India, U.S. to move WHO resolution on addressing violence against women

It urges member-states to address the issue in national health plans and reinforce legal framework

January 13, 2014 05:21 am | Updated May 13, 2016 09:15 am IST - NEW DELHI

India and the United States will jointly move a resolution to address violence, particularly against women and girls, at the Executive Board meeting of the World Health Organisation in Geneva later this month.

The resolution on “The role of health sector in addressing violence, particularly against women and girls” will be supported by Belgium, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway and Zambia.

The draft resolution impresses upon the WHO member-states to give priority to specific measures to stop violence.

Expressing concern over the fact that globally one in three women experience either physical or sexually-intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence at least once in their lives and that violence is exacerbated during emergencies such as armed conflicts, the resolution calls upon the WHO to develop and strengthen national action plans on violence prevention and the member-states to address the issue in their national health plans and strategies while reinforcing the legal framework.

The resolution calls for resource allocation aimed at preventing and eliminating all forms of violence, which, it says, can be done by achieving gender equality, empowering women and by increasing the focus on prevention, protection and accountability in laws, policies and programmes, and their implementation, monitoring and evaluation.

The resolution calls upon the WHO to develop a ‘Global Plan of Action’ for addressing all forms of inter-personal violence, in particular against women and children, taking into account the unique role of the health sector in a multisectoral response.

“Ensure that due consideration is given to the importance of [curbing] violence, in particular violence against women and children, in the elaboration of the post 2015-development agenda.”

On its part, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is already revisiting the ‘Medico-legal Examination Report on Sexual Violence and Guidelines for Medical Examination on Sexual Violence Victims’, including the definition of sexual violence, health consequences and reporting for sexual violence, psycho-social support for sexual violence survivors, guidelines for interface with other agencies such as police and the judiciary.

The draft guidelines and revised pro forma of medico-legal examination basically deal with the right of victims to unhindered access to medical treatment and for better recording of medical evidence in order to get the perpetrators convicted.

The draft will bring about uniformity in medical examination and treatment of sexual assault survivors in the country.

In addition to focussing on raising public awareness of women and girl’s rights, including their reproductive rights, the resolution calls for engaging men and boys, as well as families and communities, as agents of change in promoting gender equality, and preventing and condemning violence against women.

The resolution wants a Global Status Report on Violence brought out every four years, beginning 2014, which will provide a baseline measurement for countries and a tool to monitor activities relevant to implementation of the Global Plan of Action at the country-level through data collection and monitoring legal environment and prevention programmes.

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