CEDAW General Recommendation No. 19: Violence against Women

Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, General Recommendation 19 of CEDAW on Violence Against Women (llth session, 1992), U.N. Doc. A/47/38 at 1 (1993), reprinted in Compilation of General Comments and General Recommendations Adopted by Human Rights Treaty Bodies, U.N. Doc. HRI/GEN/1/Rev.6 at 243 (2003).
Download full text: English
Year of adoption: 1992
Year of entry into force: 1992
Legal Status:


“Sexual harassment includes such unwelcome sexually determined behaviour as physical contact and advances, sexually coloured remarks, showing pornography and sexual demands, whether by words or actions. Such conduct can be humiliating and may constitute a health and safety problem; it is discriminatory when the woman has reasonable ground to believe that her objection would disadvantage her in connection with her employment, including recruitment or promotion, or when it creates a hostile working environment.” (Art. 11.18)

“States parties are required by article 12 to take measures to ensure equal access to health care. Violence against women puts their health and lives at risk.

“In some States there are traditional practices perpetuated by culture and tradition that are harmful to the health of women and children. These practices include dietary restrictions for pregnant women, preference for male children and female circumcision or genital mutilation.” (Art. 12)

“Compulsory sterilization or abortion adversely affects women’s physical and mental health, and infringes the right of women to decide on the number and spacing of their children.

“Family violence is one of the most insidious forms of violence against women. It is prevalent in all societies. Within family relationships women of all ages are subjected to violence of all kinds, including battering, rape, other forms of sexual assault, mental and other forms of violence, which are perpetuated by traditional attitudes. Lack of economic independence forces many women to stay in violent relationships. The abrogation of their family responsibilities by men can be a form of violence, and coercion. These forms of violence put women’s health at risk and impair their ability to participate in family life and public life on a basis of equality. (Art. 16.22-23)

“States parties should establish or support services for victims of family violence, rape, sex assault and other forms of gender-based violence, including refuges, specially trained health workers, rehabilitation and counselling;

“States parties should take measures to overcome such practices and should take account of the Committee’s recommendation on female circumcision (recommendation No. 14) in reporting on health issues;

“States parties should ensure that measures are taken to prevent coercion in regard to fertility and reproduction, and to ensure that women are not forced to seek unsafe medical procedures such as illegal abortion because of lack of appropriate services in regard to fertility control” (Art. 16.24, K-M)