3.The Human Rights Approach

The human rights perspective and resources introduced in this chapter are meant to help journalists contextualize acts of violence by exposing, among others, root causes and risk factors, as well as patterns that can be addressed through prevention and redress.

The terms “violence against women” and “gender-based violence” are often used interchangeably, including in media narratives. For the first time in the international human rights arena, the UN Declaration on the Elimination of violence against women (1993), stipulated that violence against women “means any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual, or psychological
harm or suffering to women.” This definition allows a focus on both the gendered roots and manifestations of this type of violence.

Gender-based violence can be directed at any person because of their gender. However, because it predominantly targets women and girls, it is often used synonymously with violence against women. In the interest of precision, the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women Committee later recommended using “gender-based violence against women.”

Gender-based violence, rooted in gender inequality, is a severe form of discrimination to the extent that it affects women disproportionately and denies its victims the enjoyment of their fundamental human rights. Women who experience intersecting forms of discrimination and marginalization are especially at risk, for instance, as violence against lesbian and transgender women and/or against Indigenous women often shows. Similarly, a wide range of harmful practices are human rights violations anchored in discriminatory social norms.

3.3.1.Media coverage of gender-based violence: A human rights perspective

Handbook contributor Yakin Ertürk, is a retired professor of sociology and former UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women (2003–2009).

BY YAKIN ERTURK, APRIL 2018

 

Introduction

Women’s role as newsmakers in the traditional media (newspapers, radio, and television) has shown a slow increase over the years. Underrepresentation of women in newsrooms and in media decision-making importantly affects the type of information that is conveyed as news and what messages are given, as well as how subjects get portrayed.

The 1995 Beijing Platform for Action1 identified “Women and the Media” as a priority area for women’s empowerment and called for balanced and nonstereotyped reporting of women and related matters. Developments in this regard, however, have lagged behind the attention other critical areas of concern received over the years. While the slow increase of women’s representation in the media may account for this relative neglect, power and market dynamics of the media world itself may be major contributing factors.

Growing concern about violence against women as a human rights violation and a public policy issue has turned renewed attention to the role of media in shaping public opinion about gender issues. Sexual brutalization of women, sensationalized news articles about the violence and portrayal of women as “sexual objects” in advertisements continue to be marketable commodities that reinforce gendered discrimination. Changing these tendencies – and ensuring that the media plays a constructive role in challenging gender inequality and discrimination in society – requires not only increasing women’s representation in the sector, but also sensitizing it with gender-competent standards and guidelines. The Journalism Initiative undertaken by Rutger’s Center for Women’s Global Leadership is a response to this need.

 

International Normative Framework on Gender-Based Violence Against Women

The entry of violence against women into the realm of international policy and law broke the silence around violence, gave it visibility, and brought the taken-for-granted values, truths and practices of everyday life – whether in intimate relationships or within institutions – under scrutiny. Thus, as the global women’s human rights advocacy gained momentum, the issue of Violence against Women came out from the private to the public domain, at the national and international level, and attracted increasing media coverage, although biased and distorted at times.

This development has been contentious and problematic both at the official level, as well as within the women’s movement. Those critical of the universal human rights paradigm argued that, by focusing on Violence against Women, the global women’s movement has reinforced the victimization image of women, particularly those in the global south, and entrapped them into a victim-subject identity. Selective coverage in the media often reinforced those perceptions.

Nevertheless, irrespective of the controversies, the struggle to end violence appealed to women around the world more so than any other international gender agenda. It has challenged the conventional human rights paradigm (demystifying the public/private dichotomy); transformed state doctrine (from do no harm to prevent harm, i.e., negative responsibility to positive responsibility), and contributed to the criminal justice system with new classifications of crimes (such as domestic violence, marital rape, and stalking, just to count a few). This broadened understanding of human rights with Violence against Women at its center also broadened the concept of due diligence, mandating states and other actors, including the media, to change the rules by which they do business.

Both customary and conventional international law establish that states have due diligence obligations for preventing, responding to, protecting from, and providing remedies for acts of Violence against Women, irrespective of who the perpetrator is. In my capacity as the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women in 2006, I submitted a report2 to the Human Rights Commission on the current application of the due diligence standard and concluded that the standard is not fully explored, particularly in terms of the prevention principle. If applied properly, it can be an effective tool in bringing about the necessary social change for the eradication of Violence against Women. While the due diligence standard is advanced as a state obligation, civil actors are increasingly utilizing it in their work. In this respect particularly, the prevention principle of the due diligence standard can be a useful framework for journalists in developing gender competent reporting guidelines.

The prevention principle of the due diligence standard can be a useful framework for journalists in developing gender competent reporting guidelines.
 
Moving Beyond Law and Order and Common Biases

Having the right policies and laws in place is, no doubt, of paramount importance in the promotion and protection of rights. The existing normative framework at the international level is fairly comprehensive for the prevention of Violence against Women. The present shortcomings lie particularly in: the lack of commitment and political will to respect women’s human rights; inadequacy of human rights monitoring and follow-up mechanisms, and a narrow understanding of Violence against Women, which reduces the problem to, among others, “poor victims,” “deviant men,” “misogynous cultures,” and “harmful traditional practices.”

The latter is often the source of selective and biased reporting. It must be borne in mind that different forms of Violence against Women are merely distinguishable in terms of HOW; the underlying WHY is often common, i.e., unequal patriarchal gender structures. A crime of passion, which may be perceived as an individual and isolated act, and receives a few lines on the third page of a newspaper, and the culturally defined “honor crimes,” which are often featured as a top story, are in fact one and the same in terms of sustaining a system of patriarchal consent and women’s subordination.

Violence against Women is not about numbers but about systematic and structural inequality that breeds violence to preserve male privilege and power. In other words, women experience violence not only disproportionately but also systematically, with the aim to ensure that they stay in their place. Violence against Women is a tool of patriarchal control, whether in the home or work, whether in the West or East, whether during peace or war.

Violence against Women is a continuum. Different spheres (public/private) and contexts (war/peace) where violence takes place are interrelated and intersectional with alternative systems of domination (patriarchy, class, ethnicity, etc.). Thus, there are multiple layers of subordination and risks of violence for different groups of women.

Violence against Women is a violation of basic rights within the context of established power relations, often condoned by the state and society. Many of the forms of abuse that women experience in the name of privacy of the home, or harmful traditional practices, would amount to torture and inhumane treatment punishable under international and national law, if they were to occur in public institutions. Therefore, a human rights perspective needs to replace culturally-tinted language in reporting incidents of Violence against Women.

