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United Nations has defined the theme for International Women’s Day 2013
as: “A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against
women,” and has so given us an opportunity to reflect on the advances
and challenges in preventing and attending to this dramatic reality. A
good way of commemorating this new celebration is perhaps to ask
ourselves what has been the impact of the Inter-American Convention on
the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women
(Belém do Pará Convention, 1995), 18 years after its entry into force,
and whether or not women have the ability to exercise their right to a
life free of violence, as stipulated in the Convention.
At first glace, I would say that the Belém do Pará Convention remains an unfulfilled promise:
The lack of adequate statistical data on violence against women, its
care and punishment, continues to be a significant obstacle to our
understanding of the depth of the problem, as well as our ability to
- There remain important gaps in the legal framework
on women’s rights, particularly in the lack of recognition and
protection of sexual and reproductive rights, which continues to be a
deep breach in women’s citizenship;
- Existing legislation on
multiple forms of violence – femicide, sexual harassment, rape within
and outside the context of marriage, violence against
trans persons – is an effective guarantee of neither the rights of the victims nor reparation of the damage done.
is a matter of both concern and shame that the budget dedicated by
Latin America and the Caribbean to preventing or combating violence
against women remains extremely small – between .01% and 0.1% of public
budgets – while other areas receive much more funding.
is chilling and indicates that, however strong our current international
and national legal framework, if it is not applied, it has no relevance
for women, nor does it support the full exercise of their rights.
must also recognize however, that thanks to the Belém do Pará
Convention, States have incorporated physical, psychological, sexual and
economic violence into their national norms. The Convention has
provided the basis for the organization of campaigns, the implementation
of protocols and care services, the issuing of sentences is cases of
domestic violence, rape, harassment and other crimes, and numerous other
initiatives and activities.
In 2004, the States Party
established the MESECVI – the Follow-up Mechanism to the Belém do Pará
Convention, in which 28 States have actively participated, showing a
high degree of commitment to the eradication of violence against women.
The results of this process include 56 national reports and two
Hemispheric Reports on the Implementation of the Belém do Pará
Convention, which give us an idea of the advances, obstacles and
successes in the fight to eliminate violence against women, as well as
providing us with a map of the road to follow.
For all of these
reasons, on this International Women’s Day I would like to issue a new
call for the intensification of efforts to advance towards the goals
that we have set ourselves and the consolidation of what we have already
achieved, for the identification and replication of good practices,
strengthening coordination between government agencies and civil
society, follow-up and evaluation of the effectiveness of laws and
national plans, development of capacities in the administration of
justice, ensuring the commitment of communication media and allocation
of the necessary resources to turn our commitment to women’s rights into
a reality and fulfill the promise to eradicate violence against women.
a signal of our commitment, the OAS has included the MESECVI among its
funding priorities, and I urge the Member States and Permanent Observers
to support these actions. We must unite our efforts to ensure that, on
our continent, promises become reality.
For more information, please visit the OAS Website at www.oas.org.
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