Sexual violence

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

Ghana: Legislation Enacted to Criminalize the Trokosi Tradition of Enslavement

Update: 
UPDATE
Date: 
1999 Jan 1

On 12 June 1998, the Ghanaian Parliament passed an amendment to the Criminal Code, adding Section 314A which criminalizes customary or ritual enslavement of any kind. The new law, which was signed by the President in September 1998, provides:

(1) Whoever

What You Can Do: 

Please write to the President of Ghana, thanking him for his support of legislation to criminalize the trokosi practice. Urge him to take steps to ensure that the legislation is brought to the attention of local communities and that it accomplishes its purpose of ending the trokosi tradition. Please also request his intervention on behalf of Abla Kotor, to facilitate the efforts of International Needs for her liberation from the Awlo-Korti shrine. Letters should be sent to:

His Excellency Jerry John Rawlings
President of the Republic of Ghana
The Castle-Osu
Accra
GHANA

Slavery in Ghana: The Trokosi Tradition

Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
1998 Mar 1

Abla KotorAbla Kotor is 13 years old. At the age of 12, she was given to a local priest in atonement for the rape that resulted in her birth, the rape of her mother by her mother's uncle. As soon as Abla Kotor has completed three menstrual cycles, she too will almost certainly be raped, by the priest to whom she was given. Meanwhile, she works his fields and farmlands, cleans his home and cooks his meals.

What You Can Do: 

Please write to the following Parliamentary officials in Ghana. Urge them to pass the legislation which has been introduced to criminalize the trokosi tradition and to take immediate action to ensure the release of all trokosi in Ghana and the protection of girls in the future from this tradition. Note that Ghana is a party to many international treaties which prohibit slavery in all forms, and that the Constitution of Ghana also prohibits slavery and forced labor. Letters should be sent to:

Chairperson of the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Select
Committee
Parliament House
Accra, Ghana

The Clerk of Parliament
Parliament House
Accra, Ghana

Chairperson of the Women's Caucus
Parliament of Ghana
Accra, Ghana

South Africa: Rape and Violence Against Women at the Durban Train Station

Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
1994 May 1

Regina Nyanda lives on the pavement of Umgeni Road, outside the Durban train station. She has been there for more than twenty years. Regina can hardly walk, and she suffers from epilepsy. During the day she sells used plastic chemical containers to make a living and to send money for her children to go to school.

What You Can Do: 

Please write to the police officials listed below and call on them to provide effective protection for the women who live on the pavement of Umgeni Road outside the Durban train station. Ask them to institute a regular patrol, to investigate reports of rape and other violence, and to arrest those responsible. Please send copies of your letters to the South African embassy in your country and to President Nelson Mandela. Congratulate President Mandela as the first democratically elected president of South Africa and urge him to take action on behalf of the women at the Durban station, to demonstrate to the police and the public that the new South Africa will not tolerate rape and other violence against women and will give meaning to the right of equal protection of the law.

South African Police
District Commissioner
P.O. Box 10816
Durban 4000
South Africa
 
The Minister of Police
c/o The Commissioner of Police
Private Bag X94
Pretoria 0001
South Africa
 
President Nelson Mandela
Union Buildings
Pretoria
South Africa

Japan: The Death of Maricris Sioson

Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
1993 Dec 1

The case of Maricris Sioson—her life, her death, and the inaction of the Japanese government despite medical evidence of homicide - is a tragic illustration of the vulnerability of the tens of thousands of Filipino women working in Japan's entertainment industry.

What You Can Do: 

Please bring this case to the attention of the media and the general public. Contact the following Japanese authorities, and the Japanese embassy in your country, expressing your concern over the death of Maricris Sioson and the failure of the Japanese government to investigate the clear evidence that she died of unnatural causes. Call for an investigation of Maricris Sioson's death, and prosecution of those responsible, to demonstrate the commitment of the Japanese government to uphold the rule of law and ensure that justice is done for Maricris Sioson and her family. Letters and petitions should be addressed to the following authorities:

Mr. Ryutaro Hashimoto
Prime Minister
1-6-1 Nagata-cho
Chiyoda-ku
Tokyo, Japan

Mr. Eiichi Moriyama
Chief Prosecutor
Fukushima Local Prosecutors Office
(Chiho kensatuscho)
17 Kitsunezuka
960 Fukushima, Japan

Mr. Yukihiko Ikeda
Minister of Foreign Affairs
2-2-1 Kasumigaseki
Chiyoda-ku
Tokyo, Japan

Mr. Takaji Kunimatsu
Commissioner General
The National Police Agency
2-1-2 Kasumigaseki
Chiyoda-ku
Tokyo, Japan

 

Bosnia-Herzegovina: The Failure to Arrest Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic

Update: 
UPDATE
Date: 
2001 Aug 1

There are rape camps all over the country. Thousands of women are being raped and killed. Thousands are pregnant as a result of rape. Over and over again, everywhere I went ... women told me stories of abomination--of being kept in a room, raped repeatedly and told they would be held until they gave birth to Serbian children. I heard stories of men being raped, of forced incest--fathers forced to rape daughters, brothers forced to rape sisters.

What You Can Do: 

Please write to General Joseph Ralston, the NATO Supreme Allied Commander for Europe, calling on him to apprehend Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, and turn them over to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia to stand trial for the crimes they are charged with. Please also write to the Prime Minister of the Republika Srpska, Mladen Ivanic, noting the recently-adopted legislation that approves co-operation with the ICTY and asking him to take steps to ensure the immediate arrest of Karadzic and Mladic.

General Joseph Ralston
Supreme Allied Commander for Europe
NATO Headquarters
1110 Brussels
BELGIUM

H.E. Mladen Ivanic
Prime Minister of Republika Srpska
Banja Luka
Republika Srpska
BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA

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