceptions of human rights and women’s rights
To reflect on their working practice in relation to these two areas
Flip chart paper and coloured marker pens
1 hour and 15 minutes
Step 1: Brainstorming a spidogram on what we understand by human rights and what we mean by women’s rights
Join four large sheets of paper or flip chart paper together and stick them up on a wall or white board. Write the words HUMAN RIGHTS in the middle and ask participants to brainstorm, or call out in quick succession, as many words or very short descriptions as possible which come to mind when they think of human rights. As the participants call out their words, draw a line out from human rights and write their idea at the end.
Allow people to exhaust their ideas before taking a different colour pen and writing women’s rights under or next to human rights and repeating the same exercise over again. Use a different colour pen for words on human rights and words on women’s rights. Look for a few things in common and for a few things which are different. You could also ask some people if they did or did not include women’s rights when brainstorming human rights and why. DON’T dwell on these differences at this stage as we will come back to them later in the workshop.
Identify different types of rights, such as those which fall under Civil and Political rights, and Economic, Social and Cultural rights.
Split the participants into two groups and ask each group to address a different theme. After a five-minute buzz session rejoin in plenary and ask the participants to compare briefly as above.
A Buzz session refers to a discussion where participants are allowed to freely share their ideas and exchange views.
At the end of this step you will have a visual representation of how the participants conceptualize human rights and women’s rights.
Step 2: Participants’ practice as human rights activists
Use a selection of the ideas and words on the spidogram to lead you into their practice; in other words, what they do in their organization:
Some participants, depending on their background, may not consider what they do to be human rights work. People working in the field of health and HIV/AIDS, for example, may not necessarily see their work as human rights work, even though they are often fighting for the right to healthcare, and the right to education about HIV/AIDS. It is important to clearly make a connection between what participants do and a human rights framework.
Give each participant four post-it notes and ask them to write one of the main aims and objectives of their work and what they are trying to achieve, on each post-it. DON’T ask participants explicitly about their work on women, but allow this to emerge naturally, or not, as the case may be.
After four or five minutes organize the participants into small groups of four or five. (This can also be done in pairs if the group is small. Please keep a list of each group’s members as you will reform these same groups in session 11.) Ask them to spend a few minutes reading each others’ post-its and asking questions of clarification.
Allow up to 15-20 minutes for participants to share their post-it notes and then to group their experiences collectively. Each group should arrange the post-its in categories on a piece of flip chart paper with the title of the category at the top of each column. The facilitator should not suggest headings but allow these to emerge from the group discussion – as there are no right or wrong categories.
Display the flip charts on the wall as a gallery so participants can spend a few minutes looking at other groups’ work. Afterwards, in plenary, the facilitator should draw out similarities and differences, ask questions of clarification, and highlight any possible inconsistencies. The aim is to get the participants to think about their own working practice and that of other participants at the workshop, rather than to be judgemental.
You should highlight any references to women as a key target group, women’s rights, or the elimination of VAW, before concluding the feedback. You can do this by yourself or jointly with the participants. The intention is to see how participants’ practice focuses on women’s rights and the elimination of VAW.
Conclude the session by linking the flip chart gallery back to the spidogram, making the connection between what they do and human rights. This flip chart gallery will also act as a good networking resource for participants over the duration of the workshop.
To move smoothly into the next session explain that while the participants have a conception of human rights and what they are trying to achieve in their practice, they do not work in a vacuum but within a particular local, regional and international context, which affects what we do.
Session 3: Context
To explore the context in which we work, the obstacles, challenges and opportunities etc.
Flip chart paper
Coloured marker pens
Step 1: Decide key aspects of context and design visual feedback
In small groups ask the participants to discuss the local, regional and international context in which they are working. Use the same groups as before for ease or divide them into different groups. See Appendix A for short fun exercises to form groups.
Explain that after initial open discussions that they should collectively agree what are the most important aspects of the context in which they work. Instead of simply listing them, which you may want to do, invite them to represent their ideas visually, virtually without words. You need to provide paper and different coloured pens for each group and if possible old magazines/newspapers, scissors and glue.
Explain that once their drawing or graphic image is complete, they will present it to all the other groups in plenary. It will be displayed in the room for the duration of the workshop.
Step 2: Plenary presentation, interpretation, analysis and discussion of context
Allow 20-25 minutes for discussions and artwork to be completed. Each group should present their visual image silently and allow the rest of the participants to analyse or interpret the drawing/collage. After this is complete, the group should explain their own drawing. Keep a list of the key ideas agreed by the groups on flip chart paper.
This exercise is fun and the analysis can be very rich but depending on the size of the group you will have to manage the discussions to keep track of time.
Step 3: Relating context with practice
To conclude the session, relate briefly back to the previous session on practice and highlight the importance of the context in which we live and work, referring to the list you made on flip chart during the feedback from each group.
If wall space is available, it is a good idea to display all the materials made by participants during the session - as this will be referred back to in a later session. CHECK that if the room is to be left unattended, the material will not be removed and thrown away in your absence!
Session 4: Conceptualizing women’s rights; causes and consequences of violence against women
To explore women’s rights and their difference, if any, from other human rights.
To provide a definition of and facts about VAW and analyse the root causes and consequences of VAW
Flip chart paper
Coloured marker pens
Spidogram from session 2
Copy of resource 1 – definition of VAW (can be copied as handout for participants)
Copy of resource 2 – scope of VAW (can be copied as handout for participants)
Cassette or CD player and music which refers to women in traditional role or which makes reference to VAW. Possible alternatives include a poem or traditional folk tale or images from magazines/newspapers.
Copy of resource 3 – containing short testimonies of VAW
1 hour and 45 minutes
Step 1: Are women’s human rights different to other human rights?
With the group gathered in plenary ask:
what do we understand by women’s rights?
are they different from other human rights?
should we give them special focus?
The facilitator should refer back to session 2 where participants shared their conception of human rights and women’s rights, picking out some of the ideas/concepts listed. Allow participants to share their ideas in a buzz session.
The facilitator should try to capture the key points onto a flip chart and also play devil’s advocate, questioning ideas put forward to provoke discussion. Once the discussions have been allowed to flow for 10-15 minutes (maximum) bring the topic to a conclusion. While women should not expect to have more rights than men, they should expect to have equal rights to men and in the world today this is not the case. Some men, in particular, may talk about men fearing being disempowered by the focus on women’s rights; if so, reassure them that there is a need to redress the balance and that is why there is a need for so much focus. You may want to give the need for racial equality for black South Africans after years of apartheid, as an example.
Don’t forget to recognize what the different participants say and don’t dismiss their contribution but emphasize the point that women’s rights still need a special focus simply because currently few women in the world enjoy the same rights as men.
Step 2: Defining violence against women and its scope
This is a very good moment to introduce some empirical information about the extent of VAW and also how we define VAW. Firstly we suggest you give the statistic that “At least one out of every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime, according to a study based on 50 surveys from around the world.” It’s in our hands: Stop violence against women (AI Index: ACT 77/001/2004), page 3.
Then ask the participants what they understand by VAW – what does it actually mean? Get the participants to brainstorm ideas as a group and use these ideas to introduce Amnesty International’s definition of VAW (see resource 1). Reiterate why it is necessary to pay special attention to women’s human rights, and why that need led to the campaign. Continue by providing information on the scope of VAW (see resource 2).
Step 3: Root causes of violence against women
You should then introduce a discussion about what gives rise to VAW. Start this session by playing some pop or folk music from country/region which shows women in particular roles to change the mood. Get participants to listen and reflect on these words, the way women are portrayed and ask if this relates at all to VAW or women’s human rights?
This requires pre-planning but there is a range of music which illustrates these views from pop to folk. A poem or traditional story are good alternatives.
Divide the participants into three medium-sized groups to work together on the “Roots and Fruits” exercise – to identify the causes (roots) and consequences (fruits) of VAW. Ask each group to share their ideas and discuss them. Explain that they should draw a big tree on a couple of pieces of flip chart paper joined together, writing VAW on the trunk to represent violence against women and then filling in the roots and fruits with their own ideas.
Step 4: Discrimination, power and lack of information
Each group presents their tree to the group in plenary. Allow time for participants to ask questions and for general discussion about the causes and consequences. Once everyone has presented their “Roots and Fruits”, highlight two important issues:
(i) What is the purpose of discrimination and VAW? Get participants to consider the idea that someone benefits from discrimination, and that discrimination and human rights violations serve a purpose and reinforce power relationships within society.
(ii) One difficulty of working on VAW is that it is often hidden. Acts of violence often go unreported because both discrimination and violence are often seen as “natural” by society including, in many instances, women themselves. This means that violations against women are not reflected in data collected. It is important therefore to obtain adequate data and statistics on women’s rights and VAW in order to be able to identify the causes and consequences of VAW. For example, many human rights organizations work on prisoners’ rights and may keep records of prisoners, but this information is rarely disaggregated, so it is not possible to find out how many women are in prison and what their particular needs/violations are. The lack of disaggregated data is one of the obstacles preventing accurate information about VAW.
It is equally appropriate to run this exercise as above but with the groups all contributing to one tree at feedback time, using different colours for each group. The only difference is you should allow more time in the discussion groups before report back and you will need to draw the tree yourself!
Step 5: The human face of violence against women
Conclude by summarizing the key aspects which have emerged from discussion and the key messages. If you have time, put a human face on the facts and ideas which you have been referring to in the workshop by introducing some empirical examples of human rights abuses against women, such as short testimonies. See resource 3 or choose your own written, audio or audio-visual material. You can also show Amnesty International’s video Lives Blown Apart (AI Index: GGE 03 61040/04).
Session 5: Women’s rights as human rights
To explain the key moments in the development of women’s rights as human rights
Copy of resource 4 (PowerPoint Presentation)
Copy of resource 5 (presentation notes)
Flip chart paper and coloured marker pens
1 hour and 15 minutes
Step 1: Part 1 of presentation
The main part of this session is a presentation on the history of women’s rights providing an overview of key stages in the development of women’s rights. Please see resource 4 and 5. Use part 1 of presentation only at
this stage, before taking questions and comments from participants.
Step 2: Time line of significant events
After questions and some discussion about the presentation, explain that you would like to make a time line of significant events in the development of women’s rights. The time line already has some of the key dates mentioned in the earlier presentation written on it. Stress that you would like to know more about the national and regional context of women’s rights as human rights in your country and region. Join a few sheets of flip chart paper together and draw a straight line through the middle with the current date at the right hand end and your chosen start date on the left hand side. For example, you might start your time line in 1948, when the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted and end the time line on the current date. Depending on time available, the group can either be invited to go and write on the time line one at a time, or dates can be given in a plenary discussion.
