The United Nations has adopted a declaration calling on all nations to combat violence against women and girls. Conservative Muslim and Catholic nations dropped their veto threats after compromise language was adopted.
A decade after the UN's aborted attempt to adopt common standards on women's rights, some 131 nations approved a non-binding declaration on Friday condemning violence against women and saying that the sexes enjoy human rights “on an equal basis.”
“The commission urges states to strongly condemn all forms of violence against women and girls and to refrain from invoking any custom, tradition or religious consideration to avoid their obligations with respect to its elimination,” the UN Commission on the Status of Women said in its final declaration.
The declaration also called on governments to “devote particular attention to abolishing practices and legislation that discriminate against women and girls, or perpetuate and condone violence against them.”
Conservative Muslim and Catholic states – such as Iran, Libya, Sudan, the Vatican and Honduras – as well as Russia had objected to language on gay rights, abortion and marital rape. A liberal coalition of primarily Western nations, led by Denmark and Norway, watered down language on these issues in order to secure the accord.
The US envoy Terri Robl welcomed the declaration, but expressed regret that it did not explicitly refer to lesbian women as well.
“We regret that some delegations prevented this recognition explicitly,” Robl said.
Surprise move by Egypt envoy
In a surprise turn, Egyptian envoy Mervat Tallawy broke with the politically dominant Muslim Brotherhood and voted in favor of the accord.
"International solidarity is needed for women's empowerment and preventing this regressive mood, whether in the developing countries or developed, or in the Middle East in particular," Tallawy told two reporters afterwards.
"It's a global wave of conservatism, of repression against women, and this paper is a message that if we can get together, hold power together, we can be a strong wave against this conservatism."
slk/hc (AP, AFP)