Violence Against Women and Girls Working Group

Coordinators: Miguel Lorente and Enrique Villanueva


Given that the great majority of Gender Based Violence is directed against women and girls, Violence Against Women and Girls (VAW&G) is often used as a synonym and is itself defined by the Council of Europe as “all acts of gender-based violence that result in, or are likely to result in, physical, sexual, psychological or economic harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life”.
It occurs in various interrelated and often recurring forms, and can be physical, sexual, psychological/emotional, or economic in nature, taking place across a range of public and private settings, sometimes transcending National boundaries. Since 1979, when the UN General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the United Nations called upon all Countries to adopt measures and develop policies to eradicate Violence Against Women and Girls (VAW&G) through the detection, assistance, attention, protection, recovery of the victims and punishment of the offenders. However, the measures adopted have so far been few and isolated. Indeed, the “United Nations Special Rapporteur on VAW Statement” in the UNDOC meeting (Bangkok, November 2014), highlighted that VAW&G is increasing and that there is a lack of accountability. Additionally, according to the Geneva Declaration Secretariat, 2011, every year more than 66.000 women and girls are killed around the world (conservative estimations), mostly due to gender-motivated reasons. Therefore, Legal and Forensic Medicine needs to be closely, more intensively and more visibly involved in the eradication of VAW&G, which would mean playing an enhanced role in identifying situations of risk, preventing the occurrence of VAW&G and, in the event that it does occur, providing the most qualified assistance possible in treating and protecting the victims. Its role is crucial in light of the following.

- It studies and analyzes the results of VAW&G in terms of injury and death as part of the investigation, but also as a manifestation of the social problem.

- Circumstances surrounding VAW&G constitute a breach of Human Rights.

- Knowledge and experience need to be shared among Medicine and other Sciences, and within the International Community to improve both the effectiveness of the response and the possibility of prevention.

The IALM Working Group on VAW&G will thus promote and set in motion initiatives and actions aimed at overturning this scenario, which will involve the following strategies:

- the creation of an online regional forum to acquire data and information in order to analyze the situation regarding VAW&G from a holistic perspective, taking into consideration all of the related elements (law and regulation, social factors that criticize or justify this violence, the response from various sectors, resources for specific operations, training, etc.);

- the sharing of protocols and instruments, already developed on the subject of VAW&G, in relation to Legal and Forensic Medicine;

- contact with the main International organizations working on this topic (UN, WHO, EU) to establish collaborative relationships;

- the initiation of a debate and discussion within IALM in order to get a picture of the various perspectives on this issue and decide the necessary steps to be taken.


  1. Improving knowledge and facilitating research about VAW&G.
  2. Promoting scientific analysis and debate about VAW&G within the IALM.
  3. Developing scientific and technical instruments to improve the response to VAW&G (protocols, guidelines, recommendations, etc.).
  4. Promoting specialized training on VAW&G.
  5. Collaborating on this topic with National and International Organizations, Governments and Institutions to improve the quality of response from the various sectors, thereby enhancing methods of prevention.
  6. Analyzing the juridical and judicial implications so as to recommend the best approach based on knowledge and evidence.
  7. Collaborating and coordinating initiatives with other professionals and fields involved in VAW&G response (health sector, clinical medicine, nursery, midwives, psychology, social work and criminology).
  8. Collaborating with women’s organizations and NGOs working on this topic.