Sexual violence

Yemen: End early marriages by enacting and enforcing a minimum age of marriage law

Update: 
UPDATE
Date: 
2010 Apr 1

In the past month, Equality Now has been informed of a number of cases of young Yemeni girls who have undergone or been at risk of early and forced marriage which has left them subject to some of its many harmful consequences. 

What You Can Do: 

Please write to the Yemeni President, Minister of Justice and the Speaker of the House asking them to ensure that the early marriage bill is considered and passed by parliament as soon as possible. Call upon them also to ensure effective enforcement of this law, once passed, including through mandatory registration of all marriages and punishment for those in violation. TAKE ACTION!

Letters should be addressed to:

Mr. Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi
President of the Republic of Yemen
President Residence
60 Street
Sana’a, Yemen
Fax: +967 1 274 147

Mr. Ghazi Al Ghabari
Minister of Justice
Ministry of Justice
Justice Street
Sana’a, Yemen
Fax: +967 1 252 138
Tel: +967 1 252 136/7/9

Mr. Yahya Ali Al Raei
Speaker of the House
Yemeni Parliament
26 September Street
Sana’a, Yemen
Fax: +967 1 276 091
Email: info@yemenparliament.org

Sample letter

Urgent Alert: United States: Urge your Senators and Congressperson to co-sponsor the International Violence Against Women Act

Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2010 Jul 5
Update Date: 
2010 Nov 17
Update: 

*re-issued November 2010 for passage this year*

Equality Now supports the International Violence Against Women Act (HR 4594/S 2982) in order to achieve a more comprehensive, multi-sectoral, and coordinated response to violence against women that is not only more efficient, but also a wise investment. The I-VAWA would:

 

What You Can Do: 

TAKE ACTION HERE or use the sample letter below.

Letters: 

Dear [Senator][Representative]

I am writing to voice my support for the International Violence Against Women Act (HR 4594/ S 2982).

Globally, it is estimated that one out of every three women will be beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused over the course of her lifetime, with rates of domestic violence reaching up to 71% in some countries. Somewhere a woman is raped, beaten, killed by her husband, trafficked or forced to trade sex for food every day.

I believe that efforts to prevent and respond to violence against women and girls should be a top priority in U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance programs. Not only is violence against women and girls a gross human rights violation, it is also a public health epidemic and a barrier to solving global challenges such as extreme poverty, HIV/AIDS, armed conflict and terrorism.

The International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA) supports innovative programs, which have been shown to effectively decrease acts of violence and support survivors. Many of these programs help women and girls do things we so often take for granted: go to school, earn an income to take care of their families, collect food or water without fear of rape and bring perpetrators of abuse to justice. I-VAWA will increase the efficiency and effectiveness of existing U.S. foreign policy to end and respond to violence against women and girls around the world.

When implemented, I-VAWA would help put an end to the fear, pain and suffering experienced by countless women and girls globally. Please use your leadership role to help facilitate the progress of this important legislation through Congress.

I thank you for your attention.

Sincerely yours,

 

Yemen: End early marriages through enactment of law enforcing a minimum age of marriage

Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2009 Nov 1

On 11 September 2009, Fawziya Abdullah Youssef, a 12-year-old Yemeni girl married to a 25-year-old, farmer died in childbirth after 3 days of painful labor resulting in a stillbirth at al-Zahra district hospital in Hodeida province in Yemen. The previous year, Fawziya’s father had pulled her out of school and married her at the age of 11.

What You Can Do: 

Please write to the Yemeni President, Minister of Justice and the Speaker of the House asking them to ensure the swift passage of a law which provides for a minimum age of marriage of 18 years with appropriate penalties for violation of this law. Call upon them also to ensure effective enforcement of this law, once passed, including through mandatory registration of all marriages. Please also write to the Minister of Public Health and Population and urge him to ensure that the Ministry of Health endorses 18 years as the minimum age of marriage in accordance with Yemen’s obligations under international law. Letters should go to:

General Ali Abdullah Saleh
President of the Republic of Yemen
President Residence
60 Street
Sana’a, Yemen
Fax: +967 1 274 147

