8 March 2002
Melbourne: Violence against women is one of the most pervasive
yet hidden forms of human rights abuse throughout the world,
Amnesty International's Secretary General Irene Khan said today
on International Women's Day.
In conflicts, during political instability, in state custody and
in the home and community, women's physical, mental and sexual
integrity remain at risk in all regions of the world and under
the rule of governments of different political persuasions.
In Turkey, around 200 girls are killed in the name of honour
every year. Judges have ruled that sentences could be reduced as
the murdered woman had provoked the crime.
In the USA, there are continuing reports of mental, physical and
sexual abuse as well as medical neglect in women's prisons.
Military action in Afghanistan focussed world attention on the
Taleban's repression of women. Meanwhile the repression of women
in nearby counties such as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan remains
The international community has taken up the cases of some forms
of violence against women but regularly fails to address others,
turning a blind eye when international politics make it
inconvenient, or the local situation makes it appear 'too
difficult', Ms Khan said.
It highlights one of the greatest challenges facing women's
rights activists today ? the fleeting, tokenistic interest that
governments take in women's human rights.
In Australia to commemorate International Women's Day, Ms Khan
said that women fleeing violence are too often not given adequate
Women asylum seekers are more likely to have claims based on
violations occurring in the private sphere, yet many
governments do not regard gender-based violations, such as
domestic violence, sexual trafficking and rape, as a basis for
Governments have a responsibility to protect women from human
rights abuses both at that hands of their own officials and in
the community and home.