This report is a culmination of five years of work gathering evidence of the epidemic levels of violence against women and rampant sex discrimination around the world.
Few movements have made so large an impact in so short a time as the women=s human rights movement. Working across national, cultural, religious and class lines, advocates promoting the human rights of women have waged a campaign to ensure respect for women=s rights as fundamental human rights. The movement=s emergence and growth over the past decade have, to a large extent, also transformed the way human rights issues are understood and investigated, both by intergovernmental bodies and by nongovernmental human rights organizations. The result has been to turn the spotlight onCand to place at the center of the social and political debates at the United Nations and between governmentsCthe role that human rights violations play in maintaining the subordinate status of the world=s women. Their impact was powerfully apparent at the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna in 1993, when governments recognized women=s rights as Aan inalienable, integral and indivisible part of universal human rights.@ Clearly the international women's human rights movement has raised the visibility of abuses against women, and the international community has made welcome statements supporting women's human rights. But the gap between government rhetoric and reality is vast. The challenge now is to ensure that governments that should be combatting violations of women's rights do not get credit for deploring abuse when they do nothing to stop it.