Rape

Sudan: Change the law – allow victims of sexual violence to access justice

Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2014 Mar 13
Update: 

10 APRIL 2015 UPDATE: HUGE VICTORY! The Sudanese penal code was amended and signed by the President (22 February) so that victims of rape will no longer be charged with adultery and/or committing “immoral acts.” Equality Now has been working with partners in Sudan and through the SOAWR Coalition since 2012 to amend the discriminatory provisions in the 1991 Sudanese Criminal Code so that women and girls would not be punished for crimes against them and so that survivors would not be discouraged from reporting cases of rape. In this case, the knowledge we applied from a similar hard won victory on rape and public order laws in Pakistan was instrumental in helping Sudanese groups push for change.

Specifically addressing the lack of clarity and guidance in the law that was resulting in the re-victimization of survivors, Article 149 of the Criminal Code now includes a rape definition that meets international standards. Additionally, Article 151 of the Criminal Act was amended to include a new element criminalizing sexual harassment. And thanks to the combined efforts of the campaign and supporters in Sudan, the case against the young woman appears to have been dropped by the government. She has attained necessary legal immigration status in the country and is raising a healthy son who was born in June 2014.

We are greatly encouraged by this victory and will continue to work to ensure equal access to justice for women and girls. Thank you for your support!

To learn more about the work to reform legislation on rape and sexual violence in Sudan, read our report produced in conjunction with Sudanese women’s rights crusader, Dr. Muna Eltayeb M. Eltayeb, and published thanks to the generous support of the NEPAD Spanish Fund for African Women’s Empowerment.


11 SEPTEMBER 2014 UPDATE: Following our calls on government officials and our June submission to the Human Rights Committee, the State has since provided the young woman with medical attention (she gave birth in June). Additionally, she no longer faces deportation as the immigration charges were suspended. Equality Now continues to pursue all angles to ensure justice for the young survivor and an amendment of Sudan’s rape and public order laws.

Please continue to lend your voice to the call for all criminal charges against her to be dropped. Thank you for your support! 


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What You Can Do: 

TAKE ACTION NOW! << Click on this link to send all letters below online.

Join Equality Now in calling for justice for all survivors and victims of sexual violence in Sudan.
Please take urgent action today by writing to the officials below to demand that:

  • The prosecution drop all criminal charges against the young woman, and cease any legal action to deport her to Ethiopia.
  • The young woman is promptly provided with adequate medical and psychological support as a victim and survivor of sexual violence.
  • Immediate steps are taken to amend the Sudan Criminal Act of 1991 and the Sudan Evidence Act of 1994 to prevent the criminalization of sexual violence victims, and to ensure that women and girls who have been raped receive equal protection under the law in accordance with Sudan’s international obligations.

President Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir
Office of the President
People’s Palace
PO Box 281
Khartoum, Sudan

H.E. Mohammed Bushara Dousa
Minister of Justice
Ministry of Justice
Justice Towers
Gamhoria Street
PO Box 302
Khartoum, Sudan
Email: moj@moj.gov.sd

H.E. Fatih Ezzidin Ahmed Speaker of the National Assembly
The Peoples Hall Omdurman
PO Box 14416, Khartoum, Sudan
Fax: 00249 187 560 950 Emails: info@parliament.gov.sd
sudanipg@parliament.gov.sd

H.E. Mashair Aldawalab
Minster of Welfare & Social Security
Ministry of Welfare & Social Security (General Directorate for Women & Family Affairs)
PO Box: 12661
Khartoum, Sudan
Fax: 83777633
Emails: info@gdwfa.gov.sd

H.E. Ali Ahmed Karti
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
PO Box 873
Khartoum, Sudan

Letters: 

Dear President/Minister/Speaker,

I am deeply concerned by the overwhelming challenges women and girls face when seeking justice   for rape and sexual violence in Sudan. I am particularly disturbed by the brutal August 2013 gang rape of a 19-year-old pregnant and divorced Ethiopian woman by seven men in Omdurman. I was outraged to learn that a victim of sexual violence was re-victimized by the very judicial system that should be seeking justice for her. This was tragically demonstrated by her arrest alongside the perpetrators who raped her, her detainment, the various charges levied against her, and her subsequent guilty charge and sentence for committing indecent acts. This case highlights the tremendous challenges victims face victims and the urgent need for legal reform, especially to article 149 of the criminal code referring to rape.

