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The Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Sanction and

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The Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Sanction and ...

    Violence in the Americas

    A Regional Analysis

    Including a Review of the Implementation of the

    Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment, and Eradication of Violence Against Women

    (Convention of Belém do Pará)

    Final Report

    July 2001

The Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM)

    Organization of American States (OAS)

The International Centre for Criminal Law Reform

    and Criminal Justice Policy (ICCLR)

    The United Nations Latin American Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders (ILANUD) - Women, Justice, and Gender Program

    ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

    This study was made possible through the generous support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The Inter-American Commission

    of Women (CIM) of the Organization of American States (OAS), the International Centre for Criminal Law Reform (ICCLR), and the United Nations Latin American Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders (ILANUD) wish to thank the Principal Delegates to the CIM and other national respondents, as well as all the other participants who made this complex review possible. They

    also wish to thank the project’s principal researchers, Vivienne Chin, Yvon Dandurand, and Ana Elena Obando, as well as all the researchers involved in producing the national studies:

    ; Leila Linhares Barsted and Jacqueline Hermann (Brazil);

    ; Lorena Fries and Paula Salvo (Chile);

    ; Ivannia Monge (Costa Rica);

    ; Rocío Salgado (Ecuador);

    ; Yolanda Guirola (El Salvador);

    ; Carmen Lopez de Caceres and Lucrecia Lopez Lopez (Guatemala);

    ; Lolis María Salas Montes (Honduras);

    ; Teresa Ulloa Ziáurriz, Mónica del Val Locht, and Jorge González Santana

    (Mexico);

    ; Rosina M. Pérez Bermudez (Panama);

    ; Line Bareiro, María Molinas, and Marilut Lluis O’Hara (Paraguay);

    ; Marcela Huaita (Peru); and

    ; Eileen Skinnider (Canada).

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    CONTENTS

    Page

Introduction ................................................................................................................... 1

    The Focus of the Review ................................................................................................. 4 The Basis of the Review ................................................................................................. 4

Chapter 1: Reaffirming the Right of Women

     to a Life Without Violence .......................................................................................... 9

    National Mechanisms for the Implementation of the Convention ................................... 10 Public Awareness of Women’s Right to a Life Free of Violence ..................................... 14

    Public Education on the Problem of Violence Against Women ...................................... 16 Contribution of the Communications Media .................................................................. 19

Chapter 2: Institutional Violence Against Women ................................................... 23

    Accountability of Officials for Acts of Violence Against Women ..................................... 23 Violence Against Women in Detention .......................................................................... 25

Chapter 3: Confronting Legal and Customary Practices that

     Sustain the Tolerance of Violence Against Women ............................................... 29

    Laws and Regulations Perpetuating Violence Against Women ...................................... 29 Sexist Social and Cultural Patterns of Conduct ............................................................. 31

Chapter 4: Legislative and Administrative Frameworks .......................................... 33

    Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure ........................................................................... 34 Special Laws Against Domestic Violence ...................................................................... 36 Civil, Family, and Administrative Law ............................................................................ 37 Administrative Measures ............................................................................................... 38

Chapter 5: Due Diligence in Preventing, Investigating, and

     Punishing Violence Against Women ....................................................................... 41

    Law Enforcement Procedures and Practices ................................................................. 42 Prosecutorial Practices .................................................................................................. 44 Education of Law Enforcement and Justice Officials ..................................................... 45 Protection of Victims and Witnesses Against Intimidation .............................................. 46 Other Preventive Measures ........................................................................................... 48

Chapter 6: Effective Access to Justice for Victims .................................................. 53

    Improved Access ........................................................................................................... 53 Legal Information .......................................................................................................... 54

    Access to Restitution and to Prompt and Fair Redress .................................................. 55 International Recourses ................................................................................................ 56

    iii

    Page

Chapter 7: Specialized Services for Victims ............................................................ 57

    Availability of Specialized Services for Victims .............................................................. 57 Rehabilitation and Other Support Programs for Victims ................................................. 58

Chapter 8: Particularly Vulnerable Women and Children ........................................ 63

    The Girl-Child ................................................................................................................ 64

    Women with Physical and Cognitive Disabilities ............................................................ 68 Women from Minority Groups ........................................................................................ 68 Women Elders ............................................................................................................... 69

    Migrant Women ............................................................................................................. 70 Refugees and Internally Displaced Women ................................................................... 72

Chapter 9: Trafficking and Other Transnational

     Forms of Violence Against Women ......................................................................... 73

    Nature of the Problem ................................................................................................... 73 International Initiatives ................................................................................................... 74

    National Initiatives ......................................................................................................... 76

Chapter 10: Research and Evaluation ...................................................................... 79

