the past 15 years, the United Nations has made a concerted effort to bring
the problem of domestic violence into the open. It has requested its
Member States to adopt short and long-term strategies that will protect
victims and to adopt preventative measures to eliminate
These recommendations were made at the 1986 expert group meeting on
violence in the family organised by the Division for the Advancement of
Women and the Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Branch of the United
Nations Centre for Social Development and Humanitarian Affairs.
A number of countries have made the
elimination of domestic violence against women a national priority.
The challenge in the 1990s will be to make the penalization of
domestic violence a priority in all United Nations Member States and place
it at the top of the agenda of the international community.
a campaign would call for the adoption of legislation to protect women
from violence and the enforcement of penalties for violence against women
in the family, at work, and in society as a whole.
It would also necessitate the creation of a network of support
services for victims, including shelters or other similar crisis centres
for battered women, free legal aid, welfare services and financial
Training programmes on the dynamics of family violence for
judiciary, health and social service personnel, as well as law enforcement
officers, would help to ensure humane treatment of victims.
Helping re-employ abused women and creating appropriate deterrent
and corrective measures would also be required.
term measures that would help curtail domestic violence include
comprehensive legislative reforms and legal literacy programmes for women
to protect them and ensure their rights;
greater economic independence of women that would give them equal
status within marriage, and a change in the educational system so that it
would condemn domestic violence outright, promote equality between
spouses, and encourage peaceful approaches to conflict resolution.
Below are some examples :
Argentina, the democratically elected Government which took power in
1983 began a campaign against domestic violence, supporting self-help
groups for battered women which offer medical, legal and psychological
Australia, major reforms in federal criminal law recently classified
domestic violence as an assault, which, as such, is subject to police
In addition, a nation-wide education programme has been
launched and training is now offered to professional groups dealing
with abused women.
Some 43,000 Australian women and their children sought refuge
in shelters in 1986-87.
Costa Rica, the Government has made abuse of women illegal as a first
step towards curtailing it.
Zimbabwe, the Musasa Project, set up in 1998 in Harare, for the first
time provides support and counselling to women who have been beaten or
raped by their husbands or lovers and informs them of their legal
rights and legal procedures.
is also essential to focus world attention on the urgency of community
education to raise public awareness of the seriousness of the crime of
domestic violence and to begin changing social attitudes towards it.
In the United States, the incidence of violence dropped
significantly between 1975 and 1985 as a result of changed attitudes and
behaviour towards women which accompanied measures designed to curtail the
incidence of domestic violence.
international community, led by the United Nations, could play a key role
in monitoring domestic violence on a country-by-country basis, sponsoring
research on the relationship between the portrayal of violence against
women in the mass media and the actual incidence of violence against women
in the family and society, and organising conferences that would sensitise
public opinion and regularly focus world attention on family violence.
: United Nations New York 1991 : Women : Challenges to the year 2000