Canada, China will work closer on pre­vent­ing vi­o­lence against women

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By WANG RU

Mau­reen McTeer, the wife of for­mer Canadian Prime Min­is­ter Joe Clark, and a prom­i­nent ad­vo­cate for women’s and chil­dren’s rights, tack­led the is­sue of vi­o­lence against women along with Chi­nese col­leagues on May 27 at the Canadian Em­bassy in Bei­jing.

A prom­i­nent Canadian lawyer and au­thor, McTeer was one of the at­ten­dees at a sem­i­nar fo­cused on vi­o­lence against women through re­view of com­mit­ments of the Bei­jing Dec­la­ra­tion in 1995; an­a­lyz­ing the fail­ures in their im­ple­men­ta­tion, and out­lin­ing the next steps re­quired to pro­tect women and girls from vi­o­lence.

In 1995, Bei­jing hosted the United Na­tions Fourth World Con­fer­ence on Women, mark­ing a sig­nif­i­cant turn­ing point in the global agenda for gen­der equal­ity and women’s em­pow­er­ment.

At the end of the con­fer­ence, 189 coun­tries unan­i­mously adopted the Bei­jing Dec­la­ra­tion and Plat­form for Ac­tion, out­lin­ing pol­icy ob­jec­tives for women’s em­pow­er­ment and the achieve­ment of gen­der equal­ity.

To mark the 20th an­niver­sary of this his­toric oc­ca­sion, the Canadian Em­bassy is host­ing a se­ries of events to cel­e­brate the achieve­ments of women and girls in Canada and China over the past two decades and to ex­am­ine the chal­lenges and gaps that re­main.

McTeer pointed out that less than half of UN mem­ber states have acted se­ri­ously, or at all, to the Bei­jing com­mit­ment on vi­o­lence.

Ac­cord­ing to the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion, about 33 per­cent of women world­wide ex­pe­ri­ence phys­i­cal or sex­ual vi­o­lence, and in some coun­tries, the rate is as high as 70 per­cent.

“In some coun­tries, leav­ing an abu­sive sit­u­a­tion is not al­lowed by cul­ture, tra­di­tion and reli­gion,” said McTeer, who added that the world must work across legal, ide­o­log­i­cal, re­li­gious and ge­o­graph­i­cal bound­aries to fight against do­mes­tic vi­o­lence.

“China is cur­rently ad­dress­ing the is­sue of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence against women and girls,” said McTeer. “My hope is that it will be one of the most ef­fec­tive and com­plete in the world.”

Ac­cord­ing to statis­tics from the All Women Fed­er­a­tion of China, 30 per­cent of mar­ried women in China’s 270 mil­lion house­holds have ex­pe­ri­enced do­mes­tic vi­o­lence at dif­fer­ent lev­els. The an­nual num­ber of re­ported cases is be­tween 40,000 to 50,000.

In Novem­ber 2014, the gov­ern­ment is­sued the draft of the first anti-do­mes­tic vi­o­lence law to so­licit public opin­ion, which it ex­pects to en­act this year.

Canada was one of the first coun­tries to sign and rat­ify the Con­ven­tion on the Elim­i­na­tion of All Forms of Dis­crim­i­na­tion Against Women, or CEDAW, in 1981.

Canada helped to de­velop the Vi­enna Dec­la­ra­tion in 1993; played a key role at the Bei­jing Con­fer­ence in 1995; and rat­ifi the Op­tional Pro­to­col to the CEDAW in 2002.

“Canada and China have worked to­gether for more than three decades on nu­mer­ous ef­forts to re­duce gen­der in­equal­ity,” said Guy Sain­tJac­ques, the Canadian am­bas­sador to China.

From 1998 to 2005, the Canadian In­ter­na­tional Devel­op­ment Agency – funded a 5 mil­lion dollar project with the All China Women’s Fed­er­a­tion, which re­sulted in in­creased and last­ing co­op­er­a­tion among Women’s Fed­er­a­tion of­fices, po­lice, and courts to ef­fec­tively deal with do­mes­tic vi­o­lence cases.

The agency also pro­vided crit­i­cal seed fund­ing to var­i­ous women’s or­ga­ni­za­tions in China, in­clud­ing the Maple Women’s Psy­cho­log­i­cal Coun­sel­ing Cen­ter in Bei­jing and China’s first Women’s Tele­phone Hot­line, which pro­vides legal and psy­cho­log­i­cal sup­port to vic­tims of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence.

Canada has been very sup­port­ive of China’s ef­forts to com­bat do­mes­tic vi­o­lence through new na­tional leg­is­la­tion.

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