    Data-gathering on a Gender-disaggregated Basis ......................................................... 79 Monitoring of Official Criminal Justice Statistics ............................................................. 80 Studies on the Nature and Extent of Violence Against Women ..................................... 81 Evaluations of Models, Strategies, and Programs ......................................................... 83

Chapter 11: International Cooperation ..................................................................... 85

    International Cooperation .............................................................................................. 85 Technical and Financial Assistance ............................................................................... 85

    Chapter 12: Conclusions ........................................................................................... 89 The Eradication of Violence Against Women ................................................................. 89 Main Obstacles ............................................................................................................. 90

    The Way Forward .......................................................................................................... 93

    Appendix Questionnaire ............................................................................................ 97 Endnotes ...................................................................................................................... 99

    iv

    Introduction

    The Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment, and Eradication of Violence Against Women, the Convention of Belém do Pará, reaffirms every woman’s ―right to be free from violence in both the public and private spheres‖ (Article 3). It defines violence against women as ―any act or conduct, based on gender, which causes death or physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, whether in the public or the private sphere‖ (Article 1). That includes physical, sexual, and psychological violence:

    (a) that occurs within the family or domestic unit or within any other

    interpersonal relationship, whether or not the perpetrator shares or

    has shared the same residence with the woman, including, among

    others, rape, battery and sexual abuse;

    (b) that occurs in the community and is perpetrated by any person,

    including among others, rape, sexual abuse, torture, trafficking in

    persons, forced prostitution, kidnapping and sexual harassment in

    the workplace, as well as in educational institutions, health facilities

    or any other place; and

    (c) that is perpetrated or condoned by the state or its agents regardless

    of where it occurs. (Article 2)

    The Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM) drafted the Convention. Following a consultation process carried out by the CIM with the governments of the region, the Convention was adopted in June 1994 at the twenty-fourth regular session of the General Assembly of the OAS, held in Belém do Pará, Brazil. It was immediately adopted by the governments of the member states and entered into force on March 5, 1995.

    The coming into force of the Convention marked an important moment in the continued efforts to affirm and protect women’s human rights and to denounce violence against women as a human rights violation. Other initiatives to prevent, punish, and eradicate violence against women had preceded the adoption of the Convention. However, the latter was unique in clearly delineating states’

    obligation to protect women’s right to a life without violence. To date, the Convention remains the only legally binding international instrument that specifically addresses the issue of violence against women.

    Also in 1995, at the Fourth World Conference on Women, in Beijing, the world acquired a comprehensive action plan to promote women’s rights, enhance women’s social and economic empowerment, improve women’s health, advance women’s education and training, and end violence against women. The Beijing

    Declaration and Platform for Action contained the main elements of a global strategy to abolish violence against women.

    It may be many more years before the full impact of the ratification of the Convention and the adoption of the Platform for Action can be fully appreciated.

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    Violence in the Americas - A Regional Analysis

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    However, in countries where they were taken seriously, these two events marked the beginning of a crucial but difficult process of change.

    Those who advocated the adoption of the Convention and the Platform for

    Action recognized that it would take more than formal affirmations of the right of women to a life without violence to eradicate the problem. However, they also wanted to ensure that recognition of the fact that change cannot occur overnight does not become an excuse for procrastination and complacency.

    Under the terms of the Convention, States Parties are required to report to

    the CIM on the measures they have adopted, the progress they have achieved, and the obstacles they have encountered as part of their efforts to abolish violence against women. In addition, in compliance with resolution AG/RES. 1456 (XXVII-O/97), the Permanent Secretariat of the CIM is required to report every other year to the OAS General Assembly on the progress achieved in the implementation of the Convention and on the impact of the measures adopted by member states to eliminate violence against women. The Commission presented its first biennial report in November 1998.

    In addition to the process described above, in 1994, the Special Rapporteur on Women’s Rights and Member of the Inter-American Commission on Human

    Rights (IACHR), Dr. Claudio Grossman, was given a mandate to study and report on the extent to which OAS member states’ legislation and practices that affect

    the rights of women comply with the obligations established in the existing regional human rights instruments, including the Convention of Belém do Pará. 1The Special Rapporteur’s report, based on a questionnaire developed by a

    group of experts and sent to member states and nongovernmental organizations, was approved by the IACHR in March 1998 and transmitted to the OAS General Assembly. Among other things, the report revealed how much more remained to be achieved in order to fully implement the Convention. It pointed at persistent discriminatory legislation against women and at the need for States Parties to adopt suitable legislation and to develop more effective measures and programs to denounce, investigate, and punish the many and still very prevalent forms of violence against women.

    As the year 2000 approached, it became clear that the profound changes envisioned by the Convention could not simply be assumed to be taking place. The time had come to scrutinize what was being accomplished and to determine how successful current strategies were proving to be in eradicating violence against women.

