CEDAW, the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, has just published their General Recommendation 35 on gender-based violence against women, updating General Recommendation 19 (1992). The following are some of the elements related to work on SRHR. CEDAW invites you to help them to disseminate the document and make it an effective tool for enhanced protection of women and girls from all forms of violence.

  1. The GR states that the opinio juris and State practice suggest that the prohibition of gender-based violence against women has evolved into a principle of customary international law.
  1. In Para 18, it says “Violations of women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights, such as forced sterilizations, forced abortion, forced pregnancy, criminalisation of abortion, denial or delay of safe abortion and post-abortion care, forced continuation of pregnancy, abuse and mistreatment of women and girls seeking sexual and reproductive health information, goods and services, are forms of gender-based violence that, depending on the circumstances, may amount to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.”
  1. It calls for criminalization of all forms of gender-based violence against women: “Ensure that all forms of gender-based violence against women in all spheres, which amount to a violation of their physical, sexual, or psychological integrity, are criminalized and introduce, without delay, or strengthen legal sanctions commensurate with the gravity of the offence as well as civil remedies ” – as well as the repeal of “Provisions that allow, tolerate or condone forms of gender-based violence against women, including child or forced marriage and other harmful practices, provisions allowing medical procedures on women with disabilities without their informed consent, as well as legislation that criminalises abortion, being lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, women in prostitution, adultery or any other criminal provisions that affects women disproportionally, including those resulting in the discriminatory application of the death penalty to women.”

We sent a submission to CEDAW in September 2016 citing many sources, including newsletter articles, on the many ways in which unsafe and criminalised abortion is a form of gender-based violence against women.

The General Recommendation is currently being advertised in a Facebook campaign, one post on rape and one on “honour” killing have been published so far. The Committee is also planning a public event on 14 November to officially launch General Recommendation 35. The webcast will be here.

FULL TEXT: General Recommendation 35, 24 July 2017