Women and Justice: Type: Legislation

Legislation

The Marriage Act of 1961 (2017)

Forced and early marriage, Gender discrimination

Section 11 sets the marriage age at 18. Section 12 allows authorization of marriage of persons under 18 but above 16 years of age in exceptional circumstances, after obtaining authorization from a Judge or Magistrate. Furthermore, section 13 provides that a marriage of a minor is not to be solemnized without consent of parents and other administrative steps.



Sex Discrimination Act of 1984 (2017)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

Section 5 prohibits sex discrimination. The Act specifies that a person has committed sex discrimination if they treat someone less favorably because of their sex. Section 6 further prohibits discrimination based on marital or relationship status and section 7 prohibits discrimination based on pregnancy or potential pregnancy. Further, section 7AA prohibits breastfeeding discrimination . Moreover, section 7B deals with indirect discrimination and specifies that if an imposition of a condition, requirement, or practice has or is likely to have the disadvantaged effect, it is only allowed if such condition, requirement or practice is reasonable. Finally, pursuant to section 7D a person may take special measures for the purpose of achieving substantive equality. Such measures are not discriminatory.



Family Law Act of 1975 (2018)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Domestic and intimate partner violence

Section 4AB defines family violence, covering within its scope violent, threatening or other behavior by a person that coerces or controls a member of the family or causes that member to be fearful. Further, 4AB(2) sets out a list of behaviors that may constitute family violence, including assault, stalking, repeated derogatory taunts, intentionally damaging or destroying property, and unreasonably withholding financial support. The Act provides for divorce and nullity of marriage if the marriage has broken down irreparably. Furthermore, section 65AA deals with parental orders. The court must, pursuant to section 60CG, facilitate the child’s best interest but also to the extent possible ensure that any parental order is consistent with any family violence order and does not expose a person to an unacceptable risk of family violence.



Criminal Code Act of 1995 (2018)

Forced and early marriage, Trafficking in persons

Division 270 of the Criminal Code Act prohibits slavery and slavery-like offenses. Section 170.1A defines these offenses and related terms including coercion, forced labor, and forced marriage. Section 270.2 specifies that slavery offenses are unlawful, whether committed inside or outside of Australia. Section 270.4 criminalizes servitude offenses, 270.6A criminalizes forced labor offenses, section 270.7B criminalizes forced marriage offenses, section 270.8 criminalizes slavery-like offenses, 271.2 criminalizes trafficking in persons, 271.4 criminalizes trafficking in children, and 271.5 criminalizes domestic trafficking in persons. Section 270.11 clarifies that for all above offenses it is not a defense that a person consented to or acquiesced to prohibited conduct.



Recognition of Customary Marriage Act (1998)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage

The Act recognizes customary marriages solemnized in accordance with customary law. Customary law is defined as, “the customs and usages traditionally observed among the indigenous African peoples of South Africa and which form part of the culture of those peoples.” Both monogamous and polygamous marriages are recognized under the Act. Although registration of a customary marriage is peremptory, a failure to register a customary marriage does not affect the validity of that marriage. The definition of customary law in this Act does not apply to Hindu and Muslim customary marriages.



Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Persons Act (2013)

Forced and early marriage, Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement, Trafficking in persons

The Act defines and prohibits human trafficking. The PCTP Act adopts a broad definition of human trafficking, namely, that a person is guilty of human trafficking if he or she delivers, recruits, transports, transfers, harbours, sells, exchanges, leases or receives another person, through various means, including the use of force, deception, or coercion, aimed at the person or an immediate family member for the purpose of exploitation. Furthermore, a person who adopts a child, facilitated or secured through legal or illegal means; or concludes a forced marriage with another person, for the purposes of exploitation of that child or person, is guilty of an offence. The PCTP Act criminalizes various acts that constitute or relate to trafficking in persons and imposes harsh penalties, including life imprisonment for trafficking in persons; 15 years’ imprisonment for engaging in conduct that causes a person to enter into debt bondage or benefiting from services of a trafficking victim; and 10 years’ imprisonment for facilitating trafficking. The PCTP Act also provides for severe fines and enables the state to confiscate the assets of traffickers.



