“Violence against women both violates and impairs or nullifies the enjoyment by women of their human rights and fundamental freedoms” (para 112, p. 48, BPFA)
Violence against women includes but is not limited to:
• Criminal assault at home and other forms of domestic and family violence, including but not limited to marital rape and other intimate relationships rape and sexual abuse, child rape and sexual abuse, child abuse, marital murder and other intimate relations murder, rape, sexual assault and stalking;
• Economic violence including but not limited to monetary deprivation and control, sexually transmitted debt, and coercion into social security or benefits fraud, embezzlement, theft and other monetary or property offences;
• Sexual and sexist harassment, bullying and harassment in paid work and unpaid work, voluntary work, education and services including but not limited to accommodation.
In both the Beijing +5 and the Beijing + 10 reviews, the lack of political will shown by many governments in the region to effectively address violence against women is an ongoing concern. There continues to be an absence of resources to support programs or develop mechanisms to address all forms of violence against women including domestic violence, sexual violence, trafficking of women for forced prostitution or pornography, honour killings and violence based on culture, religion or other identity based constructs.
However, in Beijing + 10 it was noted that significant initiatives have been made at the national, regional and international levels condemning various forms of violence against women. National action plans and regional and international mechanisms on violence are in place in many regions Among the significant initiatives that have been developed are landmark legislations criminalizing domestic violence, trafficking in women, rape, sexual harassment as well as innovative approaches and strategies in prevention, prosecution and protection.
It was also noted that trafficking in women and children received considerable attention and support from governments, international organisations and NGOs. Many governments passed specific laws on trafficking and regional mechanisms such as SAARC Convention on Trafficking and various interregional and intraregional consultative meetings like the Bali Process, and ARIAT among others. These provided strategic focus for governments and for regional and international bodies in the Asian region.
An important development was the significant increase in the awareness of human rights instruments as benchmarks for government accountability in fulfilling their obligations to protect women’s human rights. Standards and norms such as those in CEDAW and its Optional Protocol, and other human rights instruments including the Rome statute, have been ratified by some Asian governments and effectively utilized by women in pushing for legislative reform and other measures.
However, as stated above, the commitments made by states to address violence against women have yet to be fully implemented. Despite the gains achieved in addressing the issue of trafficking, of women and girls continued unabated. Where they exist trafficking laws are not as effectively implemented to the extent that actual prosecutions and punishment of traffickers are made. More innovative approaches and countermeasures were called for to address ICT-based trafficking such as cyber sex, arranged and fake marriages which victimise women.
Emerging issues were the sites of privatised employment settings and the globalised markets for the movement of persons in the service sector. The rapid spread of HIV AIDS abetted by tourism development and patriarchal culture making women and girls particularly vulnerable.
Reference was also made to the issues of violence against women that arise in situations of natural disaster such as the tsunami that hit Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand and India that rendered thousands of women and children homeless and in need of emergency assistant. There desperate situation is a matter of serious concern as evidence has increased of sexual assault and trafficking of women and children.