Equality Now, in conjunction with Solidarity for African Women’s Rights (SOAWR), is delighted to announce the release of A Guide to Using the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa for Legal Action. The release of this manual comes 5 years after the Protocol came into force. “We hope African lawyers and women’s rights advocates find the manual useful and it gives them hands-on guidance on how best to apply the remarkable standards of the Protocol in cases of violations of women’s rights,” said Faiza Jama Mohamed, Nairobi Office Director of Equality Now, which convenes SOAWR, a coalition of 47 civil society organizations working to ensure that the Women’s Protocol is ratified and implemented across the continent.
The current report of the African Centre for Gender and Social Development provides a situation analysis of violence against women in Sudan combining it with information about the available legislative frameworks and legal institutions that could be used in order to combat it (p. 158-163).
The report indicates that most of the Sudanese women who become the victims of sexual violence are reluctant to report the commission of an offence for fear of the negative reflection it may have on their families, and their own reputation. In addition, a victim failing to prove rape may instead be accused of adultery and sentenced to death.
The report also highlights the problems of the widespread practice of Female Genital Mutilation in Sudan, abduction of Sudanese women for slavery, and their trafficking to neighbor countries. Both the Sudanese police and military as well as Janjawid militiamen have been found to be involved in the commission of these offences. Attempts to bring perpetrators to justice before the International Criminal Court have failed as the Sudanese Government has resisted arresting the alleged offenders.
At the same time, with the support of the UNPF, civil society and international organizations, Sudanese government bodies have devised a number of national plans and strategies to combat violence against women, prevent FGM, assist the victims of violence, and contribute to the empowerment of women in general. Not all of these documents have been adopted as State policy. In a move towards implementation of the existing plans the Government of Sudan has established the Unit for the Suppression of Violence against Women and Children.
*The full article is available through this link. This article may be available free of charge to those with university credentials.
Women's experiences of warfare and postwar recovery are qualitatively different from those of men. However, to date, the processes whereby women recover from the gendered impacts of war have not been sufficiently explored. In order to address this gap in the literature and to inform policies and services aimed at women recovering from warfare, a qualitative investigation was conducted of the process whereby women in one rural community in northern Mozambique attained wellbeing in the wake of war. Findings indicate that factors at all levels of the socio-ecological system were significant in supporting women's attainment of postwar wellbeing.
The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa entered into force in 2005. Met with much celebration for the protection it would provide African women, the Protocol was heralded as one of the most forward-looking human rights instruments. Now, fifteen years after it was conceived, the Protocol deserves a full assessment of the issues that it has faced in accession and will face in implementation. This Note analyzes the way in which the Protocol was developed and the effect the Protocol’s language will have on its ability to achieve its object and purpose. This Note contends that certain language is too narrow, creating an over-specificity that will deter necessary countries from joining. However, this Note also asserts that certain aspirational provisions of the Protocol are overly broad, creating legal obligations that States Parties will be unable to meet. Ultimately, African countries with questionable women’s rights records will refuse to sign—States Parties will either be unable or unwilling to protect women to the extent required, leaving women in the same position as before. Worse yet, some States Parties may implement extreme measures that could increasingly disadvantage women over time. By relying on Western ideas of women’s rights and without explicitly determining how or if customary law will be considered in implementation, the Protocol faces serious obstacles on the domestic level. This Note concludes by asserting that unless States Parties consider a more grassroots, community-oriented approach to implementing the Protocol, the instrument’s requirements will remain unrealized, and women in Africa will remain marginalized.
**Click on "Final report of the Expert Group Meeting" at the given link to access PDF
The United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDAW/DESA) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) convened an expert group meeting on good practices in legislation to address harmful practices, which was held at the United Nations at Addis Ababa, from 25 to 28 May 2009.
The expert group meeting was a follow up to an expert group meeting organized by UNDAW/DESA and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Vienna, from 26 to 28 May 2008, on good practices in legislation on violence against women. That meeting prepared a model framework for legislation on violence against women, including detailed recommendations, commentaries and examples of promising practices. The framework contains two types of recommendations: those that are applicable to all forms of violence against women; and those that are specific to domestic violence or sexual violence. The purpose of this expert group meeting was to further develop the framework by elaborating specific recommendations for legislation on harmful practices against women.
Thursdays in Black Campaign has its roots in groups such as Mothers of the Disappeared in Argentina, Black Sash in South Africa and the Women in Black movements in Bosnia and Israel. Thursdays in Black, as a human rights campaign, was started by the World Council of Churches during the 1980's as a peaceful protest against rape and violence - the by-products of war and conflict. The campaign focuses on ways that individuals can challenge attitudes that cause rape and violence.
The protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (African Women's Protocol or Protocol) is a legally binding multilateral supplement to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights (African Charter), adopted in July 2003 by the African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government. Also referred to as the "Maputo Protocol," alluding to the place of its adoption, the Protocol entered into force on November 25, 2005. By June 30, 2009, it had been ratified by 27 of the 53 members of the African Union (AU), all of whom are also States Parties to the African Charter.
