The UN top women's rights advocate on Friday denounced escalating violence against women in Egypt [statement]. Michelle Bachelet [official profile], the Executive Director of UN Women [advocacy website] expressed particular concern about a recent protest in Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo, in which 25 women were reportedly sexually assaulted [UN News Centre report]. In her statement, Bachelet urged Egypt's government to enact legislation to ensure that women and girls are protected from violence:
UN Women calls upon the Government and people of Egypt to take a firm stand against all forms of violence against women and girls, and to promote human rights for all, including the rights of women to live free of violence and discrimination and to participate fully in social, economic and political life.Earlier this week UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] deplored the sexual violence [press release] that occurred in Tahrir Square.
Violence against women has been a long-standing issue around the world. Last month UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged India's government [JURIST report] to strengthen critical services for rape victims, expressing sympathy for the family of the 23-year-old medical student who died from injuries sustained in a gang-rape in December. Police in New Delhi charged six men [JURIST report] with rape and murder of the woman. In December the UN released a report declaring that women in Afghanistan [JURIST report] are still suffering abuse at the hands of men. In November the UN urged countries to implement policies that will end violence against women [JURIST report]. Also in November the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly approved a resolution calling for a global ban on female genital mutilation [JURIST report]. At the same time, Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] released a report detailing violence and obstacles women are facing in Colombia [JURIST report], where the legal framework is often not properly applied despite the government's progress in enacting legislation to protect violence against women.