An official website of the United States government

The Human Rights of Women: Eliminating and Preventing Domestic Violence
June 19, 2015

HRC 29: U.S. Statement for the Annual Full-day Discussion on the Human Rights of Women
Panel 1: Eliminating and Preventing Domestic Violence against Women and Girls
Delivered by Leslie Marks
June 19, 2014

The United States thanks the members of the panel for addressing this issue. Domestic violence is a form of intimate partner violence, which is the most prevalent form of violence against women and girls around the world, making our topic today particularly relevant.  Around the world – including in the United States – violence against women and girls of all ages impedes economic development, threatens peace and prosperity, and inhibits full participation in civic life.  Our efforts to prevent domestic violence and assist survivors are ongoing and too often inadequate.  Punishment of those who batter their partners, children, and other family members is just and necessary.  Secretary of State Kerry has spoken movingly of his time as a young prosecutor, when he saw “women and young girls whose lives and families were ripped apart by violence.”  Domestic violence, like intimate partner violence, cuts across class, religious, gender, and racial boundaries.  And it comes at a terrible cost – not only for the victims, but for their families, communities, and entire countries.  Preventing it is a key condition to a future of peace, stability, and prosperity.

The United States fully supports the efforts of the UN to promote gender equality and end violence against girls and women of all ages.   Throughout the world, we continue to see the risks of gender-based violence increase when disaster or conflict strikes.  Reported data on violence in conflict zones suggests that domestic violence is endemic when there is a breakdown in the social order.  We support programming to protect and empower women and girls in humanitarian crises.  Most programs addressing sexual- and gender-based violence in conflict environments, however, are directed at violence perpetrated by combatants.  Violence among family members is often overlooked.


In disaster or conflict areas, what can the international community do to ensure that the breakdown of social order does not lead to a dramatic escalation in domestic violence?  Are the same efforts to assist victims of combatants appropriate to help victims of domestic violence?  If not do members of the panel think that additional or targeted measures are necessary?  What are the simplest and most effective measures that can be taken?