Last but not least, the understanding of normality masks our perception. We tend to see and respond to forms of abuse that are different from what we are accustomed to – the exotic as opposed to the ordinary. This not only reinforces the process of “othering,” but it also normalizes and obscures the abuses inherent to our own way of life.

A human rights perspective needs to replace culturally-tinted language in reporting incidents of Violence against Women.

3.3.2.The human rights context

3.3.2.1.Behind acts of violence

Eradication of gender-based violence, in all its manifestations, hinges on awareness that it violates a wide range of human rights and can never be accepted as normal. Such violations should not be reported as private, isolated, accidental, justifiable, or unavoidable occurrences.

Many forms of violence constitute crimes that need to be prevented and prosecuted. Vulnerability to gender-based violence is not an inherent characteristic of women’s lives, but it often results from deeply rooted and interconnected factors.

The purpose of the following classification is to highlight the multiplicity of factors potentially leading to gender-based violence so that journalists can better put news stories into context and connect them, whenever appropriate, to related issues and situations in the affected community. Referring to systemic causes may also allow the audience to discern broader patterns of abuse.

None of the following lists are meant to be exhaustive.


What Leads to Gender-Based Violence

Root causes
  • Historical and structural inequality
  • Religious beliefs and practices
  • Social norms and cultural prejudices
  • Sex and gender stereotyping
  • Misogyny
  • Colonialism
  • Slavery
  • Patriarchal culture
  • Social and economic marginalization
  • Caste system
  • Normalization of violence
  • Systemic impunity and abuses of power e.g. by the state, law enforcement and in prisons
Conducive contexts3
Here are key examples of specific contexts/situations that increase the vulnerability of women:
  • Armed conflicts
  • Exposure to violence
  • Humanitarian crises
  • Economic insecurity/deepening poverty
  • Lack of state accountability
  • Discriminatory law enforcement
  • Political unrest and backlash
  • Natural and ecological disasters
  • Pandemics
  • Displacement and migration
  • Drug-related violence
  • Detention
  • Geographical remoteness
  • Abusive domestic settings
Contributing factors
As an extreme form of discrimination, gender-based violence is often linked to a wide range of causal or risk factors that contribute to its prevalence and severity. These factors include:
  • Race or ethnicity
  • Class
  • Indigenous or minority status
  • Immigration status
  • Statelessness
  • Homelessness
  • Marital and/or maternal status
  • Language
  • Age
  • Economic status
  • Health status
  • Pregnancy
  • Type of employment
  • Place of work
  • Religious or political affiliation
  • Sexual orientation or gender identity
  • Disability
  • Education level

3.3.2.2.Intersectional violence

The variety of root causes and factors point not only to how they can aggravate gendered differences in the enjoyment of human rights, but how they rarely contribute in isolation to acts of violence. Many factors can also be both a cause and a consequence of such acts: a woman victimized because of her marginalization, for instance, can be further ostracized after being raped.

In 2009, the Office of the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights published a 15-year review of the work of the initial two Special Rapporteurs on violence against women. “Intersectionality of discrimination and continuum of violence” were identified in the review as one of the main conceptual gains over that period of time:

“Multiple layers of discrimination combine to heighten the vulnerability of women and their experience of violence and most typically result in a continuous chain of violence for marginalized women. This marks a departure from the flat narratives of gender-based violence that tend to homogenize the diverse experiences of women, as well as from approaches that tend to fragment the experience of each individual woman.”4 Although referring to a human rights analysis, this observation fully applies to media narratives that overlook the complexity of intersecting forms of violence.

Feminist research has played a key role in developing the intersectionality concept and applying it to specific fields, such as media monitoring and reporting. In 2019, for instance, the organization Feminism in India published Gender-based Violence in Media: A Media Ethics Toolkit on Sensitive Reportage. Intersectionality is one of the key highlighted concepts:

“In a society as pluralistic as India, women’s vulnerability to gender-based violence is often not only due to their gender, but other marginalizations like caste, sexual orientation, gender identity, class, disability, etc. which intersect in complex ways … Dalit women, transgender women and women with disabilities, for example, face a much higher proportion of sexual violence than able-bodied, dominant caste, cisgender women.”5

In an article6 published by The Conversation, a nonprofit news site, on the anniversary of the Dec. 9, 1989, Montreal massacre, feminist scholar Yasmin Jiwani, writes about gender-based violence in Canada:

“Power dynamics also adversely affect women: class, religion, age, sexuality and ability impact vulnerability to violence … The violence indigenous women experience is rooted in colonialism, during which time they were sexually exploited by traders, colonial agents and miners. These relations of power still persist and influence how indigenous women are perceived negatively and as disposable others. It is these intersections between gender, religion, sexuality, indigeneity and other aspects of identity that put specific groups of women at increased risk of violence.”

The “erasure” of some minority women is an especially acute form of intersectional discrimination and violence. The following examples illustrate how statistics and unidimensional reports or stories can exclude the experiences of women victimized on the grounds of multiple identities.

“The erasure of Romani women” in Europe and intersectional violence

“The conceptualization of race and gender as separate and even unrelated categories has perpetuated the marginalization of Romani women” wrote essayist and human rights lawyer Alexandra Oprea. “Race and gender do not exist in isolation. Minority women often experience multiple forms of discrimination as a result of race and gender … For Romani women, multiple discrimination translates into high illiteracy rates, few employment opportunities, poor physical and psychological health, and increased vulnerability to domestic violence.”7

In her essay, Oprea cites the example of a report on the status of women’s rights in Romania in which “there is no mention of the race-related barriers that prohibit many Romani women from escaping domestic violence. One such barrier is the fear of police brutality directed against Roma which can deter them from reporting domestic violence to the police. Another topic not dealt with in the one-dimensional analysis is Romani women’s reluctance to report domestic violence for fear of reinforcing dominant stereotypes of the ‘violent Romani man.’”8

The erasure of transgender women of color in the United States

The mic.com news site in the United States features the series and database Unerased: Counting transgender lives.9 Its “analysis of transgender homicide cases from 2010 onward provides ample evidence that violence against trans people is an intersectional problem, exacerbated not just by race and gender but also by poverty stemming from discrimination.”

The site highlights the case of Aryah Lester, a black trans woman from Miami [who] describes living with the constant risk of violence:

“I tell people that I already have three strikes. As I’m walking down the street from far, far away, you may only see my color, and that’s one strike. And then as I come a little closer, you see my femininity, and that’s another strike … And then when I get closer you may just see that I’m trans.”10

In an article by Rick Rojas and Vanessa Swales,11 The New York Times referred in September 2019 to a possible “epidemic” of killings of transgender women of color, detailing the multiplicity of factors that lead to such bias crimes. The article included a quote by the Human Rights Campaign’s Sarah McBride that best characterized this intersectional violence: “The prejudices don’t add upon one another, they multiply upon one another.”

