Senior UN officials say women still face widespread violence

15 October 2003 –

Women face varying degrees of violence in all its forms and their full enjoyment of human rights is seriously challenged, the senior United Nations official handling women's issues said today.

Assistant Secretary-General Angela King told the General Assembly's Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee, "Trafficking in women and girls is a particularly hideous form of violence."

An estimated 700,000 persons were trafficked across international borders annually and most of them were women and girls in their teens and early twenties, she said.

HIV/AIDS was spreading faster among women and girls and was inextricably linked to violence, abuse and their low status in society, she added. The efforts of the international community to reverse the rate of spread of HIV/AIDS was largely unsuccessful, with only 300,000 infected men and women out of 42 million having received aid.

The Executive Director of the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), Noeleen Heyzer, told the Committee that the proportion of women with HIV had risen to 50 per cent of the persons infected in 2002 from 41 per cent five years before.

UNIFEM worked to empower women by means that included strengthening women's economic security and supporting women's leadership roles in governance and peace-building. In that connection, the programme continued to manage the Inter-Agency Trust Fund in Support of Actions to Eliminate Violence against Women, Ms. Heyzer said.

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