AFTURD: Association of Tunisian Women for Research on Development
CEDAW: Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women
CSOs: Civil Society Organizations
EFI: EuroMed Feminist Initiative
FGM: Female Genital Mutilation
ICRAM: Government Plan for Equality
JNCW: Jordanian National Commission for Women
NCCM: National Council for Childhood and Motherhood
NCCPIM & TIP: National Coordination Committee on Preventing and Combating Illegal Migration
NCHR: National Centre for Human Rights
NCLW: National Commission for Lebanese Women
NCW: National Council for Women
NGOs: Non-Governmental Organizations
RCSO: Regional Civil Society Observatory
UfM: Union for the Mediterranean
PVE: Preventing Violent Extremism
UNFPA: United Nations Population Fund, before United Nations Fund for Population Activities
VAWG: Violence Against Women and Girls
WPSA: Women, Peace and Security Agenda
Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG) is now recognized, in line with international human rights standards, as a violation of women’s human rights. National efforts have been made in recent years to adopt national legislation, strategies, and policies to effectively address and prevent such violence.
In 2019, the Regional Civil Society Observatory (RCSO) was established as an independent mechanism to follow up on the implementation of the Ministerial Declaration of the 4th Union for Mediterranean (UfM) Ministerial Conference on Strengthening the Role of Women in Society1 (November 27th, 2017 Cairo), in the area of combatting all forms of VAWG, implementation of Women, Peace, Security Agenda (WPSA), and Preventing Violent Extremism (PVE). RCSO is hosted by EuroMed Feminist Initiative (EFI) in Amman and is funded by the European Union (EU) in the frame of the three years regional project “Combating Violence against Women and Girls in the Southern Mediterranean”.
The RCSO strives to contribute to ending VAWG, to the inclusion of women’s rights in policy debates, and to the social acknowledgment of women as actors of sustaining peace and security, underlining the importance of their role in the prevention of violent extremism. In this regard, the RCSO provides a regional perspective on the status of VAWG legislation, policies, and actions in the Southern Mediterranean States.
To this goal, the RCSO developed a regional index to help implementing a continuous follow up, data collection of laws and policies, and analyses of the barometer results. The countries studied in the index are limited to those involved in the regional project: Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, and Tunisia. All countries in the South Mediterranean region will be included during the second phase.
The index consists of two parts. The first part covers indicators for VAWG. The second part covers indicators for WPSA. The present index report is related to the first part.
The index is available on the RCSO website as a clickable map in which the indicators’ information is easily accessible and can be downloaded.
The report will be published and distributed to relevant policymakers in all countries
1 The 4th UfM Ministerial Conference on Strengthening the Role of Women in Society took place on 27 November 2017 in Cairo, Egypt, and gathered ministers of the 43 Member States of the Union for the Mediterranean responsible for women affairs and gender equality, under the Co-Presidency of the European Union and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. The Ministers agreed to promote 4 actions, which are: raising women’s participation in public life and decision-making, raising women’s economic participation, combating all forms of violence against women and girls, challenging cultural and social norms, and eliminate gender stereotypes, particularly in and through education and media.
Objectives of the Index
The overall objective of the regional index is to provide global documentation on laws, public policies, and services related to VAWG and WPSA that allows a diagnosis of the state of legislation and tools put in place to address VAWG in the South Mediterranean.
This index provides policymakers with a meaningful summary of complex data to support informed decisions and actions for the implementation of the 4th UfM Ministerial Declaration on Strengthening the Role of Women in Society, in the area of combatting all forms of VAWG, WPSA, and PVE.
It constitutes a data bank that will allow researchers to have a quick overview of the status of women in the countries concerned and carry out comparative studies. The index also enables women’s rights activists to follow up where gaps and weaknesses lie and thus make targeted and updated advocacy. Furthermore, the index provides a global picture for the international community of the progress and achievements made in each country in terms of VAWG, WPSA, and PVE.
Selection of Indicators
Four criteria guided the selection of indicators:
The indicators are relevant to all countries covered by the index and are in line with the international and regional agreements and resolutions, especially the 4th UfM Ministerial Declaration on Strengthening the Role of Women in Society (DOC. DE SÉANCE N°:12/17), the 1995 Beijing Declaration and the Platform for Action, indicators to measure violence against women developed by UN expert group meeting 2007, goals 5 and 7 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which are related respectively to achieving gender equality and empower all women and girls, strengthening the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development, as well as the proposed indicators by the UfM Secretariat.
