Handbook on Effective Prosecution Responses to Violence against Women and Girls

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Prosecutors play a critical role in the criminal justice response to violence against women and girls. Prosecuting gender based violent crime can be challenging. Often there are a number of challenges, due to the private nature of the offence, and police investigation may be substandard. Victims may be uncooperative, withdraw or recant their complaints. Judges or juries may employ gender bias or common myths surrounding violence against women and girls when examining the credibility of the victim and the facts of the case. Drawing upon the updated Model Strategies and Practical Measures on the Elimination of Violence against Women in the Field of Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (General Assembly resolution 65/228, annex), UNODC and UN Women have drafted the Handbook on Effective Prosecution Responses to Violence against Women and Girls. Recognizing that prosecutors work in different legal systems, it is meant to be a helpful resource for individual prosecutors and prosecution services.



Violence against women and girls

Violence against women is both a cause and consequence of gender inequality. It is a widespread and pervasive violation of the enjoyment of human rights and a major impediment to achieving gender equality. It is rooted in historically unequal power relations between men and women. The vast majority of perpetrators of the violence are male while victims are female. It is this disproportionality that frames the discussion of violence against women as a form of systematic discrimination and connects it to gender equality obligations. The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, in its General Recommendation No. 19, notes that the definition of discrimination includes gender-based violence, that is, violence that is directed against a woman because she is a woman or that affects women disproportionately. Most States have incorporated the principle of non-discrimination, as articulated in international human rights instruments, into their domestic laws.


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