Step 3: Part 2 of presentation
Introduce the second part of presentation. Please see the section outlining legal standards and mechanisms in resources 4 and 5. This is not meant to be a comprehensive or in-depth explanation of the legal standards and mechanisms but rather an overview of the legal tools which exist and when they came into force. The key message from this session is that internationally agreed human rights law clearly states that women have equal rights to men and that women’s rights are human rights.
A good way to draw the session to a close is to emphasize what is often referred to as the identity clause in many of the major human rights documents, or the principle of non-discrimination. Please see resource 6.
Session 6: Wrap-up of Day One
To pull together key moments from the sessions to date
Copy of participants’ agenda
Step 1: Wrap-up
Recap the content of the different sessions on Day 1, asking for any comments or questions.
Step 2: Outline Day Two agenda
Make the logical structure of the workshop sessions clear. Refer back to the agenda cycle if you have it on a flip chart from the beginning of the day. Address any outstanding questions.
Step 3: Thank participants
END OF DAY ONE
Session 7: Warm-up
To address any outstanding questions from previous sessions
To prepare participants for the remainder of the workshop
Flip chart papers from Day 1
Step 1: Icebreaker
Icebreaker (see Energizers, Appendix A)
Step 2: Clarifications from Day One
Clarifications from Day 1. Now is the chance for the participants to ask any further questions from the first day’s sessions.
Session 8: States’ responsibility to protect women’s rights
To develop an understanding of the concept of due diligence and how it can be used to hold states accountable under international and regional human rights standards to protect, respect, fulfil and promote women’s rights.
Copy of resources 4 and 5 – part 2 of the presentation on legal mechanisms (as reference)
Copy of Amnesty International SVAW Campaign launch video, It’s in our Hands – Stop Violence Against Women (AI Index: GGE03/61026/04)
Copy of resource 7 – handout on Due diligence (part 1 and part 2)
Flip chart papers and coloured marker pens
Step 1: Part 2 of presentation
Begin by briefly re-capping on the broad overview of main human rights instruments from the Day 1s session on the development of different legal mechanisms. Then use the second part of the presentation (see resources 4 and 5) to explain in more detail existing human rights treaties. Select particular articles from them to show how women’s human rights have the same protection as men’s, in terms of international human rights law.
Once there is an understanding of international and regional mechanisms, it is important that participants are aware of what legally binding human rights treaties their governments have signed and ratified and any national laws which their governments have signed that are particularly relevant to women’s rights.
NB The facilitator will need to look into national legislation prior to the workshop as it is outside the scope of this pack to cover every country. See the following web links in English for lists of states which have ratified and not ratified CEDAW:
http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/cedaw/states.htm - state parties to CEDAW
http://www.ew2000plus.org/women_cedaw_norat.htm - not ratified CEDAW
For a list of ratifications for all the major human rights treaties in Spanish and French see:
Spanish: http://www.unhchr.ch/pdf/reportsp.pdf French: http://www.unhchr.ch/pdf/reportfr.pdf
Step 2: Amnesty International’s Stop Violence Against Women Campaign
Show the AI Stop Violence Against Women Campaign launch video – It’s in our Hands: Stop Violence Against Women (AI Index: GGE 03/61026/04). This video gives a brief introduction to Amnesty International’s Stop Violence Against Women Campaign, mixing some first hand testimonies of VAW and interviews with people who campaign to bring an end to VAW, including the Secretary General of Amnesty International.
Step 3: Concept of due diligence
How you introduce this topic depends on whether the participants have just watched the video recommended above. If the video has just been played, it will be easy to draw out some aspects of the video. Some interviewees say the key to combating VAW is to hold governments accountable not only for the actions of state actors but also for those of non-state actors.
If you have not watched the video then a good way to introduce the topic is to simply ask the participants the question – who is accountable for VAW and under what circumstances? Allow the participants to share their ideas for a few minutes and then talk the participants through the concept of due diligence, using the handout provided (see resource 7, part 1). Governments are under an obligation to take effective steps to end VAW. Under this obligation, governments must not only ensure that their agents do not commit acts of VAW, they must also take effective steps to prevent and punish such acts by private actors. If a state fails to act diligently to prevent VAW – from whatever source – or fails to investigate and punish such violence after it occurs, the state can itself be held responsible for the violation. This is known as the standard of due diligence (see below). This does not absolve the actual perpetrators and their accomplices from being prosecuted and punished for the initial acts of violence. See It’s in our hands: Stop violence against women (AI Index: ACT 77/001/2004), page 73.
Step 4: Brainstorming state’s responsibilities
Divide the participants into three smaller working groups, depending on the size of your group. Give each working group one aspect of state’s responsibility to think about based on the due diligence handout (eg protect, respect and fulfil). Tell the working groups that they will present their ideas to the entire group. If necessary, you may need to prompt groups by offering them one or two ideas from resource 7 part 2.
After the participants have finished brainstorming ideas for areas of state responsibility, reform the participants in plenary. Get the working groups to present their ideas one after another, allowing time for participants to discuss the ideas and ask questions of clarification. Explain that you want participants to focus on due diligence here. Finally, present participants with resource 7, part 2. This is based on a fuller list in Appendix II of Making rights a reality: Campaigning to stop violence against women (AI Index: ACT 77/052/2004).
If you feel that you, or your group, need a more in-depth legal explanation of due diligence, you should read the relevant sections of Making rights a reality: The duty of states to address violence against women (AI Index: ACT 77/049/2004), which covers domestic violence, and criminal law addressing violence against women; and Making rights a reality: Violence against women in armed conflict (AI Index: ACT 77/050/2005), which focuses on international standards relating to violence against women in armed conflict.
Once this has been done and outstanding questions addressed, recap very briefly on the content of the session emphasizing that governments are responsible for ending violence against women whether committed by employees and representatives of the state or by private individuals in their everyday lives and groups within the community (non-state actors).
Session 9: Applying due diligence to cases of violence against women
To allow participants to apply the concept of due diligence to particular cases of violence against women using some of the legal mechanisms
To prepare information to encourage the public to take action on a case.
Copy of Resource 8 – case studies
Flip chart papers and coloured pens
Step 1: Read case studies in groups
Divide the participants into smaller working groups of 4-5 participants, depending on the size of your group. (See Appendix A for a selection of activities to divide group.) Allocate each working group a case study to read. The group can elect one person to read to the entire group or read individually.
Step 2: Group work on case studies
In their groups participants address the following questions (either display the questions on flip chart paper or provide them on separate sheet of paper)
Who is the perpetrator of the violence?
Who you would hold accountable? – think about state actors and non-state actors
Have the authorities failed to act with due diligence? If so, which authorities, government, local or municipal authorities, community and religious leaders?
If so, what have they failed to do?
What action should be taken to remedy any failures?
What human rights mechanisms in Country X would apply? What are the advantages of using these mechanisms compared to other channels you use in your work?
Are there circumstances in which the concept of due diligence would not be useful in this case study?
Explain to the participants before they start that you want them to discuss and respond to the above questionson flip chart paper provided. Add that after listing their key points, they should choose and prepare one of the following to feed back in plenary to raise awareness about this case and calling for action:
short radio broadcast
This exercise’s aim is to make participants think about the concept of due diligence and which applicable legal mechanisms they could use to hold the government concerned accountable. And how would they mobilize public opinion around their case in order to motivate others to take action.
Step 3: Plenary feedback
Bring the different groups back together and ask one group at a time to give a brief summary of their case, to display their poster or present their chosen style of feedback and finally to list all the legal mechanisms which they think would be the best approach to holding the government accountable. Make sure that each group is praised and given a round of applause for their efforts and then invite comments from the floor and allow some discussion around each case.
After each group has fed back, sum up the session by emphasizing how in most cases it is possible to hold a government accountable for the actions of both state actors and non-state actors. Reassure the group that through their activism they can put pressure on the government to challenge violence against women and can also mobilize others to join them in their action.
Session 10: The costs of violence against women
To examine the social and economic costs of VAW.
Copy of resource 9 – handout on social and economic costs of VAW
Flip chart paper and coloured pens
Step 1: Social, psychological, economic cost of violence against women
What are the different costs of VAW to society? Divide the participants into groups, and then ask the participants to discuss what the costs of VAW are. Explain they can think in terms of:
Social, psychological, economic costs
The person who experiences the violence
Their friends/family and also wider society.
After the discussion, participants should put their main ideas on the flip chart.
Step 2: Socio-drama
In addition each group should chose one aspect of the costs of VAW and prepare a socio-drama. A socio-drama is a short drama representing a chosen social situation. According to one expert, socio-dramas “problematise unresolved conflicts taken from the concrete, real-life experience of the learners. They allow people to reconstruct this experience, analyse it from a distance and consider options for change”. 2
Once they have chosen their topic, they should decide on a scenario or short outline of the story and designate roles to each group member. Everyone should be encouraged to take an active role even if it is only a small one. Reassure participants that you are not expecting an award-winning performance but just something which communicates the main idea. Once the story line and characters are assigned, the group should run through their performance once or twice.
While the participants prepare, it is good practice to walk round reminding each group that they should convey their main idea to the other groups who will analyse/interpret the socio-drama they have seen. Get them to think about:
the issue and how they will present it
what the story line is
how they will create the physical environment of the scene given the limits of the workshop location.
Step 3: Plenary presentation and interpretation of socio-dramas
After each group presents their socio-drama, the other groups should describe what they have seen and analyse or interpret it. The group which has just presented should then explain what they were trying to convey in their socio-drama. Allow some more time for discussion.
NB The time allowed for this session is quite tight and can easily overrun if not managed carefully – it is worth allowing more time for the feedback from the socio-drama rather than giving too much time for the preparation because our aim is to stimulate thought and discussion about the costs of violence against women rather than see a theatrical masterpiece!
Step 4: Mini-presentation by facilitator on costs of violence against women
To draw these discussion to a close, reflect back to the participants some of the key costs they have mentioned. Then tell them you have a few facts and figures about the costs of VAW to share with them and present the mini-presentation on social and economic costs by the facilitator. See resource 9 which contains just a few examples of the cost of VAW. It is not a complete list and you should contact local women’s NGOs to get information on the costs of VAW in your country for the participants.
Step 5: What are the benefits of working on women’s rights?
Finally get the group to reverse the costs and imagine the benefits of eliminating VAW. This can be done either by simply continuing the plenary discussion on the costs with a selection of the participants’ thoughts on the benefits of eliminating VAW in their communities etc; or you might want to link back to the tree of discrimination from day one.
