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UN: Stop Stoning Globally - opening remarks by UNSRVAW Rashida Manjoo

Publication Date: 
May 26, 2012





Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.


Palais des Nations – Room VIII


Statement by Rashida Manjoo

UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women



At the outset, I would like to thank the Worldwide Organization for Women, Justice for Iran and the Women’s UN Report Network, for inviting me to address this panel on the stoning of women.


This event is very timely as this year I devoted my annual thematic report to the issue of gender related killings of women, among which death by stoning is a severe and cruel manifestation.


My thematic report addresses the killings of women whether they occur in the family, the community, or are perpetrated or condoned by the State. Rather than a new form of violence, gender-related killings are the extreme manifestation of existing forms of discrimination and violence against women. Such killings are not isolated incidents which arise suddenly and unexpectedly, but are the ultimate act of violence which is experienced in a continuum of violence. My report argues that the lack of accountability for such crimes is the norm.


My report provides an overview of the global trends and manifestations of gender related killings of women, which are currently reaching alarming proportions. These include: killings of women as a result of intimate partner violence; killings of women due to accusations of sorcery/witchcraft; killings of women and girls in the name of “honour”; killings in the context of armed conflict; killings of indigenous women; extreme forms of violent killings of women, such as those related to gangs, organised crime, drug dealers, and human and drug trafficking chains; killings as a result of sexual orientation and gender identity; and  other forms of gender-related killings of women and girls, such as female infanticide.


With regard to stoning, it is a method of capital punishment primarily used for crimes of adultery and other related offences linked to honour, of which women are disproportionately found guilty. The prevalence of these killings has resulted in 23 joint communications by UN mandate holders sent between 2004 and 2011, in respect of more than 30 women sentenced to death by stoning. Other communications to governments relate to “honour crimes” or to the action/inaction of the State with regard to flogging or death by hanging of women for suspected premarital sex, for adultery, for failing to prove rape, and for acts deemed incompatible with chastity. 


These violent killings of women are also linked to other forms of violence that are used as a means of controlling women’s sexual choices and limiting their freedom of movement. These punishments usually have a collective dimension, with families and communities as a whole believing to be injured by a woman’s actual or perceived behaviour, and are often public in character. The visibility of the issue and the punishment also serves a social objective, namely, influencing the conduct of other women. 


This is an issue I have noted during some of my country missions, where violence against women is sometimes perpetrated when women act in ways that are considered “dishonourable” in the eyes of society. In my recommendations, I have stressed the need to design and launch targeted awareness-raising campaigns to educate and change societal attitudes, particularly those that view women’s bodies as repositories of family honour, and which place women under extreme scrutiny by the family and society.


All over the world, the manifestations of gender related killings of women are culturally and socially embedded, and continue to be accepted, tolerated or justified - with impunity as the norm. States’ responsibility to act with due diligence in the promotion and protection of women’s rights, is largely lacking.


While some steps have been taken States to comply with their due diligence obligation to prevent violence against women, there are still numerous gaps in these efforts. A holistic approach in preventing gender-related killings must be emphasized in all the measures taken by States to investigate and sanction violence.


My thematic report recalls how international and regional human rights systems have interpreted the due diligence obligations of States in cases involving gender-related killings. These include ensuring effective investigations, prosecution and sanctions; guaranteeing de jure and de facto access to adequate and effective judicial remedies; treating women victims and their relatives with respect and dignity throughout the legal process; ensuring comprehensive reparations to victims and their relatives; identifying certain groups of women as being at particular risk for acts of violence, due to multiple forms of discrimination, when adopting measures to prevent all forms of violence; and modifying the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women as well as eliminating prejudices, customary practices and other practices based on the idea of the inferiority or superiority of either of the sexes, and on stereotyped roles for men and women.


Violence against women has been affirmed in many human rights instruments and by human rights bodies, as a violation of the rights and fundamental freedoms of women. The killing of women constitutes a violation of amongst others the right to life, equality, dignity and non-discrimination, and the right not to be subjected to torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment. States have, therefore an obligation to prevent, investigate and punish all cases of gender related killings of women, as well as provide redress to surviving victims and their families.


I thank you for your attention and wish you a fruitful discussion in today’s panel.