UN deadlocked over statement on violence against women

PTI United Nations | Updated on March 12, 2018

Iran, the Vatican and Russia kept up opposition today to a UN declaration denouncing violence against women because it includes language on gay rights and sexual health, diplomats said.

Deadlock between conservative states and countries demanding tough global standards on violence against women meant the annual UN Commission on the Status of Women could end in failure today, diplomats said.

More than 6,000 non-Government groups are represented at the two-week meeting, one of the biggest events held at the UN headquarters.

Scandinavian nations have led a group insisting on a statement calling for strong global standards and no weakening of language that says religion, custom or tradition must not be used as an excuse to avoid a Government’s obligation to eliminate violence against women.

The Holy See, Iran, Sudan, Egypt and Russia have led attempts to water down the final statement, diplomats said.

The conservative States have objected to references to abortion rights and language, suggesting that rape includes forcible behaviour by a woman’s husband or partner, diplomats said.

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood has called the UN document un-Islamic and warned it would lead to the “complete degradation of society.”

For several days the conference has met into the night trying to hammer out a final statement.

The conference should finish today, but the delegations could decide to extend negotiations into the weekend.

The last UN attempt to agree on a declaration on violence against women in 2003 also ended in failure.

This year’s meeting has been made more emotive by the Taliban attack in October on 15-year-old Malala Yousafzai for her promotion of girls’ education in Pakistan and widely publicised gang-rapes in India and South Africa.

A World Bank report has estimated that more women between the ages of 15 and 44 die in rapes and domestic violence than from cancer, car accidents, war and malaria combined.

Published on March 16, 2013

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