last updated March 2015
In partnership with UN Women, The Advocates for Human Rights created the following sections for UN Women's Virtual Knowledge Centre to End Violence against Women and Girls. This section, along with sections addressing other forms of violence against women and girls, may be found under Legislation at www.endvawnow.org.
States should collect gender-disaggregated data on the maltreatment of widows, including laws and practices on inheritance, property, widow inheritance, levirate and sororate marriages, forced evictions and property grabbing, on a domestic, regional and international level and cross-compare them to other statistics on crime, gender equality and migration.
With respect to property-related discrimination against widows, while the widespread perception is that widows face discrimination in land rights and other ways after the death of a husband, there is often little statistical evidence to support such claims. Statistics are a key part of developing legislation and other programs targeted at protecting widow’s rights, especially to land and property. See A. Peterman, Widowhood and asset inheritance in sub-Saharan Africa, June 2011, p. 2, 32.
An important part of gathering statistics for the maltreatment of widows requires the establishment of registration systems for births, deaths and marriages. (See: Registration of Marriage and Births) Also, drafters should establish a system for the registration of widow inheritances, forced evictions, property grabbing and forced marriage cases by all agencies, neighborhood, local and regional authorities, public service providers and non-governmental organizations working on the issue.
Reliable statistics on the prevalence of violence against women are essential to developing effective legislation and to developing strategies and protocols for the implementation of the legislation. Legislation should require the state to develop a methodology to obtain statistics on each of the types of violence against women. (See: Researching Violence Against Women: A Practical Guide for Researchers and Activists)
Statistics on the frequency of acts of violence against women should be obtained from relevant government ministries, law enforcement, the judiciary, health professionals, land title and registration offices, and non-governmental organizations which serve survivors of violence against women. These acts should be disaggregated by gender, age, relationship between offender and survivor, race, ethnicity, and any other relevant characteristics. Monitors should note whether or not such data is publicly available and easily accessed. See: Report of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Yakin Erturk, Indicators on violence against women and state response, A/HRC/7/6/Add.5, p. 19, CENWOR in Sri Lanka, and CORE GAD in Philippines (ESCAP paper, p. 6)
Statistics should also be gathered on the causes and consequences of the acts of violence against women. See: UN Handbook, 3.3.2, Guatemala’s Law against Femicide and other Forms of Violence against Women (2008), Mexico, Law on Access of Women to a Life Free of Violence (2007). Data should also be collected on offenders, including whether and when an abuser re-offends. See: UN Handbook 3.3.2.
Monitors should also determine the number (per population statistics), geographic distribution and use statistics for hotlines, shelters and crisis centers. See: Report of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Yakin Erturk, Indicators on violence against women and state response, A/HRC/7/6, p. 28, and Raising Voices (Uganda); see also: We Can End VAW.
Monitors must also determine the numbers of cases of all forms of violence against women and girls that are reported to law enforcement officials, and whether or not they are charged, if they go to trial, and how many convictions result.
In some states, statistics on many of these issues will be readily available in administrative offices or national statistics or crime bureaus; in others, monitors will need to pose exact and strategic questions to government officials in law enforcement administration who are in a position to provide the information that is required. This may involve a multi-step process of formal interview requests but it can be well worthwhile.
For an analysis of national surveys carried out by the countries at the conference of European statisticians to measure violence against women, see the Economic Commission for Europe, Work session on gender statistics, http://www.unece.org/stats/documents/2006.09.gender.htm
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