International Development Law Organization

Violence and Discrimination

Overall, the law has failed women. Although governments and the international community have invested heavily in legal systems, in many settings, women still suffer appalling violence and discrimination. In some countries, rape is endemic; in others, girls are bought and sold in settlement of family debt; forced and underage marriage, domestic violence and femicide remain all too common. Women's oppression and suffering is compounded by civil conflict. Under the guide of religion or ideology, the desire to control women's bodies or garb persists. For these reasons, IDLO has made gender cross-cutting theme in all its work, as well as the focus of distinct research and programming.

(Photo: ILO/Sarah-Jane Saltmarsh)

IDLO and Gender Justice: Shifting the Terms of the Debate

In India, a student — still nameless — is fatally gang-raped on a Delhi bus; in Pakistan, teenager Malala Yousafzai is shot in the head for advocating girls’ education; in Afghanistan, a young woman, Lal Bibi, is abducted and raped as payback in a family feud. Elsewhere — countless other women and girls, brutalized, trafficked, denied basic rights, either in law or in practice.

Domestic Violence in Honduras

IDLO is working with the European Union’s EUROsociAL II program in Honduras to aid and empower women who are victims of domestic violence. With the country’s judiciary, we have created the Centro de Atención y Protección de los Derechos de la Mujer (CAPRODEM), a women’s center providing orientation and legal assistance for female victims in Tegucigalpa. IDLO has played a key role in drafting the internal and functional guidelines for the Center and helped build the capacity of those involved. CAPRODEM is expected to be replicated in other regions of Honduras.

Afghanistan’s Violence Against Women Units

Reducing violence against Afghan women and girls has been one of our priority areas of intervention. Although the Law on the Elimination of Violence Against Women (LEVAW) has been stuck in the Afghan parliament for years, the Attorney General’s Office in 2009 used the law's framework to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with IDLO. The aim was to support the creation of a specialized unit that would prosecute cases of gender violence.

Women, the Law and Peace

An event organized by IDLO to coincide with the 22nd Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva heard from a great number of participants. Focusing on women’s access to justice, the meeting was supported by the Australian, Austrian and Finnish governments.

Legal Services for Migrant Women

IDLO is working in Costa Rica with the European Union’s EUROsociAL program to empower migrant women and refugees who are victims of violence. The project, supported by Costa Rica’s judiciary and France Expertise Internationale (FEI), provides orientation and legal assistance to vulnerable migrant women, in line with the Brasilia Regulations on Access to Justice.

Confronting Bias in Argentina

IDLO has been working with victims of gender violence and disadvantaged young people through the EU’s EUROsociAL program. Backed by Argentina’s Ministry of Justice, the initiative is aimed at raising awareness about women’s rights and increasing legal assistance. Youth access to education is also being promoted through the project, which is being co-ordinated by France Expertise Internationale (FEI).

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Key Initiatives

  • As part of IDLO’s continuous commitment to accountability and results-based management, IDLO is pleased to share this Final Evaluation Brief (summarised evaluation report): “Supporting Access to Justice in Afghanistan (SAJA)”. The evaluation has been conducted by independent evaluation experts, supervised by 

  • Domestic violence in Mongolia is increasingly recognized as a significant problem. Law enforcement officials report that in 2016 domestic violence cases increased by 25 per cent in the first seven months of the year compared to the previous year. In response, the Government of Mongolia has begun to take legislative and policy steps to improve its response to the issue. While important steps continue to be taken, significant challenges remain.

  • Over a decade has passed since the end of conflict in Liberia, but incidence of sexual and gender-based violence has not diminished. Numerous studies reveal an extremely high prevalence of sexual and gender-based violence. According to an IDLO study, in 2015 1396 cases were reported to the Montserrado five one-stop clinics alone. Among those cases, 267 were reported to the Women’s and Children’s Protection Section within the Liberia National Police, 119 received an indictment, while only 3 cases went through to trial.