The prejudices don’t add upon one another, they multiply upon one another.

3.3.3.Gender-based violence as a form of torture

Some international human rights instruments introduced later in this chapter provide accountability criteria and tools for dealing with gender-based violence that amounts to torture.

“Classifying an act as ‘torture’ carries a considerable additional stigma for the State and reinforces legal implications, which include the strong obligation to criminalize acts of torture, to bring perpetrators to justice and to provide reparation to victims,”12 according to a 2008 report by the UN Special Rapporteur on torture.

The following examples illustrate how a human rights framework can inform journalists’ choices of terminology, or story angles.

Domestic violence.

“Under international law, and regardless of questions of State responsibility and of individual criminal culpability … domestic violence always amounts to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and very often to physical or psychological torture,”13 the UN rapporteur on torture wrote in 2019. This human rights lens can serve journalists in providing a wider framework for their audience to understand the severity of incidents, or patterns of domestic violence.

Asylum.

The classification of an act as torture can also benefit women who seek asylum on grounds of past or feared gender-based persecution. However, immigration laws, policies and practices do not always comply with the universal right to asylum. A March 2020 investigation by BuzzFeed reporter Adolfo Flores14 described the case of a Guatemalan woman who, before being allowed into the U.S., failed several non-refoulement interviews, even though she had been assaulted and tortured with acid. Many such asylum claims, unfortunately, often go unreported.

Sexual violence.

At the end of 2018, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights published two key decisions holding Mexico and Venezuela accountable for gender-based violence amounting to torture. The Court concluded that the victims of sexual violence actually suffered torture due to the presence of intent, severe physical and mental suffering, and the purpose to discriminate on the basis of gender. Reporting on the landmark case known as the Women of Atenco, who were brutalized by the Mexican police, multimedia National Public Radio journalist José Olivares highlighted the testimony of flower vendor Norma Jiménez Osorio:

“Sexual torture destroys lives, destroys families and entire communities … The surviving victims have had to rebuild themselves, alone. But we cannot forget the state was responsible. It is important to sanction everyone responsible for these events. We are not requesting anything extraordinary. We are looking for the truth; we are looking for justice. And we want certainty that this will not be repeated.”15

While focusing on the perspective of survivors, this reporting also ensures that the human rights dimension of the story (an international court rendering a decision based on the recognition of gender-based violence as a means of torture) helps readers understand the importance of redress and accountability.

3.3.4.Harmful practices

The criteria for determining which forms of gender-based violence fall under this umbrella have evolved over time. The human rights framework, at the international and regional levels, provides definitions and analyses that can guide journalists with terminology and explanatory choices. Whether deeply rooted in discrimination, or emerging from social or cultural norms and expectations, harmful practices occur across all regions of the world.

The main human rights reference, in this area, is the 2014 Joint general recommendation No. 31 of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and general comment No. 18 of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) on harmful practices Key statements of this UN document are excerpted here:


UN Recommendations on Harmful Practices

“Harmful practices are persistent practices and forms of behavior that are grounded in discrimination on the basis of, among other things, sex, gender and age, in addition to multiple and/or intersecting forms of discrimination that often involve violence and cause physical and/or psychological harm or suffering. The harm that such practices cause to the victims surpasses the immediate physical and mental consequences and often has the purpose or effect of impairing the recognition, enjoyment and exercise of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of women and children [par. 15].

“Harmful practices are deeply rooted in social attitudes according to which women and girls are regarded as inferior to men and boys based on stereotyped roles. They also highlight the gender dimension of violence and indicate that sex- and gender-based attitudes and stereotypes, power imbalances, inequalities and discrimination perpetuate the widespread existence of practices that often involve violence and coercion [par. 6].

“Harmful practices are endemic to a wide variety of communities in most countries. Some are also found in regions or countries in which they had not been previously documented, primarily owing to migration, whereas, in other countries where such practices have disappeared they are now re-emerging as a result of such factors as conflict situations.” [par. 8]

Prevalent practices that receive significant international media coverage are early and forced marriages; female genital mutilation/cutting; so-called honor crimes; son preference and female infanticide; dowry murders, and polygamy. However, there is a wide range of other practices carried out without consent that impact the dignity and health of women and girls, and can lead to equally severe suffering.


Other Harmful Practices

  • Harmful practices to protect girls from pregnancy or sexual violence (e.g., breast ironing)
  • Harmful sexual initiation rites
  • Harmful practices related to child delivery
  • Virginity testing
  • Forced abortions
  • Mercy killings
  • Menstruation-related violence
  • Body modifications performed for beauty or marriageability purposes (e.g., neck elongation)
  • Beauty practices to comply with social norms or sexual fetishes (e.g., some forms of cosmetic surgery)
  • Harmful widowhood practices/rituals
  • Witch burning
  • Acid attacks
  • Stove burning
  • Food taboos and deprivation

Regardless of their origin, justification or characteristics, those harmful practices can be described as violations of any or all of the following rights: to life, health, physical integrity, dignity, and security, as well as the right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment. Under human rights frameworks, they are not to be normalized, condoned, or accepted whether in the name of religion, culture, custom, or tradition.

How to Avoid Misleading Narratives

The media should consider referring to:

  • Opposition to these practices within the countries/regions where they currently exist. A 2013 UNICEF study,16 for instance, showed that a majority of women and girls in 19 African countries believed that FGM should end. UNICEF data from 2018 show that over 3,000 communities in 17 countries had “participated in a public declaration of support for the abandonment of FGM.”17
  • Local or national advocacy for the elimination of harmful practices, as well as positive changes achieved through legislative reforms and community organizing efforts, including prevention initiatives.
  • The specific role of journalists whose reporting and courage have contributed to the condemnation and even banning of harmful practices in their respective countries, such as:
    • Mae Azango (of FrontPage Africa, Liberia), whose coverage of female genital mutilation led some government officials and traditional leaders to denounce the practice.18
    • Rana Husseini (of The Jordan Times) whose investigations of so-called honor crimes have been credited for Jordan’s legal changes regarding the punishment of perpetrators.19
    • Chi Yvonne Leina, a Cameroonian journalist who broke the story about breast ironing, a practice used to prevent girls from attracting men at an early age.20
  • Lesser known harmful practices that constitute equally severe forms of women’s rights violations. Discrimination and violence against menstruating women, for instance, have been the subject of noteworthy reporting on the impact of harmful taboos and rituals in both Nepal21 and Zimbabwe.22
Underreported or Misreported Issues