Alternatively, if you have more time, play some positive music while participants sit quietly imagining a new VAW-free world. After a few minutes invite anyone to share their personal feelings and thoughts about what this world might be like. Finally bring the session to a close by saying that although it may sometimes seem that the hurdles to achieving this new imagined world are enormous, every action and change, no matter how minor, brings us one step closer to achieving a just society free of violence against women.
If you know a nice, inspiring quote from your country or region, use this as the closing statement of the session.
NB You may find it useful to look at resource 10, which gives statistics and facts about VAW and some quotes from ordinary people about what would be possible in a VAW-free world.
Session 11: Return to practice
To encourage a review of practice and make changes to stop VAW
The used flip chart paper from session 2
Flip chart paper and coloured marker pens
1 hour and 15 minutes
Step 1: Return to practice
Divide the participants into the same groups as they were in for session 2. Before asking the specific questions below, explain that you want them to refer back to their personal reflections and their discussions from the earlier session about what their key objectives are and the context in which they work. Using their flip chart papers from session 2 – have them in easy view displayed on the wall – highlight some of the key points they made.
Explain that now you want them to go back to their practice – taking into consideration information and discussion from the workshop. Ask the following questions:
Are there any inconsistencies between their conception of what they think they do, the context in which they are working and their actual practice?
How far did they really focus on women’s rights in their work?
Encourage them to reflect critically on inconsistencies in their practice and to discuss with each other their own inconsistencies and to help others to reflect on theirs – please emphasize the idea is to help others reflect NOT to judge or accuse anyone.
Step 2: Changing their practice
Once they have had a chance to reflect and discuss the inconsistencies between what they think they do and what they actually do, ask them to collectively answer the following questions on pieces of paper:
What would you do differently? (in an ideal world)
What can you do differently? (taking into consideration practical limits of their social/political context and their organizational structure but also challenging these limits)
What will you do differently on an individual and organizational level? (this is a practical action plan about what they will do differently in concrete terms)
Step 3: Gallery report back and discussion
Once ready, each pair or group should pin their flip chart paper up on the “gallery” wall and look at the displays. If they feel they can add something, they should use post-it notes to suggest support/networking or collaborative projects.
Then draw the group back to sit down and ask for anyone to volunteer their thoughts on what they have learnt about themselves and their practice. Were they surprised by what came out?
Session 12: Final plenary
To bring the workshop to a conclusion reinforcing key ideas and reiterating the importance of taking action to stop violence against women.
To evaluate the workshop.
Copy of resource 11 – the outline of Amnesty International’s Stop Violence Against Women Campaign
Copy of resource 12 – guide evaluation form
Step 1: Wrap up workshop
Use this final plenary to retrace the different stages of the workshop, highlighting the key moments, reinforcing the main points and drawing on the contributions of the participants which have been captured in different forms throughout the workshop (ie flip chart list, spidogram, visual representations of context etc). Also answer any outstanding questions or direct participants to reading or other sources of information.
Step 2: Outline Amnesty International’s Stop Violence Against Women Campaign
Depending on time available either talk participants through the main aspects of Amnesty International’s Stop Violence Against Women Campaign (see resource 11) and how they can get involved, or give them a handout encouraging them to contact their local Amnesty International office, if one exists, or to contact the campaign organizers directly at: SVAWteam@amnesty.org
Step 3: Evaluation
Once you have finished the above two steps it is time to conclude the workshop with an evaluation – an experienced facilitator may wish to conduct a verbal or group evaluation of their choice. At this point you can refer back to the expectations form from Day 1 to see how far participants’ expectations have been met. It recommended that participants complete a short written evaluation which can be summarized by the facilitator for their own purposes and circulated to the participants post-workshop. Distribute Resource 12, although we suggest you amend the form and questions to meet your objectives. Participants should complete the evaluation at the end of the workshop before leaving – or you’ll get them back slowly by post.
Step 4: Closure of the workshop
Once all the participants have completed their evaluation forms and you have collected them in – take the remaining few minutes to thank everyone for their time and for their valuable contributions to the discussion over the course of the workshop. Remind them that each small action makes a different in our collective struggle to bring an end to violence against women. Possibly you can find an inspiring quote from a well known women’s rights activist from your region.
END OF WORKSHOP
Appendix I: Energizers and group-forming activities
These energizers are selected (with minor changes) from an online publication by the International HIV/Aids Alliance. You can access it on their website in English, French and Spanish at:
Who is the leader?
Participants sit in a circle. One person volunteers to leave the room. After they leave, the rest of the group chooses a ‘leader’. The leader must perform a series of actions, such as clapping or tapping a foot, that the whole group copies. The volunteer comes back into the room, stands in the middle and tries to guess who is leading the actions. The group protects the leader by not looking at him/her. The leader must change the actions at regular intervals, without getting caught. When the volunteer spots the leader, they join the circle, and the person who was the leader leaves the room to allow the group to choose a new leader.
The sun shines on
Participants sit or stand in a tight circle with one person in the middle. The person in the middle shouts out “the sun shines on...” and names a colour or articles of clothing that some of the group possess. For example, “the sun shines on everyone wearing blue” or “the sun shines on everyone wearing socks” or “the sun shines on everyone who has brown eyes”. All the participants who have that attribute must change places with one another. The person in the middle tries to take one of their places as they move, so that there is another person left in the middle without a place. The new person in the middle shouts out “the sun shines on...” and names a different colour or type of clothing.
Find someone wearing...
Ask participants to walk around loosely, shaking their limbs and generally relaxing. After a short while, the facilitator shouts out “Find someone...” and names an article of clothing. The participants have to rush to stand close to the person described. Repeat this exercise several times using different types of clothing.
Paper and straws
Participants split into teams. Each team forms a line and places a piece of card at the beginning of their line. Each member of the team has a drinking straw or reed. When the game starts, the first person has to pick up the piece of card by sucking on the straw. The card then has to be passed to the next team member using the same method. If the card drops, it goes back to the first person and the whole sequence has to start again.
Divide the participants into groups of three. One person in each group is the robot controller and the other two are the robots. Each controller must manage the movements of their two robots. The controller touches a robot on the right shoulder to move them to the right, and touches them on the left shoulder to move them to the left. The facilitator begins the game by telling the robots to walk in a specific direction. The controller must try to stop the robots from crashing into obstacles such as chairs and tables. Ask participants to swap roles so that everyone has a chance to be the controller and a robot.
Participants sit or stand in a circle. They send a clap around the circle by facing and clapping in unison with the person on their right, who then repeats the clap with the person on their right, and so on. Do this as fast as possible. Send many claps, with different rhythms, around the circle at the same time.
An orchestra without instruments
Explain to the group that they are going to create an ‘orchestra’ without instruments. The orchestra will only use sounds that can be made by the human body. Players can use hands, feet, voice etc, but no words; for example, they could whistle, hum, sigh or stomp their feet. Each player should select a sound. Choose a well-known tune and ask everyone to play along, using the ‘instrument’ that they have chosen. Alternatively, don’t give a tune and let the group surprise itself by creating a unique sound.
The group forms a circle. One person starts by saying “I am going to the market to buy fish.” The next person says, “I am going to the market to buy fish and potatoes.” Each person repeats the list, and then adds an item. The aim is to be able to remember all of the items that all of the people before you have listed.
Ending the day
Writing on backs
At the end of a workshop, ask participants to stick a piece of paper on their backs. Each participant then writes something they like, admire or appreciate about that person on the paper on their backs. When they have all finished, participants can take their papers home with them as a reminder.
Reflecting on the day
To help people to reflect on the activities of the day, make a ball out of paper and ask the group to throw the ball to each other in turn. When they have the ball, participants can say one thing they thought about the day.
Exercises for dividing people into groups
The facilitator divides the participants into an equal number of three to four fruits, such as oranges and bananas. Participants then sit on chairs in a circle. One person must stand in the centre of the circle of chairs. The facilitator shouts out the name of one of the fruits, such as ‘oranges’, and all of the oranges must change places with one another. The person who is standing in the middle tries to take one of their places as they move, leaving another person in the middle without a chair. The new person in the middle shouts another fruit and the game continues. A call of ‘fruit salad’ means that everyone has to change seats.
The ‘E’ game- very quick exercise!
Write a large, curvy letter ‘E’ on a piece of flip chart paper and place it in the centre of the circle. Ask participants to describe exactly what they see on the piece of paper, from where they are standing /sitting. Depending on where they are in the circle they will either see an ‘M’, a ‘W’, a ‘3’ or an ‘E’. Participants can then move places so that they see the letter from a different perspective. This is a useful activity to highlight the fact that people see things very differently, according to their own specific perspective. Alternatively, put a person in the centre of the circle and ask those around to describe exactly what they see from their perspective. Now ask all the Ws, 3s, Ms and Es to work together in groups.
Ask people to line up according to their birthday months or seasons. Discuss which month or season has the largest number and what reasons there might be for this. Using the line of people, divide people into groups by gathering equal chunks of people from the line.
Appendix II: Resources
Some of the information used in creating these resources has been taken from Amnesty International’s Report It’s in Our Hands: Stop Violence Against Women (AI Index: ACT 77/001/2004). This a useful background resource which you may want to read through before beginning the workshop. You can obtain a copy of this publication and other materials by contacting the Amnesty International Section in your country or by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org, if one does not exist.
Resource 1: What is violence against women?
Violence in the family: physical, sexual or emotional abuse from partners or relatives.
Violence against women in the community: rape or sexual abuse, sexual harassment at work, in educational institutions, selling women into slavery (trafficking), forced marriages.
Gender-based violence perpetrated or condoned by the state or by “state actors”- police, prison guards, immigration officials: rape by armed forces during armed conflicts and violence by officials against refugee women
Source: It’s in Our Hands: Stop Violence Against Women (AI Index: ACT 77/001/2004), p. 3.
Resource 2: Scope of violence against women
At least one out of every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime, according to a study based on 50 surveys from around the world. Usually, the abuser is a member of her own family or someone known to her.
Domestic violence is the major cause of death and disability for women aged 16 to 44, according to Council of Europe statistics, and accounts for more death and ill-health than cancer or traffic accidents.
More than 60 million women are “missing” from the world today as a result of sex-selective abortions and female infanticide, according to an estimate by Amartya Sen, the 1998 Nobel Laureate for Economics. China’s last census in 2000 revealed that the ratio of new-born girls to boys was 100:119. The biological norm is 100:103.
In the USA, women accounted for 85 per cent of the victims of domestic violence in 1999 (671,110 compared to 120,100 men), according to the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women.
The Russian government estimates that 14,000 women were killed by their partners or relatives in 1999, yet the country still has no law specifically addressing domestic violence. (Fifth Periodic Report of the Russian Federation, UN Doc. CEDAW/C/USR/5, para. 6.)
