Human Rights Day 2012

On December 10 every year, the United Nations celebrates Human Rights Day. Today, I join friends around the world in reaffirming our commitment to the equal rights of women and men as enshrined in the Charter, the Declaration of Human Rights and in particular the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women. It is not enough for governments to enact law to punish and redress the wrong done to women and girls who are subject to any form of violence whether in the home, the workplace, the community or society. Women who are victims of violence must be provided with access to the mechanism of justice, effective and adequate remedies for the harm they have suffered. Both men and women need human rights education. Government and public institution must inform women of their rights in seeking redress through the justice system. It is heartening for me to see that more men are speaking out publicly on the need to stop violence against women and girls. At the recent meeting of the Economic and Social Commission of Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) in Bangkok, Asian men such as Shun-ichi Murata, Deputy Executive Secretary of ESCAP, Chulasingh Vasantasingh, Thailand ‘s Attorney General, and Phan Ouh Khoa, Vietnamese musician and activist had made commitment to eliminate violence against women in this region. They are following the good example of the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, a Korean, who continuously speaks in public to support human rights of women and makes commitment to eliminate violence against women and girls. It is important to remind the Asian governments that they had made commitment since they adopted in 1995 the Beijing Platform for Action of the Fourth World Conference on Women held in China nearly two decades ago to eradicate violence against the girl child which include female infanticide, pre-natal sex selection, genital mutilation, incest, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, child prostitution and child pornography.

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