Violence Against Women and Culture: A Symbiotic Relationship

This post is by Danielle Prince as part of the series ‘Culture and Human Rights: Challenging Cultural Excuses for Gender-Based Violence’ hosted by and

Culture is the reason why violence against women exists.  Specific to ethnic, linguistic or geographical groups, culture defines what is acceptable and what is not.  Cultures the world over condone violence against women in numerous forms and to varying degrees.  Acid burning is not tolerated in the US, but domestic and sexual violence is.

Courageous individuals the world-over are working to re-define customs that are harmful to women.  The following video is a powerful example of a change-maker; a brave woman who dared to defy a standard cultural norm and shift her group’s culture entirely.


from on .

As seen in the video, in order for culture to change, culture must be included in discussions on violence against women and women’s rights.  To leave it out is to ignore the foundation upon which challenges to the realization of women’s rights exist.  Indeed, the tension in our work as activists is to address both the needs of individuals we work with as well as the larger, macro aspects of culture that accept and condone violence against women.

UN: General Assembly Holds Interactive Dialogue with Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women

Publication Date: 
October 10, 2011
International Service for Human Rights

On October 10, the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Ms. Rashida Manjoo, presented her to the Third Committee at the 66th session of theGlossary Link . Ms. Manjoo opened by giving a summary of her report on the continuum of violence against women from the home to the transnational sphere: the challenges of effective redress. The meeting was then opened for comments and questions from delegations. Overall, the dynamic of the discussions during the interactive dialogue was friendly, with most delegations welcoming the Special Rapporteur’s work and report.

A Guide To Human Rights Standards & Mechanisms Relevant To Fundamentalisms

Publication Date: 
March, 2008
Association for Women's Rights in Development (AWID)

UN declarations and treaties of relevance to the protection and promotion of human rights in contexts of rising fundamentalisms.

Human Rights Declarations are non-legally binding human rights standards. Their force and legitimacy lies primarily in the fact that in adopting such declarations, member states of the UN (or other relevant human rights systems) have made a strong moral commitment to use them as blueprints for building more just societies. Therefore, while declarations are, strictly speaking, non-enforceable most governments do not wish to be censured by the international community for ignoring or actively impeding the provisions of human rights declarations.

Secularism vs Communalism: Learning from the Ban on Full Face Covering Veil in France

Publication Date: 
April, 2011

Three days after the enforcement of the French law that prohibits full face covering, and after the first women law breakers have been fined, international media focus on ’protesting Muslims’, while the voices of the vast majority of presumed Muslims in France are ignored.

One has to raise issue with the absence of proper coverage by English language international media regarding the public stands taken by French citizens of migrant Muslim descent.

Statement of the Gender Dynamic Coalition at the UN Internet Governance Forum 2011

Publication Date: 
September 30, 2011
GenderIT/VNC Networkers

The 6th UN Internet Governance Forum (IGF) was held in Nairobi between 27-30 September 2011, and was attended by a representative of the VNC Campaign / WLUML.  In addition to panels and workshops, the IGF brings together a number of Dynamic Coalitions working on specific themes, one of which is on gender.  This year, the VNC represenative joined the Dynamic Coalition on Gender and contributed to the statement issued on the last day of the Forum.  The statement below criticizes the continued gender imbalance in the participation and the substance of the discussions at the IGF, and supports the call issued by the Association of Progressive Communications, and others, to make human rights the theme of the IGF in 2012 and emphasise a rights-based approach instead of protectionist solutions.

Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women Report to UN General Assembly 2011

Publication Date: 
August, 2011

This is the first written report submitted by the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Rashida Manjoo, to the General Assembly, pursuant to General Assembly resolution 65/187. The report provides an overview of the mandate’s work and main findings and the challenges it continues to encounter, and presents specific recommendations to address violence against women through a holistic framework based on States’ obligations to respect, protect and fulfil the human rights of women and girls.

Child Marriage: Laws Against Must Be Enforced

Publication Date: 
October 3, 2011
A child bride in Bangladesh, aged 14. Photo: BBC

Millions of girls across the world end up as child brides, despite the practice being outlawed in many countries. But some girls are defying their families' attempts to marry them off.

Some 10 million girls a year are married off before the age of 18 across the world, according to a Unicef report released this year.

Just last month South Africa's Archbishop Desmond Tutu, at the launch of the Girls Not Brides global initiative described child marriage as a "practice that robs millions of girls of their childhood, their rights and their dignity".

Mapping Violence Against Women: A Tool To Map The Prevalence Of Violence Against Women And The Interventions Addressing It

Publication Date: 
October, 2011

This mapping-tool supports NGO's and service providing organisations to get an overall picture of Violence Against Women (VAW) in their country / region. What is the prevelance of the various forms of VAW? What measures are being taken by governments, service providing organisations and NGOs to address VAW? Who is working on which topic, and what are the blind spots? The tool helps to collect, to structure and to evaluate relevant information.

Malaysia: Hudud Laws - Between the Implicit and the Explicit

Publication Date: 
September 27, 2011
Malaysia Kini

The hudud controversy has now returned to the eyes of the media after it was discussed at the National Syariah Seminar sponsored by the Department of Islamic Affairs of Kelantan.

PAS indeed had taken a step forward in their comprehensive proposals for a welfare state but their preoccupation with the hudud issue clearly shows that they are still stuck in the framework of antiquarian politics.

For this evidently shows that the hudud laws are still a crucial part of their raison d'etre. It doesn't look likely that this will change, since evoking the hudud is a convenient way to claim that they are the real fighters for Islam in Malaysia, as opposed to Umno.

Solutions to End Child Marriage: What Evidence Shows

Publication Date: 
September, 2011

Child marriage is increasingly recognized as a serious problem, both as a violation of girls' human rights and as a hindrance to key development outcomes. As more resources and action are committed to addressing this problem, it becomes important to examine past efforts and how well they have worked. ICRW summarizes a systematic review of child marriage prevention programs that have documented evaluations. Based on this synthesis of evaluated programs, the authors offer an analysis of the broader implications for viable solutions to child marriage.