Journalists working for the Western media may wish to offer perspective to offer perspective in reporting:

  • Discriminatory and harmful practices that are often labeled as “foreign” may exist domestically without the knowledge of the general population: As an example, few people know about child marriages in the United States. More than half the states have no minimum age for marriage, and between 2000 and 2015, over 200,000 minors were married in the U.S.23 
  • Refugees and immigrants, once established in their host region, often continue to follow practices from their native countries. In the U.S., for instance, a 2016 study (2010–2013 data)24 estimated that over 500,000 girls were either victims or at risk of FGM. As of summer 2020, 12 states still had no laws to ban the practice. Similarly, breast ironing, a spreading practice in the United Kingdom, is accepted as a “cultural practice,” instead of prosecuted as a form of child abuse.25
  • An increasing number of women are seeking political asylum on grounds that they would risk gender-based persecution, if returned to a country where such practices occur. Their plight, when denied asylum, often goes unreported.
  • The phrases ‘honor killing’ and ‘honor crime’ should be avoided without caveats or further explanations. Author and attorney Rafia Zakaria makes the point that the term “would never be attached to any of the thousands of white-on-white cases of intimate partner violence.” Despite the fact that intimate partner violence and so-called honor crimes “are iterations of the same forces of patriarchal dominance.”26
  • Practices that are often identified with “cultural traditions” in developing countries may take different forms in the West.27 They may be “self-inflicted,” especially in the area of “beauty practices” involving dietary or surgical harm, but such practices are often still related to the perpetuation of male dominance-driven stereotypes and expectations.

3.3.5.Women at increased risk of violence during the COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated the importance of reporting through a human rights lens on the gendered aspects of its impact, both for the general public and those who have managed the crisis response.

In April 2020, the UN Working Group on discrimination against women and girls stated:

“As governments attempt to tackle the unprecedented public health and economic crises caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we are deeply concerned that women and girls are suffering even more egregious violations of their human rights … The dramatic increase in women’s caregiving responsibilities, the rise in what was already an epidemic of sexual and domestic violence, the continued feminization of poverty, the proliferation of barriers to healthcare, especially pregnancy-related healthcare, will profoundly jeopardize women’s safety and well-being, economic security, and participation in political and public life, both during and after the pandemic.”28

The UNFPA State of World Population 2020 report – available at www.unfpa.org – highlighted the heightened risks for women and girls to be subjected to harmful practices, such as FGM, child marriage and son preference as a result, among other contributing factors, of increased poverty, school closures, and reduced access to services.

Shobha Shukla, founding managing editor of the India-based Citizen News Service, writing on “The rise in gender-based violence during COVID-19,” provided examples (from the Asia Pacific region) of the pandemic’s impact on marginalized women in particular. https://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/WO2005/S00142/rise-in- gender-based-violence-during-covid-19-warrants-a-gendered-response.htm

Shukla’s article concluded that “the gendered impacts of COVID-19 must be considered. Sexual and other forms of gender-based violence (SGBV) are a violation of human rights [which] denies the human dignity of the individual and hurts human development.”

(The domestic violence section of this handbook, in chapter 7, deals more specifically with increasing rates during the pandemic, as already documented during the Ebola epidemic of the previous decade.)

Finally, the pandemic also has threatened workers’ rights and reproductive rights, as shown in two April 2020 Al Jazeera articles:

3.3.6.Case Study: Reporting on the human rights dimensions of abortion

Handbook contributor Melissa Upreti is the vice chair of the UN Working Group on discrimination against women and girls, and CWGL senior director, Program and Global Advocacy.

BY MELISSA UPRETI, JUNE 2020

 

“Thank you for giving us a new way to talk about abortion,” is one of the most gratifying things that a person has ever said to me after reading something that I had written as a human rights lawyer. It happened at the launch of a human rights fact-finding report that I co-authored 10 years ago. The report examined the impact of the criminal ban on abortion in the Philippines, and the comment came from a journalist. Her feedback took me by surprise because, when I had written the report, journalists were not the audience that I had in mind. My legal analysis and recommendations were geared toward the government and 15 different institutional actors. Knowing fully well how polarizing and discomforting the issue of abortion is in the predominantly Catholic Philippines, I had spent almost an hour at a press conference talking about the human rights dimensions of abortion to make a compelling legal case for the government to amend the nation’s nearly 300-year-old criminal ban.

When I first heard the leading journalist’s words, I felt a great sense of relief. I asked her to explain exactly what she meant. She responded that she would no longer be forced to talk about abortion only as a sin or crime, but that she could now talk about it as a human right.

Within an hour, I had a completely different experience while in a recording studio for Al Jazeera, where I went to answer questions about the findings of my report. The tenor of the interview left me feeling like I had been part of a spectator sport. It didn’t matter that I said women were dying and being subjected to cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment, in violation of their basic human rights, for terminating unwanted pregnancies. The interviewer bombarded me with the typical inflammatory and ideological arguments used by opponents of abortion that were conveniently phrased as questions. It was all on the pretext that viewers were able to “hear both sides of the debate.” The experience left me feeling like I had been used for a crude form of entertainment: Facts did not matter, and the lives of the women whose stories I told did not matter.

When it comes to an issue like abortion, facts based on science and public health data, and women’s lived experiences are the two kinds of information that are most important for the public to hear. The knowledge and understanding built through this information can be used to ensure that our laws, policies and practices promote justice and protect the rights and dignity of women. Advancing these goals does not constitute advocacy but acting in the public interest.

 
Human rights norms and standards matter

Reporting on abortion is crucial for shaping public opinion against unjust laws and policies that target and restrict women’s access to and decisions about abortion. Increased and more nuanced reporting is needed to expose the harm that is done through unnecessary restrictions that at best have no medical basis and at worst criminalize women for their decisions. Both compromise the physical and emotional health and safety of women, rob them of their autonomy and inflict violence.

Human rights accrue at birth and denial of access to a health service that only women ever need constitutes discrimination. Governments are obligated under international law to ensure that abortion services, like any other health service, are available, accessible, affordable, provided in a manner that is acceptable, and meet a basic standard of care. Abortion is a form of health care and a decision that women have the right to make for themselves: It is a human right. Criminalization of abortion, denial of access to safe abortion, and delays in access, constitute gender-based discrimination and violence. This is often experienced in the form of unsafe abortion, which is a leading cause of pregnancy-related morbidity and death. Forced pregnancy and forced continuation of pregnancy are also explicitly recognized as gender-based violence.29

 
Terminology matters

Some of the most commonly used expressions seen in reporting on abortion include the terms “pro-lifers” in referring to opponents of abortion, and “unborn child” to personify and create empathy for the fetus. Combined with frequent references to pregnant women as “mothers,” such usages effectively legitimize harmful gender stereotypes and contribute to GBV. Furthermore, they erase pregnant women from the stories and “invisibilize” the gravity of their personal experiences.

