GENEVA, Nov. 25 (Xinhua) -- A group of UN and regional experts on Monday called upon all states to close the gap between international and national laws on rape and sexual violence, saying that absence of consent must become the global standard for definition of rape.
In a joint statement issued Monday, or the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, the experts said that rape is one of the most under-reported crimes, and even when it is reported it is rarely prosecuted.
This is due to a number of factors including gender-based stereotypes, as well as criminal justice systems which define rape based on the use of force, they said.
"The persistence of widespread and systematic rape and sexual violence against women and girls, even in states that have proclaimed zero tolerance on violence against women, demonstrates that sexual violence is deeply entrenched in our still predominantly patriarchal societies," the experts said.
"Criminal justice systems that adopt force-based definitions of rape often require evidence that the perpetrator used coercion and that the victim failed to fight back. As such, the burden is placed on the woman to prove that she resisted. If unable to do so, the perpetrator would walk free while the victim is left stigmatized," they explained.
The UN General Assembly in 2000 officially designated Nov. 25 the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
According to latest UN figures, violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread, persistent and devastating human rights violations in our world today, with one in three women and girls having experienced physical or sexual violence in their lifetime, most frequently by an intimate partner.