Under current laws, when a woman or girl reports she has been raped, she also exposes herself to possible prosecution. Effectively, a victim has to prove her own innocence by demonstrating that the encounter was non-consensual. If she fails to do so, she is liable to be prosecuted for adultery (zina). The law lacks clear guidelines on its interpretation and implementation, which allows judges wide discretion that is often unjust to victims seeking redress through the criminal justice system. In this case, even with filmed evidence of the rape, the victim was still found guilty of indecent acts. All these factors, combined with the traumatic stigma and fear of community reprisals, often deter women and girls from reporting crimes of sexual violence and make it very difficult for them to achieve justice even if they do.

Sudan is obligated in its interim constitution of 2005 and under several international conventions to ensure that men and women are treated equally under the law and to prevent victims from being criminalized. The Interim National Constitution of the Republic of Sudan in article 28 of its Bill of Rights states that “Every human being has the inherent right to life, dignity and the integrity of his/her person, which shall be protected by law” and in article 31 that “all persons are equal before the law and are entitled without discrimination, as to . . . sex . . . to the equal protection of the law.” Both the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) echo these rights and state, “(1) Every individual shall be equal before the law and (2) Every individual shall be entitled to equal protection of the law.” The African Charter and the ICCPR prohibit “cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment and treatment,” but Sudan violates this article when it punishes sexual violence victims by charging them with adultery.

I join Equality Now in calling for justice for all survivors and victims of sexual violence in Sudan. I urge Sudanese authorities to take urgent action in accordance with Sudan’s international, regional and domestic obligations to ensure that:

  • The prosecution drops all criminal charges against the young woman, and ceases any legal action to deport her to Ethiopia.
  • The young woman is promptly provided with adequate medical and psychological support as a victim and survivor of sexual violence.
  • Immediate steps are taken to amend the Sudan Criminal Act of 1991 and the Sudan Evidence Act of 1994 to prevent the criminalization of sexual violence victims, and to ensure that women and girls who have been raped receive equal protection under the law in accordance with Sudan’s international obligations.

Thank you for your attention.

Yours sincerely,

Kenya: Ensure justice for 16-year-old Liz & all victims of sexual violence

Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2014 Jan 22
Update: 

TAKE ACTION NOW! << Click on this link to send all letters below online.

13 APRIL 2015 UPDATE: SUCCESS!! This morning, the Busia courts convicted the three accused for both gang rape and causing grevious harm. They have been sentenced to 15 and 7 years for the respective crimes. Thank you to everyone for keeping up the pressure!

Liz has finally gotten justice and her case will hopefully continue to be a wake-up call for all. We hope that it can also be used to highlight the gaps in policies and procedures. Authorities must be held accountable and we must continue to push for safe environments for girls, where sexual violence is not tolerated and is punished to the fullest extent of the law.


25 MARCH 2015 UPDATE: Liz's trial continued on March 6th and the prosecution rested its case. The trial will resume on March 30th - 31st, during which the defense is expected to present its case.


27 FEBRUARY 2015 UPDATE: Further witness testimony was presented at the 5-6 February court session. The next session is currently scheduled for 6 March, where the prosecution will have additional testimony.


5 DECEMBER 2014 UPDATE: Continued progress! A third suspect was arrested and charged just prior to the latest trial hearing in Liz’s case, which resumed 27 – 28 November (the remaining three suspects will be charged in a new case when they are apprehended). The father of one of the suspects was also charged for helping his son to evade capture. Eight witnesses testified, including the medical expert and Liz, who turned 17 in October. For the purposes of the trial, Liz was deemed a “vulnerable witness” which is a sign of progress towards proper implementation of Kenya’s Sexual Offenses Act – one of our campaign calls. This allowed for victim-sensitive measures, including testifying with an intermediary present, to help protect her dignity and lessen further trauma. The two special prosecutors nominated by civil society continue to be present and participate in the trial as members of the prosecutorial team. The next court session was scheduled for 5-6 February 2015.