Mr. Ghazi Al Ghabari
Minister of Justice
Ministry of Justice Justice Street
Sana’a, Yemen
Fax: +967 1 252 138
Tel: +967 1 252 136/7/9

Mr. Yahya Ali Al Raei
Speaker of the House
Yemeni Parliament
26 September Street
Sana’a, Yemen
Fax: +967 1 276 091
Email: info@yemenparliament.org

Prof. Dr. Abdul Karim Yehia Rasa
Minister of Public Health and Population
Ministry of Public Health and Population
El Hisbah Directorate
Sana’a, Yemen
Tel:- +967 1 252 241
Fax: +967 1 252 247
Email: akrasae@yahoo.com

 

Letters: 

Sample Letter President/Minister of Justice/Speaker of the House:

[Date]

[Dear President/Minister of Justice/Speaker of the House],

I am writing to express my deep concern about the issue of early marriage in Yemen following the death of Fawziya Abdullah Youssef, a 12 year old girl who was pulled out of school in 2008 and married to an older man when she was 11 years old. After 3 days of painful labor she died in childbirth and her baby was stillborn. In another case, a 14 year old girl called Asghan was married when she was 12 years old and has twice run back to her family from her husband’s house. Her father threatened to kill her and divorce her mother in order to put pressure on Asghan to return to her husband and Asghan was only given a reprieve to stay with her family till she is 17 years old after the intervention of the Taiz governorate. Girls such as these and many others need the help of the government so they can continue to enjoy their childhoods. I understand that up to 50% of all Yemeni girls are married before the age of eighteen.

International organizations such as World Health Organization, UNICEF and UNFPA have underscored the negative physical, emotional, psychological, intellectual and sexual implications of child marriage on girls, including death due to early pregnancy and deprivation of education. I urge you to take urgent action to ensure that Yemen passes a law setting 18 years as a minimum age of marriage in line with Yemen’s international commitments, and to ensure effective enforcement of this law, including by requiring that all marriages are registered and prosecuting and punishing all those who violate the law.

I thank you for your attention.

Sincerely yours,

_________________________

 

Sample Letter Minister of Public Health and Population:

Prof. Dr. Abdul Karim Yehia Rasae
Minister of Public Health and Population
Ministry of Public Health and Population
El Hisbah Directorate
Sana’a, Yemen
Fax: +967 1 252 247
akrasae@yahoo.com

Dear Minister,

I am writing to express my deep concern about the issue of early marriage in Yemen following the death of Fawziya Abdullah Youssef, a 12 year old who was pulled out of school last year and married to an older man when she was 11 years old. After 3 days of painful labor she died in childbirth and her baby was stillborn. I understand that up to 50% of all Yemeni girls are married before the age of eighteen.

UNICEF and UNFPA have underscored the negative physical, emotional, psychological, intellectual and sexual implications of child marriage on children and pointed out that it is a violation of their human rights. Early pregnancy is a leading cause of death among girls. Early marriage also deprives a girl of education and severely jeopardizes her right to mental, emotional and physical well-being. According to the World Health Organization and UNFPA, early marriage can lead to numerous negative medical outcomes for both mother and child, such as low birth weight, preterm labor, stillbirths, perinatal deaths, pregnancy-induced hypertension, puerperal sepsis, septic abortion and obstetric fistula, and a resulting high rate of maternal and child mortality.

It has come to my attention that Parliament has asked your ministry for advice on establishing a minimum age of marriage. I urge you to follow internationally recognized standards, including those in instruments ratified by Yemen, and recommend 18 years as the minimum age for marriage in Yemen.

I thank you for your attention.

Sincerely yours,

 

Japan: Rape simulator games and the normalization of sexual violence

Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2009 May 1
Update: 

Equality Now responds to reactions to its Women's Action on rape simulator games.

Additionally, Equality Now is pleased to offer the update that Illusion Software appears to have removed RapeLay from its website. However we have no official confirmation from the company that the game has been permanently removed and it continues to sell other similar titles based on rape, stalking and the sexual molestation of women and girls. We continue to call on the company to remove permanently from its business and all retail outlets those games, including RapeLay, that promote violence against women and girls.

