Gender-based violence is deeply rooted within gender inequality and can range from forced pregnancies to mutilation. More specifically, gender-based violence violates a person’s human rights by disregarding the effects these crimes could inflict upon the victim’s health, dignity, and personal security. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) further defines gender-based violence as the “discrimination that greatly inhibits a women’s ability to enjoy rights and freedoms on a basis of equality with men”. Statistics show that around 35% of women internationally have suffered sexual, physical, or both forms of violence in their lifetimes; it has also been shown that one in three women is subjected to gender-based violence; whether it be with a intimate partner or stranger.
In addition, according to The World Health Organization (WHO) around 42% of these intimate partner gender-based violence cases end with severe or fatal injuries to the women they are enacted against. Moreover, these crimes do not just affect adults, they also affect children. The United Nations Children’s Fund has found that 79% of children in lesser and under developed countries have experienced violent physical and/or physiological discipline. This establishes a pattern of behavior that has been shown to increase the likelihood and justification of violent crimes later on in adulthood and throughout these children’s’ lives. On the international scale the UN itself has taken and instated a plethora of actions and laws in attempts to resolve the issue of gender-based violence and its main cause, gender inequality.
One of these actions was The Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), this served as a pillar and foundation for the reforms made by the UN General Assembly in December 1979 when CEDAW was adopted by the assembly in attempts to fight for equality. CEDAW placed a huge emphasis on the fact that gender-based discrimination and inequality was the direct result of the discrimination against women. This treaty has since been ratified by 189 member states including. CEDAW was also evolved into an acting body with 23 experts on women’s rights and struggles around the world in 1982.
Another action was the 1993 Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women; this declaration highlighted key treaties that served vital roles in the strive for equality amongst men and women. The 1993 declaration also made a point of mentioning that the prior consus made by the UN; the belief that gender-based violence against women was the consequence of gender inequality; still stood, but it added that gender-based violence could be resolved by making women equals in all institutions; so that no man would look upon them as inferior.
Furthermore, the UN has implemented the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. This agenda and plan was adopted in September 1995 at the Fourth World Conference on Women. This agenda stressed the importance of allowing and encouraging women to take part in “public and private life,” by representing women as equal in all “economic, social, and crucial decisions.” This conference eventually lead to two thirds of the involved countries forming laws to end gender inequality and domestic violence. The UN has also created subsections including the a branch called the United Nations Women which was created July 2010.
This branch aims to improve the quality of womens’ lives all around the world, and aims to offer support to countries attempting to implement and design reforms that would encourage womens’ rights and overall gender equality. All in all the UN has put extensive effort into improving the lives of women and promoting gender equality, and all of these encouragements and reforms have a largely positive impact on the fight against gender inequality and ultimately gender-based violence crimes. We the Venezuelan Delegation recognize gender-based violence as crimes committed against women that mainly target their reproductive and sexual organs; these crimes often range for mutilation to forced abortions and pregnancies.
In Venezuela, just like other countries, including Colombia and Zambia, gender-based violence has been a prominent and constantly developing issue. These crimes in our country, Venezuela, do not just happen in the home; in fact they most often occur in workplaces or underground and illegal institutions including drug rings and gangs. A prime example one of the main problems we face on gender-based violence are the Venezuelan sex rings. These rings take primarily women, but also men, and force them into slavery sex where they are often beaten, drugged, and killed. A study conducted in 2015 showed that 4,500 Venezuelan women from sex rings where sold into slavery sex solely in Colombia.
In addition, inside some of the illegal institutions in our country many women are forced in have pregnancies or having abortions, and often the children forced upon these women are taken from the mother at birth and sold. Another way we the Venezuelan Delegation face a problem of gender-based violence is in children. Our female children have faced an increased rate of femicide, the mass murdering of women and primarily girls due to their gender, in fairly recent years. This surge in femicide has lead to around a 98% impunity in human rights in relation to crime for the whole country. This overall demonstrates for our country that although we have worked strenuously to prevent these issues we still have more to add on to our pre-existing policies.
