This is a feature I wrote for my Masters. Slightly different feel and tone from my usual blogs, but you might find it of interest.

 

Ending violence against women needs to be a top priority on the 2015 UN agenda, the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women has said at a talk in Bristol.

Rashida Manjoo spoke to a packed lecture theatre in Bristol on 30 October about the issue of violence against women. She said that ending violence against women is something that currently is not being taken seriously enough at government level.

The lecture was part of the UK mission she is conducting to make recommendations to all UN countries on an issue which has been described as reaching “epidemic” proportions.

At present there is no legally binding provision on violence against women within the Human Rights Act and this needs to change, Manjoo suggested.

The Special Rapporteur noted that violence against women is not only persistent but incredibly complex in nature; women should not be thought of as a homogenous group. Women of colour and those living in poverty may be more vulnerable to violence.

An audience member asked about the consequences of the prevalence of sexualisation of young women in the media. Manjoo once more emphasised the obligation of the state to protect women and the “epidemic” nature of misogyny.

“Sexual violence is a universal and widespread manifestation of gender based violence which is rooted in a culture of discrimination which legitimises the appropriation and control of women’s bodies by men,” she said.

The use of sexualised imagery has been a topic of discourse over recent months, in part due to former Disney star Miley Cyrus’ provocative performance at the VMAs. Although seemingly trivial compared to other issues such as FGM, it’s clear that sexism manifests in a variety of ways. Manjoo explained, “Violence against women is the single most pervasive human rights violation we face today.”

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