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State Protection Against Domestic Violence


The Global Persecution of Women

Human Rights


Article 3.

Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Article 4.

No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

Article 5.

No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 6.

Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.

Article 7.

All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

Article 8.

Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.

Article 9.

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

Article 26

All persons are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to the equal protection of the law. In this respect, the law shall prohibit any discrimination and guarantee to all persons equal and effective protection against discrimination on any ground such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.


”More Countries Have Laws Banning Domestic Violence, Says UN Women's Rights Official,” Unifem News, 22 Nov. 2006.

The number of countries with laws tackling the scourge of domestic violence has surged in the last three years, with 89 States now with some sort of provisions, the head of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) said today.

Speaking on the eve of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, which is being marked on Saturday, UNIFEM Executive Director Noeleen Heyzer told reporters in New York that there were welcome signs of progress around the world.

In 2003 only 45 countries had specific laws on domestic violence, she said, but that number has now increased to 60, and in total there are 89 nations with some form of legislative provisions that deal with domestic violence.

Funding for initiatives is also on the rise, with the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women — which is disbursed by UNIFEM — set to hand out nearly $4 million this year, almost twice the amount of last year.

Noting that many countries still had a long way to go, Ms. Heyzer said the key challenge is to help nations ensure that the laws and measures they have introduced are fully implemented, enforced and monitored, especially at the local level.

She also said the rise in both anti-violence laws and Trust Fund grants is no coincidence — many grants in recent years have gone to campaigns that push for legislation on violence against women.

Reprinted from UN News.


ALB101495.E, "Albania: Prevalence of domestic abuse of women... (2005 - 2006)," 25 September 2006. Ottawa: IRB, 2006.

Albanian women tend not to report incidents of domestic abuse to the authorities (OMCT Apr. 2005, 69; GADC 13 June 2006; AI 30 Mar. 2006, Sec. 2), or even to their closest family members (ibid.). There are several explanations for this: women may be unaware of their legal rights (ibid.; HRDC 26 June 2006), police officers often disregard women's complaints (AI 30 Mar. 2006, Sec. 4; US 8 Mar. 2006, Sec. 4), social norms dictate that women should submit to men (Professor of History 14 June 2006; AI Apr. 2006), women fear that their complaint would dishonour their family (ibid. 30 Mar. 2006, Sec. 2), and women's religious beliefs and/or economic dependence on their spouses prevent them from doing so (OMCT Apr. 2005, 69). AI noted that many women who did report incidents of domestic abuse eventually withdrew their complaints for fear of their spouse's reaction (1 Dec. 2005). Reports of specific incidents of domestic violence could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within time constraints.

Instead of lodging criminal complaints, women reportedly escape situations of domestic abuse through divorce or with assistance from NGOs and shelters (AI Apr. 2006). However, according to AI, women do not raise domestic violence issues even during divorce proceedings because they fear that such disclosure would shame their family. In addition, many women have difficulty proving that the domestic violence actually occurred (ibid. 30 Mar. 2006, Sec. 6). ...

In correspondence sent to the Research Directorate, the Director of the Tirana-based Human Rights in Democracy Center (HRDC) and the Project Coordinator of the GADC stated that physicians are not required to report cases of domestic violence to the authorities (HRDC 26 June 2006; GADC 13 June 2006). According to AI, physicians did not always assist women who complained of domestic abuse (AI 30 Mar. 2006, Sec. 3) and were generally untrained on how to identify and respond to cases of domestic violence (ibid., Sec. 7). On the other hand, the President of Useful to Albanian Women (UAW), a Tirana-based NGO, stated that doctors are obliged to report cases of domestic abuse by law; however, he did not specify which law was applicable (UAW 21 June 2006). ...

In correspondence with the Research Directorate, HRDC wrote that the Albanian government does not have special policies and programs for the treatment and protection of victims of violence (26 June 2006). AI reported that senior officials within the government, police and judiciary tend to excuse domestic violence against women as tradition or as a certain "mentality" (30 Mar. 2006, Sec. 1) and that in practice, the police and prosecutors do not protect women from family violence (AI Apr. 2006). In a December 2005 report on Albania, USAID wrote that the Albanian government "has taken few meaningful steps to address discrimination and other obstacles that women encounter" (US Dec. 2005, Introduction).