A schoolgirl around 12 years old travels on a commuter train. A man who has been following her gropes and sexually molests her. Eventually the train stops and she runs frightened into a public toilet, followed by her assailant who handcuffs and rapes her. The assailant takes her prisoner and repeatedly rapes her in various locations. Her mother and teenaged sister suffer the same fate. This family is targeted for rape as punishment because the older sister had previously reported to the police the attempted sexual assault of another woman by the rapist.

What You Can Do: 

Please write to Illusion Software asking it to withdraw immediately from sale, whether online or any other outlets, all games, including RapeLay, which involve rape, stalking or other forms of sexual violence or which otherwise denigrate women. Suggest that corporations have a responsibility to consider, as good business practice, any negative impact their activities may have on society and the public interest. Please write a similar letter to Amazon Japan asking it to remove all games that simulate sexual and other forms of violence against women and girls. Write also to the Japanese government officials below, calling on them to comply with Japan’s obligations under CEDAW and the Japanese Constitution to eliminate discrimination against women and particularly to ban the sale of computer games such as RapeLay, which normalize and promote sexual violence against women and girls.

Mr. Tadashi Yoshimura
Managing Director
Illusion Software
1-10-1 Nishikanagawa Kanagawa-ku
Yokohama-city, Kanagawa 221-0822, Japan
Tel: (+81) (0)4-5322-1551
Email: illusion@illusion.jp

Mr. Jasper Cheung
President of Amazon Japan K.K
2-15-1 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-000-2, Japan
Email: via website

Prime Minister Taro Aso
2-3-1 Nagata-Cho, Chiyoda-ku
Tokyo 100-0014, Japan
Tel: (+81)(0)3-3581-0101
Fax: (+81)(0)3-3581-3883
Email: via website

Mr. Eisuke Mori
Minster of Justice
1-1-1 Kasumigaseki
Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8977, Japan
Tel: (+81)(0)3-3580-4111
Fax: (+81)(0)3-3592-7393
Email: webmaster@moj.go.jp

Ms. Yuko Obuchi
Minister of State for Social Affairs and Gender Equality
1-6-1 Nagata-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8914, Japan
Tel: (+81)(0)3-5253-2111
E-mail: via website

With a copy to:
Ms. Seiko Noda
Minister of Consumer Affairs
1-6-1 Nagata-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8914, Japan
Tel: (+81)(0)3-5253-2111

Letters: 

Sample letter to Illusion Software:

Dear Mr Yoshimura,

I am writing to express my serious concern about the production and sale by Illusion Software of computer games such as RapeLay, whose purpose is to perpetrate simulated rape and sexual violence against women. Rape is a crime of violence that causes deep distress and harm to those who experience it. By trivializing rape in this way Illusion Software could appear to be promoting and even condoning such acts of violence against women.

It is widely acknowledged, including by the Japanese government, that media representations of women as objects of sex and/or violence have, “a great impact” on negative gender stereotypes. Games such as those described, produced by Illusion Software, contribute to normalizing the objectification of women and strengthen harmful cultural and societal attitudes towards women and girls.

Corporations have a responsibility to consider as good business practice any negative impact their activities may have on society and the public interest. I ask that Illusion Software immediately withdraw from production and sale all games that normalize and promote violence against women and girls.

Thank you for your attention.

Yours sincerely, 

______________________

Sample letter to Amazon Japan:

To Amazon:

I am writing to welcome the recent removal by Amazon Japan of RapeLay, a computer game produced by Illusion Software in which the player has to simulate raping a mother and her two daughters. I would like however to express my serious concern about the continued sale by Amazon Japan of other computer games whose purpose is to perpetrate acts of sexual violence against women, such as sexual stalking and molestation. Sexual violence including rape and molestation are serious crimes that cause deep distress and harm to those who experience them. By promoting violence against women in this way Amazon Japan could appear to be condoning it.