On 3 December, the Directorate of Criminal Investigations also resumed their investigation of the additional 70 sexual violence cases from Busia County and Western Kenya compiled by our partners REEP Kenya and IPAS Africa Alliance. This was evidently prompted by a recent Equality Now letter asking for concrete action and a progress update. We have also reached out to the Independent Policing Oversight Authority for an update on the investigation into the conduct of the police officers that mishandled the initial reports made by Liz and her family.


10 OCTOBER 2014 UPDATE: Though Liz’s case has been adjourned until November 2014, progress continues in the case as well as to address sexual violence in Busia County/Western Kenya. In late September the DPP announced that a second perpetrator had been apprehended and placed in juvenile prison. Additionally, in late August specially trained investigators were sent to Busia to begin looking into the 70 additional rape cases compiled by our partners, with several arrests soon following. At the same time, the National Gender and Equity Commission began its own investigation in Busia to better understand the gaps and persistent problems. The Commission held closed hearings with 100s of survivors of sexual violence - many referred by REEP – and also met with magistrates, chiefs, religious officers, government officials and the children’s office to discuss the issue. Equality Now and our partners are greatly encouraged by these positive developments. Please continue to support the #JusticeforLiz campaign!


31 JULY 2014 UPDATE: The trial to obtain justice for Liz began on 24 June with court proceedings subsequently adjourned until 11-12 September. With the beginning of the trial, we are encouraged by the increased responsiveness of government officials to address sexual violence in Busia/Western Kenya arising from the campaign. In June, Equality Now wrote to the Kenyan Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) – detailing 70 additional rape cases compiled by our partners, which had not been investigated and/or the identified suspects had not been arrested – to spur them to take action. Less than a month later, the DPP responded to say that he had contacted the Director of Criminal Investigations calling for “speedy and thorough investigations” into the cases; asked for the files to be submitted to his office for appropriate action following the investigations; and, that he had appointed a team from the DPP’s Sexual and Gender Based Violence unit to provide guidance during the investigations.

We are extremely hopeful that this response from senior leadership signals that sexual violence will be taken seriously and handled appropriately in Kenya. Equality Now, COVAW, Avaaz, REEP and the SOAWR coalition thank you for partnering with us on this campaign, and we will continue to update you as the situation progresses.


20 JUNE 2014 UPDATE: Renewed call to Action! The trial for Liz’s case is scheduled to begin on Tuesday 24 June and, though it’s been nearly a year, still only one of the five gang rape suspects has been arrested, despite community reports that the whereabouts of the remaining five are known.

Please help us continue to demand justice for victims of sexual violence in Kenya and raise awareness on the systemic failures to address the problem in Busia County - the site of Liz’s attack and a region with a high prevalence of sexual violence against women and girls.

On Monday 23 June, Equality Now, COVAW, Avaaz, REEP and the SOAWR coalition are holding a rally and community dialogue in Busia, to amplify our call for justice and for authorities to take sexual violence more seriously in Kenya, especially in Busia.

The renewed call and details about the rally are available here – please join us in spreading the word that we’ve had ENOUGH when it comes to sexual violence!


17 APRIL 2014 UPDATE: Progress! We’re pleased to report that following the 8 April hearing, the Director of Public Prosecutions has finally amended and upgraded the charges against all six suspects to gang rape, and issued arrest warrants for the remaining five suspects. The case is set to go to trial on 24 June.

Thank you for keeping up the pressure on Kenyan officials to get justice for Liz and we'll continue to update you as the case progresses. We hope that you will continue to join with Equality Now and our partners in calling on Kenyan officials to ensure that all sexual violence complaints are handled swiftly and appropriately, and that officials are properly equipped to deal with survivors and victims of sexual violence.