Reform of Customary Law of Succession and Regulation of Related Matters Act 11 (2009)

Gender discrimination, Harmful traditional practices, Property and inheritance rights

The Act abolishes the customary rule of primogeniture in as far as it applies to the law of succession and further extends the application of the Intestate Succession Act to the deceased estates of Africans who die intestate (without a will) and provides guidelines for interpreting the Intestate Succession Act in order to give effect to the new provisions and to ensure the protection of the rights of women to inherit.



Criminal Law Amendment Act No. 105 (1997)

Sexual violence and rape

Section 51 of the Act provides for certain mandatory sentences and sentencing guidelines which a regional court or high court may impose and consider for, inter alia, rape and compelled rape (minimum sentences may be reduced for compelling and substantial circumstances). The Act specifically provides that when considering imposing a sentence in respect of the offence of rape, a court must not consider the following circumstances as constituting compelling circumstances to deviate from the minimum sentencing guidelines: the complainant’s sexual history, lack of physical injury, culture or religious beliefs of accused or any relationship of the parties prior to assault.



Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act 32 of 2007 (2007)

Sexual violence and rape

The Act was adopted to comprehensively and extensively deal with all sexual offences under a single statute. The act, inter alia, repeals the common law offences of rape and replaces it with an expanded definition of rape applicable to all form of sexual penetration without consent irrespective of gender and repeals other common law offences related to indecent assault and penetration and replaces them with broader statutory offences. 



Sexual Offences Act (1998)

Sexual harassment, Sexual violence and rape, Trafficking in persons

The Sexual Offences Act recognizes in its preamble that women are particularly vulnerable to becoming victims of sexual offences, particularly adult prostitution. The Act prohibits prostitution, the operation of brothels, and other activities related to prostitution and brothel-keeping.



Domestic Violence Act and the Domestic Violence Regulations (1999)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

The Domestic Violence Act and the Domestic Violence Regulations promulgated thereunder offer complainants (any person in a domestic relationship who alleges she/he is the subject of domestic violence, including a child in the care of the complainant) the maximum protection possible from domestic abuse by imposing obligations on the police and other organs of state to prevent and assist the elimination of domestic violence (defined as including, inter alia, sexual abuse, physical abuse, stalking and harassment). Persons deemed to be in a domestic relationship include, inter alia, persons married by any law or custom, persons living (or who recently lived) together, parents of a child and parties in a romantic or sexual relationship. The Act allows any complainant to obtain a protection order against a respondent by application to the court and allows for interim orders to be granted without the respondent having received notice of such application in certain circumstances. When granting a protection order the court must make an order for the arrest of the respondent and may make an order to confiscate any weapons in the respondent’s possession.



Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act (2000)

Employment discrimination, Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting, Gender discrimination, Gender-based violence in general, Harmful traditional practices, Property and inheritance rights, Sexual violence and rape

The purpose of the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act is to give effect to section 9 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, read in conjunction with item 23(1) of its sixth schedule. The effect of this is to prevent and prohibit unfair discrimination and harassment; to promote equality and eliminate unfair discrimination; to prevent and prohibit hate speech; and to provide for matters connected therewith. Section 8 expands on the provisions of Section 9 by setting out, without limitation, the following specific examples of such prohibited discrimination: (a) gender-based violence; (b) female genital mutilation; (c) the system of preventing women from inheriting family property; (d) any practice, including traditional, customary or religious practice, which impairs the dignity of women and undermines equality between women and men, including the undermining of the dignity and well-being of the girl child; (e) any policy or conduct that unfairly limits access of women to land rights, finance, and other resources; (f) discrimination on the ground of pregnancy; (g) limiting women’s access to social services or benefits, such as health education and social security; (h) the denial of access to opportunities, including access to services or contractual opportunities for rendering services for consideration, or failing to take steps to reasonably accommodate the needs of such persons; and (i) systemic inequality of access to opportunities by women as a result of the sexual division of labor.  The Act further regulates which party will bear the burden of proof in discrimination cases and further sets out which factors should be taken into account in determining whether discrimination is fair or unfair.