A public health expert surveyed abortion coverage in three leading U.S. newspapers. Her 2018 study30 findings were published in the National Institutes of Health’s Women’s Health Issues journal.

“Abortion is covered as a political issue more than a health issue,” study author Katie Woodruff wrote. “The personal experiences of people who get abortions are present in only 4% of the sample, and language personifying the fetus appears more often than women’s abortion stories.” Her study concludes that “news does not support public understanding of abortion as a common, safe part of reproductive health care. Such framing may undermine public support for policies that protect access to this common health care service.” It also contributes to abortion stigma and helps legitimize what pregnant women experience as violence.

 
Reporting matters

The importance of reporting women’s experiences with unwanted and unplanned pregnancies and bringing them into the public discourse cannot be underestimated, because violence against women in the form of denial of access to safe abortion has been normalized by law, policy and practice for a long time. Women are not a homogenous group. The likelihood and level of violence that they experience is linked to multiple factors, including age, race, and income. Therefore, at best, reporting must take an intersectional approach.

Bearing this reality in mind, one excellent example of reporting on abortion is Zoe Carpenter’s in-depth article “Ecuador’s Crackdown on Abortion Is Putting Women in Jail,”31 published in The Nation in May 2019. Free of misleading and politically charged rhetoric, this article focused on women’s personal experiences with abortion and situated them in a broader legal, historical, political and social context. While the headline gets straight to the point and draws the reader’s attention to one of the harshest outcomes of Ecuador’s restrictive law, i.e., the incarceration of women, its two-part discussion had sufficient space to present the facts and trends. These ultimately revealed the complicity of the state and society in perpetrating and condoning the violence through the systematically harsh treatment of women seeking abortion.

Ruth Michaelson’s September 2019 article32 in The Guardian, “Moroccan journalist jailed for abortion that she says never happened,” shows how reporting on abortion is crucial to expose how women can be unjustly and systematically targeted for violence and harassment through the misuse of restrictive abortion laws. Centering the journalist’s ordeal, this report reveals the larger political context in which the incident occurred and the government’s opportunistic use of the law as a political tool to persecute a woman journalist. It shows the convergence of different human rights concerns, including a restrictive law that denies women their bodily autonomy, attacks on freedom of the press, and Morocco’s failure to comply with its international obligations. The denial of such fundamental freedoms is critical to understanding the far-reaching impact of the country’s restrictive abortion law and its misuse to violate human rights through gender-based violence.

Another Guardian article,33 Liz Ford’s “U.S. abortion policy is ‘extremist hate’ and ‘torture’, says UN Commissioner,” is a good example of reporting that quotes a highly reputable human rights expert to inform the reader that bans on abortion violate women’s human rights under international law. They violate the right to health and result in torture. This recognition is used as a basis to call abortion bans out as a form of “extremist hate” and gender-based violence. These framings reflect important developments in international law and are likely to remain confined to the legal discourse unless they are brought to the public by journalists.

3.3.7.Resources

3.3.7.1.Women’s Human Rights International Framework: A chronology of UN landmark documents relevant to gender-based violence

1979: Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)

CEDAW entered into force as an international treaty in 1981 and established the first international bill of rights for women. It acknowledged in its preamble that discrimination “violates the principles of equality of rights and respect for human dignity.” The convention, however, does not explicitly mention violence against women (VAW), which was not yet officially regarded as a human rights issue.

1994: Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development

This comprehensive program was adopted by 179 governments meeting in Cairo in September 1994. One of the key principles framing the whole program of action states: “Advancing gender equality and equity and the empowerment of women, and the elimination of all kinds of violence against women, and ensuring women’s ability to control their own fertility, are cornerstones of population and development-related programmes. The human rights of women and the girl child are an inalienable, integral, and indivisible part of universal human rights.” Chapter VII defines reproductive rights.

1995: Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action

The Fourth UN World Conference on Women took place in Beijing in 1995. 189 countries unanimously adopted this declaration, which is considered the key global policy document on gender equality. The Platform’s 12 critical areas of concern include the human rights of women; violence against women and girls; women and armed conflict, and women and the media. In terms of governmental intervention strategies, the Platform identifies two essential needs for: “adequate gender-disaggregated data and statistics on the incidence of violence,” and “mainstreaming a gender perspective in all policies and programs so that before decisions are taken an analysis may be made of their effects on women and men, respectively.”

1998: Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC)

The statute that establishes the ICC is the first international treaty to establish conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence as crimes against humanity, war crimes, and even, in some instances, genocide. It includes in its jurisdiction numerous sexual offenses and gender-based crimes among the most severe crimes of international criminal law. In particular, the list of acts that can be prosecuted as crimes against humanity (“when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack”) includes, under article 7(g), “rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity.”

2000: UN Security Council Resolution 1325

This resolution on women, peace, and security refers to the Beijing commitments and acknowledges that “women and children account for the vast majority of those adversely affected by armed conflict, including as refugees and internally displaced persons.” It also “emphasizes the responsibility of all States to put an end to impunity and to prosecute those responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes including those relating to sexual and other violence against women and girls.”

2014: Joint General Recommendation No. 31 of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women and General Comment No. 18 of the Committee on the Rights of the Child on Harmful Practices

Harmful practices are defined as “persistent practices and forms of behavior that are grounded in discrimination on the basis of, among other things, sex, gender, and age, in addition to multiple and/or intersecting forms of discrimination that often involve violence and cause physical and/or psychological harm or suffering.” The document also spells out “the criteria that such practices should meet to be regarded as harmful” and focuses on female genital mutilation, child and/or forced marriage, polygamy, and so-called honor crimes.

2017: Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women Committee General Recommendation (GR) No. 35 on Gender-Based Violence Against Women

General Recommendation No. 35 updates the 1992 General Recommendation No. 19, cited above. Specifically, the Committee stressed that, since the latter was adopted in 1992, “most State parties have improved their legal and policy measures to address diverse forms of gender-based violence against women.” Also noteworthy is the recognition that “the prohibition of gender-based violence has evolved into a principle of customary international law. GR 19 has been a key catalyst for this process.”

GR No. 35 also updates the concept of violence against women: “This document uses the expression ‘gender-based violence against women’ as a more precise term that makes explicit the gendered causes and impacts of the violence. This expression further strengthens the understanding of this violence as a social – rather than individual – problem, requiring comprehensive responses, beyond specific events, individual perpetrators and victims/survivors. The Committee considers that gender-based violence against women is one of the fundamental social, political and economic means by which the subordinate position of women with respect to men and their stereotyped roles are perpetuated.”

