General Statement on the elimination of violence against women in North Africa and the Middle East

Press release
ar en fr

We, members of women’s and human rights organisations in Tunisia, Algeria, Libya and Egypt, who attended the regional seminar on good practices for fighting violence against women, held in Tunis on 9 and 10 December 2014, at the initiative of the Association tunisienne des femmes démocrates (ATFD), the Association Beity, FIDH and the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN), at the close of the international campaign “16 days of activism to end violence towards women” and the anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;

After sharing experiences and learning about the good practices used in the fight to end violence towards women developed and collected by associations in the region;

Following in-depth discussions on the current situations and transitions underway in the region at the political, economic, social and cultural levels, and their consequences, including the hopes for change and advances, but also the risks and threats stemming from conservative and reactionary movements that manipulate religion and threaten women’s rights and the march for equality, democracy, and the full and effective realisation of human rights and citizens’ rights;

We welcome the efforts made by the human rights defenders, both women and men, in support of women, and all the people who for years have been working tirelessly to achieve total, effective equality, freedom and democracy in our countries, and whose work has led to major progress and the securing of many rights.

We assert that it is essential to:

  • Consider the rights of women as an integral part of universal human rights;
  • Consider all forms of violence against women and young girls, in the private and public spheres, in times of peace or during conflict or post-conflict, as discrimination against women and young girls, as violations of their human rights and their dignity and as a means to control their bodies and impose society’s control over them for the purpose of strengthening male domination and maintaining inequality between men and women;
  • Consider that it is the duty of the State to fight violence against women and to introduce policies, laws and provisions to fight violence against women, and to protect them and to ensure that the required financial resources are available to implement such measures;
  • Consider that the fight to end violence against women is a matter of public interest that requires the commitment of governments, NGOs and the international community, without forgetting violence towards women in countries in crisis or armed conflict for which it is essential to take special measures to ensure the protection of victims of violence and to hold perpetrators accountable.

Seminar conclusions:

There is a need for our organisations to capitalise on, and, document the practices, knowledge and experiences garnered in our fight to end violence against women, so as to be able to discuss and share such information and build activist and institutional records, in order to ensure that such practices and experience are used to develop standard methods of intervention for public institutions, elected bodies, civil society and the media.

There is a need to strengthen the acts of solidarity and cooperation among the various feminist and human rights associations in the region by:

  • Drawing up a common charter that sets out our principles, values and approaches in the fight to end violence towards women;
  • Establishing a reference framework that obliges governments to be accountable for carrying out their duty to fight violence towards women;
  • Developing a reference manual on good practices in fighting violence towards women;
  • Creating a regional observatory to monitor, collect and document data and information on the fight to end violence towards women and ensure that it is published and used in campaigns to fight for women’s rights;
  • Creating a Maghreb group, that includes women’s associations and selected public services to study and research on women’s issues;
  • Introducing a special protocol to train persons working on fighting violence against women in all relevant institutions, e.g. education, legal, security, health, etc.;
  • Drafting a document of 100 measures to be adopted in the fight to end violence towards women in the region.

Based on these conclusions, we call upon the States in the region to:

  • Treat all forms of violence against women as serious violations of women’s human rights and as criminal offences for which the persons responsible should be punished, and to acknowledge victims’ rights by providing victims with the resources needed to access legal services for their right to reparation and reintegration;
  • Ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court that defines various forms of violence against women as war crimes and crimes against humanity; ratify the Optional Protocol to the African Charter for Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol) and the Istanbul Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, and remove reservations entered by several States to the CEDAW and, for States that have not yet done so, ratify the Optional Protocol to CEDAW;
  • Accelerate the adoption of global laws that guarantee protection, dissuasion and rehabilitation, in accordance with our governments’ international commitments and ensuring that these laws are drafted in a way that respects the international standards provided for in the UN Handbook for Legislation on Violence Against Women;
  • Adopt public policies that include strategies and action plans (with allocated budgets) in all sectors and fields that involve the fight to end violence towards women;
  • Ensure that women’s and human rights’ associations that have broad experience and substantial knowledge and that adopt a global approach and good practices are involved in the fight against violence towards women;
  • Recognise the value of the methods and actions used by women’s and human rights associations and adopt them in the fight to end violence towards women;
  • Revise school curricula to eliminate stereotypes, and propagate a culture that recognises women’s right;
  • Publish studies, research and objective periodic reports on the fight to end violence towards women in each country.

We express our complete solidarity with women who suffer violence and with human rights and women’s right defenders in our region and throughout the world, as well as with civil society organisations and human rights organisations that are restricted and oppressed by our governments, all the while recalling that democracy cannot exist without respect for women’s rights, and women’s rights cannot be respected without democracy.

Read more