It is widely acknowledged, including by the Japanese government, that media representations of women as objects of sex and/or violence have, “a great impact” on gender stereotypes. Games such as those described which are offered for sale by Amazon Japan, contribute to normalizing the objectification of women and strengthen negative cultural and societal attitudes towards women and girls. Amazon is an internationally recognized company and as such should hold itself to the highest levels of corporate responsibility, including to consider, as good business practice, any negative impact its activities may have on society and the public interest.

I ask that Amazon Japan immediately withdraw from sale all games that simulate sexual and other forms of violence against women and girls.

Thank you for your attention.

Yours sincerely,

______________________

Sample letter to government officials:

Dear [name]

I am writing to express my serious concern about the sale in Japan of computer games such as RapeLay, produced by Illusion Software, which involve rape and sexual violence against women.

Japan has an obligation under Article 5(a) of Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) “to modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women, with a view to achieving the elimination of prejudices and customary and all other practices which are based on the idea of the inferiority of either of the sexes or on stereotyped roles for men and women.” Representations of women as objects of sex and/or violence have a great impact on negative gender stereotypes, as accepted by the Japanese government during Japan’s last periodic review by the CEDAW Committee. Article 14 of the Japanese Constitution also guarantees equality under the law and states that there shall be no “discrimination in political, economic or social relations because of race, creed, sex, social status or family origin.”

I would therefore respectfully urge the Japanese government to comply with its obligations under CEDAW by promoting positive images of women as equal members of society, by establishing measures and policies to eliminate all discrimination against women and particularly by banning the sale of computer games such as RapeLay which normalize and promote sexual violence against women and girls.

Thank you for your attention.

Yours sincerely,

 

Zambia: Rampant Rape of Schoolgirls by Their Teachers

Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2009 Feb 1

 

What You Can Do: 

Please write to the Director of Public Prosecutions listed below calling for criminal charges to be lodged against Edson Hakasenke for the rape of R.M. Please write to the Attorney-General and ask him to withdraw the notice of appeal against the decision of the High Court to hold the government vicariously liable for the conduct of Mr. Hakasenke. Send a copy of both your letters to the Minister of Justice. Remind them of the government’s obligations to protect young girls under Zambia’s own Constitution, the Protocol, and other human rights instruments to which Zambia is a party. Request the Minister of Education to take serious note of Judge Musonda’s call to put effective mechanisms in place to address sexual violence against girls within the school system, in order to ensure that in future girls are properly protected against rape by school officials and that they know where to turn if they have been raped. Ask all officials to ensure that girls have full recourse to the law if they are raped and that perpetrators are prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Letters should be addressed to:

Hon. Mumba Malila
Attorney-General
P.O. Box 50106
Lusaka
Republic of Zambia
Tel: +260 211 250 438
Fax: +260 211 253 695

Mr. Chalwe Mchenga
Director of Public Prosecutions
P.O. Box 50106
Lusaka
Republic of Zambia
Tel: +260 211 251 367
Fax: +260 211 257 636

The Honorable Dora Siliya
Minister of Education
Ministry of Education Headquarters
P.O. Box 50093
Lusaka
Republic of Zambia
Tel: +260 211 250 558
Fax: +260 211 253 502

Hon. George Kunda S.C.
Minister of Justice & Legal Affairs
P.O. Box 50106
Lusaka
Republic of Zambia
Tel: +260 211 251 588/253 509
Fax: +260 211 253 452

Letters: 
Sample Letter to Attorney General Malila

Hon. Mumba Malila
Attorney-General
P.O. Box 50106
Lusaka, Republic of Zambia
Fax: +260 211 253 695

Dear Attorney-General Malila,

I am writing in regard to the important decision of Judge Phillip Musonda of the High Court of Lusaka of 30 June 2008 in the case of R.M., a 13 year-old schoolgirl, against her teacher and rapist Edward Hakasenke, Woodlands ‘A’ Basic School where R.M. was a student, the Ministry of Education and the Attorney General.

I urge you to withdraw your notice of appeal in this case to demonstrate the government’s commitment to protecting and promoting the rights of women and girls in accordance with Zambia’s own Constitution and the Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women, as well as other human rights instruments to which Zambia is a party. I would also urge you to ensure that girls have full recourse to the law if they are raped and that perpetrators are always prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Thank you for your attention.