The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa (1996)

Gender discrimination

Section 9 of the Constitution provides for the right to equality. Section 9(1) provides that "Everyone is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection and benefit of the law."  Section 9(3) states that "The State may not unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds, including race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, color, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth". Section 9(4) provides that "No person may unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds in terms of subsection (3). National legislation must be enacted to prevent or prohibit unfair discrimination." Finally, subsection (5) provides that "Discrimination on one or more of the grounds listed in subsection (3) is unfair unless it is established that the discrimination is fair." This includes discrimination on the basis of gender, sex or pregnancy.



China National Plan of Action on Combating Trafficking in Women and Children (2013)

Trafficking in persons

In March 2013, the State Council of China updated the China National Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Women and Children (2008-2012). The stipulated goal for this national plan is to reduce the occurrence of human trafficking and to improve the network to prevent human trafficking crimes. This national plan provides guiding opinions on various topics relevant to human trafficking, including but not limited to, cracking down on prostitution, increasing support for rural populations in low-income areas, guaranteeing nine-year compulsory education for all school-age children and adolescents, improving the protection mechanism for homeless minors, encouraging rural women to work, and encouraging the following people to find employment: people with disabilities, urban unemployed women, female college students and abducted women and trafficking victims who have been rescued.



Provisions for the Prohibition of Non-Medical Needs for Fetal Sex Determination and Manual Termination of Pregnancy

Abortion and reproductive health rights

The Provisions were adopted to implement the basic national policy of family planning, i.e. the “one-child policy” and to keep the sex ratio of the birth population within the normal range. Article 3 prohibits identifying the sex of the fetus for non-medical needs and to manually terminate the pregnancy because of the gender of the fetus, except for approval from the health administrative department or the family planning administrative department. Article 7 provides that if it is necessary for non-medical needs to terminate mid-term pregnancy (more than 14 weeks), an approval and corresponding certificate must be obtained from the family planning administrative department of the county-level people’s government, the sub-district office or the township people’s government. Article 7 further provides that if the fertility service certificate has been obtained and the pregnancy is terminated, the involved person shall be disciplined and educated by the family planning administrative department of the township people’s government, the sub-district office, or the county-level people’s government. The application for another birth shall not be approved until the facts are confirmed.



Law on Population and Family Planning (2015)

Abortion and reproductive health rights

The Law on Population and Family Planning was adopted by the National People’s Congress on December 29, 2001 and amended on December 27, 2015.  This law stipulated the national policy popularly known as the “one-child” policy. It was amended in 2015 to allow and encourage each couple to have two children. Before the amendment, Article 18 provided that the State encourages citizens to marry and bear a child at a later age, and advocates one child for each couple, except in certain conditions prescribed by laws and regulations. As a result of the amendment, Article 18 provides that the State encourages citizens to have two children. Before the amendment, Article 27 provided that couples who bear only one child voluntarily shall be issued the Honor Certificate and enjoy the awards for parents of only one child. Article 41 provides that a citizen who bears children in violation of Article 18 shall pay the social upbringing fines according to law.


 


Law on the Protection of Women's Rights and Interests (2005)

Abortion and reproductive health rights, Domestic and intimate partner violence, Gender discrimination, Property and inheritance rights

