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Laws and legal systems as an essential strategy to prevent violence against women and girls prepared by Yasmeen Hassan

By: Hassan, Yasmeen.
Contributor(s): Breakthrough.
Material type: materialTypeLabelArticlePublisher: UN Women in cooperation with ESCAP, UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF and WHO 2012Description: electronic document (9 p.); PDF file: 200.05 KB.Other title: Expert paper prepared for Expert Group Meeting Prevention of violence against women and girls, Bangkok, Thailand, 17 - 20 September 2012.Subject(s): PRIMARY PREVENTION | VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN | JUSTICE | PREVENTION | LAWOnline resources: Click here to access online Summary: When thinking about ways to prevent violence against women and girls, most think in terms of awareness raising to change cultural norms, educational programs to empower women and girls or programs aimed at economic independence of women to end their vulnerability to violence. All these are essential for prevention, but equally important is a well-functioning legal system with laws that guarantee gender equality and protect women and girls from all forms of violence against them. Although a legal system is often thought of as part of an effective response to violence rather than prevention, such a system prevents violence against women and girls by deterring perpetrators and empowering women and girls. Changing social norms is essential to prevention of violence against women and girls but such change must be rooted in standards that the State establishes and is ready to uphold. State laws and policies are such standards. The preventative impact of laws and policies is hard to measure as it is difficult to say that the enactment and/or implementation of a law or the proper functioning of a legal system resulted in there being less violence against women. However, Equality Now’s 20 years of work in ensuring that laws around the world do not discriminate against women and girls, protect them from all forms of violence and are properly implemented to empower victims, has resulted in a wealth of experience and evidence that support the preventative aspects of well functioning legal systems. (from the Introduction). Background to this paper: In accordance with its multi-year programme of work for 2010-2014, the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) will consider ‘Elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls” as its priority theme during its fifty-seventh session in 2013. In order to contribute to a full understanding of the issue and to assist the Commission in its deliberations, United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), in collaboration with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and World Health Organization (WHO), convened an Expert Group Meeting on prevention of violence against women and girls, at Bangkok, Thailand, from 17 to 20 September 2012. Use the website link to access other papers prepared for this meeting.
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When thinking about ways to prevent violence against women and girls, most think in terms of awareness raising to change cultural norms, educational programs to empower women and girls or programs aimed at economic independence of women to end their vulnerability to violence.

All these are essential for prevention, but equally important is a well-functioning legal system with laws that guarantee gender equality and protect women and girls from all forms of violence
against them. Although a legal system is often thought of as part of an effective response to violence rather than prevention, such a system prevents violence against women and girls by
deterring perpetrators and empowering women and girls. Changing social norms is essential to prevention of violence against women and girls but such change must be rooted in standards that the State establishes and is ready to uphold. State laws and policies are such standards.

The preventative impact of laws and policies is hard to measure as it is difficult to say that the enactment and/or implementation of a law or the proper functioning of a legal system resulted in
there being less violence against women. However, Equality Now’s 20 years of work in ensuring that laws around the world do not discriminate against women and girls, protect them
from all forms of violence and are properly implemented to empower victims, has resulted in a wealth of experience and evidence that support the preventative aspects of well functioning legal systems. (from the Introduction).

Background to this paper: In accordance with its multi-year programme of work for 2010-2014, the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) will consider ‘Elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls” as its priority theme during its fifty-seventh session in 2013.

In order to contribute to a full understanding of the issue and to assist the Commission in its deliberations, United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), in collaboration with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and World Health Organization (WHO), convened an Expert Group Meeting on prevention of violence against women and girls, at Bangkok, Thailand, from 17 to 20 September 2012. Use the website link to access other papers prepared for this meeting.