    For its part, the UN General Assembly launched and completed a review of the progress achieved in pursuing the objectives and implementing the strategies contained in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. As a result, the

    General Assembly, at its Twenty-third special session, held in June 2000 and entitled ―Women 2000: Gender, Equality, Development and Peace for the Twenty-first Century,‖ identified further actions and initiatives that must be taken to implement the Declaration and Platform for Action.

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    In preparation for that special session of the UN General Assembly, the Eighth Session of the Regional Conference on Women in Latin America and the Caribbean, held in Lima, Peru, in February 2000, adopted the Lima Consensus. The Consensus reiterated the need to take more decisive and sustained action to prevent all forms of violence against women. It recognized that ―in spite of the apparent and real advances made by women and girls in Latin America and the Caribbean, the fundamental structure of gender relations remains 2disadvantageous to the majority of girls and women.‖ The member states

    represented at that regional meeting undertook, among other things, to promote the effective implementation of the Convention of Belém do Pará and to ―guarantee the protection of women’s human rights, including sexual and reproductive rights, and address violations of these rights with particular attention to all forms of gender-based violence and its root causes, including the reproduction of a culture of violence.‖

    At the same time as the Beijing +5 review process was taking place, a distinct process was developed to review the implementation of the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment, and Eradication of Violence Against Women. The CIM sought and received financial assistance from USAID to review national programs to prevent, punish, and eradicate violence against women in the Americas. To conduct the review, the Commission enlisted the collaboration of the International Centre for Criminal Law Reform and Criminal Justice Policy (ICCLR) in Vancouver, Canada, and the United Nations Latin American Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders (ILANUD) in San José, Costa Rica. These two international institutes are members of the UN Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Programme Network and have been involved extensively in that area of research.

    The main objectives of the review conducted by the three organizations during the year 2000 were to:

    ; review the nature and perceived efficiency of the various policies and

    legislative reforms and programs adopted in countries of the region to

    prevent, punish, and eradicate violence against women;

    ; identify some of the specific programs and measures adopted by each

    country and review what is known of their impact;

    ; identify the obstacles encountered in implementing the various measures

    and policies called for by the Convention; and

    ; assess, if possible, the relative impact of the measures and programs

    adopted in countries of the region on the various factors contributing to

    violence against women.

    The review aimed to offer a greater understanding of the progress accomplished to date in implementing the Convention, the obstacles ________________________________________________________________________

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4

    encountered, and the work that remains to be done. The analysis therefore

    focused on the first three points mentioned above.

    ________________________________________________________________________ Violence in the Americas - A Regional Analysis

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     The Focus of the Review

    As a legally binding instrument, the Convention is unique in that it clearly delineates the state’s obligations to protect women’s right to a life without violence. Article 5 of the Convention states that:

    Every woman is entitled to the free and full exercise of her civil, political,

    economic, social and cultural rights, and may rely on the full protection of

    those rights as embodied in regional and international instruments on

    human rights. The States Parties recognize that violence against women

    prevents and nullifies the exercise of these rights.

    Article 7 of the Convention articulates the obligations of States Parties with respect to their role in the protection of women’s right to a life without violence. Specific obligations are listed that flow from the States Parties’ formal undertakings to refrain from committing acts of violence against women; demonstrate due diligence in preventing, investigating, and punishing violence against women; reform existing laws, policies, and administrative practices contributing to violence against women; and ensure that women victims have access to restitution, reparations, and other forms of just and effective remedies. Article 8 of the Convention also specifies that a number of other programs and measures must be adopted to promote public education and awareness, to mobilize communities in the fight against violence against women, and to offer specialized services and assistance to women victims.

    The current review focuses on the implementation of the measures and dispositions described in articles 7 and 8 of the Convention. It also considers the efforts that are being deployed, as required by Article 9 of the Convention, to take

    special account of the vulnerability of women to violence by reason of their age, race, ethnic background, status as immigrants, socioeconomic position, or disabilities, among other factors.

The Basis of the Review

    First, the review is based in part on an analysis of the replies received from member states to a questionnaire sent to them by the CIM in April 2000. The questionnaire is appended to this report. Member states were asked to respond to the questionnaire by the beginning of June 2000. Some member states found it difficult to reply to the questionnaire within the period of time suggested.

    The CIM received 18 replies from Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Canada, Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Suriname. In the case of Uruguay, a respondent from the Comisión Nacional de Mujeres

    Uruguayas de Seguimiento de los Compromisos de Beijing simply referred to the

    information contained in a detailed study that had recently been conducted in that country by Graciela Dufau.

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    Violence in the Americas - A Regional Analysis

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