Violence against women has been called the greatest human rights scandal of our times. Although the
evidence of how widespread and how damaging it is widely available from numerous studies, strong
measures to eliminate it are seriously lacking. As the World Health Organization (WHO) Multi-country
Study on Women’s Health and Domestic Violence against Women launched in November 2005, which
presented the initial results on prevalence, health outcomes and women’s responses, the number of
reported cases is only the tip of the iceberg.1 Such violence is perpetuated by mostly men as acts of
domination, which establish and reinforce gender and age-based hierarchies. Violence constitutes an
obstacle to the achievement of the objectives of equality, development and peace; it violates and impairs
or nullifies the enjoyment by women of their human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Likewise, the phenomenon of trafficking in women and girls has continued growing throughout the world,
largely uncontrolled. It has reached a point of being one of the most profitable sources of income in the
informal economy and for transnational criminal groups, being the third largest source of illegal income
after weapons and drug trafficking, while the US Government states human trafficking is tied with arms
as the second largest criminal industry in the world today following drug dealing.