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Muslim, Western Nations Agree to UN Accord on Women

  • VOA News

In this Wednesday, March 13, 2013 photo, Indian villagers walk to fetch drinking water at Kasu village, in the western Indian state of Maharashtra.

In this Wednesday, March 13, 2013 photo, Indian villagers walk to fetch drinking water at Kasu village, in the western Indian state of Maharashtra.

Muslim and Western nations have overcome deep differences to agree to a historic United Nations declaration setting out a code of conduct for combating violence against women and girls.

Several Muslim nations and the Vatican had expressed reservations about the declaration of the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women, but did not block its adoption Friday at the U.N. headquarters in New York.

While the declaration of the commission is not binding, diplomats and rights activists say it carries enough global weight to pressure countries to improve the lives of women and girls.

The accord urges state 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" to eliminate violence against females.

Russia, the Vatican, Iran and other Muslim states had also objected to references to reproduction rights.

Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood had warned the proposal would lead to the "complete degradation of society."

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said violence against women is "a heinous human rights violation, global menace, a public health threat and a moral outrage."

The secretary-general said every woman and girl has "the universal human right to be free from all forms of violence so as to fulfill her full potential and dreams for the future."

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