This is my first thematic report to the Human Rights Council in my capacity as the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences. It is submitted in accordance with Human Rights Council decision 1/102. Section I is an introduction, section II summarizes my activities in 2006 and section III examines the intersections of culture and violence against women and contains my conclusions. The report addresses the dominant culture-based paradigms that justify or explain the violations of women's rights, reducing violence against women to a cultural problem. It traces the trends in the development of the international normative framework on violence against women in relation to culture that culminated in the recognition of the primacy of women's right to live a life free of gender-based violence over any cultural considerations. Then, it critically examines how cultural discourses are created, reproduced and instrumentalized to challenge this primacy and the validity of the principle of gender equality and women's human rights in general. It is argued that cultural explanations overlook the material basis of cultural formations, thus disguising the political and economic foundation of sociocultural dynamics.