Skip to main content

Day in Support of Victims of Torture

Blog Index
Day in Support of Victims of Torture
By Adelaide Howell
Posted: 2024-06-11T13:23:44Z

Support for Victims of Torture: Why Women's Perspectives Matter.

For the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, IAWJ interviewed Alejandra Vicente, Head of Law at REDRESS and a member of the GQUAL Secretariat. She has dedicated her career to helping victims of torture receive the justice they deserve. She took the time to share some of her observations with us.

Unfortunately, the current representation of women in the Committee Against Torture (CAT) is extremely low, with only 2 out of 10 members being women. This has been a persistent pattern since the inception of CAT, with the highest recorded representation being only 40% women.

Women struggle to be elected to UN bodies dealing with human rights issues deemed "hard subjects," while topics such as women’s rights, considered "soft subjects," have high female representation. Thankfully, this is changing due to increased advocacy, with GQUAL playing a significant role in getting the first female Special Rapporteur on torture.

The lack of women impacts the legitimacy of the institution because it excludes the perspectives of 50% of the global population. Furthermore, it is essential to consider and address women's experiences of torture, which is best achieved by having female representation in the room.

Vicente concluded by offering some ideas on how we can ensure that women are represented in parity in CAT and other bodies related to torture. First, states need to be transparent in their nomination processes, including reviewing the historical representation of women within their state. Second, civil society needs to continue demanding that women be part of these bodies. Lastly, Vicente urges qualified women to show their interest and advocate on behalf of women regarding torture.