Association for Free Research and International Cooperation

Fight Against Sexual Violence: Are Women Fairly Protected by Justice?

It is no longer strange to hear of one sexual act or the other being committed against women occurring on a daily basis across the globe. The phenomenon which ranges from rape, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), and child marriage among others has become so rampant in many African societies.

The woman is considered as the mother of humanity, but is thought to have faced and is still facing the most serious of all vices in the past and even in recent times. Women are being used as sex symbols and sex slaves worldwide. Sexual violence is the most common of all the ills faced by women on planet earth today. In some communities mostly in Africa, the practice of Female Genital Mutilation, FGM is very common as some claim it is part of their tradition that has been running for years. Still is some of these communities in Africa, girls as young as 12 are being married off to old men of about 90 in exchange of land and wealth. There is equally the trafficking of young girls and women abroad to work as prostitutes and sex slaves. In some other communities, there are very strict laws against women, limiting their rights and prohibiting them from certain practices and giving the men an upper hand to maltreat them.

According to UN Women, an estimated 35 per cent of women globally have experienced either physical and/or sexual violence from their partner or sexual violence by a non-partner at some point in their lives. Furthermore, data by UN Women reveals that worldwide, close to  750 million women and girls alive today got married before their 18th birthday, with child marriage more common in West and Central Africa, where about 1 in 7 were married before the age of 15. Statistics by UN Women also point out that at least 200 million women and girls alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in some 30 countries with a majority of the girls cut before they were 5 years old. UN Women also claims adult women account for 51 per cent of all human trafficking victims detected globally with practically three out of every four women and girls trafficked to be used for sexual exploitation. A report launched in March 2017 by the UN Human Rights Office, together with the African Union and UN Women, dubbed: “Women’s Rights in Africa” indicated that there is no legal protection for women against domestic violence in six African countries.

Going by the above mentioned statistics on what women face worldwide, if not on a daily basis, but generally, what then has been done to curb these ills they face? While some countries are striving to fight against sexual violence against women, others are still to take up the challenge. In Morocco for example, a law criminalising violence against women has been enacted. The law, adopted by the country’s parliament in March 2018, includes a ban on forced marriage, sexual harassment in public places, and tougher penalties for certain forms of violence. In 2017, the UN disclosed that Tunisia, Liberia, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Jordan, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras also passed laws that seek to scrap sexual violence against women. Moreover in late 2016 in Malawi, an HIV-positive man who said he slept with at least 100 girls and women in traditional cleansing rituals was sentenced to two years in jail and hard labour after being convicted of ‘engaging in harmful practices’. Eric Aniva was prosecuted on the orders of President Peter Mutharika after publicly speaking about his role as a ‘hyena’. These are just some of the few examples of what different governments and organizations are doing to limit or erase sexual violence against women. However, more still needs to be done to make women feel safe and confident about themselves.

Article from the editorial of AFRIC

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