The indicators represent significant information for policymakers and civil society.
The data required to feed into the indicators are accessible for collection and updating; the indicators are actionable by policymakers to modify policies and by civil society to advocate for change.
The data is obtained from official resources and statistics as well as studies issued by national and international NGOs and research centres.
Rationality of Indicators’ Categories
The rationale behind the selection of these categories are as follows:
- Legal framework and public policies:
National laws provide a framework for identifying women’s rights and for defining violations2 of these rights based on international human rights and women´s rights conventions. Government has the primary responsibility for enacting and implementing laws, conducting legal public awareness, and ensuring their harmonization with international conventions to prevent and combat VAWG. VAWG is now fully recognized as a human rights violation and therefore all its forms must be criminalized by national laws. Due to its complex, prevalent, and multifaceted nature, there should be a specific and comprehensive law to combat VAWG, even if certain forms are already criminalized under the penal code.
Public policies are especially important tools for change and must be undertaken to prevent and combat VAWG. Adequate resources such as allocation of budgets, human resources, and capacity building are essential for the implementation of the desired change.
2VAWG is recognized as a violation of women’s human rights by the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and all other women’s rights treaties. As a matter of fact, the recognition of VAWG as a human rights issue is rooted in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), which sets out that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights” (article 1), without distinction of any kind including sex (article 2) as well as in all other International Human Rights Law instruments. However, it took decades for women’s rights organizations to convince the International Community to consider that VAWG is not just a private matter but an actual human rights violation which the State has an obligation to address, as clearly set out by CEDAW.
- Standard procedures and guidelines:
Police: VAWG crimes are reported to the police who are the authority concerned with investigating crimes of violence against women and tracking the perpetrators. Therefore, it is especially important to have victim-sensitive procedures and guidelines and provide police officers, especially those who directly deal with VAWG cases, with capacity building.
Justice: The judiciary is the guarantor of women’s and girls’ rights and of impunity. Civil and criminal courts work to implement laws on violence against women and girls, to ensure their protection, to compensate them for the damages they suffered, and to hold the perpetrators accountable, which lays the foundation for the prevention of VAWG.
Health: The health sector represents an important early point for identifying VAWG through medico-legal services and referring cases to the concerned authorities and police for investigation. The health sector can also provide a continuum of services ranging from medical to psychosocial care and rehabilitation.
Youth and Sports: Youth centers, sports clubs are places where VAWG can be perpetrated, especially against adolescent girls. In this respect, the youth and sports ministries need to be considered as targets for intervention.
Education: Schools, institutes, and universities are places where VAWG can be committed, but they are also places to change mindsets, where attitudes and understanding pertaining to VAWG are shaped by raising awareness of students and pupils through curricula and teaching content.
Services for women from vulnerable groups: Hotlines, specialized crisis centers, counseling, shelters are basic services to address VAWG.
- Provision of services funded by the State:
Addressing cases of VAWG needs specialized units within the police forces with sufficient resources, as well as the existence of dedicated shelters, hotlines, and free psychosocial counseling.
- Data system and statistics:
Providing accurate and comprehensive data and statistics is one of the governments’ responsibilities. Collecting, analyzing, and disseminating data and statistics is very crucial in enhancing State accountability acting against VAWG, and raising public awareness.
- Preventive programs and measures:
Preventive programs are necessary for addressing the rising rates of VAWG. Both government and civil society must adopt campaigns to address social tolerance to VAWG and gender stereotypes.
- Professional capacity of first respondents:
Staff and workers who deal with victims3 of VAWG must be qualified and aware of the skills and procedures that must be taken to address VAWG.
3The terminology “victim” is used in this index as defined by the UN Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power Adopted by General Assembly resolution 40/34 of 29 November 1985 as follows: 1. “Victims” means persons who, individually or collectively, have suffered harm, including physical or mental injury, emotional suffering, economic loss or substantial impairment of their fundamental rights, through acts or omissions that are in violation of criminal laws operative within the Member States, including those laws proscribing criminal abuse of power. 2. A person may be considered a victim, under this Declaration, regardless of whether the perpetrator is identified, apprehended, prosecuted, or convicted and regardless of the familial relationship between the perpetrator and the victim. The term “victim” also includes, where appropriate, the immediate family or dependants of the direct victim and persons who have suffered harm in intervening to assist victims in distress or to prevent victimization.” As suggested by the UN declaration, the degree of involvement of victims of violence in the traumatic event leads to a distinction between direct victims and indirect victims. The direct victim may have been a subject (victimized) or a witness (having seen) the act of violence. The indirect victim, “did not witness the event but is concerned by it and/or by its consequences due to its emotional closeness with the direct victims. Indirect victims are all persons close to a primary victim who are disrupted by the experience of the latter.” The UN declaration also highlights the rights of the victims in terms of access to justice and fair treatment, restitution, compensation, and assistance.