28 March 2014 Update: Thank you to the thousands of supporters who have taken action to demand Justice for Liz. Authorities took notice, and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions initially issued public assurances that the case would proceed to court without further delay. However, following a hearing on 24 March 2014, it's clear that the authorities still aren't taking Liz’s case seriously. To date, only one of the  six suspects have been arrested, despite reports that their whereabouts are known, and the charge sheet still has not been amended to reflect rape or other crimes of sexual violence under the Sexual Offenses Act. Further, the Independent Policing Oversight Authority has not yet released their investigative report on the allegations of egregious professional misconduct by police officers handling this case, and no lawful action has been taken to address the police failures in this case.

The next hearing is scheduled for 8 April 2014 and we need your help! Please maintain pressure to obtain justice for Liz. Authorities must take immediate action to protect Kenya’s women and girls from sexual violence and to ensure timely access to justice for all survivors and victims.


 

 

 

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What You Can Do: 

TAKE ACTION NOW! << Click on this link to send all letters below online.

  • Call on the officials below to take immediate steps to arrest all the remaining suspects so the trial can proceed with them present.
  • Urge Kenya’s criminal justice sector work together more effectively to ensure that the Sexual Offences Act is effectively implemented so that all cases of sexual violence are properly investigated and prosecuted, particularly in the Butula and Nambale sub-counties of Busia County.
  • Urge the Independent Policing Oversight Authority to investigate and report on the allegations of egregious professional misconduct by the police officers handling this case, and to take action against the police failures in this case.
  • Urge the government of Kenya to prioritize the training of law enforcement officials to ensure that sexual violence complaints are appropriately handled and that officials are equipped to deal with survivors of sexual violence by rectifying harmful behaviors that might further distress victims or impede their access to justice.
  • Take part in the #JusticeForLiz social media campaign. Messages can also be re-tweeted from @equalitynow, @COVAW and @FemnetProg.
  • Help us spread the word about this campaign by sharing this Action with your friends.

Letters should be addressed to:

H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta
President of the Republic of Kenya
P.O. Box 30040
Nairobi, Kenya
@StateHouseKenya, @UKenyatta
info@president.go.ke

Hon. Mr. Keriako Tobiko
Director of Public Prosecution
Office of the DPP
NSSF Building, 19th Fl
Bishops Road
P.O. Box 30701-00100
Nairobi, Kenya
info@odpp.go.ke

Hon Dr. Willy Mutunga
Chief Justice
Supreme Court of Kenya
City Hall Way
P.O. Box 30041-00100
Nairobi, Kenya
chiefjustice@judiciary.go.ke
@WMutunga

Ms. Patricia Nyaundi
Secretary to the Commission
Kenya National Commission on Human Rights
1st Floor CVS Plaza, Kasuku Rd.
P.O. Box: 74359-00200
Nairobi, Kenya
haki@knchr.org

Independent Policing
Oversight Authority
1st Ngong Avenue,
ACK Garden Annex, 2nd Fl.
P. O. Box 23035 00100
Nairobi, Kenya
info@ipoa.go.ke

Hon. Joseph Nkaissery
Cabinet Secretary
Ministry of Interior & Coordination of National Government
Harambee House, Harambee Avenue, P.0. Box 30510-00100
Nairobi, Kenya
ps.interior@kenya.go.ke, ps.pais@kenya.go.ke

Letters: 

Dear President/Minister/Governor,

I am deeply concerned about the evidence demonstrating Kenyan authorities’ systemic failure to investigate and prosecute sexual violence cases. I am particularly disturbed by the brutal rape of Liz in Busia County that occurred on June 26, 2013, and the subsequent miscarriage of justice by authorities in Liz’s case. To date, three of the six suspects identified have not been arrested despite reports that their whereabouts are known.

Much more must be done to protect Kenya’s women and girls from sexual violence and to ensure timely access to justice for all survivors. The evidence in Busia in is very compelling, and highlights the prevalence of sexual violence plaguing women and girls, and the tremendous obstacles encountered at every stage of the criminal justice process. There are dozens if not hundreds of cases that underscore just how dire the situation has become.

Kenya’s 2006 Sexual Offences Act criminalizes all forms of sexual violence and the 2010 Constitution entrenches the rights and fundamental freedoms of all. Kenya has also ratified and domesticated a number of human rights instruments that affirm the State’s responsibility to protect women and girls from sexual violence.