Yours sincerely,

 

CC: Hon. George Kunda S.C.
Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs
P.O. Box 50106, Lusaka, Republic of Zambia
Fax: +260 211 253 452
 

 

Sample letter to Mr. Mchenga

Mr. Chalwe Mchenga
Director of Public Prosecutions
P.O. Box 50106
Lusaka, Republic of Zambia
Fax: +260 211 257 636

Dear Mr. Mchenga,

I am writing in regard to the important decision of Judge Phillip Musonda of the High Court of Lusaka of 30 June 2008 in the case of R.M., a 13 year-old schoolgirl, against her teacher and rapist Edward Hakasenke, Woodlands ‘A’ Basic School where R.M. was a student, the Ministry of Education and the Attorney General.

In his decision, Judge Musonda referred the matter to you for possible prosecution. Without full protection of the law, girls in school and elsewhere remain at risk of rape and sexual assault and I urge you to take immediate action to hold Mr. Hakasenke responsible for the rape of R.M. to the full extent of Zambian law. I would also urge you to ensure that girls generally have full recourse to the law if they are raped and that perpetrators are always prosecuted to the full extent of the law so that all citizens, including children, benefit from the protections of Zambia’s Constitution, the Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women, and all other human rights instruments to which Zambia is a party.

Thank you for your attention.

Yours sincerely,

 

CC: Hon. George Kunda S.C.
Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs
P.O. Box 50106, Lusaka, Republic of Zambia
Fax: +260 211 253 452
 

Sample letter to Minister Siliya

The Honorable Dora Siliya
Minister of Education
Ministry of Education Headquarters
P.O. Box 50093
Lusaka, Republic of Zambia
Fax: +260 211 253 502

Dear Minister Siliya,

I am writing in regard to the important decision of Judge Phillip Musonda of the High Court of Lusaka of 30 June 2008 in the case of R.M., a 13 year-old schoolgirl, against her teacher and rapist Edward Hakasenke, Woodlands ‘A’ Basic School where R.M. was a student, the Ministry of Education and the Attorney General. I urge you to act on Judge Musonda’s strong recommendation that the Ministry of Education put effective mechanisms in place to address sexual violence against girls within the school system, in order to ensure that in future girls are properly protected against rape by school officials and that they know where to turn to if they have been raped.

I would also urge you to work with your colleagues in government to ensure that schoolgirls have full recourse to the law if they are raped and that perpetrators are always prosecuted to the full extent of the law so that all citizens, including children, benefit from the protections of the Zambian Constitution and the Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women in Africa, as well as other international instruments to which Zambia is a party.

Thank you for your attention.

Yours sincerely,

 

CC: Hon. George Kunda S.C.
Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs
P.O. Box 50106, Lusaka, Republic of Zambia
Fax: +260 211 253 452
 

Ethiopia: Abduction and Rape--Law Reform and the Case of Woineshet Zebene Negash

Update: 
UPDATE
Date: 
2005 Jun 1
Update: 

January 2008 update on the case of Woineshet Zebene Negash:

The Cassation Bench of the Federal Supreme Court in December 2005 refused to hear Woineshet’s appeal on the basis it believed no error of law had been committed by the lower courts. All domestic legal recourse is now closed to Woineshet.  Anecdotal information suggests abductions and rapes ceased when the outcome of Woineshet’s case was uncertain, but resumed when it was clear the perpetrators would go unpunished. Woineshet’s rapist and abductors are still at large and unconfirmed reports suggest the rapist abducted another girl, aged 14, whom he married and now has a baby. Equality Now, in conjunction with the Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association (EWLA), has submitted a communication to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights claiming violation of Woineshet’s rights under the African Charter. Please continue to write to the authorities below to ensure implementation of the law against abduction and rape and investigation into the conduct of Prosecutor Tolcha.

On Woineshet Zebene Negash 9 May 2005 the new Ethiopian Penal Code finally came into effect, which removed the marital exemption for abduction and rape. Both abduction and rape are criminal offences under Ethiopian law, but Articles 558 and 599 of the 1957 Ethiopian Penal Code had provided that in the event of subsequent marriage to his victim, the perpetrator was exempt from criminal responsibility for these crimes.