The Law on the Protection of Women’s Rights and Interests was adopted by the National People’s Congress on April 3, 1999 and amended on August 28, 2005. This Law stipulates that women have equal rights with men “in all aspects of political, economic, cultural, social and family life.” It also establishes the State’s responsibility to prevent domestic violence. Article 1 provides that “this Law is formulated to protect women’s lawful rights and interests, promote equality between men and women and allow full pay to women’s role in socialist modernization.” Article 7 provides that “[t]he All-China Women’s Federation and women’s federations at various levels shall, in accordance with the laws and charter of the All-China Women’s Federation,” uphold women’s rights and protect the rights and interests of women. Article 12 provides that the State shall “actively train and select female cadres” and “pay attention to the training and selection of female cadres of minority nationalities.” Article 23 provides that “[w]ith the exception of the special types of work or post unsuitable to women, no unit may, in employing staff and workers, refuse to employ women because of sex or raise the employment standards for women.” Article 23 also provides that “[t]he labor (employment) contract or service agreement shall not contain restrictions on her matrimony and child-bearing.” Articles 24 and 25 stipulate equal pay and equal opportunity for promotion for men and women. Article 26 provides that all units shall “protect women’s safety and health during their work or physical labor, and shall not assign them any work or physical labor not suitable to women,” and that “[w]omen shall be under special protection during menstrual period, pregnancy, obstetrical period and nursing period.” Article 27 provides that “[n]o entity may, for the reason of matrimony, pregnancy, maternity leave or breast-feeding, decrease a female employee’s wage, dismiss her or unilaterally terminate the labor (employment) contract or service agreement.” Article 45 prohibits husbands from applying for a divorce “within one year after childbearing or within 6 months after termination of pregnancy” of a woman. Article 46 prohibits domestic violence. Article 51 provides that “[w]omen have the right to child-bearing in accordance with relevant regulations of the state as well as the freedom not to bear any child.”



Marriage Law of the People's Republic of China (2001)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Domestic and intimate partner violence, Forced and early marriage, Gender discrimination

The Marriage Law of the People’s Republic of China was adopted by the National People’s Congress on September 10, 1980 and amended on April 28, 2001. Article 2 provides that the marriage system is “based on the free choice of partners, on monogamy and on equality between man and woman.” Article 3 prohibits interference by a third party, mercenary marriage and exaction of money or gifts in connection with marriage. Article 6 provides the minimal marriage age is twenty-two for men and twenty for women. Article 13 provides that husband and wife shall have equal status in the family. Article 34 provides that “a husband may not apply for a divorce when his wife is pregnant, or within one year after the birth of the child, or within six months after the termination of her gestation.” Article 43 provides that neighborhood committee, villagers committee or the unit[1] to which the family belongs have an obligation to deter domestic violence. English version available here

 

[1] “Unit” is a term of art with strong communist connotations, which refers to the company/organization/group to which a person belongs.



The Constitution of the People's Republic of China (Articles 48-49) (2004)

Employment discrimination, Forced and early marriage, Gender discrimination, Property and inheritance rights

The Constitution of the People’s Republic of China was adopted by the National People’s Congress and promulgated for implementation on December 4, 1982. It has been amended several times, with the most recent amendment occurring on March 14, 2004.  Article 48 provides that women and men have equal rights. It states that “[w]omen in the People’s Republic of China enjoy equal rights with men in all spheres of life, in political, economic, cultural, social and family life. The State protects the rights and interests of women, applies the principle of equal pay for equal work to men and women alike and trains and selects cadres from among women.” Article 49, moreover, provides that “violation of the freedom of marriage is prohibited. Maltreatment of old people, women and children is prohibited.” English version available here



Termination of Pregnancy Act (1977)

Abortion and reproductive health rights

if the continuation of the pregnancy is a serious threat to the mother’s health; (iii) if there is a serious risk that, if the child is born, it will suffer from a physical or mental defect that will cause the child to be severely disabled; (iv) where the pregnancy is a result of unlawful intercourse. Unlawful intercourse includes rape (this does not include marital rape), incest and mental handicap. However, a legal abortion can only be performed by a medical practitioner in a designated institution with the written permission of the superintendent of the institution. In cases where the mother’s life is in danger, the superintendent will not give permission until they have two different medical opinions regarding the danger to the mother. In circumstances of rape/incest, the superintendent must give permission after he receives written confirmation from a magistrate that the woman complained about the rape or the incestuous conduct. Contravention of the act by a medical practitioner in terminating a pregnancy or superintendent in providing permission not in accordance with the TPA constitutes an offense for which they could be liable for a fine not exceeding USD 5000, and/or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding five years.



