Press Release

On the Occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

November 25, 2012

Washington, D.C.—On the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on November 25, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) welcomes the region's progress in adopting laws and public policies on this matter, but cautions that considerable distance continues to exist between laws and their practical application. The Commission also expresses its concern over the continuing discrimination against women in all spheres, including politics, education, employment, and health.

The home continues to be a dangerous place for many women in the Americas, due to high rates of domestic violence. Moreover, women victims of domestic violence face formidable obstacles in obtaining access to justice. For most women, the laws that exist on paper regarding their right to equity and justice do not always translate into reality.

Discrimination against women continues to be deeply entrenched in the social structures of the countries of the region. As a general rule, women are more likely than men to be poor, they have less access to housing and health-care services, and they are subject to physical and sexual violence to a greater degree than men. In addition, discrimination against women intersects with such factors as race, ethnicity, and poverty; for example, indigenous women and women of African descent are particularly exposed to acts of physical, psychological, and sexual violence. The Commission has noted that the lack of an effective response by the State and the impunity that prevails when it comes to violence and discrimination make it more likely that such acts will be repeated.

The Commission has issued thematic reports on the state of women's human rights in the Americas, which include specific recommendations designed to improve States' capacity to meet their international obligation to prevent, investigate, and punish acts of violence against women. In addition, the IACHR has issued recommendations for the development of legal standards having to do with resources and remedies available for victims of human rights violations. On the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, the IACHR urges the States to implement these recommendations and to move forward in addressing this scourge. The Commission maintains its commitment to working with the countries of the hemisphere on this issue.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this matter. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 138/12