2008 - Addendum - Mission to the Democratic Republic of Congo
Sexual violence has been a defining feature of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s recent armed conflicts. Women, in areas of armed conflict, still suffer sexual violence committed by the Forces armées de la République démocratique du Congo (FARDC), the Police nationale congolaise (PNC), armed groups and, increasingly, civilians. The situation is particularly dramatic in South Kivu, where non-State armed groups, including foreign militia, commit sexual atrocities that aim at the complete physical and psychological destruction of women with implications for the entire society. Given the multitude of actors involved in the conflict and the continuation of these crimes, the international community, in cooperation with the Congolese authorities, has a responsibility to take all necessary measures to ensure that women in South Kivu are protected. Sexual violence extends beyond eastern Congo. In Equateur Province, PNC and FARDC have carried out systematic reprisals against the civilian population, including mass rape. Soldiers and police who commit these acts amounting to crimes against humanity are rarely held accountable by the commanding officers. Some of the perpetrators have been given commanding positions in the State security forces, which further aggravates the situation. Impunity for rape is massive. Due to political interference and corruption, perpetrators, especially those who belong to the State security forces, go unpunished. The limited support made available to the overburdened justice system raises questions as to whether there is political will to end impunity.
The purpose of this alternative report is to address specific violence against women and children, including torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, its causes and consequences.
The report draws attention to consistent violations involving torture and ill-treatment inflicted on women and children by both State officials and non-State actors. It also addresses to what extent the Kenyan Government fails to protect women and children from torture. In this respect, the present report provides the UN Committee against Torture (the Committee) with a legal and practical overview of women’s and children’s rights in Kenya in the context of the implementation of the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (the Convention).
This report is based on the international legal obligations of Kenya under the Convention. In particular, it refers to the positive obligation to “take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction” and “to prevent in any territory under its jurisdiction other acts of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
What is the meaning of Shari’a law? How can we understand its implementation in different contexts, given the diversity in the practice of Islam in Africa and around the globe? What are the elements of Shari’a that are particularly relevant to the position of women and gender relations in the African nation(s) under consideration?
The Maputo Protocol was originally adopted by the “Assembly of the African Union” in Maputo, Mozambique on July 11, 2003. The official document is titled “Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa.”
The Maputo Protocol is a treaty instrument that is binding on all countries that ratify it. It went into effect in November 2005, after the minimum 15 of the 53 African Union member countries ratified it. As of June 2007, according to the African Union, 43 nations had signed it and 21 had formally ratified it: (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Comoros, Djibouti, Gambia, Libya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Mauritania, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Senegal, Seychelles, Tanzania, Togo and Zambia).
The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People's Rights (ACHPR) on the Rights of Women in Africa was adopted in Maputo in July 2003, eight years after the commencement of the drafting process in Lomé, Togo in March 1995. This event marked a major achievement. However, before entering into force, the Protocol required ratification in fifteen member countries (Article 29). On 26 October 2005, Togo became the fifteenth country to ratify and deposit the Protocol before the Commission of the African Union. The Protocol entered into force a month later on 25 November 2005.
While celebrating this major achievement, the African women's movement remains vigilant in the pursuit of our next objective: the universal ratification of the instrument and its effective implementation. Only then will the status of African women significantly improve.
In pursuit of this objective, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom WiLDAF) sub-regional office for West Africa produced this simplified version of the Protocol, which can be used to educate and raise awareness of women's rights.
Throughout the armed conflict in Sierra Leone from 1991 to 2001, thousands of women and girls of all ages, ethnic groups, and socioeconomic classes were subjected to widespread and systematic sexual violence, including individual and gang rape, and rape with objects such as weapons, firewood, umbrellas, and pestles. Rape was perpetrated by both sides, but mostly by the rebel forces. These crimes of sexual violence were generally characterized by extraordinary brutality and frequently preceded or followed by other egregious human rights abuses against the victim, her family, and her community. Although the rebels raped indiscriminately irrespective of age, they targeted young women and girls whom they thought were virgins. Many of these younger victims did not survive these crimes of sexual violence. Adult women were also raped so violently that they sometimes bled to death or suffered from tearing in the genital area, causing long-term incontinence and severe infections. Many victims who were pregnant at the time of rape miscarried as a result of the sexual violence they were subjected to, and numerous women had their babies torn out of their uterus as rebels placed bets on the sex of the unborn child.
Sierra Leone’s decade-long conflict of the 1990s and onward was marked by an extraordinary level of brutal human rights abuses, including summary killings, sexual violence against women and girls, abductions, amputations, and the use of child soldiers.
The combined effects of prolonged conflict, pervasive human rights abuses, and massive forced migration in one of the poorest countries in the world, devastated the health and well-being of the Sierra Leonean people. The daunting process of rebuilding and reconciliation in the aftermath of such destruction requires the establishment of an accurate account of the nature and extent of abuses that were committed.
This study provides an overview of available literature on the prevalence and incidence of rape in South Africa, the response of the criminal justice system to such crimes and the characteristics of those who commit rape. There are indeed various studies of rape in South Africa from which rape statistics may be extracted, but none of these studies were specifically designed to measure the prevalence and/or incidence of this crime. These studies, although approached from different perspectives and using diverse methods, come up with roughly similar patterns or trends as summarised below. Prevalence refers to how many cases there are, altogether, at a given point in time, for example, how many people there are in any country on the day of a population census. Incidence, on the other hand,refers to the number of cases over a specified time period, for example, the number of children per 100 000 of the population thatwere born in a given year.