UN General Assembly discusses Violence against Women
10 October 2006
In early October the advancement of women was debated at the 61st session of the United Nations General Assembly. One of the most critical items on the agenda was the Secretary-General's in-depth study on all forms of violence against women.
The study highlighted that for many women worldwide, the threat of violence exacerbates their risk of contracting HIV. Fear of violence prevents women from accessing information on HIV and AIDS, being tested, disclosing their HIV status, accessing services for the prevention of HIV transmission to infants and receiving treatment and counseling, even when they know they have been infected. Studies show the increased links between violence against women and HIV and demonstrate that HIV infected women are more likely to have experienced violence, and that women who have experienced violence are at higher risk for HIV.
The paper was prepared at the request of the UN General Assembly. It discusses the causes and consequences of violence and lists a series of recommendations for action at national and international level, including by United Nations bodies themselves.
“The study exposes critical gaps in current efforts to address violence against women,” said Purnima Mane, Director of UNAIDS’ Policy, Evaluation and Partnerships Division. “Although the world is now paying more attention to women’s rights in general, it has made pitifully little progress in reducing violence against women. And this is impacting seriously on our ability to get ahead of the AIDS epidemic.”
“The UNAIDS-led Global Coalition on Women and AIDS has made reducing violence against women one of its top priorities,” said Violeta Ross Quiroga, a member of the Global Coalition’s Leadership Council. “Wherever you find violence – whether it’s physical, psychological, or sexual – there will be AIDS. HIV entered my life through violence, as it has for so many.”
This week’s General Assembly discussion and the Secretary General’s study offer an opportunity to strengthen work on the linkages between violence against women and HIV. The study calls on States to integrate efforts to prevent and reduce violence against women into HIV programmes. It calls on the UN system to clearly identify how violence against women affects the effective implementation of their mandates, and to link their response to such violence to their work on issues such as HIV and AIDS, poverty eradication, food security, humanitarian responses, health, education, legal and judicial reform or crime prevention.