Mozambique: Protect Women & Girls— Reject Discrimination In New Penal Code
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In June, Mozambique is set to enact a new penal code that could foster a culture of violence and discrimination if passed as written. While progressive revisions have been made in the proposed draft (Penal Code Review Bill) which was preliminarily approved by Parliament in December 2013, damaging provisions that would jeopardize the safety and rights of women and girls remain, including:
- vague and limited definitions of rape, which could make it easier for rapists to escape prosecution and fails to protect women from marital rape (Article 217)
- allowing relatives of criminals to escape prosecution for hindering an investigation or evidence tampering, worsening impunity for crimes of sexual violence (Article 24)
- defining the rape of a minor as the rape of someone under the age of 12, which directly contradicts laws in Mozambique that define a child as anyone below the age of 18 (Article 218)
Furthermore, Equality Now and our partners are concerned that a provision from an earlier draft of the legislation, which would allow a rapist to escape punishment by marrying his victim (former Article 223), might be re-introduced into the current draft before the vote.
The vote is mere weeks away. Please Take Action today!
If this legislation is approved without rectifying these harmful discriminatory provisions, the ramifications for women and girls would be extremely harmful, signaling that rape and sexual violence are less serious crimes, if crimes at all, and will not be prosecuted vigorously. Such laws would also violate Mozambique’s Constitution—which guarantees equal rights before the law—and other regional and international human rights instruments that Mozambique has ratified, including the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa (the Maputo Protocol).
UPDATE 13 NOVEMBER 2014: Your voices were heard — Mozambican President Armando Guebuza did not sign the damaging and discriminatory Penal Code into law! The President returned it to Parliament to revise the provisions that violate Mozambique’s Constitution, including articles on gender equality and children’s rights. According to a letter from the President, his decision was made based on input from the Ministry of Justice, the Attorney General’s office and civil society members like you. On behalf of Equality Now and our partners, thank you for taking action! We will continue to update you with developments from Mozambique and our partners.
5 SEPTEMBER 2014 UPDATE: In a disappointing decision, on 11 July, the Mozambican parliament approved a new Penal Code that included the damaging provisions – in addition to new ones on sexual violence and domestic violence legislation – which would set back years of progress, particularly in a country where approximately 50% of women will experience physical violence in their lifetime. Of extreme concern is the new Chapter IX on Domestic Violence (Articles 245-257) which contradicts the more progressive and comprehensive 2009 Domestic Violence Act (DVA). The DVA had been specifically crafted to promote, protect and enforce the rights of women, and overturning it in such a manner would be a major setback towards combatting violence against women.