A methodology to ensure that states adequately apply due diligence standards and processes to significantly impact levels of violence against women around the world

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This article argues that until there are adequate processes in states around the world to accurately know the circumstances concerning discrimination and violence against women (VAW), and that until states are held accountable to deal with those circumstances, little will change to deal with the extensive problems that exist around the world. Due diligence processes can play a positive role in this regard. The article reviews the extent of gender discrimination and VAW globally. It examines the instruments and documents relating to non-discrimination and VAW, and argues that despite a tremendous number of such tools, VAW problems remain at extremely high levels. The article explores what constitutes discrimination against women and VAW, and the relationship between the two. It examines what due diligence is, why it is useful, what some of the issues concerning it are, and where it is found in international law. The provisions of various treaties that affect VAW, and specifically those that have due diligence provisions are examined, as well as how due diligence has been applied by some human rights bodies to determine how due diligence can be more regularly and usefully applied. Recommendations are made on how to practically bring about a reduction in violence against women and specifically how due diligence can assist in this regard. It is contended that a 7P response is needed (i.e. seven steps that all have a word beginning with the letter P designating what needs to be done by states) to deal with VAW. These are: (1) prevention, (2) protection against, (3) promoting awareness and adherence to non-discrimination and no VAW, (4) probing, (5) prosecuting, (6) punishing, and (7) providing redress for acts of violence against women. A key issue, noted by the article, is to ensure that due diligence becomes a more useful tool for there to be the regular collection of relevant, timely, coordinated, and accurate disaggregated data on all matters that affects VAW in states globally. For more information to be known and for problems are identified, data collected should not just be national totals, but also broken down by region and locality in all countries. The article argues that a universal process and oversight mechanism is needed to ensure that more states comply with a due diligence approach so that real measurable change can occur for women in all parts of the world. Violence against women remains pervasive, estimated to affect one in three women globally. We continue to witness, in the name of perceived honour, beauty, purity and tradition, girls and women are subject to “honor” killings, child marriages, and female genital mutilation. Too many women are being deprived of their sexual and reproductive health and rights, fundamental human rights of women.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-36
Number of pages36
JournalHuman Rights Quarterly
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2018


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