United Nations

Strengthening the Protection of Women from Torture

Publication Date: 
January, 2008

The Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment submits his second report to the Human Rights Council.

Fact Sheet No.23, Harmful Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children

Traditional cultural practices reflect values and beliefs held by members of a community for periods often spanning generations. Every social grouping in the world has specific traditional cultural practices and beliefs, some of which are beneficial to all members, while others are harmful to a specific group, such as women. These harmful traditional practices include female genital mutilation (FGM); forced feeding of women; early marriage; the various taboos or practices which prevent women from controlling their own fertility; nutritional taboos and traditional birth practices; son preference and its implications for the status of the girl child; female infanticide; early pregnancy; and dowry price. Despite their harmful nature and their violation of international human rights laws, such practices persist because they are not questioned and take on an aura of morality in the eyes of those practising them.

The harmful traditional practices identified in this Fact Sheet are categorized as separate issues; however, they are all consequences of the value placed on women and the girl child by society. They persist in an environment where women and the girl child have unequal access to education, wealth, health and employment.

In part I, the Fact Sheet identifies and analyses the background to harmful traditional practices, their causes, and their consequences for the health of women and the girl child. Part II reviews the action taken by United Nations organs and agencies, Governments and organizations (NGOs). The Conclusions highlight the drawbacks in the implementation of the practical steps identified by the United Nations, NGOs and women's organizations.

To read the report, go here:

Violence Against Women - Alternative Reports for UN Committees

OMCT publishes Alternative Reports and other publications for the United Nations committees, particularly for the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.

Directory on initiatives to address Crimes of 'Honour'

This Directory sets out the contacts and brief descriptions of the activities of individuals and organisations engaged in addressing practices which can be considered as crimes of 'honour'.

UNHCR Handbook for the Protection of Women & Girls

Publication Date: 
June, 2006

As this Handbook illustrates, in every country and community in which UNHCR works, women and girls are less likely than men and boys to have access to even the most fundamental of their rights, such as food, health care, shelter or documentation. Girls are less likely than boys to attend school; instead they spend their time burdened with domestic chores.

Intensification of Efforts to Eliminate All Forms of Violence Against Women

Publication Date: 
October, 2007

This Draft Proposal is to be reviewed by the full UN General Assembly-All UN Countries.

CEDAW Country Reports and Resources

Publication Date: 
September, 2006

Countries that have ratified or acceded to the Convention are legally bound to put its provisions into practice. They are also committed to submit national reports, at least every four years, on measures they have taken to comply with their treaty obligations. For an update on the status of submission by country, please download the status of submission and consideration of reports submitted by States parties, as at 31 August 2006

This section contains the most recent country reports submitted, under article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, to the Division for the Advancement of Women. Not all documents are available in electronic format - we will add links as they become available. For reports submitted prior to 1995, please contact .

To Access the Reports:

Gender Based Violence

Women experience violence at home, in community and society. We experience violence perpetuated by governments and at global level. The situation of women in war and conflict zones simply intensify the already grim picture and challenging situation of respecting the human rights of women and girls.

In recent years since Beijing Plus 10, the global women's movement has been paying more attention to the role of men, particularly participation of younger men in the plight of women and girls for gender equality. The age old patriarchal system, which is being defended by the forces of militarism, religious extremism and neo- liberalism will be challenged by the women and girls and their allied men building a powerful grassroots movement and demanding their basic human rights, gender equality, democracy and peace. Let us all imagine the potential of our communities, societies and a world free of violence against women. Gender violence is the cause and consequences of gender inequality.

For more info and statistics on gender based violence please check the following link:

Understanding Culture, Protecting Human Rights


This exhibit can be used as both an advocacy and programming tool. It documents UNFPA’s experience in the field supporting projects that address violence against women in its many forms. Designed for both the general public and development practitioners, it documents approaches that can be used to confront this problem on a larger scale.

Other organizations, websites, schools and networks are encouraged to link to and use this resource in any way they can to spread awareness about gender-based violence and efforts to end it. Feel free to send the link to a friend. For questions, contact

To Access:

Universal Human Rights Index of United Nations Documents

The Universal Human Rights Index (Index) is designed primarily to facilitate access to human rights documents issued by the UN human rights treaty bodies and the special procedures of the Human Rights Council.