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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)

Rule of law centers: building trust in Myanmar's justice system

In 2014, the Rule of Law Centres Initiative was launched to increase trust and cooperation between justice providers and the communities they serve. With project offices in Mandalay, Yangon, Myitkyina and Taunggyi, the Rule of Law Centres trained lawyers, law teachers, government officials and civil society representatives on key rule of law and human rights issues and raised awareness of rule of law in communities across the country.

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Key Initiatives

  • 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.
  • Following the Tunisian revolution of  2011, the new Constitution adopted in 2014 aimed to embed the principle of equality between women and men as well as ensuring the State’s obligation to protect women’s rights. However, despite the reforms to the legal framework in Tunisia to increase protection for women against gender-based violence, justice sector professionals, particularly judges and bailiffs, have limited knowledge, skills and capacity to act as effective gender justice agents, as stipulated by the new Law.
  • Since the revolution in 2011, Tunisia has experienced a period of significant political transition and change culminating in the adoption of a new constitution in 2014, which called for justice reform and protection of women’s rights. However, the practical application of the framework for legal assistance in Tunisia demonstrates the insufficiency of existing relevant mechanisms. Therefore, there is the strong need to empower women to access justice and claim their rights.
  • Strengthening prevention and accountability for sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) through the rule of law and access to justice has been a priority for the Government of Myanmar since 2011, when it embarked on an unprecedented transition towards democracy. SGBV cases are rarely reported and, when they are, the justice sector fails to provide adequate remedies. Therefore, there is a widely recognized need to increase prevention of and accountability for SGBV.
  • In the post-conflict transition, significant steps have been taken to combat sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in Liberia. The Government of Liberia established a policy and legal framework that includes the Rape Law (2006), a National Gender Policy (2017), and a National Plan of Action for the Prevention and Management of Gender-Based Violence in Liberia. However, in 2017, over 1100 SGBV cases have been reported in Montserrado County alone, representing only a small proportion of the violations that occur. Furthermore, the number of cases that have progressed to court remains low.
  • Somalia is striving to strengthen its institutions and to improve the rule of law, however high levels of crime still persist. These include forms of complex crimes, namely extremist violence, organized crime, sexual and gender-based violence and corruption. In recent years, the Somali Federal Government has improved the fight against armed groups and made efforts to improve the capacity of the justice system to handle complex crimes.
  • Strengthening the domestic violence response in Mongolia IDLO is implementing a project in Mongolia that aims to strengthen the response to domestic violence and increase access to justice for survivors. 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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. 
  • 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.
  • 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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