Response of police

Women can file a complaint of domestic abuse at their local police department, which then decides whether to pursue the case (HRDC 26 June 2006; GADC 13 June 2006). The procedure to lodge a complaint is the same in every district and the complainant usually receives a copy of the complaint (ibid.; HRDC 26 June 2006). When the police decide to lay charges, they begin penal proceedings in co-operation with the prosecutor's office, but when the case is not deemed criminal, they advise the woman to obtain a forensic report and bring the case to court (ibid.). In cases of sexual violence, the burden of proof lies with the woman to show that the abuse occurred (OMCT Apr. 2005, 75).

Police recruits and senior police officers have reportedly been trained on how to respond to complaints of domestic violence (AI 30 Mar. 2006, Sec. 4; COE n.d.). However, the Albanian police force does not maintain records of complaints or cases of domestic violence (HRDC 26 June 2006; AI 30 Mar. 2006, Sec. 4) and, according to AI, has not allocated sufficient units or staff to respond to such calls (ibid.).

Several sources stated that police officers do not recognize domestic violence as a criminal offence (AI Apr. 2006), but rather, as a private matter (ibid. 30 Mar. 2006, Sec. 4; Professor of History 14 June 2006). AI reported that police rarely responded to calls from women complaining of domestic violence and when police took action, they tried to detain the perpetrator or mediate the dispute (AI 30 Mar. 2006, Sec. 4). This information was corroborated by the GADC in correspondence with the Research Directorate (13 June 2006). GADC stated that although police have been trained on domestic violence issues, they were generally slow to respond to complaints of domestic violence since the issue was not viewed as a priority (13 June 2006). According to the HRDC, which monitored six Tirana police stations, police officers were "non-professional" in their dealings with alleged victims of domestic violence (26 June 2006). For instance, they reportedly lacked training on domestic violence, did not take reports of domestic violence seriously and intervened on behalf of the accused to try to force parties to reach a settlement without having registered the original complaint (HRDC 26 June 2006). The United Kingdom Home Office found that the degree of protection offered to victims of domestic violence depends on the attitude of individual police officers (UK 12 Jan. 2006, para. 3.10.13).

Response of the courts

In order for a prosecutor to investigate a complaint of domestic abuse, forensic pathologists must confirm the injuries of the victim of domestic abuse (AI 30 Apr. 2006, Sec. 4). According to HRDC, prosecutors usually initiate a domestic violence case only when it involves murder, serious injury or threatening a person's life with the use of a weapon (HRDC 26 June 2006).

Several sources stated that successful prosecutions of cases of domestic violence were rare (AI 23 May 2006) and that the courts gave lenient decisions, such as ordering the perpetrator to pay a fine (ibid. 30 Mar. 2006, Sec. 5; GADC 13 June 2006; OMCT Apr. 2005, 70, 75). For those cases that went to court, women often refused to testify due to poor treatment by authorities (HRDC 26 June 2006) and because of the belief that justice would not be served in their favour (AI 30 Mar. 2006, Sec. 6).

Civil society organizations have trained judges in Albania to deal with domestic violence issues (GADC 13 June 2006). However, according to an interview with the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), AI wrote that decisions of criminal cases in Albania, including domestic violence cases, were generally based on low standards of jurisprudence, insufficient information, improper evaluation of evidence and a lack of understanding of domestic violence (AI 30 Mar. 2006, Sec. 5).


Petti Fong, “Attacks spark call for tougher laws on domestic abuse,” Globe and Mail, 2 Nov. 2006.

VANCOUVER -- After violent attacks on three women from the Indo-Canadian community, Surrey MP Nina Grewal yesterday urged tougher laws in order to save more lives in the future.

