1211 GENEVA 19


Resolution adopted by acclamation
by the 85th Inter-Parliamentary Conference
(Pyongyang, 4 May 1991)

The 85th Inter-Parliamentary Conference,

Recalling the resolution of the 72nd Inter-Parliamentary Conference concerning the need for parliamentary and other action to formulate initiatives that will achieve equal rights and responsibilities for men and women,

Recalling the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women, in which it was stated that violence against women was a major obstacle to the achievement of the objectives of the United Nations Decade for Women: Equality, Development and Peace,

Recalling the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the World Declaration on the Survival, Protection and Development of Children,

Recalling that the United Nations has proclaimed 1994 as the International Year of the Family, and that family violence is a serious abuse of power within the family and of relationships of trust or dependency,

Recognizing that throughout the world, women and children constitute an enormous human resource potential for the political, economic and socio-cultural life of a nation,

Recognizing that violence and the threat of violence reflect and reinforce the unequal status of women, jeopardize their opportunities for full and equal participation in economic, social, cultural and political development, and are in direct contradiction to development and equality goals,

Recognizing that the continuing inequality between men and women perpetuates the economic and social dependency of women on men and limits women's full participation in society, thereby undermining the process of human development,

Recognizing that violence against women and children in both developed and developing countries is a serious and persistent worldwide problem which includes physical, psychological and sexual assault and abuse and affects all segments of society, regardless of class, income, culture, gender, age or religion,

Noting that exposure to family violence, especially during childhood, may produce long-term effects on attitudes and behaviour, including increased tolerance to violence in society as a whole,

Recognizing that family violence is often a recurring phenomenon, and aware that many offenders and victims were themselves abused as children and that the problem demands an early response to prevent recurrence,

Convinced that failure to take appropriate measures to put an end to violence in the family is tantamount to denying or condoning the practice and contributes to its persistence,

Noting that this grave problem largely occurs in domestic life, is a matter of public concern requiring a co-ordinated response, and therefore needs to be tackled openly,

Bearing in mind the need for information, research and standard definitions relating to violence against women and children,

Recognizing the need for common policies to focus on all victims, conscious that some forms of violence are systematic, continuous, may not be perceived as offences and may even be protected by social custom, religion or legislation, and aware that the complex problem of family violence is viewed differently by various cultures and must therefore be addressed with sensitivity to the cultural context in each country, bearing in mind that the protection of women and children must be paramount,

Deeply concerned about the plight of children and women subjected to the violence of war, especially indiscriminate attacks on civilian populations, attacks on refugee camps, mass killings and the recruitment of children as combat troops,

Deeply concerned by the gross imbalance between arms and aid expenditure and by the fact that the United Nations target for official development assistance of 0.7 per cent of gross national product has not been attained,

1. Affirms that women and children are entitled to live in a safe environment;

2. Condemns the practice of violence in the family as a grave violation of the rights of women and children and a threat to their physical and mental well-being;

3. Declares that violence against children and women is a crime and that offenders should be held accountable for their behaviour;

4. Acknowledges that the elimination of violence requires a co-ordinated, multifaceted approach to dealing with attitudes towards violence and its causes and consequences;

5. Calls on Parliaments to enact and Governments to enforce legislation prohibiting all forms of violence against children and women, and to review its provisions and monitor their application on a regular basis in order to assess their impact on the problem of violence against children and women;

6 Calls on Parliaments to enact and Governments to enforce appropriate legal measures to protect children from violence while in the care of parents, legal guardians or any other care-givers;

7. Calls on all institutions to draft and apply urgently suitable codes of practice to eliminate sexual harassment;

8. Calls on Governments to adopt measures to improve the capacity of the criminal justice system to investigate and prosecute cases of violence, including:

(a) Establishment, enforcement and monitoring of charging policies which require police to lay charges in all cases of family violence where reasonable and probable grounds exist for believing that an offence has been committed;

(b) Training programmes for members of the legal profession and the police to sensitize them to the unique circumstances of such cases;

(c) Raising awareness of the need to recruit more women in professions such as the police, the law, the judiciary and medicine, to work with female victims;

(d) Development of programmes in communities and/or institutions for male abusers and sex offenders, in order to make men accountable for their behaviour and prevent them from using violence against women and children;