What You Can Do: 

Please write to the Minster of Justice, commending the Ethiopian authorities for having amended the Penal Code so that abductors and rapists who marry their victims are no longer exempt from punishment. Ask him to ensure that the law against abduction and rape is properly enforced and applied, including through the promotion of appropriate training for law enforcement authorities. Let him know of your concerns regarding Woineshet’s case. Request that his office closely monitor the appeal hearing scheduled for 4 July 2005 and any subsequent appeal proceedings in the case. Please write also to Mr. Dewano Kedir, Head of the Justice Beureau of the Oromia Region. Thank him for initiating an investigation into the conduct of Prosecutor Tolcha and urge him to impose appropriate disciplinary sanctions for misconduct in the handling of this case. Urge him also to undertake training for officials in his office, particularly on the law of rape. Letters should be addressed to:

The Honorable Harka Haroye
Minister of Justice
P.O. Box 1370
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Fax: +251-1-51 77 75

Mr. Dewano Kedir
Head, Justice Bureau of the Oromia Region
P.O. Box 9156
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Fax: +251-1-65 14 47

Ethiopia: Abduction and Rape--Law Reform and the Case of Woineshet Zebene Negash

Update: 
UPDATE
Date: 
2004 Nov 1

Woineshet Zebene NegashIn March 2002, Equality Now launched its campaign against abduction and rape in Ethiopia, highlighting the case of Woineshet Zebene Negash, who at the age of 13 was abducted and raped by Aberew Jemma Negussie in the village where she lived with her mother and grandparents in the south-eastern part of Ethiopia. Two days later she was rescued, and Aberew Jemma Negussie was arrested.

What You Can Do: 

Please write to the Oromia regional authorities listed below. Urge them to ensure that a further appeal will be heard in Woineshet’s case and that the rule of law is appropriately applied in any such appeal. Express concern over the decision of the High Court of the Arsi Zone, which does not appear to have taken into consideration the evidence of abduction, rape and attempted forced marriage of Woineshet, and express concern over reports that indicate that the court wrongly perceived rape to be a crime against virginity. Remind the officials of the government’s obligation under the Constitution and international law to guarantee the right to equality under the law and equal protection of the law.

Please also write to the Minster of Justice, commending the Ethiopian authorities for having amended the Penal Code so that abductors and rapists who marry their victims are no longer exempted from punishment. Ask him to ensure that the law is translated and passed to the President for signature as soon as possible so that these new provisions take effect. Let him know of your concerns regarding Woineshet’s case and ask him to investigate the conduct of Judge Ube and Prosecutor Tolcha in the appeal and to take appropriate measures if they are found to have acted improperly. Request that his office monitors the appeal hearing scheduled for 5 January 2005 and all subsequent appeal proceedings in the case. Also ask him to promote appropriate training for law enforcement authorities so that the law is properly applied in Ethiopia.

Letters should be addressed to:

Mr. Dewano Kedir
Head, Justice Bureau of the Oromia Region
P.O. Box 9156
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Fax: +251-1-65 14 47

Mr. Tesale Abera
President of the Supreme Court of the Oromia Region
P.O. Box 26110
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Fax: +251-1-23 44 37

The Honorable Harka Haroye
Minister of Justice
P.O. Box 1370
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Fax: +251-1-51 77 75

Please send copies of your letters to the Oromia officials above to:

Mr. Junedi Sado
President of the Oromia Region
P.O. Box 101769
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Fax: +251-1-51 36 42

Ethiopia: Official License for Abduction and Rape

Update: 
UPDATE
Date: 
2004 Feb 1

Woineshet Zebene NegashOn July 22, 2003, Aberew Jemma Negussie was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment without parole for the abduction and rape of Woineshet Zebene Negash. His four accomplices were each sentenced to 8 years’ imprisonment without parole.