Laws such as minimum mandatory sentences are needed to help women in domestic-abuse situations, said Ms. Grewal, Conservative MP for Fleetwood-Port Kells.

"We need tougher laws so criminals don't dare do anything. This should not be happening, and there should be zero tolerance."

She said that as a woman from an ethnic background, she understands why some women shy away from confronting the issue and asking for help.

"I know that new immigrants, when they come to a new community, they face challenges," she said. "It is a big problem, and women shy away from talking because they don't want to give the family a bad name. 'If I tell the police or anyone in authority, my husband or in-laws won't like it.' "

A domestic-violence forum is being held in Surrey tonight with hundreds of people expected to attend, said Ashiana Khan, the business manager of Radio India, which is sponsoring the event.

The forum was prompted by last Sunday's death of Navreet Waraich, a young Surrey mother of a four-month-old son. Her husband, Jatinder Waraich, was arrested and charged with second-degree murder.

A week before that, Coquitlam nurse Gurjeet Kaur Ghuman was shot in the head while she was in the car with her estranged husband, Parmajit Ghuman, who then fatally shot himself.

Ms. Ghuman, 40, remains in critical condition in hospital, Constable Dave Babineau of Coquitlam RCMP said yesterday.

The recent alleged domestic abuse of Ms. Waraich, 27, and Ms. Ghuman, were compounded with a third violent death, that of Surrey teacher Manjit Panghali, 30, a pregnant mother of a three-year-old daughter. Ms. Panghali's burned body was found Oct. 23 in Delta.

Ninu Kang, director of family programs for Mosaic, an immigrant service agency, said violence against women is not a new thing.

"These tragedies have been in our faces for a long, long time. The magnitude and the closeness of the events have created another and new level of emotion among the South Asian community," she said. "We know these type of deaths are occurring throughout Canadian society and the closer to home it is, the more people's feelings are touched by these tragedies."

Ms. Kang said she is hopeful the South Asian community is at a stage in its settlement and integration in Canada that there will be more resources available to deal with domestic violence.


Joya Jennings, "Women in China: A Long March," Vancouver Sun, 25 January 2000, A13.

Those who act against women are seldom punished.

The 1992 Law on the Protection of Women's Rights and Interests is touted as the final step toward full equality. … While this lengthy document contains lofty statements of moral principles, it does not provide effective legal remedies.

Dr. Graham Johnson, The Chinese State, Families and Filial Piety. An Opinion, 25 Nov. 1999, 2-3.

Families [have always been] responsible for the behaviour of their members. … In general, … the state would not intervene in family matters. … What may be a matter of public concern in a Canadian context -- wife beating, child abuse -- may well remain in the private realm with no official intervention. … Child protection as it might be understood in a Canadian context is but poorly developed.

"China: Family violence no longer a private matter," China Daily, 15 May 2001.

The situation looks bleak, but the newly amended Marriage Law is likely to change things.

The Marriage Law bans domestic violence and other forms of abuse, and says public security and other related departments have a duty to stop and punish domestic violence whenever they discover it. Public security forces are also now required to protect people like Zhang and help them take their cases to court without worry of physical danger. In cases where the abuse is deemed serious, the Criminal Code will be applied to punish the perpetrator. According to the Marriage Law, any victim of domestic violence has a right to claim compensation in the event of a divorce. This is widely regarded as a major step forward in the protection of women and children in divorce cases.

Gao Kun, "New Elements in the Revised Marriage Law,", 15 May 2001.

The revised marriage law stipulates clearly that domestic violence and maltreatment of family members are banned. The victim has the right to ask for mediation, and administrative and criminal liability claims will be pressed in accordance with different levels of domestic violence.

Women and children will now get more legal support to protect their rights within the family unit.

"PRC passes changes to marriage law, explicitly bans concubinage, domestic violence," Beijing Xhinua, 30 April 2001.

A considerable part of the amendments are devoted to curbing domestic violence, abuse, and mistreatment of either the young or the old.

The innocent party may claim compensation from the other party in cases of bigamy, keeping concubines and spouse abuse in divorce settlements, the new law says.