I join Equality Now and their partners through the Solidarity for African Women's Rights (SOAWR) Coalition - COVAW, FIDA-Kenya, FEMNET, Fahamu and IPAS - in calling for justice for Liz and for all survivors and victims of sexual violence. I urge Kenyan authorities to take urgent action in accordance with Kenya’s international, regional and domestic obligations.

I thank you for your attention.

Yours sincerely,

Afghanistan: Prosecute those responsible for the rape and murder of 16-year-old Shakila Bakhsh

Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2013 Nov 25

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What You Can Do: 

TAKE ACTION NOW! << Click on this link to send all letters below online.

  • Call on the officials below to ensure that a full and fair investigation is undertaken into the death of Shakila Bakhsh and that the perpetrator/s of her rape and murder are prosecuted without delay.
  • Urge the government of Afghanistan, in accordance with Afghanistan’s own Constitution and its international legal obligations, to ensure that robust systems are put in place to prevent all violence against women and girls and to guarantee that the rule of law prevails in protection of the rights of women and girls.

Letters should go to:

Minister of Interior Affairs Mr. Umar Daudzai
Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Ministry of Interior Affairs
Kabul
Afghanistan
Tel: +93 202 102 945 +93 202 102 945 +93 202 201 785 +93 202 201 785
Email: af.moi.press@gmail.com, moi.spokesman.mediadirectorate@gmail.com

Minister of Justice Mr. Habibullah Ghalib
Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Ministry of Justice
Charayee Pashtoonistan,
Foroushgah
Kabul
Afghanistan
Tel:  +93 202 104 336
Email: spksperson@gmail.com

With copy to: President Karzai, Presidential Palace, Kabul, Afghanistan Tel: +93 (20) 210 2853, +93 (20) 210 3705, +93 (20) 210 3705 Email: president.pressoffice@gmail.com

Letters: 

Dear Minister of Interior Affairs/ Minister of Justice:

I am deeply concerned about the rape and murder of 16-year-old Shakila Bakhsh, daughter of Mohammad Bakhsh, in Zargaran, in central Bamyan on 31 January 2012, and the lack of a prosecution in her case.

According to the Bamyan Province Court of Appeal (case number 40, May 21, 2012) documents, Shakila was found dead at the home of Mr. Mohammad Hadi Wahidi Bihishti, a member of Bamyan Provincial Council. At the time of the incident Mr. Bihishti was home with his wife and nephew. Initially Mr. Bihishti’s bodyguard, Mr. Qurban, who is also Shakila’s brother-in-law, was charged with her murder despite eye witness statements which placed him at a local bazaar at the time. Mr. Qurban claimed he was informed about Shakila’s death through a phone call made to him by Mr. Bihishti who told him that Shakila had killed herself.

Court documents state that security forces and the police were not informed by Mr. Bishishti or anyone else about what had happened. Instead, the deceased’s body was taken to hospital. The documents also state that there was an attempt to remove signs of the murder at the house. When police present at the hospital happened to find out about the incident they sent a team to investigate. However, the court documents also highlight a number of failings in the police investigation including the fact that the police neglected to send fingerprints of Mr. Bihishti, his wife or nephew to forensics to be examined. Reportedly family members of Shakila and Mr. Qurban maintain that Mr. Bihishti is responsible for killing Shakila, but due to his influential position in the Bamyan Provincial Council he is not being fully investigated. On 21 May 2012, the Court of Appeal concluded that there was insufficient evidence against Mr. Qurban and ordered a new investigation.

I urge you to please ensure that the case is fully and fairly investigated and the perpetrators prosecuted. I would respectfully urge the government of Afghanistan to ensure the rule of law prevails and that violence against women and girls is prevented and punished to the full extent of the law in accordance with Afghanistan’s own Constitution and international legal obligations.

Thank you for your attention.

