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As gender equality improves, the prevalence of violence against women is lower. Data available shows the inverse relationship between gender equality and violence by an intimate partner. This is borne out for both physical and sexual forms of abuse. Countries with greater equality between women and men tend to have lower levels of violence against women, based on the leading global indices for gender equality. These measure equality based on: life expectancy; sex ratio at birth; adult literacy; primary, secondary and tertiary education enrollment rates; participation in the formal labour force; estimated earned income; wage equality; shares of seats in legislative, ministerial and senior political positions; and shares in management and technical positions.
Violence against women and their children (VAWC) occurring in intimate partner relationships in domestic situations is a serious problem. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that half of the women who died from homicide were killed by their current or former husbands and partners. They succumbed to gunshot wounds, burns, hemorrhages and other physical injuries resulting from various forms of abuse. In the Philippines, the extent of VAWC can be gleaned from the varying trends in the number of general violence against women (VAW) cases from different government agencies. The number of VAW cases reported to the police increased seven-fold from 1,100 in 1996 to 7,383 in 2004.
Violence against women and girls is a global pandemic of alarming proportions, deeply rooted in gender inequality and discrimination. No woman or girl is entirely free of its risks or reach. It takes many forms and occurs in many places — domestic violence in the home; sexual abuse of girls in schools; sexual harassment at work and in public spaces; abuse during pregnancy; and rape in cities and in rural areas, in refugee camps and as a tactic of war. It includes harmful practices such as female genital mutilation/cutting, child and forced marriage, so-called ‘honour’ killings, acid attacks and dowry-related abuse; as well as newer forms, such as cyber-bullying and e-stalking via the internet and mobile phones. This fact sheet documents the scale of the pandemic.
This paper enshrines the concept of equality through CEDAW to provide a resource for the ASEAN Intergovernmental Human Rights Commission (AICHR) in its engagement with the ASEAN governments using international standards in promoting and protecting the human rights of women and girl children. With the exception of Brunei, Malaysia and Singapore who have no reservation to the substantive articles of CEDAW, most of the ASEAN countries have ratified CEDAW and have undertaken binding obligations to promote and protect the human rights of women according CEDAW standards.
Keywords: women, girls, children, human rights, violations, discrimination, gender inequality