CHN32888.E, " China: Laws, procedures and efforts by the judiciary and police to provide protection to battered spouses and children, including whether such spouses can legally relocate within China to flee abusive spouses," 19 Oct. 1999. Ottawa: IRB, 1999.

The following information is based on correspondence with a Professor of Law at Queen's University, Kingston who has published on the subject of Chinese family law and who is in contact with Chinese lawyers.

In cases of domestic violence that is not severe, women will generally report it to the neighbourhood committee, which can try to persuade the husbands to mend their ways (Domestic violence is rated "severe" or "not severe" according to the degree of injury, the frequency of the abuse, and the health situation of the victim).

Women may also go to the police to complain. The police will record the facts and, if they believe there is credible evidence of abuse, they can detain the husband for up to 15 days and fine him up to 200 Yuan and warn the man not to abuse his wife again. The police are able to impose these punishments without a trial under their administrative punishment authority.

A woman may also go to court in severe cases of abuse (few actually do). There is a special department of the court with responsibility for ensuring that abused women have proper medical treatment and that the requisite medical evidence is gathered. The court may impose punishment on husbands who are guilty of wife abuse. Normally the sentence is two years imprisonment, but it could go up to seven years. If a husband kills his wife or causes her extremely serious injury (e.g. by destroying her face by throwing acid at her), he may be sentenced to death.

A woman must go to a separate court if she wants to divorce an abusive husband.

There are few shelters for battered women in China. Normally, women go to stay with their mothers to get away from abusive husbands. A woman in those circumstances normally takes her children with her, particularly if the children are young. It is not difficult to get the required approval and documentation to live in a new town, but if the woman does not have relatives there she will have difficulty finding a place to live. It is legally possible for a woman to force her abusive husband to leave their housing unit, but women don't try to enforce this legal right because of the prevailing view that the housing belongs to the husband.

CHN29301.E, " China: The recourse available to a female living in Fujian province who has been physically abused by her father, whether she could seek the protection of the police or complain to the village committee or party secretary, and whether there are women's shelters or organizations (1997-1998)," 8 May 1998. Ottawa: IRB, 1998.

In its report, HRIC states that unless the woman who was suffering from domestic abuse was not critically injured, the case would generally not be treated seriously by the authorities (Aug. 1995, 28).

Human Rights in China, Report on Implementation of CEDAW in the People's Republic of China. December 1998, HRIC.

P. 75. Although the 1992 LPWRI bans the use of violence against women and girls, no enforcement mechanisms are attached to the law (see Article 1).

Human Rights In China, Caught Between Tradition and the State: Violations of the Human Rights of Chinese Women, 23.

There are few avenues open for battered women to seek support and protection or prosecution of those who abuse them. A handful of initiatives to provide help to battered women, such as telephone hotlines, counselling centers and one temporary shelter, have begun in a few large cities…. …there is generally a lack of effective monitoring systems and social support, particularly in the countryside.

Human Rights in China, "'Protections' fail to protect," China Rights Forum, Spring 1996, 2.

A close examination of the Protection of Minors Act reveals the structural problems of such "protective" Chinese laws. The Act details a host of positive rights which children are to enjoy, but does not establish methods to ensure that they are realized. It does not create any new sanctions for infringement of the rights, but refers only to existing articles of the Criminal Code and other existing laws and regulations. For example, Article 15 of the Act bans corporal punishment in schools. However, Article 48 states that even when "the circumstances are serious," only administrative punishments are available against those who violate its provisions. The Act also did not increase protection for children against abuse by relatives, a problem which, to HRIC's knowledge, has not been the subject of systematic research. In the case of such abuse, the Act refers to Article 182 of the Criminal Code which provides for lesser penalties for assaults against relatives as compared to those against strangers and states that prosecutions will only be initiated when someone has filed a complaint with the authorities. Furthermore, the Article states that there will be prosecutions only when an assault is "odious," which law enforcement and judicial bodies have generally interpreted as meaning that it results in some permanent physical injury.