- National coordination and regional cooperation:
Cross-sectorial and ministerial planning and coordination mechanisms among governmental institutions are essential to address VAWG. CSOs, notably women’s rights organizations, are critical partners especially in prevention and providing the means to reach communities. Governments must therefore cooperate and coordinate with civil society for addressing VAWG.
Furthermore, as VAWG is a universal problem, preventing and combating it requires cooperation on a regional and international level.
Sources of Information
Information and data on indicators have been obtained from official resources and statistics as well as from studies issued by national and international NGOs. Women´s rights organizations represented valuable sources for data and a guide to direct the data sources in each country.
The information provided in this index has been validated through the use of different recognized resources including governmental websites, official statements, credible news outlets, respected publications of research centres and international NGOs. Also, the national organizations contributed to cross validating the data, especially in case of governmental services when there is no trusted updated information on the services provided for victims of VAWG.
Against this background, the sources of data that the index draws on are as follows:
Official electronic websites
Reviewing yearly reports of government institutions including ministries, legislation bureau, governments’ agencies, as well as research centres, global indices, national Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and international Non-Governmental Organizations, (NGOs) with their national offices.
Online public and private databases
They are accessed through searching online, subscriptions, and using directories.
Conducting field visits by the member organizations to the concerned institutions and departments such as police, justice, health, social services, support centers, shelters, help hotlines, CSOs. The field visits serve several purposes:
- To obtain data, especially when data is only recorded in paper forms and not stored electronically in databases and official websites.
- Validate information if required.
- Gather information on the implementation of public policies, programs, training, and provision of services.
Some data for indicators is not ready and available in the governments’ institutions or statistics bureau. For this reason, missing information from the governments’ institutions has been requested through formal correspondences and letters.
The index contains 49 indicators divided into 7 categories as described under section 4. The categories constitute the thematic framework of the indicators which represent key criteria for the overview of the situation of VAWG. For each indicator, the index provides a comparative summary at the regional level as well as information for each country arranged in alphabetic order.
- The first category examines the legal framework and public policies on women’s rights, and its conformity with international standards, in particular CEDAW. It addresses laws specifically designed to combat VAWG, where such laws exist. It also concerns public policies, including budget policies, and national strategies to combat VAWG. 16 indicators are included under this category.
- The second category deals with standard procedures and guidelines. The police and judicial procedures put in place, whether in terms of the opportunities for victims to report offences or the obligation to inform the authorities of such offences by persons who are aware of them; legal aid or the existence of a guide for professionals, in order to unify and simplify procedures. This category consists of 12 indicators.
- The third refers to services provided by the government to victims of VAWG. This category includes 6 indicators that address both the victims themselves, their physical and psychological care, and the caregivers, who must be specially trained to treat victims of all types of VAWG.
- The fourth category, which consists of 3 indicators, is linked to the collection and dissemination of statistics on VAWG and their classification by type of violence and frequency, but also in relation to whether or not they have been the subject of complaints and whether or not these complaints have led to convictions and lawsuits.
- The fifth category looks at preventive programs and measures, including whether specific training programs for teachers have been set up and whether curricula and handbooks for primary, secondary, and university education have integrated issues related to VAWG. This category also looks at national awareness raising, and advocacy campaigns initiated by the governments to address VAWG. 3 indicators are included in this category.
- The sixth category addresses the professional capacity of the first respondents. It covers institutional training for policemen and policewomen and court staff who deal directly with victims of VAWG as well as the institutionalization of this training. This category consists of 3 indicators.
- The seventh category focuses on national and regional coordination mechanisms. It includes 4 indicators for cooperation mechanisms between police, shelters, hospitals, courts/judiciaries, ministries, and civil society on a national level, and 2 indicators for regional or international cooperation mechanisms.
- Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), from: https://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CEDAW.aspx
- The 4th UfM Ministerial Declaration on Strengthening the Role of Women in Society (DOC. DE SÉANCE N°:12/17),
- The 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing (the Beijing Declaration and the Platform for Action),
- Indicators to measure violence against women developed by UN (expert group meeting 2007),
- The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015.
