Sexual violence won’t end until states plug ‘gaping’ legal hole, says expert

Source: The Guardian

Former UN special rapporteur on violence against women calls for binding international treaty to hold governments to account and lend resolutions bite

 Former UN special rapporteur Rashida Manjoo believes efforts to end violence against women should focus on state accountability. Photograph: Carl Court/AFP/Getty Images

Former UN special rapporteur Rashida Manjoo believes efforts to end violence against women should focus on state accountability. Photograph: Carl Court/AFP/Getty Images

A “gaping hole” in international law is allowing governments to ignore their commitments to end gender-based violence, according to the former UN special rapporteur on the causes and consequences of violence against women.

Rashida Manjoo said states are not held fully accountable for ending violence because there is not an international treaty compelling them to do so. Manjoo called for a binding framework within the UN systemto tackle what she called a pervasive human rights violation.

A professor in the department of public law at the University of Cape Town in her native South Africa, Manjoo was appointed special rapporteur in 2009. Her tenure ended in July, and her parting shot was a report to the UN Human Rights Council that reiterated the case for establishing a legal instrument to hold governments accountable at international level. In October last year, she told the UN general assembly that the lack of a legally binding agreement was a major obstacle in achieving gender equality.

“UN entities continue to pass resolutions, but they are not legally binding … we talk about the universality of human rights, when there’s a gaping hole. We need to focus on state accountability,” she told an event on ending violence against women in London last week, hosted by the Guardian and ActionAid. Read more