25 November 2017, GENEVA – The Chairman of the Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue H. E. Dr. Hanif Hassan Ali Al Qassim calls for the elimination of all forms of violence adversely affecting women and girls. Dr. Al Qassim’s appeal was made in relation to the observation of the 2017 International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
“Approximately 1/3 of women and girls worldwide have experienced physical forms of violence. Violence against women and girls is a deplorable phenomenon affecting all regions of the world. Such practices are an affront to our modern societies and must be eradicated urgently,” said Dr. Al Qassim.
In relation to the situation in the Arab region, the Geneva Centre’s Chairman appealed to all Arab countries to revoke existing discriminatory laws providing impunity to perpetrators of violence against women and girls. In this regard, he said:
“I commend the recent efforts of Lebanon, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia to repeal discriminatory laws against women and girls. Loopholes in national legislation should not give ground to wrongdoers to escape justice. Perpetrators of violence against women and girls must be brought to justice. All people regardless of gender are equal before law.”
The Geneva Centre’s Chairman added likewise that the unprecedented rise of extremist violence in the Middle East and in Northern Africa has contributed to worsening the status of Arab women. The forceful displacement of people – he noted – has destroyed the social fabric of previously stable and prosperous Arab societies. The disproportionate effects of armed conflict and of violence have particularly affected women and girls as sexual violence is prevalent in many conflicts.
“Rape and sexual violence are being used by belligerents in Syria and in Iraq as a tool of war. Women and girls have become normal targets of war as combatants resort to sexual violence and to rape and commit other grave human rights abuses on the civilian populations of Iraq and Syria.
“Resolution 1820 of the UN Security Council of 19 June 2008 prohibits and condemns all forms of sexual violence and rape targeting women and girls which can constitute in extreme cases crimes against humanity. I condemn all forms of sexual violence and rape against women and girls in all major conflicts in the Middle East regardless of ethnicity and religious beliefs,” highlighted the Geneva Centre’s Chairman.
In order to improve the status of women in the Arab region, Dr. Al Qassim appealed to Arab governments to address all challenges impeding the realization of women’s empowerment. In this regard, he noted that Arab countries must uphold the positive momentum witnessed in the Arab region in eliminating all forms of violence targeting women and girls. Dr. Al Qassim said:
“All forms of violence and discrimination against women and girls in the world must come to an end. At this particular moment, our thoughts, compassion and prayers go in particular to those Rohingya women and girls attacked, raped, brutally expelled from their homes and native land and surviving in refugee camps in Bangladesh.
“I would like to commend the efforts of all Arab states to promote the advancement of the status of Arab women in line with the provisions set forth in inter alia Sustainable Development Goal 5. Arab countries need to keep their gear high in enhancing women’s empowerment and in eliminating all forms of violence carried out against women and girls whether in times of war or in times of peace.”
The Geneva Centre’s Chairman concluded by stating that “the success of a society is contingent upon its ability to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls. Women represent half of world population and contribute equally with men to the social progress of societies. All women and girls deserve to be treated with dignity and respect and to have their human rights respected in all spheres of human endeavour.”