(e) Amendment of Penal Codes in such a way as to classify physical and mental ill-treatment of women and children as offences, and sexual violence as a violation of the liberty and dignity of the person;

(f) Empowering the courts to impose appropriate sentences, which may include treatment and supervision, on those convicted of sexual and violent offences, including those who commit family violence;

9. Calls on Governments to provide adequate support services, mainly staffed by women, for assaulted women and children, to deal with the immediate crisis as well as the longer term impact created by the violence perpetrated against them including:

(a) Emergency and transition shelters designed to provide emergency accommodation and crisis services for battered women and their children;

(b) Health care, personal counselling, legal advice, access to financial services, social services and employment counselling for women who have left abusive situations;

(c) Development of housing initiatives to provide housing options for assaulted women who have left their abusive partners;

(d) Production of guidelines for professional workers providing appropriate assistance to victims of family violence;

10. Calls on Governments to establish services to intervene in situations of violence, in particular:

(a) Support and counselling for families, in order to improve their ability to create a non-violent environment, with an emphasis on the principles of education, equality of rights and responsibilities between men and women as well as non-violent resolution of conflicts;

(b) Information for women about their legal rights and the resources available to them;

(c) Identification, reporting, referral, investigation, treatment and follow-up of instances of child maltreatment as well as appropriate facilities for the counselling and guidance of abandoned and physically and sexually abused children with a view to their rehabilitation;

11. Calls on Governments to adopt measures aimed at the prevention of family violence, including:

(a) Use of the media to inform about violence against women and children, discouragement of sensational reporting of such crimes of violence, and public education campaigns to raise awareness and strengthen attitudes against violence and to encourage a positive image of the role of women;

(b) School curricula which foster positive gender roles and teach non-violent conflict resolution;

(c) Training and sensitizing of professionals, particularly those working in the fields of health, justice, education and social services, who come into contact with children and women who have experienced violence;

(d) Research into the causes, extent, effects and prevention of family violence and the effectiveness of intervention and treatment strategies;

(e) Development of accurate reporting systems including statistics illustrating gender and the relationship between victim and offender;

(f) Educating parents in responsible parenthood;

(g) Organization of marriage counselling services, in order to prepare couples to cope better with the responsibilities involved in marriage;

12. Calls on Governments and national and international organizations to develop standard definitions and terminology to facilitate the collection of data and exchange of information;

13. Calls on all Governments and national and international organizations and non-governmental organizations to take into account, in their development policies and programmes, the particular needs of all disadvantaged and vulnerable people;

14. Calls on all Governments to continue to implement measures to reduce the continuing inequality between men and women and the economic and social dependency of women and men,

15. Calls on all Governments to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and to examine the possibility of adding a protocol thereto in order to address the issue of violence against women.

16. Calls on all Governments, at the earliest possible date, to ratify the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child and ensure that the necessary implementing legislation is adopted; to implement the World Declaration on the Survival, Protection and Development of Children and the Plan of Action from the World Summit for Children, to ensure that adequate financial resources are available for these purposes and to monitor the implementation of the Convention and the Summit Plan of Action;

17. Demands that Governments take effective steps to protect women and children against forced prostitution, drug trafficking, sex, tourism, trafficking in women and any other form of criminal exploitation;

18. Calls on Governments and international relief agencies to distribute humanitarian aid in a manner which ensures that children and women receive food, medical care, housing and other basic services essential to their survival;

19. Condemns war, political persecution and terrorism, which are particularly fertile ground for violence against women and children, and urges Governments and international organizations to seek a consensus on strengthening international conventions and protocols to prohibit the recruitment of children into armed forces;

20. Calls on Governments and international organizations to give priority to extending international protection to refugee women and children, and encourages them to increase their capacity to respond to the needs of refugee and displaced women and children by stepping up and co-ordinating efforts;

21. Calls on Governments to take steps to resolve conflicts and disputes peacefully and to negotiate terms of settlement to protect children and women which ensure their continuing access to the necessities of life;

22. Invites Parliaments to adopt laws in conformity with the measures contained in this resolution, and calls on Governments to take practical measures to implement them.

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