Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my pleasure to join you at this special event to enhance cooperation against domestic violence.
I thank Minister Zadic for inviting me to speak to you today, and I would like to commend her for her recent statements and decisive action here in Austria to strengthen support for women and stop gender-based violence.
Domestic violence is always a crime. The privacy of a home should never grant offenders impunity or deny victims protection.
Sadly but not surprisingly, women and children are too often the victims of this crime, in every region of the world.
One in four women experiences violence at the hands of an intimate male partner in their lifetime, the most common form of violence against women.
Such violence is often lethal.
Data collected by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime shows that a majority of female homicide victims are killed by intimate partners or family members. Furthermore, 80% of the victims of partner homicidal violence are women.
When it does not cost them their lives, the experience leaves women and girls more likely to fall into depression, and in some cases develop substance abuse and other self-destructive behaviors and disorders.
Children who witness violence and abuse at home are also victims, and often suffer emotional distress and long-term consequences.
The pandemic has placed women and children, including girls, at greater risk, as lockdown measures have often confined victims with perpetrators, and in many cases support services have been curtailed.
Increased backlogs in courts have delayed justice for victims.
Meanwhile, calls to emergency hotlines have been multiplying in several countries as victims cry out for help.
Women and girls need to be protected more and not less during difficult circumstances.
Services for victims of domestic violence should be considered essential and should remain open and accessible to all, as a matter of priority.
To support action, UNODC has published detailed recommendations on mitigating the impact of COVID-19 on criminal justice responses to violence against women.
We have contributed to the World Bank’s database on government initiatives to address gender-based violence during the pandemic, as well as to the new COVID-19 Global Gender Response Tracker developed by UNDP and UN Women.
More broadly since 2010, we have supported 44 Member States in strengthening crime prevention and criminal justice responses to violence against women.
Prominent examples include Mexico, where we trained almost 13,000 police officers and emergency call operators; Nepal, where we supported the formulation of a national action plan to implement security council resolutions on women, peace and security; and Egypt, where we trained and equipped specialized clinics for victims.
Our Austrian partners have been greatly supportive of our work, providing almost 4.4 million dollars to fund an ambitious, ongoing programme against gender-based violence in Southern Africa.
I thank them for standing with us to protect women and girls in Africa, which is also a priority of UNODC’s new Strategic Vision for Africa.
We stand ready to advance and expand our support to Member States to confront domestic violence and protect its victims.
Judicial and police responses must provide swift, unobstructed protection and access to justice.
Community programmes that address risks associated with poverty and unemployment can also help mitigate family violence.
Governments must work with all stakeholders to safeguard women in their homes and enable them to report violence and abuse.
This of course includes civil society actors, who can provide much needed services to victims.
It also includes other diverse actors, such as hospitals, pharmacies, grocery stores, and postal services, who have proven to be valuable partners in facilitating reporting of domestic violence in a number of countries.
Increasing the number of women working in the justice and law enforcement sectors, especially in leadership roles, can also improve criminal justice outcomes and access to justice for all.
Domestic violence is just one manifestation of how women and girls are marginalized and subjected to violence, abuse, and in extreme cases murder, across countries and cultures, just because they are women and girls.
Greater preventive measures are crucial. Progressive policies and strong messaging on gender equality are essential to abolish the norms and stereotypes that lead to violence against women, and to make men and boys part of the solution.
Ladies and gentlemen,
In my country, Egypt, efforts are now underway to enact sterner legal sanctions for marital violence against women. As a girl growing up in Egypt and later as minister of social solidarity, I refused to accept any justification for violence against women. I am heartened to see progress in my home country and in countries around the globe.
There is still a lot of work to do for all of us, and I am grateful to Minister Zadic, Minister Marwan, and the participants in this event, for their efforts and commitment to ending gender-based violence against women.
Let us continue to work together to support justice for women and for all.