Its paragraph 37 specifically recommends “the creation or strengthening of self-regulatory mechanisms by the media, including online or social media, aimed at the elimination of gender stereotypes,” as well as “guidelines for the appropriate coverage by the media of gender-based violence against women.”

2019: International Labor Organization Convention 190 on Violence and Harassment in the World of Work

The Convention defines violence and harassment as “a range of unacceptable behaviours and practices [that] aim at, result in, or are likely to result in physical, psychological, sexual or economic harm.” It applies to the public and private sectors, as well as to the formal and informal economies.

In its preamble, the 2019 Violence and Harassment Convention acknowledges that “gender-based violence and harassment disproportionately affects women and girls, and that an inclusive, integrated and gender-responsive approach, which tackles underlying causes and risk factors, including gender stereotypes, multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination, and unequal gender-based power relations, is essential to ending violence and harassment in the world of work.”

The accompanying Recommendation 206, adopted by the ILO General Conference, supplements the Convention with implementing proposals. It specifies, among others, that “particular attention should be paid to the hazards and risks that arise from discrimination, abuse of power relations, and gender, cultural and social norms that support violence and harassment.”

3.3.7.2.Regional Instruments

1994: Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment, and Eradication of Violence Against Women

The Convention was adopted within the framework of the Organization of American States and is otherwise known as the Belém do Pará Convention. Since its adoption in that Brazilian city, “the Convention has made a significant contribution to strengthening the Inter-American Human Rights System. For the first time it established women’s right to live a life free of violence,” according to the OAS. A decade later, a Follow-up Mechanism to the Belém do Pará Convention was established to determine progress by the party states in implementing the convention.

Its work led, in 2015, to the adoption by the Sixth Conference of States Party to the Convention of its Declaration on Political Harassment and Violence Against Women, the first regional agreement explicitly devoted to the issue.

The last paragraph of this declaration “encourages the media, advertising companies and social networks to develop and/or include in codes of ethics the issue of discrimination against women in politics by the media and the political harassment and/or violence to which they are subjected, underscoring the need to present women in a fair, respectful, broad and varied manner, at all levels of hierarchy and responsibility, eliminating sexist stereotypes that disqualify or hide their leadership in all decision-making spaces.”

2003: Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa

This binding legal framework is also known as the Maputo Protocol, in reference to the Mozambique capital where it was adopted by the Assembly of the African Union. “Unlike any other women’s human rights instrument, the Maputo Protocol details wide-ranging and substantive human rights provisions for women, covering the entire spectrum of civil and political, economic, social and cultural as well as environmental rights,” according to an African Union media advisory.

Rights and protections that the Protocol specifically defines and addresses:

  • Right to Dignity (Art. 3): “Ensure the protection of every woman’s right to respect for her dignity, and protection of women from all forms of violence, particularly sexual and verbal violence.”
  • Right to Life, Integrity and Security (Art.4)
  • Elimination of Harmful Practices (Art. 5), and Protection of Women in Armed Conflicts (Art. 11)
  • Health and Reproductive Rights (Art. 14)
  • Widows’ Rights (Art.20): Ensure that “widows are not subjected to inhuman, humiliating, or degrading treatment.”
  • Special Protection of Elderly Women (Art. 22) and of Women with Disabilities (Art.23)
2011: Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence

Otherwise known as the Istanbul Convention, this is the most recent binding treaty on violence against women. It entered into force in 2014. For the first time in 2020, non-member states of the Council of Europe were able to accede to the Convention.

It is the first legally binding instrument to define gender: “It shall mean the socially constructed roles, behaviours, activities and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for women and men.”

Chapter V spells out all the forms of criminalized (or otherwise sanctioned) violence against women. It is worth noting that these include psychological violence (through coercion or threats), stalking, and sexual harassment defined as “any form of unwanted verbal, non-verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person, in particular when creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.”

The Convention’s Chapter VII covers migration and asylum with a mandate for all state parties to “take the necessary legislative or other measures to ensure that gender-based violence against women may be recognized as a form of persecution.”

The Convention emphasizes the importance of prevention measures that include the “participation of the private sector and the media (Art. 17). In 2016, the Council of Europe commissioned a study on the rationale for Article 17 in addressing “the link between the media’s portrayal of women and men, their reproduction of gender stereotypes, and violence against women.” It also gives examples of how the media can engage in the prevention of violence against women.

3.3.7.3.SELECTED REPORTS BY UN INDEPENDENT EXPERTS

Reports of the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences

Integration of the human rights of women and the gender perspective (2006)

UN Commission on Human Rights, Report of the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, Its Causes and Consequences on the Due Diligence Standard as a Tool for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

https://undocs.org/E/CN.4/2006/61 

Submitted by Special Rapporteur Yakin Ertürk, this report focuses on the due diligence standard as a tool for the elimination of violence against women. It “examines the shared responsibilities of State and non-State actors with respect to preventing and responding to violence and other violations of women’s human rights.”

Intersections between culture and violence against women (2007)

https://undocs.org/A/HRC/4/34
Presented to the Human Rights Council by Special Rapporteur Yakin Ertürk.

Adequacy of the international legal framework on violence against women (2017)

https://undocs.org/A/72/134
This report, submitted in 2017 by Special Rapporteur Dubravka Šimonović, stemmed in part from the need for “closing the gap in the incorporation and implementation of existing international and regional instruments on violence against women and providing victims with adequate protection measures and services, as well as efficient remedies.”

Online violence against women and girls from a human rights perspective (2018)

https://undocs.org/en/A/HRC/38/47

This report, submitted by Special Rapporteur Dubravka Šimonović, reiterates that “violence against women is a form of discrimination and a human rights violation.” Its related premise is that “the consequences of and harm caused by different manifestations of online violence are specifically gendered, given that women and girls suffer from particular stigma in the context of structural inequality, discrimination, and patriarchy. Women subjected to online violence are often further victimized through harmful and negative gender stereotypes, which are prohibited by international human rights law.”

Rape as a grave, systematic and widespread human rights violation, a crime and a manifestation of gender-based violence against women and girls, and its prevention

This report was presented to the Human Rights Council in June 2021 by Special Rapporteur Dubravka Šimonović.

https://undocs.org/A/HRC/47/26

Reports of the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment

Strengthening the protection of women from torture (2008)

https://undocs.org/A/HRC/7/3

The report, submitted to the Human Rights Council by Special Rapporteur Manfred Nowak, addresses what constitutes torture both in the public and private spheres.

