The Ethiopian Criminal Code criminalizes most forms of violence against women and girls including physical violence within marriage or cohabitation (Article 564), Female Genital Mutilation/ Circumcision (Articles 565-6), trafficking women (Article 597), rape (Articles 620-28), prostitution/exploitation of another for financial gain (Article 634), and early marriage (Article 648). The Criminal Code outlaws abortion, except in cases of rape or incest, risk to the life of the mother or fetus, severe or incurable disease or birth defect, a mother who is mentally or physically incapable of raising a child, or “grave and imminent danger” that can only be addressed by terminating the pregnancy.
Women and Justice: Keywords
The victim was raped by a doctor on 14 November 2006 at Magunga Hospital in Korogwe District. The appeal asserted that the witness in the trail was not credible. The appellate Court concluded that it was unable to “find a ground for denting the credibility of the complainant” and “not having found any contradictions in the evidence of PW1, the victim of the sexual assault by her doctor, the appellant” . The Court recognises sextortion and goes on to say: “We agree with the learned judge that ‘ it is treacherous for one to stray away from a professional calling and turn against one amongst the very lot who bestowed their trust unto the person.’ In this case, it was treacherous for the appellant doctor to rape his patient, PW1.”
The appellant claimed that the charge of sexual exploitation was defective and that the evidence of the complainant Rehema Athumani should not have been believed and acted upon (allegedly because of a “history of mental illness and confusion”). The Court determined that although normally the element of lack of consent ought to be reflected in a charge of rape, but with the inclusion of section 130 (2) (e) of the Penal Code, consent is no longer relevant where the victim is under eighteen years of age and in this case, there was no dispute that the victim was aged 17 at the time of the crime (and therefore covered by the law). The Court noted that “Paragraph (d) above would particularly be important in highlighting the fact that the appellant being a traditional healer took advantage of his position and committed rape on PW1 as we shall demonstrate hereunder.” Furthermore, the Court recognised that an aggrieved party may appeal on a matter of law (not including severity of sentence) but not on a matter of fact, and “strictly speaking, in our reading and appreciation of the evidence on record there is no serious point of law involved in this appeal”, only matters of fact.
The female defendant was charged with trafficking in person for the purpose of sexual exploitation. The defendant used an employment agency in Peru to offer Peruvian women waitress jobs at her residence in Chile. She would assist them in crossing the border and would pay travel costs. Upon arrival, the victims were kept at the defendant’s residence and were forced to provide sexual services to clients arranged by the defendant. The defendant also kept the victims’ passports so that they would be unable to leave until their debts were paid. The defendant was found guilty and sentenced to six months of imprisonment.
After a police raid on a brothel, four pimps were arrested and twenty-four women and girls were taken into custody. The magistrate ordered a medical examination to, among other things, determine the women's ages. The magistrate then ordered that the women 18 and over be released, and a few days later ordered the minor girls to be released. The magistrate explained that the girls had expressed a desire to be released. The Court held that this act was in violation of the Juvenile Justice Act, that only a child welfare board could determine how the girls were to be released. The Court then set forth guidelines for courts dealing with girls taken from brothels in the future. This case is significant because victims of trafficking may need counseling and other medical services in order to prevent their re-victimization.