The Commonwealth will today launch a new initiative to help member states of the Commonwealth bring down rates of domestic violence.
Established in collaboration with public agencies, human rights institutions and civil society, Peace in the Home: Ending domestic violence together is part of a larger strategy focused on ‘A Peace-building Commonwealth’ – the theme for the rest of the Commonwealth year. The programme includes a package of special measures and toolkits to help member states build capacity for a multi-sectoral approach to ending domestic violence.
“While women are disproportionately affected as victims of domestic abuse, this stubborn stain on our communities is no respecter of gender, location or social or economic status. When we understand that 38 per cent of women murdered globally were killed by an intimate partner, this should shock us all into action. This is why I will remain steadfast in my commitment to address this issue,” said Commonwealth Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland.
She added: “Peace in the home rests on the premise that we cannot achieve stable and peaceful societies if our homes are war zones, where children, the biggest casualties, are taught that violence is the best way to resolve conflict. There is evidence to show that tackling violent extremism and other forms of organised violence must begin with addressing violence in the home.
“The Commonwealth initiative will build a coalition of governments, businesses, human rights institutions, civil society and individual citizens to choral our efforts to address domestic violence.”
The Secretary-General will announce plans to map the economic cost of domestic violence in Commonwealth countries, and extend ongoing work to strengthen laws that protect vulnerable women and girls.
“Our judicial bench book, which defines what constitutes violence against women, was piloted in East Africa, where judges described it as “essential” for gender justice. We hope this is going to make a marked impact on the fight against cultural practices such as female genital mutilation. We plan to follow this up with an implementation strategy and a roll out to the rest of Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, the Pacific and any other areas in the Commonwealth where the relevant laws do not already exist,” she said.
The Secretary-General added: “We understand that strengthening legislation and shaping policy is not enough. We have to challenge the discrimination, dangerous stereotypes, male chauvinism and institutional sexism wherever they may exist in the Commonwealth. Currently, we are working with the traditional and religious leaders in Africa, in partnership with the African Union and national human rights institutions in countries such as Zambia, Malawi and Ghana, to prevent and eliminate child marriage.
“These activities are all part of a multipronged action plan. The aim is to mainstream gender into all aspects of our work,” said the Secretary-General.
“Ultimately, my aim is to see the levels of domestic violence in the Commonwealth fall by double digit percentages and then progress to elimination in all 52 countries. I know this is possible, because, using a multi-sectoral approach, while I was a government Minister I chaired the inter-ministerial group which, by working together, delivered a 64 per cent reduction in violence against women and a £7.1bn reduction in economic costs in the UK.”
Commonwealth Secretary-General Scotland will officially launch Peace in the Home: Ending domestic violence together, at a high-level panel discussion on International Women’s Day, 8 March. This initiative will continue through the Commonwealth year and is expected to culminate in February 2018 with a Commonwealth accord on ending violence.