Gender perspectives on torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment (2016)

https://undocs.org/A/HRC/31/57

The report, submitted to the Human Rights Council by Special Rapporteur Juan E. Méndez, examines the legal framework for issues, such as the torture of LGBTQ people, rape and sexual violence, trafficking, domestic violence, and harmful practices.

Relevance of the prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment to the context of domestic violence

https://undocs.org/pdf ?symbol=en/A/74/148

The interim report, submitted to the UN General Assembly by Special Ra porteur Nils Melzer, analyzes the types of conduct that amount to torture, as well as the legal responsibility of states.

Report of the UN Independent Expert on the protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (2018)


https://undocs.org/A/HRC/38/43


This report, the first submitted to the Human Rights Council by Victor Madrigal-Borloz, is a global overview of this type of violence, including an analysis of its root causes.

 

3.3.7.4.Other resources

Handbook for Legislation on Violence Against Women

UN Women (2012) 68 pages: https://www.unwomen.org/-/media/headquarters/ attachments/sections/library/publications/2012/12/unw_legislation-hand- book%20pdf.pdf ?la=en&vs=1502

The handbook outlines the international and regional legal and policy framework and provides guidance for its implementation through national laws addressing violence against women. It comes with a supplement on Harmful Practices Against Women.

Speak Up, Speak Out: A Toolkit for Reporting on Human Rights Issues

Internews (2012)–184 pages https://resourcecentre.savethechildren.net/pdf/6071.pdf/

“This toolkit is both a human rights reference guide and a workbook for journalists who want to improve their ability to report on human rights issues in a fair, accurate, and sensitive way,” according to the Speak Up Speak Out website. “Both professional journalists and citizen reporters are in a unique position to shed light on human rights violations … Linking events to human rights standards can make the story more newsworthy.”

The toolkit, by the U.S-based nonprofit Internews, includes two specific sections on women’s rights and on “human rights and gender-sensitive reporting.”

Reporting on Violence Against Women and Girls: A Handbook for Journalists

UNESCO (2019)–152 pages https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000371524

The handbook includes several sections of good practices and guidance for reporting on various harmful practices.

World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) Violence Against Women Program (2019)

https://www.omct.org/site-resources/legacy/briefing_report__protecting_women_from_v[…]hrough_the_un_convention_against_torture_2020-12-11-144516.pdf 

This program provides briefings on a wide range of issues, including a report on “Protecting Women From Violence Through the UN Convention Against Torture.” OMCT is a global coalition of international NGOs fighting against torture, summary executions and enforced disappearances. The organization also connects the media with experts on related issues.

National Day of Remembrance on Violence Against Women (Canada)

Jiwani, Y. (2018, Dec. 5). “Less talk, more action: National Day of Remembrance on violence against women.” https://theconversation.com/less-talk-more-action-national-day-of-remembrance-on-violence-against-women-108139

This article by Canadian scholar Yasmin Jiwani illustrates both the complexity of intersectional violence and the reporting opportunities that relevant national or international commemorative dates offer. Jiwani is Concordia University Research Chair in Intersectionality, Violence, and Resistance. https://www.concordia.ca/artsci/coms/faculty.html?fpid=yasmin-jiwani

Promoting and Protecting Human Rights in Relation to Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Sex Characteristics: A Manual for National Human Rights Institution

Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions and the UN Development Programme (2016)–244 pages https://www.asia-pacific.undp.org/ content/rbap/en/home/library/democratic_governance/hiv_aids/promot- ing-and-protecting-human-rights-in-relation-to-sexual-orie.html

Although written in the context of the Asia Pacific region, this manual outlines the international developments in human rights law that protect the universal rights, among others, of lesbians and transgender women facing gender-based violence. It includes a section on the Yogyakarta Principles (2006, 2017), a universal guide to human rights that affirms binding international legal standards relating to sexual orientation and gender identity, with which all states must comply.

Legal Frameworks: The Nexus of Gender-Based Violence and Media

International Media Support (2020) 10 pages: https://www.mediasupport.org/ publication/legal-frameworks-the-nexus-of-gender-based-violence-and-media/

This legal briefing note is “aimed at media practitioners and highlights the main frameworks that mention the role of the media.”

3.3.7.5.International Commemorative Days: News Pegs to Report on Gender-Based Violence

 

Feb. 6
International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation
March 8
International Women’s Day
April 7
World Health Day
May 3
World Press Freedom Day
May 17
International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia
June 19
International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict
June 20
World Refugee Day
June 26
International Day in Support of Victims of Torture
July 17
Day of International Criminal Justice
Aug. 9
International Day of the World’s Indigenous People
Oct. 1
International Day of Older Persons
Oct. 11
International Day of the Girl Child
Oct. 15
International Day of Rural Women
Nov. 2
International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists
Nov. 20
Transgender Day of Remembrance and Resilience
Nov. 25
International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women
Dec. 1
World AIDS Day
Dec. 3
International Day of Persons with Disabilities
Dec. 10
Human Rights Day
Dec. 18

International Migrants Day


The Global 16 Days of Activism Campaign Against Gender-Based Violence, launched in 1991 by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership, runs annually from Nov. 25 to Dec. 10 It also includes, on Dec. 6, the anniversary of the Montreal massacre

3.3.8.Endnotes

Endnotes on chapter 3.

