Reparations for Women Subjected to Violence: First thematic report submitted to the HRC by Rashida Manjoo, Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, 19 April 2010

Rashida Manjoo, Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences
Publication Date: 
April, 2010
Rashida Manjoo, Special Rapporteur on VAW

This is the first thematic report submitted to the Human Rights Council by Rashida Manjoo, Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, since her appointment in June 2009. In addition to providing an overview of the main activities carried out by the Special Rapporteur, the report focuses on the topic of reparations to women who have been subjected to violence in contexts of both peace and post-conflict. Most human rights and humanitarian law treaties provide for a right to a remedy. In the context of gross and systematic violations of human rights, the Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to Remedy and Reparation for Victims of Gross Violations of International Human Rights Law and serious violations of International Humanitarian Law, adopted by the General Assembly in 2005, start with the premise that “the State is responsible for ensuring that victims of human rights violations enjoy an individual right to reparation”. 

Both the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women place upon the State the duty to prevent, investigate, punish and provide compensation for all acts of violence wherever they occur. Article 4 of the Declaration states that women who are subjected to violence should be informed about and provided with access to the mechanisms of justice and to just and effective remedies for the harm that they have suffered, as provided by national legislation. The obligation to provide adequate reparations involves ensuring the rights of women to access both criminal and civil remedies and the establishment of effective protection, support and rehabilitation services for survivors of violence. The notion of reparation may also include elements of restorative justice and the need to address the pre-existing inequalities, injustices, prejudices and biases or other societal perceptions and practices that enabled violations to occur, including discrimination against women and girls. However, as pointed out by the previous Special Rapporteur, when it comes to the implementation of the due diligence obligation to reparation, “very little information is available regarding State obligations to provide adequate reparations for acts of violence against women … this aspect of due diligence remains grossly underdeveloped”.

Section II. A of this report looks at conceptual challenges that prevail when placing the question of gender-sensitive reparations on the national and international agendas. Section II.B analyses procedural and substantive considerations emerging in reparations initiatives responding to violence in conflict, post-conflict and authoritarian settings. Section II.C examines reparations to women and girls in contexts of “peace” or consolidated democracies, by looking first at discriminatory practices against certain groups of women, and second by highlighting recent landmark cases in the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights.