The international legal and policy frameworkOver the past two decades, violence against women has become increasingly recognized as a form of discrimination and a violation of women’s human rights. Violence against women, and the obligation to enact laws to address it, is now the subject of a comprehensive policy and legal framework at the international level. For further details on the international legal and policy framework, see the background paper prepared by the Division for the Advancement of Women for the expert group meeting on good practices in legislation on violence against women.
National laws on violence against womenOver the past decade, many States have introduced laws addressing various forms of violence against women. The Secretary-General’s in-depth study on all forms of violence against women reported that, as at April 2006, 89 States had some legislative provisions that specifically addressed domestic violence; marital rape could be prosecuted in at least 104 States; 90 States had some form of legislative provision against sexual harassment; 90 States had some legislative provision regarding trafficking in human beings; and fifteen of the 28 African States where female genital mutilation is prevalent had enacted laws criminalizing the practice.
Developing a model framework for legislation on violence against womenIn follow-up to the Secretary-General’s study and General Assembly resolution 61/143, and building upon States’ experiences with different legislative frameworks, the United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDAW/DESA) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) organized an expert group meeting to analyze different legislative approaches; assess lessons learned in regard to laws and legislative reforms on violence against women; and identify effective approaches and recommend future strategies for legislation on violence against women. The expert group meeting was held at the United Nations at Vienna from 26 to 28 May 2008.
Resources on good practices in legislation on violence against women
United Nations General Assembly model strategies and practical measures on the elimination of violence against women in the field of crime prevention and criminal justice (1997), annex to General Assembly resolution 52/86, crime prevention and criminal justice measures to eliminate violence against women.Report of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences (1996) “A framework on model legislation” E/CN.4/1996/53/Add.2