  1. Outcome document of the Fourth UN World Conference on Women (1995)
  2. United Nations, The due diligence standard as a tool for the elimination of violence against women: report of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women to the Commission on Human Rights, E/CN.4/2006/61 (2006, Jan. 20). Retrieved on Sept. 7, 2020, from https://undocs.org/E/CN.4/2006/61
  3. Concept formulated by British scholar Liz Kelly: Kelly, L. (2016, March 01). The conducive context of violence against women and girls, Discover Society issue 30, 2016, licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. Retrieved on Sept. 7, 2020, from https://discoversociety.org/2016/03/01/ theorising-violence-against-women-and-girls/
  4. United Nations, OHCHR, 15 years of the United Nations Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences (1994–2009), p. 42. Retrieved on Sept. 7, 2020, from https://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/women/rapporteur/docs/15YearReviewofVAWMandate.pdf
  5. Feminism in India (2019). Gender-based violence in media, pp. 8–10. Retrieved on Sept. 7, 2020, from https://feminisminindia.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/GBVInMedia_Report_FII.pdf
  6. Jiwani,Y. (2017, Dec.4). A continuum of unabated violence: Remembering the massacre at Ecole Polytechnique. The Conversation. Retrieved on Sept. 7, 2020, from
    https://theconversation.com/a-continuum-of-unabated-violence-remembering-the-massacre-at-ecole-polytechnique-88572
  7. Oprea, A. (2003, March 17). The erasure of Romani women. Kopachi.com. Retrieved on Sept. 7, 2020, from https://kopachi.com/articles/the-erasure-of-romani-women-alexandra-oprea/
  8. Ibid.
  9. Talusan, M. (2016, Dec. 8). Unerased: Counting transgender lives. Mic.com. Retrieved on Sept. 7, 2020, from https://unerased.mic.com/
  10. Ibid.
  11. Rojas, R. & Swales V. (2019, Sept. 27). 18 transgender killings this year raise fears of an ‘epidemic’. The New York Times. Retrieved on Sept. 7, 2020, from https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/27/us/transgender-women-deaths.html
  12. United Nations, Strengthening the protection of women from torture: report of the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment to the Human Rights Council (par. 26), A/HRC/7/3 (2008, Jan.15). Retrieved on Sept. 7, 2020, from https://undocs.org/A/HRC/7/3
  13. United Nations, Relevance of the prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment to the context of domestic violence: report of the UN Special Rapporteur on torture to the General Assembly (par. 10), A/74/148 (2019, July 12). Retrieved on Sept. 7, 2020, from https://undocs.org/A/74/148
  14. Flores, A. (2020, March 7). An Asylum-Seeker Who Was Kidnapped and Tortured With Acid Begged US Border Officers Not To Send Her Back. They Did Anyway. BuzzFeed News. Retrieved on Sept. 7, 2020, from https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/adolfoflores/asylum-seeker-tortured-mexico
  15. Olivares, J. (2017, Nov. 19). Women testify against Mexican police for sexual torture in International Court. NPR.
    Retrieved on Sept. 7, 2020, from https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/11/19/550502559/women-testify-against-mexican-police-for-sexual-torture-in-international-court
  16. OHCHR Information series on sexual and reproductive health and rights: Harmful practices (updated 2020). Retrieved on Sept. 7, 2020, from https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Women/WRGS/SexualHealth/INFO_Harm_Pract_WEB.pdf
  17. UNICEF (March 2020). Child marriage and female genital mutilation are internationally recognized human rights violations Retrieved on Sept. 7, 2020, from https://www.unicef.org/protection/harmful-practices
  18. Committee to Protect Journalists. (2012, Nov. 20). 2012 CPJ International Press Freedom Awards. Retrieved on Sept. 7, 2020, from
    https://cpj.org/awards/mae-azango-liberia/
  19. Soussi, A. (2018, May 25). Rana Husseini: The veteran reporter battling ‘honour killings’. Aljazeera. Retrieved on Sept. 7, 2020, from
    https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/rana-husseini-veteran-reporter-battling-honour-killings-180309201914889.html

    Nahhas, R. (2019, Dec. 15). Jordanian journalist’s award puts ‘honour killings’ in spotlight. The Arab Weekly. Retrieved on Sept. 7, 2020, from
    https://thearabweekly.com/jordanian-journalists-award-puts-honour-killings-spotlight
  20. UN Women (2013, Feb. 27). In the words of Chi Yvonne Leina: How I stopped grandma from ironing my budding breasts. Retrieved on Sept. 7, 2020 from https://www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2013/2/in-the-words-of-chi-yvonne-leina
  21. Shrestha, E. (2019, Dec. 11). Everything you need to know about Chhaupadi, the taboo ritual of banishing women to period huts. Kathmandu Post. Retrieved on Sept. 7, 2020, from https://kathmandupost.com/national/2019/12/11/everything-you-need-to-know-about-chhaupadi-the-taboo-ritual-of-banishing-women-to-period-huts

    Paudel, R. (2019, Dec. 8). 16 Days of Activism: Dignified Menstruation Day for ending GBV. Radha Paudel Foundation. Retrieved on Sept. 7, 2020, from http://www.radhapaudelfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/December-8-Dignified-Menstrual-Day.pdf
  22. Nyava, T. (2018, Dec. 7). Of bloody period taboos and gender-based violence. Bulawayo24. Retrieved on Sept. 7, 2020, from
    https://bulawayo24.com/index-id-news-sc-press+release-byo-151201.html
  23. Tsui, A., Nolan D. & Amico, C. (2017, July 6). Child marriage in America by the numbers, Frontline. Retrieved on Sept. 7, 2020, from http://apps.frontline.org/child-marriage-by-the-numbers/
  24. Mather, N. & Feldman-Jacobs, C. (2016, Feb. 5). Women and girls at risk of female genital mutilation/cutting in the United States. Population Reference Bureau. Retrieved on Sept. 7, 2020, from https://www.prb.org/us-fgmc/
  25. Lazareva, I. (2019, Jan. 26). Revealed: ‘dozens’ of girls subjected to breast-ironing in UK. The Guardian. Retrieved on Sept. 7, 2020, from
    https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2019/jan/26/revealed-dozens-of-girls-subjected-to-breast-ironing-in-uk
  26. Zakaria, R. (2021) Against White Feminism. London: Penguin Random House.
  27. Jeffreys, S. (2015). Beauty and Misogyny: Harmful cultural practices in the West (2nd ed.). London and New York: Routledge.
  28. United Nations, OHCHR, Responses to the COVID-19 pandemic must not discount women and girls, a statement by the UN Working Group on discrimination against women and girls (20 April, 2020). Retrieved on Sept. 7, 2020, from https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=25808&LangID=E
  29. United Nations, Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, General Recommendation No. 35, CEDAW/C/GC/35 (26 July 2017). Retrieved on Sept. 7, 2020, from https://undocs.org/CEDAW/C/GC/35
  30. Woodruff, K. Coverage of abortion in select U.S. newspapers. Women’s Health Issues: 2019 Jan–Feb: 29(1): 80–86. Retrieved on Sept. 7, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6295238/
  31. Carpenter, Z. (2019, May 7). Ecuador’s crackdown on abortion is putting women in jail. The Nation. Retrieved on Sept. 7, 2020, from https://www.thenation.com/article/world/ecuador-abortion-miscarriage-prosecution/
  32. Michaelson, R. (2019, Sept. 30). Moroccan journalist jailed for abortion that she says never happened. The Guardian. Retrieved on Sept. 7, 2020, from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/sep/30/moroccan-journalist-hajar-raissouni-jailed-abortion
  33. Ford, L. (2019, June 4). US abortion policy is ‘extremist hate’ and ‘torture’, says UN commissioner. The Guardian. Retrieved on Sept. 7, 2020, from https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2019/jun/04/us-abortion-policy-extremist-hate-torture-un-commissioner-kate-gilmore