Speaker pushes for governmental role in domestic abuse prevention

Amy Olson

Governments need to play a more prominent role in preventing the abuse of women, said Radhika Coomaraswamy in a speech Tuesday night.
“The state has a role to prevent, prosecute and punish those who violate women’s human rights,” Coomaraswamy said.
Her speech was part of an award presentation given by the Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights to honor volunteers working to support women’s rights and combat violence against women.
Coomaraswamy, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, spoke to an audience of about 525 people in the Minneapolis Hilton on the international women’s rights movement, focusing on human rights.
Many forms of violence against women exist, including domestic violence, female infanticide, rape, incest, sexual assault and sexual harassment.
Coomaraswamy identified commercialized violence against women as a growing problem, including trafficking in women, prostitution and labor exploitation.
Women throughout the world face problems of domestic violence, Coomaraswamy said, and each country has an obligation to help its female citizens combat the problem.
“In some countries, the privacy of the home has been so sacred that the state has not intervened on behalf of women to end this abuse,” she added.
Revenge is not the answer, however. Coomaraswamy cited one case of a female chief of police who was terrorized by her husband for arresting a domestic abuser. The chief, with help of her female officers, tied up and beat her husband in an attempt to end the assault against her and the women she was trying to protect.
Coomaraswamy responded to the incident, saying the protection of women’s rights must not lead to the violation of the rights of others.
From the United States, eight individuals and two groups were recognized for their work supporting human rights.
Kao Yang, an academic advisor in the College of Liberal Arts who is interning with the Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights, said the organization has worked on multiple levels to end violation of human rights and acknowledged the meaning of Coomaraswamy’s visit.
“I think it’s key that a representative from the U.N. is here because it gives a sense of international cooperation in the movement,” she said. Yang works with the Building Immigrant Awareness and Support program sponsored by the Minnesota Advocates for Human rights.
Kristy Otte, a 1998 graduate of the College of Liberal Arts, works with the women’s project examining how Mexican laws support or discriminate against women’s rights.
“It’s difficult to find information on domestic violence laws in other countries, even though there is so much information on the Internet,” Otte said.
Two Albanian organizations were also recognized for their work in protecting women’s rights. Refleksione, a women’s rights organization, established the first sexual violence center in Albania. The Women’s Center provides resources and technical assistance to women’s organizations throughout Albania.
Both organizations have worked to protect women’s rights during years of social unrest and violence in Albania.