United Nations Members Agree on Code to Fight Violence Against Women, Girls

After two weeks of tense negotiations among its member states, the has issued a declaration on violence against women and girls, the reports.

Announced at the meeting in New York City last week, the declaration "urges states to strongly condemn all forms of violence against women and girls and to refrain from invoking any custom, tradition, or religious consideration to avoid their obligations with respect to its elimination." The declaration also encourages UN member states to "devote particular attention to abolishing practices and legislation that discriminate against women and girls, or perpetuate and condone violence against them," which they should "address and eliminate as a matter of priority domestic violence."

News of the declaration's release came after a number of Muslim nations threatened to block any statement mandating tougher global standards with respect to violence against women and girls. Among other things, Iran, Libya, Sudan, and other countries objected to references in the document to abortion rights as well as language suggesting that the definition of rape include forcible behavior by a woman's husband or partner, AFP reports.

Nevertheless, the meeting ended with all member states agreeing to the final declaration. Following the accord, representatives of some UN member states grumbled about what was omitted from the document, while others applauded it. For instance, Peter Witting, Germany's ambassador to the UN, said on that the document was "balanced and strong," adding that the declaration "sends a much needed message to the women around the world: your rights are crucial."

Tim Witcher. "." AFP 03/15/2013.