What You Can Do: 

Please write to the Ethiopian authorities listed below. Commend the Minister of Justice for the action taken to ensure justice in the case of Aberew Jemma Negussie and urge him to actively support the abolition of the legal provisions in Articles 558 and 599 of the Ethiopian Penal Code that exempt perpetrators of abduction and rape from criminal responsibility upon marriage. Urge the Minister to ensure that abduction and rape are treated as serious criminal offences and that, when prosecuting and sentencing perpetrators, the courts send a strong message that these crimes will not be tolerated. Write to the Chair of the Legal and Administrative Affairs Standing Committee of Parliament and urge him to take immediate steps to stop the practice of bride abduction in Ethiopia by rescinding Articles 558 and 599. Remind these officials of the government’s obligation under the Constitution and international law to protect and promote the right to equality and equal protection of the law. Letters should be addressed to:

The Honorable Harka Haroye
Minister of Justice
PO Box 1370
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Fax: +251-1-51-77-75

The Honorable Asmelash
Woldeselassie, Chair
Legal and Administrative Affairs Standing Committee
PO Box 80001
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Fax: +251-1-55-09-00

Ethiopia: Official License for Abduction and Rape

Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2002 Mar 1

Woineshet Zebene NegashWoineshet Zebene Negash lived in a rural village with her mother and grandparents in the southeastern part of Ethiopia. She was 13 years old when, on March 12, 2001, a man by the name of Aberew Jemma Negussie came to her residence in the middle of the night with a group of accomplices, carried her away and raped her. Her teachers reported her abduction to the police.

What You Can Do: 

Please write to the Ethiopian authorities and urge them to take immediate steps to stop the practice of bride abduction by abolishing the legal provisions that exempt perpetrators of abduction or rape from criminal responsibility upon marriage. Urge them to ensure that abduction and rape are treated as serious criminal offences and that, when prosecuting and sentencing perpetrators, the courts send a strong message that these crimes will not be tolerated. Remind the government of its duty to protect constitutional rights, in particular the right to equality (Article 25 of the Ethiopian Constitution), the right to marital, personal and family rights (Article 34) and the right to security of person (Article 16). Mention also the Ethiopian Government's international obligations, including CEDAW (Article15 - Equality before the law) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR, Article 23 - Free and full consent of parties intending to enter marriage). Letters should be addressed to:

H.E Prime Minster Meles Zenawi
Office of the Prime Minister
PO Box 1030
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Fax: +251-1-55-20-20

The Honorable Harka Haroye
Minister of Justice
Ministry of Justice
PO Box 1370
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Fax: +251-1-51-77-75

Slavery in Ghana: The Trokosi Tradition

Update: 
UPDATE
Date: 
2002 May 1

Abla KotorAccording to the trokosi tradition practiced in southeastern Ghana, virgin girls are given to village priests as a way of appeasing the gods for crimes committed by family members. The word trokosi in the Ewe language means "slaves of the gods." Once given to the priest, a girl becomes his property and is made to carry out domestic chores such as cooking and washing, as well as farming and fetching water.

What You Can Do: 

Please write to the officials listed below. Express your concern that thousands of trokosi are reportedly still held in shrines in spite of the 1998 law that prohibits the practice. Call on the government to take immediate steps to ensure that all trokosi are immediately released, and to make provision for their financial support, education, return to their families and re-integration into their communities. Urge the government to issue immediate instructions to police nationwide to enforce the law, and initiate legal prosecutions against shrines that have been holding trokosi in violation of the 1998 law.

His Excellency the President
Mr. J.A. Kufour
Office of the President
State House
Accra, GHANA
Fax: +233 21 676934

The Minister for Justice & Attorney General
Hon. Nana Akuffo Addo
Ministry of Justice & Attorney General's Dept.
P.O. Box M 60, Ministries
Accra, GHANA
Fax: +233 21 667609

Please also write to the United States Secretary of State Colin Powell expressing concern over the apparent misrepresentation by the United States Government of the trokosi practice to the detriment of those working to end it. Ask him to take immediate action to correct this misrepresentation and to reaffirm that the trokosi practice is a severe human rights violation. Letters should be addressed to:

Secretary of State Colin Powell
US Department of State
Washington DC 20520, USA
Fax: +1 202 261 8577

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