GENEVA - The UN is sending a human rights expert to Britain for the first time to investigate violence against women, it was announced on Friday.
Rashida Manjoo will visit Britain from March 31 to April 15 to “to study the main manifestations of violence perpetrated in the family and in the community, such as domestic and sexual violence, sexual bullying and harassment, forced and early marriages, and female genital mutilation,” the UN Human Rights Council said in a statement.
“Violence against women continues to be one of the most pervasive human rights violations globally, affecting every country in the world,” said Manjoo, a law professor from South Africa who joined the Human Rights Council in 2009. She will also look at violence perpetrated or condoned by state authorities, and will focus on the particular vulnerabilities caused by the increased influx of immigrants, asylum seekers and refugees.
Police last year launched an investigation into allegations of sexual abuse at female immigrant detention centre Yarl’s Wood. “Importantly, I will visit shelters to obtain first-hand information from individual survivors of gender-based violence,” Manjoo said. Her visit comes as Britain begins its first ever prosecution for female genital mutilation, which was announced last week.
An Essex doctor is accused of carrying out an FGM operation at his hospital in November 2012, and a man from London is accused of intentionally encouraging the procedure. They are due in Westminster Magistrates’ Court on April 15. FGM has been illegal in Britain since 1985 but no one has ever been prosecuted. A survey by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights, published earlier this month, said the UK had the fifth highest rate of physical and sexual violence against women in the EU, with 44 percent of women suffering abuse since the age of 15. The highest was Denmark, with 52 percent.
Manjoo has a formal invitation by the British government, and will travel to London, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Belfast, Cardiff and Bristol.
She will present her findings at the next session of the UN Human Rights Council in June. She is due to hold a press conference on April 15 at the office of the UN High Commissioner on Refugees in London.