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UNITE! Prevention of Gender Based Violence Must Include Workers’ Rights

While the prevention work continues to target individual perpetrators of violence, we pay equal attention to the ways in which gender based violence manifests structurally.

Gender based violence is the result of unequal power relations and finds formal expression in laws, policies and norms that entrench these unequal power relations and perpetuate violence. Gender based violence manifests at all levels of society, but interventions lack sufficient emphasis on the macroeconomic level at which gender-based violence is embedded through the policy choices at institutional level – both nationally and internationally. These systematically ignore the needs and realities of women and girls, including by eroding the already poorly resourced public services they rely on and failing to prioritize their wellbeing.

It is widely documented that gender-based violence continues to be a largely ignored, global pandemic which tends to be exacerbated by crises.

One in every three women, or approximately 736 million women, have been subjected to intimate partner violence, non-partner sexual violence or both at least once in their lifetime. This does not account for the one woman every 11 minutes who is killed by her partner.

Gender-based violence is not only a violation of individual women’s and girls’ rights. The majority (55-95%) of women survivors of violence do not disclose or seek any type of services. The impunity enjoyed by perpetrators, and the fear generated by their actions, has an effect on all women and girls.

Many people across the world are in situations of exploitation that they cannot refuse or leave because of threats, violence, coercion or deception. The general term applied to this situation is modern slavery, and it includes forced labour, forced or servile marriage, debt bondage, sexual exploitation, human trafficking, child labour and the sale and other forms of exploitation of children. The number of people in modern slavery continues to rise, with 11.8 million women and girls being in forced labour.

Call to Action to Prevent Gender Based Violence

States should extend social protection to all workers, including workers in the informal economy and migrant workers to reduce socio-economic vulnerability, labour exploitation, forced labour and human trafficking – all of which propagate gender based violence.

States should ratify International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 190 (C190) on violence and harassment in the world of work and put in place national laws and regulations to address violence and harassment in in the world of work. States should also ensure that employers implement the provisions of ILO C190 and Recommendation 206 (R206) through workplace policies and collective bargaining agreements.

States should commit to the ongoing United Nations (UN) process to agree a legally binding instrument to regulate, in international human rights law, the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises; this instrument should recognise, promote and protect women’s rights, paying special attention to indigenous women, women peasant and small farmers, women from other minority groups and women human rights defenders, who are regularly subjected to gender- related targeting, violence and killing while defending their communities against the harmful.

Learn more about the #HerStory Campaign and read the stories of women survivors of modern slavery here.

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