For all these reasons, as in so many areas of Chinese life, in the protection of children's rights the gap between laws and regulations and the reality remains unacceptably wide.


”Fiji,” DOS Report 2005.

Domestic abuse, rape, incest, and indecent assault were significant problems. … Cases of domestic abuse and incest often were dismissed by courts or the perpetrators received minimal sentences. Incest was widely believed to be underreported. Traditional practices of reconciliation between aggrieved parties were sometimes taken into account to mitigate sentences in domestic violence cases, particularly in cases of incest. …

The women's rights movement pressed for more severe punishments for rape. Sentences varied considerably. Rape cases heard in the lower magistrates' courts typically resulted in shorter sentences. Women's groups continued to urge that all rape cases be heard in the High Court, where lengthier sentences are available. The Court of Appeal has ruled that 10 years is the minimum appropriate sentence in child rape cases. Women's activists continued to press for criminalization of spousal rape. At year's end a new domestic violence bill, including a provision criminalizing spousal rape, was under discussion in draft form but had not been formally considered by Parliament.

”Fiji,” DOS Report 2001.

The law sometimes treats women differently from men. In some instances, there is a presumption of reduced competence and thus reduced responsibility for women. For example, only women can be charged with infanticide (if a man kills an infant, the act is treated as murder, a more serious charge). A female defendant in an infanticide case is presumed to have diminished mental capacity, and sentences are reduced or suspended accordingly. ...

Reliable estimates indicate that 10 percent of women have been abused in some way. However, following the attempted coup in 2000 and the resulting general sense of lawlessness and downturn in the economy, reports of domestic violence and police brutality against women increased. An active women's rights movement is addressing the problem of domestic violence. Police have adopted a "no-drop" rule, under which they prosecute cases of domestic violence even when the victim does not wish to press charges. The traditional practice of "reconciliation" between the aggrieved parties sometimes is taken into account in mitigation of sentences in domestic violence cases. During the year, the police began a program to find unaccompanied women and drive them to their neighborhood police station to be picked up by a family member. This plan was intended to protect women; however, it was ended after a brief experimental period, following protests from two women's rights groups.


"India," DOS Report 2001.

Numerous laws exist to protect women's rights, including the Equal Remuneration Act, the Prevention of Immoral Traffic Act, the Sati (Widow Burning) Prevention Act, and the Dowry Prohibition Act. However, the Government often is unable to enforce these laws, especially in rural areas in which traditions are deeply rooted. According to press reports, the rate of acquittal in dowry death cases is high, and because of court backlogs it takes 6 to 7 years on average to rule on such cases. In February 2000, CEDAW noted that "there is an urgent need to introduce comprehensive [legislative] reform to promote equality and the human rights of women."


Ginger Thompson, “Trouble in Paradise: Drug runners and battered wives,” New York Times, 31 May 2005.

[Mexican] activists for women describe domestic violence as one of the ugliest byproducts of Mexico's culture of machismo. But most such violence, the experts lament, has been largely ignored by the police, lawmakers and the human rights community, except for the ruthless murders of women and girls in Ciudad Juárez. ...

Ms. Cacho said that last year more than 70 women were killed in incidents of domestic violence. Her center, she said, serves at least 300 women a month. And during spring break, Ms. Cacho said, at least 30 percent of those women are young American tourists. In 2002, according to a study done for the Mexican Congress, more than 2,700 women were killed by domestic violence across the country. More recent statistics are hard to find, the officials said, because state attorneys' offices and municipal police forces do not keep reports of every time their officers pull an enraged husband off his wife.

In more cases than anyone likes to acknowledge, the victims endure their turmoil in silence, sometimes because they are too afraid to go to the police and sometimes because the police fail to answer their calls.


Human Rights Watch, "Pakistan: Women Face Their Own Crisis," Human Rights Watch, 19 October 1999.