The World Health Organization has reported that up to 70 per cent of female murder victims are killed by their male partners.
Violence against women is characteristically under-reported because women are ashamed or fear scepticism, disbelief or further violence. In addition, definitions of the forms of violence vary widely in different countries, making comparisons difficult. Many states lack good reporting systems to determine the prevalence of violence against women and do not collect gender desegregated data. The failure to investigate, document and expose the true extent of violence allows governments, families and communities to ignore their responsibilities.
Sources: Heise, L., Ellsberg, M. and Gottemoeller, M, Ending Violence Against Women, Population Reports, Series L, No. 11. Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health, December 1999, p.1; Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Domestic Violence against Women, Recommendation 1582, Adopted 27 September 2002; UN Population Fund, Violence Against Girls and Women: A Public Health Priority,1999; Report of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, 27 February 2003, UN Doc. E/CN.4/2003/75/Add.1, Addendum 1, International, regional and national developments in the area of violence against women, 1994-2003, para. 1494; World Health Organization, World Report on Violence and Health, Geneva, 2002, p.118.
Resource 3: Testimonies
“I really don’t know what it was that evening that made me decide to call the police, but I always say it was the sight of cleaning up my own blood.” Lorraine, a British woman, was regularly beaten by her partner for eight years before telling anybody. “People have asked me why I didn’t just leave, but my partner made lots of threats to me which he always carried out. I was very, very frightened of him. So you get to the point where you live with it, it becomes a normal pattern of life, you adapt, you cope, you hide it.” In the UK, emergency services receive an average of one call per minute about violence in the family.3
Sixteen-year-old Ndambo was raped by three soldiers in a field near Uvira, South-Kivu province, in the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo. They shot at her
mother when she tried to protect her. Unable to walk after the attack, Ndambo was carried to the hospital. Because she had no money, she received no treatment, and was unable to procure the document proving rape. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimated that some 5,000 women had been raped in the area between October 2002 and February 2003, an average of 40 a day.
Fifteen schoolgirls were burned to death and dozens of others were injured in a fire at their school in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, on 11 March 2002. Religious police prevented the girls from leaving the building because they were not wearing headscarves and had no male relatives there to receive them. They also reportedly prevented rescuers who were men from entering the premises.
In September 2002, a 20-year-old Jordanian man was sentenced to just 12 months in prison for the murder of his sister. He had strangled her with a telephone cord when he found out that she had been pregnant when she married her husband. In its ruling, the court decided to reduce the premeditated murder charge to a misdemeanour because the woman had “tarnished her family’s honour and reputation”.4
“That night I called the ambulance, no ambulance came. I called the police, no police came.” Joy struggled through 10 years of brutal violence at the hands of her husband, a police officer in Barbados. In August 2000, her husband tried to kill her with a cement block, and she was only saved by members of his family. Joy’s husband is now under a restraining order to prevent him from abusing her.5
Grace Patrick Akpan was stopped by police officers for an identity check in Catanzaro, Italy, in February 1996. When she told them that she was an Italian citizen, they answered that “a black woman cannot be an Italian citizen”, and described her over the police radio as “a coloured prostitute”. She was physically assaulted by the officers and required two weeks’ hospital treatment on release. In October 1999, almost three years later, the officers responsible were found guilty of abusing their powers and causing Grace Patrick Akpan injuries. They were sentenced to just two months’ probation.
“They locked me in a room and brought him every day to rape me so I would fall pregnant and be forced to marry him. They did this to me until I was pregnant.” The testimony of a young Zimbabwean lesbian whose family locked her up and forced her to submit to being raped by an older man, in order to “correct” her sexual orientation.6
In India, dalits face daily abuse and violence.7 In one case in Uttar Pradesh, Ramvathi was gang-raped by five men in September 1998. It is believed that higher caste villagers raped her in order to punish her and her husband Ram Chandra for refusing to give up a piece of land and to isolate them from the dalit community through the stigma attached to rape. When Ram Chandra went to lodge a complaint with the police, they refused to file a report. Finally, the Superintendent of Police in the district ordered the incident to be investigated, but no action was taken. Some months later, when the couple tried to reclaim their property, they were severely beaten by men armed with sticks and axes. Ramvathi was raped with a stick and died the next day. After activists put pressure on the Superintendent of Police, a report was filed, but as of March 2003, no evidence had been placed before the court. Such failure by the state to investigate and prosecute cases of violence against women is a signal of a failure of due diligence.
Source: It’s in Our Hands: Stop Violence Against Women (AI Index: Act 77/001/2004), Chapter 1.
Resource 4: Women’s Human Rights Presentation
Women’s human rights
Women’s rights are human rights, this phrase is a proclamation of justice and human dignity for women, because whenever a woman is treated as inferior to a man she is also being treated as somehow less human than a man
Human rights violations against women are so systematic and so pervasive that they are regarded by many people as natural
In many countries around the world women are systematically discriminated against in many areas of social, political, legal and cultural life
They have less employment rights, less legal rights, they are denied the right to own property, they earn less money than men for doing the same job, they receive less attention in schools, they are subject to violence by the state, in their communities and in their homes
What do we mean by women’s human rights?
whenever a man assaults his wife
police rape a woman prisoner
a business pays female workers less than their male counterparts
a girl is denied the education, healthcare, or even the amount of food her brothers receive
These acts of violence or discrimination are human rights violations.
But these violations are too often viewed as women’s rights issues and therefore less important or as private matters and of no concern to the authorities.
The UDHR affords the same rights to
all women and men, all girls and boys
by virtue of their humanity and regardless of any role or relationship they may have, whether mothers, daughters, fathers, employers or whatever
So when violations against women or girls are not recognised as human rights abuses, women are collectively diminished as human beings and denied part of their humanity.
Human rights are not a gift granted at the pleasure of governments
nor can they be withheld by governments
or applied to some people and not to others
When governments act like this and deny human rights to a group of people in society they must be held accountable
But governments are not the only ones responsible for human rights abuses against women: corporations and private individuals should also be held accountable
Too often cultural relativism in the form of social and cultural tradition is used as an excuse to deny the human rights of women
An example is the right to freedom of religion or the right to protection of the family, which can be used as an attempt to justify the oppression of women
The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women
is very clear in stating that:
State parties shall take all appropriate measures:
(a) To modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women, with a view to achieving the elimination of prejudices and customary and all other practices which are based on the idea of the inferiority or superiority of either of the sexes or on stereotyped roles for men and women.
Women’s rights and international law
table showing Women’s rights and international law
Definitions of Violence Against Women
United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women (1993)
For the purposes of this Declaration, the term “violence against women” means any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.
Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (1995)
Violence against Women Diagnosis
113. The term “violence against women” means any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life. Accordingly, violence against women encompasses but is not limited to the following:
a) Physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring in the family, including battering, sexual abuse of female children in the household, dowry-related violence, marital rape, female genital mutilation and other traditional practices harmful to women, non-spousal violence and violence related to exploitation;
b) Physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring within the general community, including rape, sexual abuse, sexual harassment and intimidation at work, in educational institutions and elsewhere, trafficking in women and forced prostitution;
c) Physical, sexual and psychological violence perpetrated or condoned by the State, wherever it occurs.
114. Other acts of violence against women include violation of the human rights of women in situations of armed conflict, in particular murder, systematic rape, sexual slavery and forced pregnancy.
115. Acts of violence against women also include forced sterilization and forced abortion, coercive /forced use of contraceptives, female infanticide and prenatal sex selection.
The UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women
States should condemn violence against women and should not invoke any custom, tradition or religious consideration to avoid their obligations with respect to its elimination.
Resource 5: Notes on women’s human rights
“Women’s rights are human rights”, this phrase is a proclamation of justice and human dignity for women, because whenever a woman is treated as inferior to a man she is also being treated as somehow less human than a man. Human rights violations against women are so systematic and so pervasive that they are regarded by many people as natural. In countries around the world, women are systematically discriminated against in many areas of social, political, legal and cultural life. They enjoy less employment rights, they have less legal rights, they are denied the right to own property, they earn less money than men for doing the same job, they receive less attention in schools, they are subject to violence by the state and by non-state actors, in their communities and in their homes.
What do we mean by women’s human rights?
Acts of violence or discrimination against women are human rights violations. Examples range from the assault of women by their husbands or partners, the rape of women prisoners by police, unequal pay for women compared to male counterparts, to denying girls the same education, healthcare, or even food as their brothers. But these violations are too often viewed as women’s rights issues and therefore less important or as private matters and of no concern to the authorities.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) gives the same rights to all women and men, all girls and boys by virtue of their humanity and regardless of any role or relationship they may have, whether as mothers, daughters, fathers, employers or whatever. So when violations against women or girls are not recognised as human rights abuses, women are collectively diminished as human beings and denied part of their humanity.
Human rights are not a gift granted at the pleasure of governments, nor can they be withheld by governments, or applied to some people and not to others. When governments act like this and deny human rights to a group of people in society they must be held accountable. But governments are not the only ones responsible for human rights abuses against women: corporations and private individuals should also be held accountable. Too often cultural relativism in the form of social and cultural tradition is used as an excuse to deny the human rights of women. An example is the right to freedom of religion or the right to protection of the family, which can be used as an attempt to justify the oppression of women. However the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) is very clear in stating that:
State parties shall take appropriate measures:
(a) To modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women, with a view to achieving the elimination of prejudices and customary and all other practices which are based on the idea of the inferiority or superiority of either of the sexes or on stereotyped roles for men and women. (Article 5)
The Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women, proclaimed by the UN states in Article 4 that:
“States should condemn violence against women and should not invoke any custom, tradition or religious consideration to avoid their obligations with respect to its elimination”.
According to the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, “…in the next century the problems posed by cultural relativism, and the implications for women’s rights, will be one of the most important issues in the field of international human rights.” (UNDoc.E/CN.4/2002/83)
The concept of due diligence by governments is the legal principal by which governments are held accountable for crimes committed by non state actors. See Resource 7.
The history of women’s rights as human rights
The UDHR is the principal document for people to understand their human rights, but additional international and regional documents that relate to specific concerns have been established over the last 50 years.
There have been broadly speaking three phases in the development of women’s human rights. The first phase was based on ensuring that women had equal political rights such as the right to vote, the right to hold public office. This first generation of rights are civil and political rights, enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which can be claimed by the individual against governments. These rights protect individuals from arbitrary interference by the state and are sometimes described as negative in that they require the state to abstain from certain acts such as torture, deprivation of life or freedom. These rights demand restraint from the state and that the state respects the autonomy of the individual but they are also very paternalistic and tended not to question and, at times, to reinforce stereotypes of women. An International Labour Organization (ILO) treaty during this period stated that women shouldn’t work at night, presumably because this would clash with their family duties. The main effect of this was to limit women’s earning opportunities.
