Thursday, January 14, 2010



Written by By Abiodun Oluwarotimi, New York
Wednesday, 13 January 2010 16:35

••As Parliamentary Assembly sets to observe Presidential election in Ukraine || Sexual assault of women is one of the most serious and widespread human rights problems of our time. More needs to be done both to prevent and punish such crimes", said Thomas Hammarberg, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, in his latest viewpoint made available to LEADERSHIP.

The Commissioner stressed that though the legislation on sexual assault has improved considerably in European countries, the court proceedings are generally not sufficiently adapted to the seriousness of this crime and to its psychological impact upon the victims.

He therefore recommended that protecting women from this threat be a political priority and that a fairer justice be granted to the cases brought to court.

The COE Commissioner also stated that Sexual assault crimes must be taken more seriously by governments and parliaments, adding that the injuries inflicted by rape are deep and long-lasting, in many cases gravely hurting the physical and psychological integrity of the victims.

"Though these crimes are largely hidden and their precise scale is difficult to determine, they are widespread and too many women live in fear of being assaulted." he stated.

Meanwhile, the increased and alarming human rights violations against Romani women and ways of ensuring full enjoyment of their rights topped the agenda of a recently concluded conference of Roma women in Athens.

In a final declaration of the conference, the participants unanimously called on European governments to uphold their obligations and ensure that Romani women enjoy their fundamental rights, to put an end to a climate of impunity around atrocious abuses of their rights, to take unequivocal measures to punish perpetrators and compensate Romani women victims.

The conference's conclusions stressed the need to prevent de facto segregation in housing and education, while promoting the principles of equality and integration.

Participants also encouraged Roma activists and human rights communities to actively engage with Roma communities to raise awareness on their human rights and facilitate access to public services and law enforcement mechanisms.

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