Violence against women has risen to staggering levels. Women's low social status and a long established pattern of active suppression of women's rights by successive governments has contributed to the escalation in violence. No government has acknowledged the scale and severity of the problem—much less taken action to end the violence against women. When a Commission of Inquiry for women convened by the Pakistan Senate described domestic violence as one of the country's most pervasive violations of human rights, its findings were brushed aside by the Sharif government. As a result of such dismissive official attitudes, crimes of violence against women continue to be perpetrated with near total impunity. …

According to the new report, domestic violence victims have virtually no access to judicial protection and redress. Officials at all levels of the criminal justice system do not consider domestic violence a matter for the criminal courts. Domestic violence is routinely dismissed by law enforcement authorities as a private dispute and female victims who attempt to register a police complaint of spousal or familial physical abuse are invariably turned away. Worse, they are regularly advised and sometimes pressured by the police to reconcile with their abusive spouses or relatives.

Crime Or Custom? Violence Against Women in Pakistan. Human Rights Watch. August 1999.

There is no question that violence against women is an enormous problem in Pakistan that is exacerbated and perpetuated by the government's inadequate response to the problem. In fact, the state's response to domestic violence in Pakistan is so minimal and cases of intrafamily violence are so rarely addressed in any way by the criminal justice system that it was not possible for us to achieve one of our research goals for this report: that is, to track specific domestic violence criminal suits in order to identify larger patterns in the prosecution of domestic violence. We found that despite the staggering levels of intrafamily violence against women, it is widely perceived by the law enforcement system and society at large as a private family matter, not subject to government intervention let alone criminal sanction. At present there is virtually no prosecution of crimes of assault and battery when perpetrated by male family members against women; even intrafamily murder and attempted murder rarely are prosecuted.


Amnesty International, Spain: More than words. 12 May 2005.

Teresa(1), aged 59, now separated from her husband after 38 years of insults, beatings and enforced sex, is convinced that filing charges against him would worsen her situation, and that if he wanted to kill her he could, because she does not trust the public authorities to protect her. When she was interviewed by Amnesty International, she had been hiding in her house for nine months, with the blinds lowered to make her husband think she had left town. Not even the lawyer handling her separation managed to convince her to denounce the violence and go to the authorities for help in dealing with the very dangerous situation she faced. Since she has no expectations that the authorities will provide her with effective protection, she remains in hiding, determined to pursue her precarious strategy and imprisoned by the fear that her husband will carry out his death threats. Teresa’s story is far from rare. Lack of confidence in the authorities is a constant theme in the testimonies of survivors of gender-based violence in the home in Spain.

A survey carried out in March 2004 by the Centre for Sociological Research (Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas - CIS), under the auspices of the Ministry for the Presidency, included the question: "How much confidence do you think women who report ill-treatment by their partner might have in the authorities (police stations, courts, etc.)? A lot, quite a lot, little or none." Almost 60 per cent of the respondents said "little" or "none".(2)

The reality underlying such perceptions is the motivation for this report. In recent years, in the wake of successive announcements of measures to curb domestic violence, many women have sought protection and justice from the authorities. In their dealings with public institutions, they have often been left extremely frustrated after coming up against barriers and discouraging responses, including the traditional types of messages used to stop them doing anything. For many women in Spain, the absence of rights has not been confined to the abuse to which they have been subjected within the family and in their closest relationships. This experience, while devastating in itself, has traditionally been compounded by the lack of protection and the discriminatory and inappropriate treatment which they have received from law enforcement officials and other officials responsible for helping them when they do report the abuse and ask for help. ...

According to official figures, since 2001 there has been a continuous increase in the number of women killed at the hands of their partners or former partners as a result of gender-based violence.(4) In the first 48 days of 2005, there have already been ten deaths, suggesting that there has been no turnaround in the trend. Of the women murdered in the last few years, it is officially recognized that several had reported the violence to which they were being subjected by their partner or former partner to the authorities. Some of them had even been afforded some form of legal protection.