  • As part of IDLO’s continuous commitment to accountability and results-based management, IDLO is pleased to share this Mid-Term Evaluation Brief (summarised evaluation report): “Supporting Access to Justice in Afghanistan (SAJA)”. The evaluation has been conducted by independent evaluation experts, supervised by IDLO’s Evaluation Unit.

  • In 2012, the Federal Government of Somalia took office with international backing after two decades of warfare. Since then, the government has developed a National Stabilization Strategy (NSS) to address enduring areas of conflict in the country with ‘top-down’ and ‘bottom-up’ reconciliation and clan-conflict reduction strategies. While commendable for its multifaceted response, there is a recognized need to improve rule of law at the community level.

  • Despite having reached satisfactory standards of democracy and improved the respect for human rights, Mongolia faces some serious issues in addressing high levels of domestic violence against women. Mechanisms and services for protection of and support to victims of domestic violence are still very limited. A lack of training, procedural guidelines and inter-agency coordination between justice sector actors often creates obstacles for victims and hinders an efficient response to domestic abuse. 

  • Promoting increased accountability for sexual and gender-based violence in Liberia.

  • While Tunisia has long served as a regional model of women’s rights, actual implementation of the Constitution’s provisions on women’s rights and the eradication of all forms of gender-based violence (GBV) remains a challenge.

  • Rates of sexual and gender based violence (SGBV) remain high in Uganda due to cultural practices, continued internal displacement, and low capacity of the justice system. IDLO is working to advance accountability for SGBV crimes committed in times of or after armed conflict in Uganda. 

  • IDLO, working together with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), implemented the first phase of its Rule of Law Centres initiative, from July 2015 to June 2016. The Centres provide training, with a substantive focus on local justice issues linked to international rule of law principles including fairness and equality, to lawyers, law teachers, and civil society representatives, as well as fostering general awareness of the law among the public. The long-term goal is to build greater trust in Myanmar's jus

  • Under the Liberia SGBV program launched in January 2016, IDLO will work with the judiciary to enhance the efficiency, transparency and accountability of Criminal Court “E” in Montserrado, the special court designated to deal exclusively with sexual offenses established in 2008, and improve access to justice and protection mechanisms for victims of SGBV.

  • With a view to replacing a culture of violence in Honduras with one of legality, IDLO has outlined a program to reduce violent acts and homicides through better access to justice. Work, carried out in partnership with national institutions and civil society organizations, will focus specifically on vulnerable groups, including women, children, youth and people in detention.  The program is financed by the US Department of State. 

  • IDLO has concentrated its efforts on the city of Mopti. As well as an important commercial center and Mali's country's main port, Mopti forms both the geographic and symbolic link between the country's North and South. During the conflict, it served as a frontline destination for displaced people.

  • IDLO is working with the European Union’s EUROsociAL II program in Honduras to aid and empower women who are victims of domestic violence. With the country’s judiciary, we have created the Centro de Atención y Protección de los Derechos de la Mujer (CAPRODEM), a women’s center providing orientation and legal assistance for female victims in Tegucigalpa. IDLO has played a key role in drafting the internal and functional guidelines for the Center and helped build the capacity of those involved. CAPRODEM is expected to be replicated in other regions of Honduras.

  • Reducing violence against Afghan women and girls has been one of our priority areas of intervention. Although the Law on the Elimination of Violence Against Women (LEVAW) has been stuck in the Afghan parliament for years, the Attorney General’s Office in 2009 used the law's framework to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with IDLO. The aim was to support the creation of a specialized unit that would prosecute cases of gender violence.

  • IDLO is working in Costa Rica with the European Union’s EUROsociAL program to empower migrant women and refugees who are victims of violence. The project, supported by Costa Rica’s judiciary and France Expertise Internationale (FEI), provides orientation and legal assistance to vulnerable migrant women, in line with the Brasilia Regulations on Access to Justice.

  • IDLO has been working with victims of gender violence and disadvantaged young people through the EU’s EUROsociAL program. Backed by Argentina’s Ministry of Justice, the initiative is aimed at raising awareness about women’s rights and increasing legal assistance. Youth access to education is also being promoted through the project, which is being co-ordinated by France Expertise Internationale (FEI).

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