The second phase in the development of women’s human rights occurred between 1960 and 1980, and focused on equality and discrimination. This phase culminated in the setting up of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW Committee) in 1979, which deals with states obligations to eliminate policies that discriminate against women and then sets out different areas of discrimination such as political and public life, employment, healthcare, financial credit, the law etc. CEDAW is a binding treaty, which means that states that have signed up to it must abide by it. They must also make sure that people in their territories respect these obligations too (due diligence). However for a long time women’s rights were marginalized from the UN system and the CEDAW Committee operated in isolation from other UN treaty bodies, which did not integrate the rights of women, so for example the Committee Against Torture made no mention of acts of torture that were gender-specific. Things began to change during the late 1980s, there was an increasing move towards interpreting gender specific abuses and violations within the remit of existing international conventions.
The third phase in the development of women’s rights as human rights began in the early 1990s. Here we see the attempt to integrate in a much more systematic manner the issue of women’s human rights with UN human rights treaties. See below.
table showing date, activism focus and outcomes
Women’s rights and international law
Sustained campaigning by women’s rights activists and others over the past decades has brought significant advances in international law and the commitment of the international community to scrutinize and combat violations of women’s rights.
For more information read It’s in our hands: Stop violence against women (AI Index: ACT 77/001/2004), chapter 6, and Making rights a reality: The duty of states to address violence against women (AI Index: ACT 77/049/2004), chapter 3.
Definitions of Violence Against Women United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women (1993)
For the purposes of this Declaration, the term “violence against women” means any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.
Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (1995)
113. The term “violence against women” means any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life. Accordingly, violence against women encompasses but is not limited to the following:
a. Physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring in the family, including battering, sexual abuse of female children in the household, dowry-related violence, marital rape, female genital mutilation and other traditional practices harmful to women, non- spousal violence and violence related to exploitation;
b. Physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring within the general community, including rape, sexual abuse, sexual harassment and intimidation at work, in educational institutions and elsewhere, trafficking in women and forced prostitution;
c. Physical, sexual and psychological violence perpetrated or condoned by the State, wherever it occurs.
114. Other acts of violence against women include violation of the human rights of women in situations of armed conflict, in particular murder, systematic rape, sexual slavery and forced pregnancy.
115. Acts of violence against women also include forced sterilization and forced abortion, coercive/forced use of contraceptives, female infanticide and prenatal sex selection.
Resource 6: Principle of non-discrimination
Amnesty International’s mission is to undertake research and action focused on preventing and ending grave abuses of the rights to physical and mental integrity, freedom of conscience and expression, and freedom from discrimination, within the context of its work to promote all human rights.
Principle of non-discrimination in human rights law
Discrimination is an attack on the very notion of human rights; it is a denial that every human being is equal in dignity and worth. This is why international human rights law is grounded in the principle of non-discrimination. The drafters of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) stated explicitly that they considered the non-discrimination principle to be the basis of the Declaration.
The UDHR provides in Article 2 that everyone is entitled to all the rights in the Declaration without distinction of any kind, such as “race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status”.
Identical wording appears in both the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), in what is known as the “identity clause”. Virtually identical language appears in the American, African and European regional human rights strategies and in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989). A similar identity clause also appears in the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.
Non-discrimination on the basis of one’s identity is so central to international human rights law that the identity clause constitutes either Article 1 or Article 2 of every one of these instruments. The thinking behind the identity clause is that it violates international human rights principles to be deprived of one’s rights because of a characteristic that one cannot change – such as one’s race or ethnic origin or (usually) gender – or because of a characteristic that is so central to one’s being that one should not be forced to change it, such as religion.
Resource 7: Due diligence
What is due diligence? – some definitions
“States may also be responsible for private acts if they fail to act with due diligence to prevent violations of rights or to investigate and punish acts of violence, and for providing compensation” General Recommendation 19, CEDAW Committee.
Governments have a responsibility to:
Respect, to refrain from interfering directly or indirectly with the right…
Protect, prevent harm to individuals known to be at specific and immediate risk; and preventing harm in a more general way at an earlier stage for all potential victims.
Fulfil and promote rights so they are respected by all:
Adopt appropriate legislative, administrative, budgetary, judicial, promotional and other measures towards the full realization of the right.
Take measures to educate all citizens about rights through a variety of means, including through education at school, public information broadcasting, and information to service users.
Due diligence is the threshold of action and effort which a state must demonstrate to fulfil its responsibility to protect individuals from abuses of their rights.
In cases where the perpetrator as well as the victim is not an agent of the state. This includes domestic violence.
When they know, or ought to know, about abuses of human rights, and fail to take appropriate steps to prevent the violations.
(The obligation of states to bring to justice state agents who commit violations of human rights is not negotiable and is not included within the standard of due diligence.)
Under international law governments must exercise due diligence to secure women’s rights to; equality, life, liberty and security, and freedom from discrimination, torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. They must have policies and plans to fulfil these rights and to provide redress and reparations to those whose rights have been violated.
National governments are responsible for taking action to prevent the abuse of women’s human rights – including violence against women – in the first place, as well as for bringing perpetrators to justice after the event. This means that governments are responsible for educational, legal and practical measures to reduce the incidence of violence: for example, by improving street lighting in an area where women have been raped.
Some countries wrongly interpret international human rights law as meaning that their responsibility is limited to making sure that people acting on their behalf (state actors) comply with human rights law. In fact, they are required to prevent, investigate and punish abuses by both state and non-state actors.
Non-state actor – Private individuals acting independently from any government organisation or position of authority. (This includes economic actors such as businesses).
State actor – Individuals acting on behalf of the state (includes government officials, police, judges, prison guards, security forces, and staff at public hospitals or in educational institutions).
State accountability – The state’s responsibility for acts of VAW whether committed by a state or non-state actor. This includes a wide range of actors, including parallel legal authorities, local, regional and municipal authorities, and armed groups.
The family – The term family has often been understood as meaning the “nuclear family”, but there are many different forms of family, such as extended families, single parent families and families with parents of the same sex. An inclusive approach would treat the family as the site of intimate personal relationships, rather than as an institution defined by the state.
Violence against women – Amnesty International bases its work on the definition in the UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women: “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.”
Gender-based violence against women was defined in General Recommendation 19 of the CEDAW Committee as violence “directed against a woman because she is a woman or that affects women disproportionately”. In other words, not all acts which harm a woman are gender-based and not all victims of gender-based violence are female. Some men are victims of gender-based violence, for example, gay men who are harassed, beaten and killed because they do not conform to socially approved views of masculinity.
Progressive interpretations of the definition found in the UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women affirm that acts of omission – such as neglect or deprivation – can constitute violence against women. More recent international legal instruments broaden the definition, in particular to include structural violence – that is, harm resulting from the impact of the organization of the economy on women’s lives.
Violence against women includes, but is not limited, to:
Violence in the family. This includes battering by intimate partners, sexual abuse of female children in the household, dowry-related violence, marital rape and female genital mutilation and other traditional practices harmful to women. Abuse of domestic workers — including involuntary confinement, physical brutality, slavery-like conditions and sexual assault — can also be considered in this category.
Violence against women in the community. This includes rape, sexual abuse, sexual harassment and assault at work, in educational institutions and elsewhere. Trafficking, forced prostitution and forced labour fall into this category, which also covers rape and other abuses by armed groups.
Gender-based violence perpetrated or condoned by the state, or by “state actors” – police, prison guards, soldiers, border guards, immigration officials and so on. This includes, for example, rape by government forces during armed conflict, forced sterilization, torture in custody and violence by officials against refugee women.
In any of these categories, violence may be physical, psychological, and sexual. It may be manifested through deprivation or neglect as opposed to overt acts of violence or harassment. Physical violence by an intimate partner is often accompanied by sexual violence, deprivation, isolation and neglect, as well as by psychological abuse.
For more information, read Making Rights a Reality: The duty of states to address violence against women (AI Index: ACT 77/049/2004), Chapter 4.
State responsibility to respect, protect and fulfil – some examples
Think about your government’s laws, policies and programmes and ask whether they are stopping violence against women. A selection of questions, adapted from Appendix II in Making rights a reality: Campaigning to stop violence against women (AI Index: ACT 77/052/2004) are included below:
Respect: State responsibility for violence against women by the state
Are there laws and policies in place to prevent state-actor violations and punish any violations?
What are the practices in prisons? Does strip searching take place?
How are women treated in detention centres?
What is the experience of girls in foster care and state institutions?
Protect: State responsibility for violence against women by non-state actors
Are there laws and policies to prevent non-state actor abuses and punish any abuses?
Is there adequate funding available to enable individual women at immediate risk to escape family violence?
Is there adequate funding available to provide shelters and support for all women, including those in remote areas, and members of marginalized groups?
Do women have access to counselling?
Has rape in marriage been criminalized?
Has sexual assault been criminalized in all jurisdictions?
Are rates of investigation and prosecution for violence against women comparable to those for other serious crimes?
Are civil remedies (restraining orders) available to all forms of relationships?
Are these effective?
Fulfil: Ensuring access to justice
Are legal services specifically for women available?
Is legal aid provided to women?
Are there laws that discriminate against women?
Is culture or religion used as an excuse by members of the judiciary to “excuse” violence by men against women?
Are “honour crimes” treated more leniently than crimes of similar seriousness?
Are civil law remedies available to address domestic and family violence?
Is this true for all groups of women, including disabled women, indigenous women and lesbians?
Do police officers and other security officials receive training on family violence including how to respond to a sexual assault?
Is the issue taken seriously in investigations?
Is victim safety paramount?
Is this true regardless of where the woman lives, or what community she comes from?
What steps are in place to prevent violence, or even death, in communities where police response will take a long time?
Can women access services?
Do they have the money, transport and ability to leave?
Does the local community condone the violence and assist in preventing the woman from leaving?
What measures have been undertaken to raise awareness in rural communities?
Resource 8: Case Studies
María Teresa Macias / USA
“If I die, I want you to tell the world what happened to me. I don’t want other women to suffer as I have suffered. I want them to be listened to.”
María Teresa Macias (Teresa) had good reason to fear that her husband would kill her.
In the 18 months before her death, Teresa appealed to the police more than 20 times.
Her husband beat and sexually assaulted her and their three children. After Teresa fled the family home, he stalked her constantly, terrorizing her and making repeated death threats. On 15 April 1996 he shot and killed her, then shot her mother twice before turning the gun on himself.
