Document Type


Publication Date



University of Virginia Center for International Studies; Dean Claudio Grossman and American University, Washington College of Law; Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic, Yale Law School; National Organization for Women Foundation; University of Virginia School of Law Human Rights Clinic; American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Women’s Rights Project; University of Miami School of Law Human Rights Clinic; Dean Louis Bilionis and the University of Cincinnati College of Law Clinical Program; Indian Law Resource Center; Center for Reproductive Rights; Stephanie Ortoleva/Women Enabled


The Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences visited the United States of America from 24 January to 7 February 2011. In the present report, she broadly examines the situation of violence against women in the country, including such issues as violence in custodial settings, domestic violence, violence against women in the military and violence against women who face multiple, intersecting forms of discrimination, particularly native American, immigrant and African-American women.

The Special Rapporteur highlights the positive legislative and policy initiatives undertaken by the Government to reduce the prevalence of violence against women, including the enactment and subsequent reauthorizations of the Violence against Women Act, and the establishment of dedicated offices on violence against women at the highest level of the Executive. The Violence against Women Act has steadily expanded funding to address domestic violence and, with each reauthorization, has included historically underserved groups.

Nevertheless, the Special Rapporteur did observe a lack of legally binding federal provisions providing substantive protection against or prevention of acts of violence against women. This lack of substantive protective legislation, combined with inadequate implementation of some laws, policies and programmes, has resulted in the continued prevalence of violence against women and the discriminatory treatment of victims, with a particularly detrimental impact on poor, minority and immigrant women.

In the light of the above findings, the Special Rapporteur offers specific recommendations that focus on providing remedies for women victims of violence, investigating and prosecuting violence against women in the military, improving the conditions of women in detention and tackling the multiple forms of discrimination faced by certain groups of women that make them more vulnerable to violence.