According to the testimonies of the survivors of gender-based violence in the home with whom we spoke, many of those who decided to report the violence were treated with callousness and indifference by the authorities or were accused of lying or inventing or exaggerating their stories. Amnesty International received testimonies from women who, without legal representation or even in the presence of their legal representatives, were subjected to discriminatory, insensitive and indiscreet questioning which discouraged them from continuing. The risks and devastating effects of the abuse were not taken into account by those who had it within their power to protect and help the survivors, investigate and prosecute the offences in question, punish the person responsible and determine the level of reparation. The testimonies of the survivors interviewed by Amnesty International frequently refer to actions, and even court rulings, that were motivated by prejudice.

The concepts and approaches used by most civil servants and officials in their work and the services they provide have been influenced by ideas based on gender stereotypes and views that shift responsibility for their situation to the women themselves. Women are also excluded from accessing such services through the use of criteria that discriminate against them because of their administrative status, race or place of origin or the fact they suffer from mental or physical disabilities or have other health problems, among others.

In addition to the fact that the availability of services to help survivors of gender-based violence in the home is very patchy across the country, survivors face other burdens and requirements. Essential services such as shelters are provided according to a predefined user profile that makes it difficult for significant groups of survivors to access them. Furthermore, there have been complaints from organizations and from the users themselves that residents are subjected to regulations and disciplinary action.


Amnesty International, Turkey: Women confronting family violence, 2 June 2004.

"Zeynep"’s partner stabbed her at least 52 times, in front of her seven-year-old son. He was not the only witness. At least 10 police officers watched the assault, which was photographed and videotaped by journalists. "They could have intervened, but apparently they did not have permission. What sort of permission is this! I find them guilty. When I saw the police had arrived I was pleased, obviously they will save me. But they did not do anything," "Zeynep" said. After her partner was charged with attempted murder, his relatives threatened to kill "Zeynep" and her lawyers.(2) The 10 police officers were initially suspended but returned to duty after the Ministry of the Interior determined that they had no case to answer.(3)

United States

”Mother of Slain Children Takes Case to International Tribunal,” American Civil Liberties Union, 27 Dec. 2005.

ACLU Files First-Ever Domestic Violence Complaint With Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

NEW YORK - The American Civil Liberties Union today filed a petition with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) on behalf of Jessica Gonzales, the mother of three girls killed by her estranged husband whose domestic violence protection claims were rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court. The petition, the first of its kind, asserts that domestic violence victims have the right to be protected by the state from the violent acts of their abusers.

In June 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against Gonzales when it found that the Constitution does not recognize an entitlement by domestic violence victims to enforcement of their protective orders.

"Jessica Gonzales' quest for justice met a dead end at the U.S. Supreme Court," said Caroline Bettinger-Lopez, an attorney with the ACLU Women's Rights Project. "She suffered devastating harm as a result of police inaction and if the U.S. Supreme Court won't hear her case on the merits, we will bring it to the international community. The police department's failure to protect the lives of Jessica's three young daughters should be internationally condemned."

Gonzales is a Colorado woman whose three children were brutally murdered by her estranged husband when local police refused to enforce her restraining order. She repeatedly called the police, telling them of her fears for the safety of her daughters and guiding them to the girls' location. The police failed to respond and several hours later all three children were shot and killed by their father, the abductor, against whom Gonzales had a restraining order.

The ACLU said that its concern is not limited to the specific Gonzales case. It extends more broadly to all victims of domestic violence who are not adequately protected by law enforcement. This case is the first individual complaint against the United States brought before any international human rights body for the violation of the rights of victims of domestic violence.

The ACLU petition seeks compensation for the violation of Gonzales' rights, adoption by the United States of necessary measures to deter the commission of similar crimes, and an advisory opinion from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights on the obligations of the United States under international law to protect victims of domestic violence.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights was created in 1959 and is expressly authorized to examine allegations of human rights violations by members of the Organization of American States, which include the United States. It also carries out on-site visits to observe the general human rights situations in all 35 member states of the Organization of American States and to investigate specific allegations of violations of Inter-American human rights treaties. Its charge is to promote the observance and the defense of human rights in the Americas.


The Global Persecution of Women