Not once in the preceding months was Teresa’s husband arrested for flouting court orders that prohibited him from going near her or contacting her. Appeals to the police for assistance were ignored, rarely even documented, and no follow-up action was taken.Women’s rights groups investigated the case, organized legal assistance and support for Teresa’s family, and launched a national campaign.
Only after six years of legal proceedings was the Sheriff’s Department in Sonoma County, California, held to account for its failure to protect María Teresa Macias.
Teresa’s family initiated a federal civil rights lawsuit, contending that she had been denied her constitutional rights by being denied equal protection under the law because she was a woman, a victim of violence in the family and a member of an ethnic minority. In July 2000 the US Court of Appeals found that Teresa’s constitutional rights to benefit from police protection in a non-discriminatory manner had been denied, reversing an earlier ruling dismissing the case. In June 2002 the Sheriff’s Department paid Teresa’s family one million US dollars in compensation.
The precedent-setting court ruling and award were powerful reminders to law enforcement agencies throughout the USA of their legal obligation to protect women from violence. The ruling underlined the authorities’ obligations to take effective steps to prevent and punish violence against women, whoever the perpetrator.
Yet such court rulings are not enough. According to the latest government figures, there were almost 700,000 incidents of domestic violence in the USA in 2001. Around a third of women murdered each year are killed by a current or former partner. In spite of increases in national budgets and initiatives to combat violence against women – such as “family justice” centres that will integrate support services for victims of violence in the family – women like Teresa continue to suffer because they are not given the protection they need.
Source: Stop violence against women: USA – ‘If I die, I want you to tell the world what happened to me’ (AI Index: AMR 51/001/2004)
Esperanza Amaris Miranda / Colombia
Esperanza Amaris Miranda was reportedly abducted from her home by three armed men on 16 October 2003. The men – apparently members of army-backed paramilitary forces – forced her into a taxi and began to drive away. When her 21-year-old daughter clung on to the door of the moving car, the men got out and kicked her to the ground. A few minutes later, Esperanza’s body was abandoned in the road. She had been shot dead.
Esperanza was 40 years old and supported her two children by selling lottery tickets in the city of Barrancabermeja, Colombia. She was also a member of the Popular Women’s Organization (OFP), which has campaigned for women’s rights for more than 30 years.
In Colombia women who speak out for their rights face intimidation, violence and even death from armed groups on both sides of the country’s long-running internal conflict. Government security forces and their paramilitary allies have labelled women community leaders, activists and human rights defenders as guerrilla collaborators and legitimate targets in the counter-insurgency war. Armed opposition groups have killed women they accuse of siding with their enemies. Rape, mutilation and abuse of women and girls have been used as weapons of war to generate fear and to silence campaigns for social, economic and political rights.
Esperanza’s abductors reportedly said they were from the Central Bolivar Bloc, a paramilitary group that had previously threatened her. She had reported the threats to the Regional Prosecutor. Yet the police took no effective action to safeguard her and, after her abduction, did not answer OFP’s phone calls. More than 90 murders and over 50 “disappearances” in Barrancabermeja in 2003 testify to the impunity enjoyed by the paramilitaries and guerrilla groups.
Esperanza’s case is only one of many. Leonora Castaño, president of a group promoting women’s land and human rights, the National Association of Peasant Farmer, Black and Indigenous Women of Colombia (ANMUCIC), has been the target of numerous death threats. Blanca Nubia Díaz, an ANMUCIC supporter, was forced to flee her home after her 16-year-old daughter was killed by paramilitaries in May 2001. In September 2003 an anonymous letter to ANMUCIC said that her son had been taken captive.
The Colombian government has failed not only to guarantee the safety of human rights defenders, many of them women, but also to combat or dismantle paramilitary groups. Ignoring repeated recommendations by the international community, the government is now proposing legislation that may allow human rights abusers to elude justice.
Source: Stop violence against women: Murdered for speaking out – persecution of women human rights defenders in Colombia (AI Index: AMR 23/001/2004)
Alicia Arístregui / Spain
Alicia Arístregui was beaten and abused by her husband throughout the 14 years of their marriage. He attacked her psychologically as well as physically. After she left him, he continued to threaten her and repeatedly defied a court order banning him from coming near her. She and her family appealed to the police and courts, asking for protection, but their appeals were ignored.
Her husband caught up with her one day four months after she had left him. She had just taken her children to the school bus stop. He stabbed her to death.
Alicia left her husband in January 2002 and found shelter in a government refuge. When applying for a court order banning him from contacting her, she revealed that she had needed counselling because of his abuse. She stated that he repeatedly threatened her and her family to make her give him custody of the children and the family house, and she believed he would carry out his threats.
Alicia and her brothers frequently told a court judge that her husband had breached the court’s restraining order. These reports were not passed on to the municipal police in the town where Alicia lived. The family’s repeated requests for protection were ignored by the authorities. In July 2003 Spain’s senior judicial body (the General Council of the Judiciary) supported the judge’s conduct, stating that the judiciary was not responsible for ensuring coordination between different police bodies.
Since her death, one of Alicia’s brothers has founded an organization to fight for police protection for victims of gender-based violence. In many instances, the courts have failed to take seriously women’s complaints of death threats and assaults by their partners, or to enforce restraint orders against the perpetrators, sometimes with fatal results. In addition, there is little state funding for emergency centres, refuges and sheltered apartments, which are unevenly distributed across the country, based primarily on the ability of non-governmental organizations to open and operate them.
The Supreme Court in a ruling in May 2003 refused to accept the state’s responsibility for protecting women from domestic violence. The Court overturned a compensation award by a lower court to the family of Mar Herrero, a woman murdered by her former partner after months of threats and harassment which she had reported to the authorities. The Court ruled that state responsibility applied only if the crime was committed by agents of the state or with their knowledge or acquiescence.
Mar Herrero was killed in October 1999 by a man convicted of the attempted murder of a previous partner. He had been conditionally released seven months earlier, against the advice of the prison psychologist. Seven days before he killed her, a request by the Attorney General’s office for his conditional release to be reversed was turned down.
Source: Stop violence against women: Spain – beyond the protection of the law (AI Index: EUR 41/001/2004)
Juliette / Belgium
Juliette (not her real name) did not dare tell her friends and family that her partner was hitting her. “You feel dirty... you defend him, you feel sorry for him... I feared being rejected and felt ashamed, so I became isolated from everyone around me. I told my doctor that I’d been attacked in the street.
“We met in October 2000. He was very jealous and hassled me endlessly on the telephone and when we were together to know where I was, who I was with, etc... In March 2001 the physical violence started. At the end of November, it was terrible, he had hit me again, I was very bad... I left my place and drove towards the police station, with him following me.”
Juliette was referred to a shelter in Brussels, where she made a formal complaint against her partner. About two months later, he came to her home asking for reconciliation and she called the police again. Despite the seriousness of her complaints, Juliette is not aware of any action by the authorities, other than one letter of inquiry from the prosecuting authorities. “To begin with, I was reluctant to bring a complaint, because I was frightened of retaliation,” Juliette says. “But now I wonder whatgoing on. I’ve complained twice; the police have a file, is there going to be a trial or judgment, and when?”
Despite a number of legislative initiatives undertaken since 1997 to address violence against women in Belgium, it appears that the majority of women’s formal complaints of domestic violence do not result in prosecutions. As yet the police can provide no precise statistics on formal complaints, having only recently begun recording domestic violence separately from other assaults. However, a 1998 study found that more than 50 per cent of women had experienced violence within the family, nearly 30 per cent of them at the hands of their partner.
Juliette eventually found sympathy and support from her doctor and at work. “But in general, when people see a woman with a bruise on her face, straight away they say, ‘You’ve been hit by your bloke’, for a laugh. I think that’s unacceptable. There should be ‘zero tolerance’ of such so-called jokes.”
The cruelty experienced by Juliette was part of a cycle of violence. “My partner and attacker suffered severe violence when he was small. It makes him very anxious... His mother too was beaten by her father and his sister’s husband hits her.”
Women’s rights organizations in Belgium are pressing for specialist professional support services for all victims of domestic violence; suitable treatment and therapy for abusers to prevent reoffending; and support and monitoring of children in families where violence against women occurs, who are often damaged by their experience and may copy what they have seen in later life.
Source: Stop violence against women: Belgium – breaking the cycle of violence (AI Index: EUR 14/001/2004)
“Fatima” / Iraq
“He was very angry and he took his Kalashnikov… The neighbours said: ‘Leave her alone’… But then he didn’t stop, he shot my legs, I could not feel them, they were numb, the sun was setting, I was looking at the sky, I said to the men: ‘I don’t want to die.’ They took me to the hospital.”
Nineteen-year-old Fatima (not her real name) was shot in the legs by her husband in front of his family and their neighbours on 21 May 2003. Married at the age of 12, she was treated as a servant and regularly beaten in her husband’s family home. She tried to run away to her own family, but her husband came and said she should go back. When she refused he became very angry and took a piece of wood to beat her. It broke, so he grew even angrier and took his gun and shot her.
Despite the number of eyewitnesses and the seriousness of the crime, neither the family nor the hospital reported the case to the police and her husband was not arrested. The family said it was a matter to be solved within the tribe. Fatima returned to her father’s house after she left hospital. Her husband expressed regret and offered her compensation, seeking reconciliation with her through the mediation of elders of her tribe. However, she is refusing to return to him, despite the pressures.
Iraqi women have endured severe hardship for decades: loss of male relatives in the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war; mass expulsions to Iran of entire families declared by the authorities to be of “Iranian descent”; government repression, including the chemical weapons attack on Kurds in Halabja in 1988; the 1991 Gulf war and the subsequent suppression of the Shi’a uprising; 13 years of UN sanctions from 1990 to 2003; and the US-led military action in 2003. Under the government of Saddam Hussein, women were arbitrarily arrested, tortured, “disappeared” and executed by the authorities on political grounds. In 2000, scores of women accused of prostitution were said to have been beheaded in public by a paramilitary group.
The political and security vacuum following the US-led invasion and occupation in 2003 has led to widespread looting and gun crime. Daily newspaper reports of kidnappings and rape have led many women to give up work or study and they are effectively confined in their homes. An Iraqi women’s rights organization, the League of Iraqi Women, reported that more than 400 women had been “kidnapped, raped and occasionally sold” between the end of the war in April and August 2003.
Even in their homes, Iraqi women may not be safe. The breakdown in law and order after the fall of Baghdad, combined with the disbanding of the police force by the occupying powers and the proliferation of firearms, has contributed to a rise in “honour killings” and domestic violence. These crimes are often ignored by the police, as in Fatima’s case. Some Islamist leaders have exploited the current instability in Iraq to press for their own agendas, which would entail imposing restrictions on women’s freedom of expression and on women’s freedom of movement.
