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Statement by the United Nations in Azerbaijan on violence against women and girls

In light of recent reported cases of often fatal violence against women and girls in Azerbaijan, the United Nations in Azerbaijan urges immediate, concerted action to protect women and girls at risk of all forms of violence and to hold accountable those responsible for committing such violence.

Violence against women and girls comes at very high social and economic costs for individuals, families, societies as well as a country as a whole.

Violence against women and girls will undermine the nation’s efforts to grow and thrive – research commissioned by the UN has indicated that violence against women is likely to cost Azerbaijan US$ 764 million – close to 2 per cent of the country’s GDP  – every year in lost economic output caused by irreversible population losses, incapacity, disability, reduced productivity of victims and the costs of providing services in response to violence.

But above all, violence against women and girls destroys lives, families and futures. The human cost of every act of violence is beyond measure – and it is a price that Azerbaijan cannot afford, and no woman or girl should bear.

We acknowledge the political will and determination of the Government of Azerbaijan to address this problem, but more must be done.

The Government of Azerbaijan should urgently ratify the Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention, which would put in place specific measures – including research on the prevalence of violence, strengthened protection of those at risk of violence, dedicated services for victims, and prosecution of offenders – in line with international standards.

Increased investment in practical measures to protect and support victims of violence is needed, including accessible and affordable coordinated referral and assistance services.

There must be a prompt and thorough investigation of all reports of violence against women and girls, with a focus on protecting victims and witnesses and with no impunity for perpetrators of violence.

And everyone in Azerbaijan should speak up and report any incident of violence against women and girls, wherever it takes place – remaining silent in the face of violence is not an option.

For its part, the United Nations in Azerbaijan will continue working closely with the Government and others, across the country, to better protect those at risk of violence – including through support for social service programmes for vulnerable women and girls, creating more opportunities for employment and self-development for women, training professionals and community workers to recognise and respond to signs of violence against girls and women, and through public awareness initiatives such as the forthcoming 16 Days of Activism Campaign Against Gender Based Violence, held annually between 25 November and 10 December. This campaign provides an opportunity for everyone to come together and shine a spotlight on violence against women and girls and speak out against this terrible phenomenon.