One of the questions we’re asked most often is how a treaty addressing violence against women and girls can actually prevent violence. Good question. Violence prevention is complex, but over the last few decades, extensive research by universities, global institutions and NGOs have shown us which interventions curb violence. A new global treaty to end violence against women and girls combines these proven interventions into a comprehensive approach we call The Whole Hand Framework.
It works like this: The hand is the treaty itself—the highest form of legislation that, through the enormous political pressure treaties create, mandates that states enact national reform (the palm). The fingers represent proven strategies—laws, training, education and services. Separately, these interventions influence various factors related to violence prevention, but often work in isolation. When combined, the strategies work in concert to drastically lower rates of violence.
In other words, strong laws would be backed by training staff in the health, justice, security and service sectors, which would be supported by national campaigns and reinforced by a legal system that holds perpetrators accountable. The treaty scales it—nation by nation, across the globe, impunity ends and rates of violence plummet.
Here’s a quick look at each intervention.
- Revamp laws, including eliminating legislation that perpetuates violence (like laws that allow rapists to avoid prosecution by marrying their victims), and closing legal gaps (such as the US’s gap in protecting girls against child marriage).
- Train responders. Training police officers, judges, health-care providers and others in the legal and health arena can lead to increased prosecution of perpetrators and better treatment for survivors.
- Implement prevention education campaigns. Research shows that boys’ and men’s attitudes and actions are influenced by other men. Imagine, then, the power of national campaigns featuring male pop icons, policemen or others talking about respecting women, consent, harassment and violence. School-based programs and community-based campaigns have also been successful at reducing violence. Rates of violence also plummet when women know their rights and feel empowered to demand them.
- Offer services. Hotlines, shelters, legal advice, job training, support groups and other services ensure survivors receive treatment and protection, and have avenues for seeking justice.
- Contribute to an implementation fund. Nations often cite lack of funding as a barrier to implementation. Following the example of the tobacco treaty, the Every Woman calls for a global investment of $1 billion–plus USD annually, with states contributing according to their ability.