Press Release

It is Time to Increase Action to End and Prevent Violence against Women and Girls

December 2, 2016

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Washington, D.C. / Geneva - Dubravka Šimonović, United Nations Rapporteur on Violence against Women, and Margarette May Macaulay, Commissioner and Rapporteur on the Rights of Women, join forces to express today their strong alarm and concern over the continuing acts of extreme violence against women and girls in the Americas and call for increased action to end  and prevent  such violence.

The Rapporteurs highlight some recent examples of the continuous pattern of violence against women in the Americas.  On October 8, 2016, Lucía Perez, a sixteen year old girl was abducted from school, drugged, raped, tortured, and killed in Mar de Plata, Argentina. Shortly after, the body of Florencia Aguirre, a ten year old girl, was found burned and buried in Coyhaique, Chile.  On October 31st the body of Evelyn Gutierrez, a thirteen year old girl, was found inside a black plastic bag in the municipality of Naucalpan in the State of Mexico.  In November 12th, the body of Ever de Jesus Flores Jimenez, a twenty four year old trans women, was found in Cartagena, Colombia, showing signs of violence, lesions, and injuries in various parts of her body. The Rapporteurs express their profound repudiation of these killings and jointly call for increased action to end these brutal acts of violence. 

Moreover, the experts are seriously concerned over the fact that these cases are not isolated in the Americas but rather symptomatic and illustrative of the structural, endemic, and pervasive nature of violence against women and girls in the region, and the need for swift State action in response.   The information received by the Commission and the UN Special Rapporteur through the implementation of their respective mechanisms reveals that women and girls in the Americas continue to be frequently sexually abused, victimized, and killed.  Violence against women and girls is widespread and happens in homes, schools, hospitals, employment places, religious institutions, prisons, and other settings.  It is perpetrated by family members, acquaintances and persons unknown to the victims.  It affects women and girls regardless of their age, race, ethnicity, and economic position.  It is a crime that often occurs in silence, is often underreported, and mostly ends in impunity.

Today the Rapporteurs would like to emphatically reiterate that all States need to act without delay and with purpose to adequately prevent and respond to the ongoing crisis of violence against women and girls in the Americas. This entails urgently mobilizing state resources to prevent, investigate, sanction, and grant reparations for all acts of violence against women and girls.  The Rapporteurs consider unacceptable that more than twenty years after the adoption of the Convention of Bélem do Pará, and 35 years after adoption of the CEDAW convention women and girls in the Americas continue suffering in high numbers extreme forms of psychological, physical and sexual violence and femicide.

In regards to the problem of violence against women and girls, Commissioner and Rapporteur Macaulay has expressed that: "The obligation of States to prevent violence against women and girls is comprehensive, entailing the organization of the entire state structure and the work of all its branches to address violence.  Prevention also entails enforcing measures to eradicate social stereotypes which fuel the problem of violence against women, and guaranteeing that women and girls can access information which is vital to the exercise all of their civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights. The legislation and policies adopted by States to face this problem should also reflect a gender perspective, providing participation spaces for the women and girls who are the intended beneficiaries to offer their views."

In order  to prevent  such cases of femicide and other forms of violence against women UN Special Rapporteur Simonovic has called for establishment of femicide watch or observatory on violence against women which should collect data and analyze, with the assistance of interdisciplinary review panels, all femicide cases including court decisions in order to identify gaps in the intervention system, criminal justice and criminal procedures system as well as risk factors to prevent and protect women and girls from those killings.

Lastly, the Rapporteurs would like to highlight that this proposal follows ongoing efforts for full investigation of all cases by the States at issue, in a prompt and exhaustive way, with a gender perspective, aiming to identify and sanction those responsible.  Most cases of violence against women and girls in the Americas remain in impunity, which runs contrary to the existing inter-American and universal human rights standards. Consequently, States must establish and implement continuous and comprehensive training for its judicial and public service personnel and all police and armed forces, all irregardless of levels and rank; and civil society and in the educational curricula from the earliest formative years, so that  all persons will know and understand the human rights standards and principles and thereby inculcate mutual respect between the sexes  and thereby develop a recognition of women as equals which would result in nonviolence and non-discrimination towards them.

No. 180/16


Ms. Dubravka Šimonović, UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences

Margarette May Macaulay, IACHR Commissioner and Rapporteur on the Rights of Women

For more information and media inquiries please contact:
For the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women:  Antoanela Pavlova (+41 22 917 9331 / [email protected]) or write to [email protected]