New York, 9 March 2015

Fifty-Ninth Session of the Commission of the Status of Women 

Ms. Małgorzata Fuszara, Government Plenipotentiary for Equal Treatment of Poland and co-sponsor of our side event;

Ms. Susana Camarero, Deputy Minister of Health, Social Services and Equality of Spain;

Ms. Giovanna Martelli, Gender Equality Adviser to the Prime Minister Department for Equal Opportunities Presidency of the Council of Ministers of Italy;

Ms. Saastamoinen Salla, Director for Equality from the European Commission;

Daniel Seymour, Deputy Director of UN-WOMEN, who will moderate our side event;

Ladies and gentlemen,

Portugal took the initiative to carry out this side event, considering it essential to promote a discussion on a central theme of our agenda: violence against women culturally rooted in a chronic inequality, which manifests itself in various forms, violence being the most unbearable expression.

This theme is, in our view, absolutely relevant and crucial, as we know that despite the efforts that have been made over the years, violence continues to victimize girls and women and manifests a persistent struggle to the intervention of Governments, of public bodies and civil society organizations.

From forced marriages to female genital mutilation, from sexual harassment to domestic violence, from stalking to violence exerted today in a large scale through electronic communications, all forms of violence are intolerable against all people, children, elderly and also against men. But we know that the majority of victims of domestic violence are women. In Portugal 81% of victims are women in what concerns complaints to the security forces. And in 39% of these cases there were children involved.

Portugal has an advanced legislation that puts the country in a favorable position. Domestic violence has been a public crime since 2000 and this type of crime includes dating violence.

On the international level, Portugal has ratified since 1980, the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women and in 2002 ratified the Optional Protocol to this Convention.

In 2013, Portugal was the first country of the European Union to ratify the Council of Europe’s Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (Istambul Convention), placing us at the forefront of the countries that affirmed their commitment to this Convention, deepening its legal system and reinforcing means to better prevention and to the effective combating violence against women and domestic violence.

This theme was taken up as a priority by the current Government, which included it in its program.

The Fifth National Plan to Prevent and Combat Domestic and Gender-based Violence will be in place within four years (2014-2017). Its name emphasizes the prevention and widens the scope of the Plan to other forms of gender-based violence, in addition to domestic violence.

The coordination and monitoring of the National Plan fit to the Commission for Citizenship and Gender Equality, which includes for this purpose a working group composed of representatives from seven ministries. For the first time the group also includes representatives of the High Council of the Judiciary, the Attorney General's Office, the National Association of Portuguese Municipalities and non-governmental organizations with experience in intervention against violence, expanding the conditions of effectiveness of its execution.

The Fifth National Plan takes on new goals and priorities, enlarging the areas of prevention, training, education, research and protection of victims.

The training of professionals is one of the areas in which the country has invested more: victim support technicians, security forces and judiciary. These initiatives already have had a visible positive impact on some relevant indicators, such us the number of enforcement decisions of protection measures for victims (teleassistance), the number of enforcement decisions of electronic surveillance measures of aggressors and the number of prisoners serving a sentence for the crime of domestic violence.

Currently we prioritize especially the training of health professionals and teachers, assuming that the approach of domestic violence should start early on school, precisely where the country must focus in the near future.

Several new measures have emerged from direct knowledge of real situations and have been implemented to better prevent and combat this violence and better protect and reintegrate victims.

A percentage of revenue from social games (lottery) applied to the prevention and combating domestic violence, enabled us to strengthen and innovate regarding the protection and care of victims, in a time of crisis in which the budgetary resources are scarce:

- It has increased the capacity of care for victims of domestic violence in emergency situations;

- A safe transportation system was created for the victims, between the reception and support structures from anywhere, to anywhere in the country; this service is activated through a specific telephone number;

- A found was created for the shelters to support the process of empowerment of victims from the moment they leave the shelter, allowing them to tackle the costs required for their empowerment;

- The national support network for victims of domestic violence was multiplied, with structures that are now available throughout the country.

On the other hand, through partnerships with other entities, it was possible to strengthen support for victims of domestic violence, including:

- facilitating access to low cost housing for those who want to become autonomous of their aggressor;

- creating a priority and reserved service in Job Centres, giving them priority access to training and jobs in order to facilitate the process of autonomy and reintegration into the labor market.

Finally, I would like to point out a new project that began last week, called TheSchool Goes to the Shelter, consisting in the training, by teachers, of the victims who are accommodated in shelters, in order to strengthen their basic skills in math, Portuguese and computers. The main goal of this project is to empower and provide them with tools to facilitate the return to community life and the labor market.

Later this year, new training materials on violence in the family will be produced, as a basis to training activities in schools.

Everything will be done to better prevent and act against this tragedy. Despite all the work done, we realize that violence against women continues to justify every effort to improve the effectiveness of this fight. Portugal has taken a very firm position in this combat, at a national and international level.

The inclusion of a standalone goal on violence against women and girls has been defended by Portugal as a priority for strengthening gender equality and the empowerment of women. This position has been formally taken in the context of the current discussion on the Post 2015 Agenda within the European Union.

Unfortunately, not all EU partners attach to this matter the priority we assign to it.

It is now certain that the United Nations will not put this on the Agenda, as a separate goal. Even the European Union as a whole risked not do it. Perhaps there is a reason…

Portugal has done his role and tried deeply to avoid to see again the prevention and combating all forms of violence against women and girls as a “missing goal".

I want to thank you again for your presence and now open this initiative to your participation!

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