Speech/article | Published: 2009-11-24
We are gathered here today, because we agree that violence against women and children must be dealt with as severe crime, said Minister of Justice Knut Storberget at the launch of the UN Network of Men Leaders.
Your Royal Highness,
Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr. Ban Ki-moon,
Ladies and gentlemen,
First, I would like to express my gratitude to you Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki- moon, for your engagement in violence against women, and for launching this initiative. I am grateful for the invitation and I am convinced that this network will be of great importance.
We are gathered here today, because we agree that violence against women and children must be dealt with as severe crime. This is probably the type of crime that has the biggest impact on people in their daily lives. One of three women world-wide are exposed to violence during their lifetime, and one of four women experience domestic violence.
The violence is a problem that affects us all. This is not a women's issue. It is a human issue. And it is a global issue.
The violence taking place at home is often very brutal – in many cases more brutal than the violence taking place in the streets. The women and children are living in a situation of constant fear and daily terror, and the consequences in terms of reduced health and quality of life are profound. In the most severe cases, the violence leads to loss of life.
We are gathered here today, because we are impatient. Because we recognize the need to move forward. And because we believe that mobilization of men and exchange of good practices is the way to go.
In Norway, we have taken some important steps over the last years to improve the situation of women and children affected by domestic violence. We have ensured that the police give these cases a higher priority. We have developed measures to protect the victims in more efficient ways. And we have used law enforcement measures and penal codes to underline the seriousness of such violence.
Nevertheless, we are not content and the challenges are numerous. Now, it is time to move forward. And I believe we need new ideas to do that.
We have to acknowledge that law enforcement measures – while important – do not in themselves offer an adequate solution to many victims. I believe we need to develop an additional approach, whereby women are offered assistance to conflict resolution, and help towards rehabilitation and even reconciliation. In this aspect, women’s shelters and children’s shelters are very important measures.
I also believe we have a lot to gain by offering treatment to the perpetrators, in addition to - or as an alternative to - imprisonment. In Norway, we are currently building up a nation-wide system of treatment to perpetrators of violence.
My sincere hope is that this network will mobilize men world-wide to recognize their responsibility for contributing to change. We have a lot to learn from each other, and international cooperation is in my opinion the way to go.
This is why I visited Malawi in April this year, benefiting from the experiences of African men on how to mobilize men. This is why violence against women was the item of the Council of Europe's Conference of Ministers of Justice, which I hosted in Norway in June. And this is why I will organize a conference in Norway next year with experts from the Southern Africa, India and other countries, sharing experiences and best practices on what works.
Let us benefit from this network to learn from each other. Because we need new ideas to get further.
Together, we will make each other better.