In a similar manner to the UN, we the Venezuelan delegation, have taken large steps to decreases our rates of gender-based violence and gender inequality. A way we the Venezuelan delegation have put effort into demolishing gender inequality is by allowing women to serve in our government and be public faces and figures. On of our other reforms was Article 46 of our constitution which was adopted in 1999 and amended in 2009. Article 46 clearly states that “everyone [both men and women] is entitled to respect for his or her physical, mental or moral integrity.”
Article 46 also goes on to describe these rights all of our people are entitled to, as number one being that none of our people are allowed to be forcefully subjected to “penalties, tortures, cruelty, inhuman or degrading treatment,” and that if someone is a victim of these actions, and they were facilitated by one of our state agencies or employees; the affected person has the right to rehabilitation paid for and provided by us, The Venezuelan delegation. In addition, our Article 46 describes that if a person of power misuses their power to ¨inflict mistreatment or physical or mental suffering on any person,¨ they despite their prestigious office or standing will be held according to the law on abuse and violence. Our law for this type of offense can range from fees to imprisonment.
Violent gender-based crimes committed against women in our country are not tolerated and can receive a sentence of anywhere from 10 to 15 years as well as fees on top of that. Violent gender-based crimes committed against female youth and adolescents carry a heavier sentence with sentences ranging from 15 to 20 years in prison. However, if the assaulted woman chooses to accept a marriage proposal from the man that has assaulted her, he’s free to leave prison and his sentence is voided. Additionally, to further combat the increase in gender-based violence we witnessed amongst our citizens of Venezuela we enacted the Law on the Right of Women to a Life Free of Violence in 2010.
The main goal of this law was to “ensure and promote the right of women to [live] a life free of violence,” and to ensure problems not priorly described, such as reproductive gender-based violence were described, and deemed illegal as well as given a punishment. The most basic building block punishment given to people who perform reproductive gender-based violence is 0 to 10 years in prison with a mandatory fee of ¨two hundred and fifty (250 TU) to five hundred tax units (500 TU),¨ will be promptly paid after the person(s) are found guilty; this reform we created with the hope of destroying previously found loopholes in our policies. Although, we as country have taken many actions to protect our female citizens we recognize there is still more we can do.
As a representative of the Venezuelan delegation I have created reforms my country would like to insate not only domestically, but internationally to the countries that do not already have policies or policy variations that relate to ours proposed. My first proposal on behalf of Venezuela and our delegation is more transparency with the youth. We propose that children are not only taught their human rights from a young age but also taught what gender-based violence and discrimination. We propose this reform so that children will be able to assess their own private situations, and so that in their futures they will be able to seek the needed and deserved help if they were to become a victim of these crimes.
Venezuela has brainstormed calling this program ¨básicamente los fundamentos de la vida¨ which translates to “basically the basics of life.¨ My second proposal on the behalf of Venezuela and our delegation is increasing the punishments for gender-based violence crimes. In our particular case we would like to change the standard for all gender-based violence cases to a minimum of 15 years in prison versus the discrepancy we have had in the past. We propose this reform in the hope that it will discourage gender-based violence crimes due to its serious nature.
Furthermore, on the behalf of Venezuela and our delegation I propose all countries including our own remove any clause, admendentment, law, or treaty that has instituted a policy similar to ours, which states that if an assaulted woman accepts a marriage proposal from her assailant, he can be let out of jail, because we perceive this law as lenient, and believe it takes away from the fear a 15 year sentence would have without it. Moreover, we propose an increased amount of supplies and staff in all sanctuaries and sanctuary hospitals. We propose this because we believe that with more supplies and resources more people will be able to feel safe going to these places, and will feel more compelled to take the first step in getting help. Overall Venezuela does not condone gender-based violence and has attended this committee today in hopes of bettering itself as a country and in the hopes of better the world around it with shortcomings it has seen within its own policies and with successes it has seen within in its own policies.