The Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women
The definition of violence against women that the UN presents in the Declaration is currently the most widely accepted definition:
‘Any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.’
The Declaration states three categories of violence against women: violence perpetrated by the state, such as violence against women in custody and as part of warfare, violence occurring within the general community, including rape, sexual harassment, trafficking in women and intimidation at work, and violence in the family and in the private sphere, for example incest and selective abortions.
According to the Declaration, violence against women is rooted in the historically unequal power relations between women and men. It also explains that violence against women is ‘one of the crucial social mechanisms by which women are forced into a subordinate position compared to men.’
The UN member states are; therefore, urged to legislate against acts of violence, work preventively and improve the situation of the victimised women.