Press Release

IACHR, Executive Secretariat of the Inter-American Commission of Women, and MESECVI’s Committee of Experts Call on States to Prevent Violence against Women and Girls in the Americas

November 25, 2019

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Washington, D.C. - On the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, which is commemorated every November 25, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), the Executive Secretariat of the Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM), and the Committee of Experts of the Follow-up Mechanism to the Belém do Pará Convention (MESECVI) call on States to step up their efforts to prevent all forms of violence against women, girls, and adolescents in the Americas. These organizations warn that the current situation is serious—it extends to all groups in any given society, particularly affects vulnerable women, and is one of the most common forms of human rights violations in the region.

In the inter-American context, the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment, and Eradication of Violence against Women—known as the Convention of Belém do Pará, which has been signed and ratified by 32 of the 34 Member States of the Organization of American States (OAS)—expressly mentions States’ obligation to act with due diligence and to adopt policies aimed at preventing, investigating, and punishing all forms of gender-based violence against women, girls, and adolescents, using all appropriate means available and without unjustified delays.

In particular, the IACHR observes that the causes of this violence have deep roots in gender-based discrimination and in standards, social practices, and stereotypes that perpetuate such discrimination. “Many efforts have been made over the past 25 years to address violence and discrimination against women and girls, but they have focused mainly on developing the necessary normative frameworks and designing responses and services for women survivors. The best way to counter gender-based violence is to prevent it and to tackle its roots and its structural causes,” said Commissioner Margarette May Macaulay , IACHR Rapporteur on the Rights of Women.

Concerning prevention and gender equality, CIM Executive Secretary Alejandra Mora Mora said that “preventing also means ensuring that all spaces—both public and private—are safe for women and girls.” “The home remains the most dangerous space for them. However, the street, public transportation, work, and school are also dangerous,” she said. “Including men and boys is crucial to question gender-based inequalities and to eradicate deeply entrenched social standards that perpetuate and reinforce tolerance for violence against women and girls,” Executive Secretary Mora Mora noted.

The Committee of Experts warns that, despite the commitments made by States at the Convention of Belém do Pará, the issue of prevention needs to be addressed with an integral perspective and with permanent budgets that enable the process. “States invest less than 1% of their total budget in programs to fight violence against women, and there is still little systematized knowledge available on how to prevent and on how to measure the impact of efforts in this field,” said Sylvia Mesa, who chairs the Committee of Experts.
Commissioner Esmeralda Arosemena de Troitiño, the IACHR’s President and Rapporteur on the Rights of the Child, stressed that, “while public policy tends to ignore the earliest stages in life, these are crucial to develop values and standards concerning gender equality.” “That is why prevention needs to start with an education—for both boys and girls—that promotes relationships based on respect and equality, with a deconstruction of stereotypical roles and patterns. Working with children and adolescents is essential to ensure rapid, sustained progress in prevention, in order to eradicate violence against women,” said Commissioner Arosemena de Troitiño.

In this context, the IACHR, the CIM’s Executive Secretariat, and the Committee of Experts issue a joint call to States in the Americas, so these may step up their efforts to prevent violence against women, girls, and adolescents and take any measures necessary to comply with their international obligations and to incorporate inter-American standards on this issue. The IACHR, the CIM, and the MESECVI all stress their mandates and their willingness to support, advise, and assist States in their initiatives to design, implement, and assess effective prevention measures, in order to fully protect the right of all women to lives that are free from violence.

A principal, autonomous body of the 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 and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. 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.

The Technical Secretariat of the Inter-American Commission of Women is a specialized entity within the OAS focused on promoting and protecting women’s rights and gender equality.

The Committee of Experts is the technical part of the MESECVI, responsible for the analysis and evaluation of the implementation of the Convention of Belém do Pará. It is composed of independent experts that are appointed by each of the States Party and serve the MESECVI in a personal capacity.


No. 310/19