- Amnesty International (2014), “Algeria: Comprehensive Reforms Needed to End Sexual and Gender-Based Violence against Women and Girls”, London, UK. Benenson house, available at: https://www.amnesty.org/en/
- A.Saadallah, D.Yaghi, H.R.Qazzaz, I.Jariri (2018), “Assessment of the Services of Anti-violence Centres and Shelters in Palestine”, Palestine UN Women.
- Arab World for Research and Development (AWRAD) (2017), “Violence against women and girls in the Occupied Palestinian Territories”, formative Research & part of Utilising Innovative Media to End Violence against Women and Girls through Community Education and Outreach Project.
- Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia ESCWA (2017), “Status of Arab Women Report 2017 - Violence against Women What Is at Stake?”, Report E/ESCWA/ECW/2017/2: United Nations publication issued by ESCWA, United Nations House, available at https://www.unescwa.org/ .
- Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia ESCWA (2019), “Shelters for Women Victims of Violence: Availability and Accessibility in the Arab Region”, E/ESCWA/ECW/2019/5: United Nations publication issued by ESCWA and United Nations House, available at https://www.unescwa.org/.
- European Training Foundation (ETF) (2010), “Women and Work in Egypt Tourism and ICT Sectors: A Case Study”, Editor KÄRKKÄINEN, Outi, available at: https://www.etf.europa.eu/en .
- F. el-Zein, (2013) “Women’s Access to Justice in The Middle East Challenges and Recommendations”, OXFAM GB.
- J. DeJong, H. Bashour (2016), “Sexual and Reproductive Health Laws and Policies in Selected Arab Countries”, Regional Report, UNFPA, Middle East and North Africa Health Policy Forum.
- J.Klugman, A. Gaye, M. Dahl, K. Dale, & E. Ortiz (2019), “Women, Peace, and Security Index 2019/20: Tracking Sustainable Peace through Inclusion, Justice, and Security for Women”.Washington, DC: GIWPS and PRIO.
- Krista .L. Couture (2014), “A Gendered Approach to Countering Violent Extremism: Lessons Learned from Women in Peacebuilding and Conflict Prevention Applied Successfully in Bangladesh and Morocco”, Policy Paper. Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence at Brookings.US.
- M. Bastick, T. Witheman (2013), “A Women’s Guide to Security Sector Reform”, The Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF); The Institute for Inclusive Security’s, available at: https://www.inclusivesecurity.org/publicatin/a-womens-guide-to-security-sector-reform/ .
- Ministry of Planning & International Cooperation in Jordan MOPIC (2017), “The Jordan Response Plan for the Syria Crisis 2017-2019”, available at: http://www.jrp.gov.jo/ .
- Ministry of Women's Affairs (2017), “The National Action Plan for the Implementation of UNSCR 1325 Women, Peace and Security, Palestine 2017-2019 “.
- National Council for Women (2017), “National Strategy for the Empowerment of Egyptian Women 2030 Vision and Pillars”.
- National Council for Women (2015), “The National Strategy for Combating Violence against Women2015-2020”, Egypt.
- National Commission for Lebanese Women (2019), “Lebanon National Action Plan on United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325- The Path to a Fair and Inclusive Society Through the Women, Peace and Security Agenda -”.
- OECD Development Center (2019), Social Institutions and Gender Index, available at: https://www.genderindex.org/.
- Sawa, (2008), “Trafficking and Forced Prostitution of Palestinian Women and Girls: Forms of Modern Day Slavery”, Briefing Paper, available at: http://www.sawa.ps/ .
- The Jordan National Commission for Women, (2017) “Jordanian National Action Plan (JONAP) for the Implementation of UN Security Council resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security 2018 – 2021”. Jordan.
- UNDP, UNFPA, UNESCWA and UN Women, (2018) “Gender Justice & The Law: Assessment of laws affecting gender equality in the Arab States region”, available at: https://arabstates.unwomen.org/en/digital-library/publications/2018/12/gender-justice-and-the-law-in-the-arab-region .
- World Food Program (WFP) (2019), “Algeria interim country strategic plan (2019–2022)” Executive Board Annual session, available at: https://executiveboard.wfp.org/ .
- World Food Program (WFP) (2018), “Egypt country strategic plan (2018–2023)” Executive Board Annual session. available at: https://executiveboard.wfp.org/ .