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Family violence and human rights

Family violence and human rights

To live free from violence is a basic human right. Until recently, family violence and human rights were seen as two separate things. This Friday 10 December is international Human Rights Day.

What are human rights?

Is family violence a human rights issue? Violence in a family or within a relationship has been placed outside of the framework of 'human rights', and seen as something 'private'. However, roughly one in four children have witnessed family violence and one in three women have experienced violence from a family member [ref] The Victorian Government: A Right to Safety and Justice, June 2010[/ref]. Each year the Victorian Police respond to about 34 000 family violence incidents [ref] The Victorian Government: A Right to Safety and Justice, June 2010[/ref]. When we talk about family violence, we usually don't:

  • used the words 'human rights'
  • think about being safe at home as a human right, or
  • think about applying 'human rights processes' or organisations like the UN to support victims of family violence.

And do we think about the different forms of family violence? Like controlling someone's money or social life, or yelling abuse at a partner. Amnesty International says

From the home to the conflict zone, violence against women must stop.

Time to change - family violence is a human rights issue

Our thinking

Community attitudes do change. Since 1995, there have been some significant and positive shifts in the general community’s attitudes and beliefs towards violence against women [ref] National Survey on Community Attitudes to Violence Against Women 2009 [/ref] In 2010, we can see the right to feel and be safe - in public and at home - as a human right.

Our law and government

In December 2008, the Rudd Government ratified the Optional Protocol. This protocol was introduced to improve the protection and promotion of the rights in the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). While Australia has agreed to and signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, many Victorian women and children do not live free from violence. They are being denied a basic human right.

Spread the word

Support the Integrated Family Violence Executive (Southern Metro Region) campaign with Twitter. Tweet : Men! Using violence against your family is unAustralian. Knock it off! Be a human rights guy.

Related links

Image credit

Downloadable poster from Human Rights Day website