This joint submission by the Sexual Rights Initiative, Global Network of Sex Work Projects (NSWP), and the International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific (IWRAW Asia Pacific) was prepared in response to a questionnaire by the Special Rapporteur and provides context to the analysis on laws on violence against women. As a critical aspect to understanding laws on rape and other forms of sexual violence, this submission locates penal laws within the larger structural paradigm that dictates and influences the enactment and implementation of these laws and policies. It provides critical analysis of the harms of carceral approaches or approaches that rely on punishment and incarceration, when addressing gender-based violence. It argues that the report of the Special Rapporteur is an opportunity to lay down clear frameworks on consent and to counter paternalistic and essentialist discourses. These discourses rely on a binary understanding of gender, pose gender as anchored in physiology, view gender as binary and deny women and girls agency and bodily autonomy. Ultimately, they obstruct the struggle to eliminate gender-based violence as opposed to supporting it.
The report of the Special Rapporteur, entitled Rape as a grave, systematic and widespread human rights violation, a crime and a manifestation of gender-based violence against women and girls, and its prevention, was presented to the Human Rights Council in June 2021, and can be accessed at this page.