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Report of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, E/CN.4/1997/47, February 12, 1997

8. The community may also be the site of restrictions on and regulations of female sexuality. In many instances, women and girl children are subjected to violence by their communities because of their sexuality and sexual behaviour. A key component of community identity, and therefore the demarcation of community boundaries, is the preservation of communal honour. Such honour is frequently perceived, by both community and non-community members, as residing in the sexual behaviour of the women of the community. Communities, therefore, “police” the behaviour of their female members. A woman who is perceived to be acting in a manner deemed to be sexually inappropriate by communal standards is liable to be punished. Such punishments range from eviction from the community to corporal punishment, such as flogging and stoning, and death. In many cases, the restrictions on women’s sexuality, as defined by the community, are sanctioned by the State through the promulgation of laws and policies reflecting the communal values. In most communities, the option available to women for sexual activity is confined to marriage with a man from the same community. Women who choose options which are disapproved of by the community, whether to have a sexual relationship with a man in a non-marital relationship, to have such a relationship outside of ethnic, religious or class communities, or to live out their sexuality in ways other than heterosexuality, are often subjected to violence and degrading treatment. (…)

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