Source: Stop violence against women: ‘I don’t want to die’ – Domestic violence in Iraq (AI Index: MDE 14/001/2004)
“Asma” / Iraq
Asma (not her real name), a young engineer, was abducted in Baghdad in 2003. She was shopping with her mother, sister and a male relative when six armed men forced her into a car and drove to a farmhouse outside the city. There she was repeatedly raped. A day later, Asma was driven to her neighbourhood and pushed out of the car.
Women in Iraq remain in fear and insecurity as the violence against them has continued. Although kidnapping resulting in rape or sexual abuse of women appears to have decreased since late 2003, the lack of security for women remains a serious threat. Women and girls live in constant fear of being abducted, raped or murdered.
Girls and women are also under threat in their own homes. With growing lawlessness, so-called “honour killings”, in which the victims are women or girls killed by male relatives for allegedly immoral behaviour, have continued. Such crimes are known to have been ignored by the police.
“I took the veil, because the security situation now does not allow a girl to go around unveiled or even not fully veiled,” a 23-year-old woman student told Amnesty International. More girls and women now feel they have to wear the hijab for security reasons or because of threats by Islamist groups towards women not observing a strict Islamic dress code.
Women political leaders and rights activists have been targeted for attack by armed opposition groups. ‘Aqila al-Hashimi, one of only three female members of the US-appointed and now dissolved Iraqi Governing Council, was killed in September 2003, reportedly by armed men opposed to the occupation. Yanar Mohammed, a member of the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq, was reported to have received several death threats.
Neither the US-led coalition authority nor any of the Iraqi interim governing bodies since the 2003 war has taken effective steps to ensure adequate protection of women and women’s rights defenders. Indeed, women detained by the US occupying forces are reported to have been sexually abused, possibly raped. The US military investigation headed by Major General Antonio Taguba found “systemic” and “illegal abuse of detainees” in Abu Ghraib Prison between August 2003 and February 2004. Among abuses documented were the “videotaping and photographing of male and female detainees” and “a male MP guard having sex with a female detainee”.
Thousands of men, women and children have been held without charge or trial in detention by occupying forces. Released women detainees, who asked not to be identified, told Amnesty International that they were beaten, threatened, including with rape, and had to endure humiliating treatment during long periods of solitary confinement.
Source: Stop violence against women: Iraq – living with fear (AI Index: MDE 14/014/2004)
Marita / Philippines
Marita’s husband hit her when she tried to refuse sex. He once demanded sex while holding a knife to her throat. After 15 years of marriage and nine children, 34-year-old Marita feared further pregnancies.
Her husband was jealous when she came home late, after long hours of selling food to earn a meagre living as the family’s sole provider. When he could not find regular work, he beat her even more. He burned her arms with cigarettes. She has lost almost all her teeth from constant assaults.
When he started to beat the children too, Marita left her husband, taking them with her. She was fearful that her eldest son might begin to fight back. So far, she has resisted all her husband’s efforts, through threats and promises, to persuade her to return.
Strict moral standards are applied to women in the Philippines. They are expected to be docile and subservient within the family and intimate relationships. The widely held beliefs in the sanctity of marriage make it very difficult for women to leave abusive relationships. Studies show that women in abusive situations endure repeated and escalating violence for an average of 10 years before seeking assistance.
Support from a women’s organization helped Marita find the courage to leave her husband. Hers is just one example of how a dynamic and committed network of human rights and women’s rights organizations is making a difference in the Philippines, by helping survivors of violence in the family, lobbying for reform of legislation and government support agencies, and organizing awareness-raising, education and training aimed at women’s empowerment.
Lobbying by women’s groups helped to bring about new legislation on sexual violence in 1997. Previously, rape was described as a “crime against chastity” rather than a violent crime against the person. A woman who was raped had to prove that she did not willingly surrender her virginity. In a landmark Supreme Court decision in 2000, a woman sentenced to death for killing her husband had the sentence commuted and her case reopened. However, despite the recent passage of a law against domestic violence, funds for gender-based projects are inadequate, and existing laws designed to protect women are not properly implemented.
Despite the hard work of women’s organizations and a Constitution that asserts the equality of men and women, domestic violence is endemic in the Philippines and women like Marita continue to suffer.
Source: Stop violence against women: Philippines – time to end abuse in the home (AI Index: ASA 35/001/2004)
Mutia / Indonesia
Mutia (not her real name) wept as she told Amnesty International how she was stripped and raped by six soldiers in military detention in 2003. She described being punched and beaten with a wooden plank. On one occasion, she was forced to stand in a tank of cold water up to her neck for nine hours, she said. Her pleas to see her three young children were met with threats that they would be killed. Relatives were not told that she had been detained or where she was being held, and were only able to find out where she was a month later. Mutia was subsequently released and fled to Malaysia.
Her family is alleged to have close links with an armed opposition group, a charge she denies. In the last 10 years, her husband and four brothers have been shot dead by the military. Mutia believes that they were targeted because of her father’s wealth and his refusal to pay bribes to the armed forces.
Women have been among the thousands who have been unlawfully killed, tortured or arbitrarily detained by the security forces during their 28-year conflict with the armed pro-independence group, the Free Aceh Movement, in the province of Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam.
Many women have been made destitute by the years of armed conflict in the province. Thousands of men have been unlawfully killed, have “disappeared” or have fled the region, leaving wives and other women relatives to face severe economic hardship as family breadwinners and heads of households.
There is also a long-established pattern of rape and other crimes of sexual violence against women by the security forces in the villages of the region. During the current military operations, which began in May 2003, such abuses have continued to be reported. In August 2003 soldiers allegedly raped a 12-year-old girl in a village in North Aceh. Local military and civilian authorities reportedly refused to consider a report of the assault made by villagers. Women have been detained, effectively as hostages, in place of male relatives from the Free Aceh Movement who have avoided arrest. According to reports, women have been forced to strip naked for members of the security forces to check their breasts for tattoos said to indicate membership of the group.
During the current military operations, a few allegations of crimes of sexual violence by the military have been investigated. Following prosecutions before military tribunals, the longest sentence handed down so far has been three and a half years for rape. However, a growing body of opinion opposes the use of military courts to try members of the armed forces for offences under international law, because they lack or appear to lack independence and impartiality in such cases. Despite repeated allegations of crimes of violence against women by the security forces during previous military operations, only one case is known to have been investigated, and no one is known to have been brought to justice.
Source: Stop violence against women: Indonesia – sexual violence by the security forces (AI Index: ASA 21/047/2004)
Sibongile / Swaziland
Sibongile (not her real name) was seven years old when her aunt’s husband first sexually abused her. Sibongile had been living with her aunt following her father’s death. Her mother, in accordance with tradition, was taken as a wife by her brother-in-law. As more children were born, her mother became increasingly impoverished, so Sibongile was sent to live with an aunt who had no children.
When Sibongile told her aunt what was happening, she did nothing to stop her husband’s abuse of the little girl. Sibongile tried to escape from the repeated abuse and sought help from a neighbour, who was a pastor. To her horror, he in turn raped her, in the toilet, and threatened her with a knife when she screamed.
Another neighbour however did help her to go to the police. By January 2000 Sibongile had developed infections as a result of the rape and persistent sexual abuse. The police brought her to the office of the Swaziland Action Group Against Abuse (SWAGAA), a national organization that helps women and children who are victims of or at risk of domestic and sexual violence.
SWAGAA found Sibongile a place in a government shelter and raised funds to buy her some clothes. They organized medical treatment for her but she could not be given an HIV test because there was no member of her family present to authorize it.
In July 2003 two men were brought to court on rape charges. Sibongile gave her evidence during a hearing behind closed doors in the presence of the perpetrators. The trial reportedly ended with the two men being acquitted.
Sibongile’s case is one of a minority which have reached the courts. Most cases of rape and sexual abuse within the family are committed with complete impunity, with victims pressured to settle cases informally. In addition the law and court procedures can undermine the rights of complainants.
In Swaziland, women and girls suffer high levels of domestic and sexual violence, and experience pervasive economic, social and legal discrimination. The HIV/AIDS pandemic has had a devastating impact on women and girls. The level of HIV infection amongst pregnant women attending ante-natal clinics in 2002 was 38.6 per cent. The United Nations Development Program concluded in the same year that “most cultural expectations and practices [in Swaziland]…contribute to women’s vulnerability to HIV/AIDS”.
A new draft Constitution, which may be adopted in 2004, for the first time guarantees women equal rights in law. However, several key provisions still discriminate against women or fail to specify whether the Constitution or customary law takes precedence. The constitutional reform process may also be jeopardised if the government continues to disregard court rulings, as it has done since 2002, and to attack the independence of the judiciary.
Source: Stop violence against women: Violence fuels the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Swaziland (AI Index: AFR 55/003/2004)
Kavira Muraulo / Democratic Republic of the Congo
A soldier broke into Kavira Muraulu’s home late one night and raped her. The next day she went to lodge a complaint about him – he and his friends came back and beat her. Undaunted, she went on complaining. So they bayoneted her in the stomach.
Kavira is a farmer in her fifties who lives near a military camp in Mangangu, near the town of Beni, North-Kivu province, eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. In this area, conflict between different armed forces has been raging for more than five years and many woman and girls have been raped, mutilated and killed with complete impunity.
The man who raped Kavira on 16 May 2003 was a soldier from the military camp. When she complained to his military commander, he ordered the soldier to pay her three US dollars in compensation, but took no action when the order was ignored. She took her complaint to the local district governor, who issued reassurances and told her to go home, but made no arrangements to ensure her safety.
The rapist and other soldiers then seized her in her fields, tied her up and beat her, knocking out a tooth and injuring her jaw. They only stopped when another woman threatened them with a gun. Kavira was later taken back to the governor’s office where he tried, but failed, to persuade her to retract her accusation. The soldiers then attacked her again, this time bayoneting her in the stomach.
Despite continued official pressure and the risk to her life, Kavira is determined to obtain justice and compensation.
All the forces involved in the conflict in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo have used mass rape and other forms of sexual violence to terrorize and subdue civilian communities. In South-Kivu province the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimated that some 5,000 women had been raped between October 2002 and February 2003, an average of 40 a day.
In many cases, rape victims have also been deliberately injured or killed. Thousands of women and girls have been abducted or forced by desperate poverty to become sexual slaves or frontline fighters. The victims’ trauma is compounded by the high risk HIV infection. The medical and psychological treatment they need is almost completely absent throughout the country.