Yours sincerely,

London Office Director Jacqui Hunt on rape culture & unhealthy gender stereotyping in schools in Britain (Voice of Russia)

1/11/2013 -- Voice of Russian -- "Britain: a rape-tolerant society" London Office Director Jacqui Hunt on rape culture & unhealthy gender stereotyping in schools in Britain:

Morocco: Amend Penal Code to Protect Women Against Violence and Discrimination (HuffPo UK)

12/13/2012 -- Huffington Post UK -- "Morocco: Amend Penal Code to Protect Women Against Violence and Discrimination"; In solidarity with female victims of violence and discrimination, the "Spring of Dignity" coalition organised a human chain which started at the headquarters of the Ministry of Justice in Rabat and ended at the seat of the House of Representatives. Several hundred people took part.

Uganda: Properly investigate and prosecute cases of sexual violence against the disabled

Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2012 Nov 12
Update Date: 
2013 Mar 19
Update: 

UPDATE 19 MARCH 2013: The remaining suspect in the case, who had run away, was found dead in early 2013. However, Equality Now is calling for DNA testing of his body at the government’s expense without delay.


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What You Can Do: 

Contact the Ugandan Government and urge them to:

  1. Conduct DNA testing on the body of the remaining suspect at the government’s expense without delay.
  2. Ensure that all relevant investigative techniques, including DNA testing, are promptly carried out in cases of sexual violence, and in particular, those concerning disabled victims.

TAKE ACTION NOW! << Click on this link to send all letters below online.

Help us spread the word about this campaign by sharing this Action with your friends.

Letters should be addressed to:

Richard Buteera
Director of Public Prosecutions
Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP)
P.O. Box 1550
Kampala, Uganda
Phone: +256-414-332-501 - 7
Fax: +256-414-251-951

Hon. Chief Justice Benjamin Joseph Odoki,
Chief Justice of Uganda
The Judiciary Courts of Judicature
High Court Building
Box 7085
Kampala, Uganda
Phone: +256-414-341-116
Email: bodoki@judicature.go.ug

Lady Justice Alice E. Mpagi-Bahigeine
Deputy Chief Justice of Uganda
The Judiciary Courts of Judicature
High Court Building
Box 7085
Kampala, Uganda
Email: ampagi@judicature.go.ug

Letters: 

Dear Mr./Hon. Chief Justice/Lady Justice

I am deeply concerned about the Ugandan government’s inaction in protecting disabled sexual violence victims and the lack of additional steps to investigate crimes against them that would ensure swift justice. A case in point is Sanyu, a 13-year-old blind, deaf and mute Ugandan girl, who was raped and became pregnant as a result but was unable to communicate the identity of her rapist due to her condition. Sanyu’s mother and Legal Action for Persons with Disabilities - Uganda (LAPD) called for DNA testing of Sanyu’s father, three brothers (the only males who had access to her) and the baby to establish paternity, but the Government Analytical Laboratory - Wandegya did not respond to  the official request and the police closed the case.

Upon learning about the case, international human rights organization Equality Now successfully raised funds for DNA testing in 2011 and with the assistance of LAPD, had the case reopened. DNA samples were taken from three of the four suspects (one brother had run away) on 24 August 2011 (four years after the rape) and sent to the Government chemist for testing, as is required for trial admissibility. The DNA testing languished for over a year and when finally received, the results showed that the baby’s father was genetically of the same paternal line, though none of the three tested were the father of Sanyu’s baby. To our knowledge no effort has been made by the police to apprehend and test the remaining suspect. Along with Equality Now and LAPD, I am seriously disturbed by the lack of a thorough investigation and the five year delay in justice for Sanyu, who is now 18. I support the call for improved legal procedures in cases of sexual violence, and for additional steps to be taken to help disabled victims.

Sexual violence is widespread in Uganda and disabled women and girls such as Sanyu are particularly vulnerable. The Constitution of Uganda and The Persons with Disabilities Act, 2006 upholds the rights of people with disabilities and provide for the elimination of all forms of discrimination and toward equal opportunities for them. However, the government does not take additional steps to facilitate justice for disabled victims of sexual violence such as Sanyu by making provision for investigative techniques that would facilitate the process and this leads to further victimization.

