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UN Urges Worldwide Adoption of Femicide Watch

UN Expert on Violence Against Women Urges Worldwide Adoption of Femicide Watch Or Gender-Related Killings Observatories

GENEVA (7 December 2017) – A key global expert on violence against women and women’s rights, Ms Dubravka Šimonović , has reiterated her call for intensification of international, regional and national efforts to prevent femicides or gender related killings of women, and other forms of gender-based violence. The statement by the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, marks the 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence, as well as International Human Rights Day on 10 December. Her full statement is as follows:

“I congratulate all those States and stakeholders who have established a gender-related killing of women (femicide) watch or observatory and call upon others to do so in all countries, and to publish every year, on the International Day on the Elimination of Violence against Women (25 November), the number of femicides under the categories of 'family or intimate-partner related femicides' and 'other femicides'.

Femicide, which I define as the murder of a woman or girl on the grounds of her sex and/or gender, represents one the most horrible forms of gender-based violence. It is perpetrated against a woman because she is a woman or it disproportionately affects women and girls. Such guiding definition should be used also as global reference for the collection of data on gender-based violence against women and for the development of femicide rate indicators.

Each case of femicide is an individual woman’s tragic story and there is the urgent need to focus on the prevention of these avoidable killings by undertaking in-depth analysis aimed at identifying shortcomings in the criminal justice system.

Data collection and its analysis are indeed broadly recognized by international and regional human rights instruments, including the new CEDAW General Recommendation No. 35, as a crucial tool to prevent gender-based violence against women.

Establishing a femicide watch to collect, analyze and review data at the national, regional and global level will galvanize the gathering of information on good practices with a view to enhancing the protection of all women and girls from gender-based violence.

In order to prevent and eradicate femicide and gender-based violence against women and girls worldwide, States should increase their efforts to establish femicide watch and gender-based violence observatories and to strengthen their legal framework and its implementation by all relevant actors.*

The implementation of femicide watch in all countries will also contribute to identify existing failure of protection, boost preventive measures as well as tackle impunity for perpetrators.

Since my first call in 2015, many initiatives aimed at establishing femicide and gender-based violence observatories are emerging and growing all over the world. In this regard, I would like also to pay tribute to the important contribution of civil society, regional mechanisms and national human rights institutions initiatives to the prevention of femicide and gender-based violence.

I hope we are now moving in the direction of collection of comparable world data on femicide and towards the development of modalities for data collection and analysis. Such data could then be turned into femicide rates in order to enable States to objectively assess where they stand on the regional and global scale and to adopt actions needed to prevent many preventable deaths of women.

I also urge States and stakeholders to increase the number of shelters or safe places for women and girls who are victims or at risk of violence, and to provide immediately accessible and effective protection orders. Data on shelters and protection orders should also be considered as objective indicators under Target 2 of Sustainable Development Goal 5 on the elimination of violence against women.

All States must, as a matter of urgency and in collaboration with civil society and other stakeholders, strengthen their efforts to prevent and eradicate femicides or gender-related killings of women and all forms of gender-based violence against women and girls, including by amending their national legislation and ratifying and implementing all global and regional women’s rights instruments aimed at tackling this pandemic.”


*Report of the Special Rapporteur to the General Assembly of the United Nations on the modalities of establishing femicide watch (A/71/398)

Ms. Dubravka Šimonović (Croatia) was appointed as Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences by the UN Human Rights Council in June 2015, to make recommendations at the national, regional and international levels on how to eliminate violence against women and its causes, and to remedy its consequences. Ms. Šimonović has been member of the CEDAW Committee from 2002 to 2014. She headed the Human Rights Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Croatia and was the Minister Plenipotentiary at the Permanent Mission of Croatia to the UN in New York. She was also Ambassador to the OSCE and UN in Vienna. She co-chaired the Ad hoc Committee (CAHVIO) of the Council of Europe that elaborated the Convention on Preventing and Combatting Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention). She has a PhD in Family Law and published books and articles on human rights and women’s rights.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

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