The rapes and other crimes of sexual violence and killings that are being committed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity, yet virtually none of those responsible have been brought to justice.
Source: Stop violence against women: Democratic Republic of the Congo – one woman’s struggle for justice (AI Index: AFR 62/001/2004)
Resource 9: The social and economic costs of violence against women
The social costs
The threat of further violence erodes a woman’s self-esteem, inhibiting her ability to defend herself or take action against her abuser.
When the violence is unrecognized and unacknowledged, there are further psychological consequences and the woman is less likely to seek help.
Some of the long-term effects of VAW are abuse of alcohol and drugs, depression, other mental health disorders and suicide.
If a woman is raped and made pregnant in some societies this can result in her being ostracized by her community and if married thrown out by her husband and/or family.
Actual or threatened violence creates a pervasive atmosphere of fear that limits the lives of women, restricting their freedom of movement and their ability to participate in public decision-making and affecting their standard of living.
A six-year-old girl in Santander, Colombia, was raped by two neighbours in 1997. When a local army-backed paramilitary group found out, they killed the two men in front of her, “so that this would never happen again.” The girl stopped talking for a long time, because she thought the same thing could happen to her and she felt guilty for the deaths of the men.
The repercussions of violence against women reverberate throughout the family and community.
Studies show that children exposed to violence are more likely to become both victims and perpetrators. In Nicaragua, children who witnessed their father beating their mother were more than twice as likely as other children to have learning, emotional and behavioural problems. Friends and neighbours may also suffer. Recent data from Tokyo, Japan, shows that when restraining orders were violated, relatives and friends who offered victims shelter themselves became targets of the abuser’s violent behaviour.
The economic costs
Violence against women impoverishes society economically, politically and culturally
By limiting the active role that women can make in the development of their community.
Loss of productive time.
Loss of earnings.
Legal costs (if available) if women want to press charges for VAW.
If raped and pregnant as a result the medical costs and the costs of bringing up a child.
The health cost of domestic violence and rape are the same in industrialized and developing countries, but because the overall burden of disease is much higher in developing countries, a smaller percentage is attributed to gender-based victimization. In developing countries, depending on the region, estimates range from 5 to 16 per cent of healthy years lost to women of reproductive age as a result of domestic violence.
In the developing countries, an estimated five per cent of the working time lost by women because of disability or sickness results from gender-based violence and rape.
Research conducted in India estimates that women lost an average of seven working days after each incident of violence. Female victims of domestic violence in Chile lost an estimated US$1.56 billion in earnings in 1996, approximately two per cent of the country’s gross national product.
The direct annual cost of violence against women in Canada has been estimated to be Canadian $684 million in the criminal justice system and $187 million for police. Counselling and training in response to violence is and additional $294 million.
For the United States, according to one study, cost estimates range between US$5 and US$10 billion annually.
Resource 10: Imagining a world free of violence against women
Can you imagine a world without violence against women and girls?
Initially, many people find it difficult to imagine a world where women and girls do not live with the experience or threat of violence.
This is because violence against women has become so normal in our lives that many of us don’t even realise how it affects our daily routines, our interactions with other people, and even the way we participate in our communities.
Asking people to imagine a world without violence against women and girls is the first step to making this world a reality.
When asking people in your communities if they can imagine a world without violence against women and girls, make sure you give them some prompts to help them to take that first step. Included in this mailing is ‘prompt pack’ – a series of statistics and facts, case examples, and importantly, positive stories. These will help people to begin imagining a world without violence against women and girls.
Who should we ask?
We need good laws, policies and practices to protect women and girls from violence, but good laws aren’t enough if cultural attitudes and beliefs don’t change too.
That’s why we want to ask as many people as possible to tell us what they believe the world would be like if violence against women and girls ended.
In a world without violence against women and girls
Girl babies would be born in India and China
I will flirt
I can walk along the street at night without worrying that the woman walking in front of me thinks I’m a threat
Women’s refuge centres and rape crisis centres will no longer be necessary
Taxes could be lower because governments would no longer have to spend billions of dollars dealing with the consequences of violence against women
Source: Imagine a world project, Amnesty International UK, 2004
Resource 11: Amnesty International’s Agenda for Change
In the home and in the community, in times of war and peace, women and girls are beaten, raped, mutilated and killed with impunity. Violence and the threat of violence affect the ability of all women to exercise their civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights and diminish all our lives. As long as violence against women continues, the promise to humanity of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights cannot be fulfilled.
This is not to deny the achievements of the women’s and human rights movements at international, national and local levels, but to acknowledge that countless women face physical, sexual and mental abuse at the hands of close relatives as well as strangers. All too often, communities tolerate violence against women and deny women the freedom to choose how to live their lives. Local, regional and national authorities fail to prevent and punish acts of violence, and do not provide an environment free from violence. In conflict zones, both government forces and armed groups commit atrocities against women with impunity. Internationally, the performance of UN bodies is uneven and in many areas should be significantly improved, while international financial institutions and corporations fail to fulfil their responsibilities towards women.
Violence against women is never normal, legal or acceptable and should never be tolerated or justified. Everyone – individuals, communities, governments, and international bodies – has a responsibility to put a stop to it and to redress the suffering it causes.
Change must come at international, national and local levels. It must be brought about by governments as well as private actors, by institutions as well as individuals. International treaties must be respected, laws must be adopted or abolished, support systems must be put in place and above all attitudes, prejudices and social beliefs that foster and reinforce violence against women must change.
Preventing violence against women requires us to:
Speak out against violence against women, listen to women and believe them;
Condemn violence against women as the major human rights scandal of our times;
Confront those in authority if they fail to prevent, punish and redress violence against women;
Challenge religious, social, and cultural attitudes and stereotypes which diminish women’s humanity;
Promote women’s equal access to political power, decision-making and resources; and
Support women to organize themselves to stop the violence.
Amnesty International’s worldwide campaign to Stop Violence against Women
Amnesty International will collaborate with women’s rights activists and groups who are already working to expose and redress forms of violence. Amnesty International will investigate and expose acts of violence against women and demand that these violations are acknowledged, publicly condemned and redressed.
At the global level the Stop Violence against Women Campaign:
Calls on world leaders, organizations and individuals to publicly pledge to make the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – which promised equal rights and equal protection for all – a reality for all women.
At the international level the Stop Violence against Women Campaign:
Urges all governments to:
Ratify and implement the UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women and its Optional Protocol, without reservations.
Ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and adopt implementing national legislation to end impunity for violence against women in armed conflicts.
Agree on an international Arms Trade Treaty to stop the proliferation of weapons used to commit violence against women.
Calls on UN and regional organizations to:
Assist countries to develop action plans to end violence against women, and set up mechanisms to monitor their implementation.
Fully and speedily implement Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security as well as the recommendations contained in the study by the UN Secretary-General on Women, Peace and Security.
At the national level the Stop Violence against Women Campaign:
Demands the abolition of all laws that facilitate impunity for the rape or murder of women; criminalize consensual sexual relations in private; restrict a women’s right to choose her partner; and restrict women’s access to reproductive health care and family planning;
Calls for laws to be adopted and enforced to protect women, to ensure that violence in the family is treated as seriously as assaults in other contexts, and that rape and other violence against women is criminalized.
Calls on national and local authorities to fund and support measures to enable all women to live free from violence, such as programs of civic education, training and systems to support and protect victims of violence, and women’s human rights defenders.
Urges governments, financial institutions and corporate actors to counter women’s impoverishment by ensuring equal access to economic and social rights, including food, water, property, employment and social entitlements and by safeguarding social safety nets, particularly in times of economic stress and dislocation.
At the local level the Stop Violence against Women Campaign:
Urges communities to work to create an environment which supports women and adresses violence, by building community structures and processes to protect women, providing assistance to survivors of violence, raising awareness about violence against women, and ensuring that women human rights defenders are free to carry out their work.
Demands that women be given equal access to decision-making in local government and community structures.
Calls on religious bodies, traditional and informal authorities to denounce and desist from any action that encourages or tolerates violence against women, and respect women’s human rights.
Demands that armed groups make clear to their forces and supporters that violence against women is never acceptable, and that they discipline appropriately those under their command responsible for committing such acts. Where they exercise effective control over territory, armed groups must take measures to protect women from discrimination and violence and ensure that all perpetrators of violence against women are brought to justice.
Urges every individual to challenge negative images of women and resist mass media, advertisements and school curriculums that reinforce discriminatory attitudes and perpetuate violence against women and girls.
Calls on communities to work with those most affected by violence to develop and implement local strategies to confront violence against women.
Source: Its in our hands: Stop violence against women (AI Index: ACT 77/001/2004), pp. 109-113.
Resource 12: Evaluation
Guide Evaluation Form:
1. Overall did you feel the workshop met its aims and objectives?
2. Which aspect of the workshop did you find most interesting?
3. Did you feel any aspects of the workshop could be improved on? Please explain
4. Did you find the methodology used appropriate for the content of the workshop?
5. Were you happy with the facilitation of the workshop?
6. Which aspect of the workshop did you feel will be of most use in your future activism to campaign for women’s rights and stop violence against women?
7. Would you like any follow-up to the workshop? I.e. more training; additional resource information; direct link to AI’s campaign; information on networks in your country/region working on women’s rights?
8. Any additional comments?
Bibliography and Endnotes
Advice for Handling Questions or Inquiries from Persons Alleging Violence Against Themselves or Someone Else, AI Canada (Eng), 2004
Amnesty International, It’s In Our Hands: Stop violence against women (AI Index: ACT 77/001/2004)
Kane, Liam, Popular Education and Social Change in Latin America, Latin America Bureau, London, 2001
Pretty J, Guijt I, Scoones I, Thompson J, A Trainer’s Guide for Participatory Learning and Action, International Institute for Environment and Development, London, 1995
1 Pretty, J, Guijt, I, Scoones, I, Thompson, J, A Trainer’s Guide for Participatory Learning and Action, International Institute for Environment and Development, London, 1995, p. 13.
2 Kane, L, Popular Education and Social Change in Latin America, Latin America Bureau, London, 2001,
3 “I kept the beatings secret for years”, BBC News website, 14 February 2003; Jon Silverman, Domestic violence hits home, BBC News website, 28 May 2003.
4 Rana Husseini, “Amman man gets 1 year for killing sister”, Jordan Times, 1 June 2003.
5 “Sleeping with the enemy,” Barbados Daily Nation, 20 July 2003.
6 Cited in an interview in December 1994 by Bev Clark, author of Lesbian Activism in Zimbabwe.
7 This term, meaning “oppressed”, is widely used to describe members of the "Scheduled Castes", formerly referred to as “Untouchables”.