The Government of Uganda has ratified a number of regional and international human rights instruments that provide for the rights of persons with disabilities, such as the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), The Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa (the Protocol) and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). In addition, Uganda has ratified the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) which in its General Recommendation No. 18 calls on States to report on special measures taken to deal with the particular situation of women with disabilities.

In order to make sure that Sanyu and girls in similar situations get justice, Uganda must live up to its domestic and international obligations and take additional steps to improve the investigation process and prosecution rate in sexual violence cases involving disabled victims. In particular I urge you to ensure that DNA testing of the remaining suspect is conducted at government expense without delay. Please ensure that all relevant investigative techniques, including DNA testing, are promptly carried out in cases of sexual violence, and in particular, those concerning disabled victims.

Thank you for your attention.
Sincerely

Morocco: End the legal exemption for rapists who marry their victims

Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2012 Mar 28
Update Date: 
2012 Dec 4
Update: 

UPDATE 20 MARCH 2013: In February 2013, the Moroccan Ministry of Justice and Liberties approved amendments to the Penal Code, which are said to strengthen punishments for sexual violence. Such changes include revisions to Article 475, which had the effect of exempting from punishment a rapist who subsequently married his minor victim. Deletions have also been proposed to the Personal Status Law to remove articles which allowed a judge to endorse early marriage under the legal age. Full discussion of these revisions in parliament has been postponed until the Spring. Although women’s groups in Morocco have welcomed these proposed amendments, they are calling for a full review of the Penal Code to revoke provisions which discriminate against women and to provide full protection for women against violence and discrimination. We will be issuing a full update, including further action you can take to support their work, as the process progresses.


UPDATE 4 DECEMBER 2012: In solidarity with female victims of violence and discrimination, the Spring of Dignity coalition is organizing a human chain that will start at the headquarters of the Ministry of Justice in Rabat and end at the seat of the House of Representatives on 8 December 2012. Moroccan women and men are calling on the government to amend the Penal Code, including article 475 that still sanctions the exoneration of a rapist if he marries his victim. The coalition, which includes more than 40 associations, networks and organizations, is also demanding the criminalization of marital rape, sexual harassment and psychological abuse, the legalization of safe abortion and the revision of discriminatory articles related to prostitution and trafficking under the Penal Code among other measures.

Equality Now joins the coalition and our partners in calling the Government of Morocco to amend the Penal Code to safeguard women’s rights. Please take Action and keep up the pressure on the Government of Morocco to end the legal exemption for rapists who marry their victims and to ensure that the prohibition on child marriage is enforced.


UPDATE 17 MAY 2012: 15-year-old Safae from Tangiers was raped and impregnated in January 2011 when she was 14. Though she and her mother filed a complaint, according to recent reports they were pressured to drop the charges by the prosecutor and the judge. Instead, without her parents being present, the judge allegedly made Safae marry her rapist in order to save her “honor.” By doing so, the law also removed the threat of criminal penalty on Safae’s rapist.

>> TAKE ACTION NOW!

Safae gave birth to a girl in September 2011, but her rapist has disappeared and she and her daughter are not supported by him. Additionally, since the father is not named on the birth certificate, Safae’s rapist remains anonymous with his “honor” intact, while Safae is reported to be in a state of extreme depression, having twice attempted suicide.

As with the previous case of 16-year-old Amina Filali, who committed suicide after being forced to marry her rapist, this highlights the difficulties faced by Moroccan girls in achieving justice in sexual violence cases. Union de L'Action Feminine, a Moroccan women’s rights group, and other civil society organizations continue to call for the repeal of Article 475, described in detail below, as well as for the repeal of laws permitting judges at their discretion to authorize marriage of minors who are younger than the minimum age of marriage of 18 including in cases of sexual violence. La Marche Des Femmes Libres is organizing demonstrations throughout the country to ensure that rapists are not absolved of their crimes. Action is urgently needed to develop child protection mechanisms, including judicial training, so that judges cannot and do not push girls into marrying their rapists.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Continue to call on the Moroccan government officials below to:

  • Repeal Article 475 of the Moroccan Penal Code and ensure that girls and women are protected from violence and have access to justice.
  • Ensure that the prohibition on child marriage is enforced and stop judges from coercing girls to marry their abusers particularly in cases of sexual violence.
  • Institute child protection measures and judicial training as matters of urgency. 
  • Comply with Morocco’s international legal obligations under the Convention of Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as well as its own Constitution.

Help us spread the word about this campaign by sharing this Action with your friends.

>> TAKE ACTION NOW!


On 11 March 2012, 16-year-old Amina Filali committed suicide by swallowing rat poison after being forced to marry her rapist. Neither Amina nor the rapist wanted to marry but court officials, including the prosecutor, suggested the marriage when the victim and her family reported the rape. Article 475 of the Penal Code of Morocco specifically exempts a minor’s “kidnapper” from punishment if she marries him. Culturally, the stigma of being raped is often too much for both rape victims and their parents, and many reluctantly agree to the marriage.

What You Can Do: 

Please call on the Moroccan government officials below to repeal Article 475 of the Moroccan Penal Code as a matter of urgency. Express the critical need, following the death of Amina Filali, to prevent future deaths and violations of girls’ and women’s rights and to ensure that girls and women are protected and have access to justice. Encourage them to comply with Morocco’s international legal obligations under the Convention of Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as well as its own Constitution. >> TAKE ACTION NOW!

 
Letters should go to:

Ministry of Justice and Liberties
Mr. Mustafa Ramid
Minister of Justice and Liberties
Fax: +212 5-37-26-31-03
Email: krtmed@gmail.com

Ministry of Solidarity, Women, Family and Social Development
Ms. Bassima Hakkaoui
Minister of Solidarity, Women, Family and Social Development
Fax: +212 5-37-67-19-17
Email: a.elouadi@social.gov.ma

House of Representatives
Mr. Karim Ghelleb
Speaker of the House of Representatives
Fax: + 212 5-37-67-77-26
Email: kghelleb@parlement.ma , parlement@parlement.ma
 

Letters: 

Dear Minister/Speaker of the House,

Following recent reports about 14-year-old Safae from Tangiers, who was allegedly forced by a judge to marry her rapist in order to save her “honor,” I urge you to work for the repeal of Article 475 of the Moroccan Penal Code, which specifically exempts a rapist from punishment if a girl marries him. In addition, I urge you to ensure that the prohibition on child marriage is enforced and to take measures to stop judges from coercing girls into marriage in cases such as this. I would respectfully encourage your government to do everything it can to ensure that girls and women are protected from violence and discrimination and have access to justice when they face abuse.

Countries with sex discriminatory laws like Article 475, such as Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Peru and Uruguay, have been amending them over the last several years. A very similar law in Argentina, Article 132 of the Penal Code, was just amended by the Argentine National Congress. If Morocco would do the same, this would also set an example for other countries in the region.

The repeal of Article 475 and ensuring that the prohibition on child marriage is enforced would be in line with the Moroccan Constitution and consistent with Morocco’s international legal obligations, including under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. Please also institute child protection measures and judicial training as matters of urgency to stop judges from marrying young girls to their rapists.

Thank you for your attention.

Sincerely,

Program Officer Mehr Qureshi on Equality Now & partners' report addressing incest in Pakistan (Trust Law)

1/25/12 -- Trust Law -- "Girl's fight for justice breaks silence on incest in Pakistan" Program Officer Mehr Qureshi on release of Equality Now and partners' ground-breaking report addressing incest in Pakistan, A Struggle for Justice: Incest Victims in Pakistan Report.

 

War Against Rape, Lahore, Nasreen Welfare Trust Legal Aid Services & Equality Now Release Ground Breaking Report on Incest in Pakistan

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
24 January 2012

Contact: EQUALITY NOW (London/New York): Mehr Qureshi, mqureshi@equalitynow.org
NASREEN WELFARE TRUST (Pakistan): Hina Hafeezullah, hina.h.ishaq@gmail.com
WAR AGAINST RAPE, LAHORE (Pakistan): Sidra Humayun, sidra.humayun@hotmail.com

Report aims to prompt revisions to Pakistan’s sexual violence laws including a special provision for incest

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