Administration of Estates Act (2002)

Harmful traditional practices, Property and inheritance rights

The AE Act removed inheritance laws unfavorable to widows in civil and registered customary marriages. It recognizes a union contracted according to customary rites, even without formal registration under the Customary Marriages Act of 1951 (currently under Parliamentary review as of July 17, 2019). The AE Act provides that the property of an estate is to be divided by the surviving spouse and the children, regardless of the sex of the children. It also stipulates that a widow whose husband died intestate retains rights to the family’s land upon the death of her husband.



The Domestic Violence Act (2007)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Harmful traditional practices

The DVA protects and provides relief for victims of domestic violence. It defines and prohibits domestic violence in the form of physical, emotional, sexual, and economic abuse as well as acts of abuse derived from any cultural or customary practices that discriminate against or degrade women. Examples include, but are not limited to, forced virginity testing, female genital mutilation, pledging women and girls to appease spirits, forced marriage, child marriage, forced wife inheritance or sexual intercourse between fathers-in-law and newly married daughters-in-law. The penalty for committing an act of domestic violence as defined under section 3 is a fine not exceeding USD 5,000 and/or imprisonment for a period not exceeding ten years. The DVA also imposes duties on the police. Stations must have, where possible, one police officer with domestic violence expertise. Further, a police officer who receives a complaint of domestic violence must advise the complainant about how to obtain shelter or medical treatment and about their right to seek relief under the DVA. The DVA also requires that complaints made to police officers should be taken by officers of the same sex as the complainant, if complainant so requests.  Moreover, police officers have the authority to arrest a person suspected of committing an act of domestic violence without a warrant and bring that person before a magistrate within 48 hours. Finally, the DVA provides for protection and relief to survivors of domestic violence by enabling them to apply for a protection order when an act of domestic violence has been committed, is being committed, or is threatened. It also allows someone acting with the consent of the complainant to make an application for a protection order on his or her behalf with the leave of the court. A person who fails to comply with a protection order is guilty of an offense and liable for a fine not exceeding USD 200 and/or imprisonment for up to five years.



Constitution of Zimbabwe (Amendment No. 20) (2013)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Domestic and intimate partner violence, Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination, Harmful traditional practices, Property and inheritance rights

Zimbabwe’s new 2013 Constitution addressed women’s rights and gender equality, and its bill of rights addressed damaging cultural and discriminatory practices. A gender commission was also established to accelerate the implementation of provisions related to women. More specifically, the Constitution recognized gender equality and women’s rights among Zimbabwe’s founding values and principles. It mandated that the State and all its institutions consider gender equality in laws and policy, to implement measures that provide care and assistance to mothers, and to grant women opportunities to work. The State must also prevent domestic violence, ensure marriages are consensual, and that there are equal rights in marriages. In the event of dissolution of marriage, the State must provide for the rights of spouses and children. The state is also obliged to afford girls and boys equal educational opportunities. The bill of rights specifically stipulates that women are equal to men, including deserving equal opportunities in political, economic, and social activities. Provision was also made for legislative seats reserved for women in the National Assembly. Finally, gender equality must be considered in making judicial appointments.



Criminal Offenses: Child Pornography Prohibited

Statutory rape or defilement

This statute prohibits production, reproduction, distribution, transfer and knowing possession of child pornography through any medium, device or format.



Criminal Offenses: First Degree Sexual Assault

Sexual violence and rape

A person is guilty of first degree sexual assault if he or she engages in sexual penetration with another person, and the accused: not being the spouse, knows or has reason to know that the victim is mentally or physically incapacitated; or the accused uses force, coercion, stealth, or surprise; or engages in medical treatment or examination for sexual purposes.



Criminal Offenses: First Degree Child Molestation Sexual Assault

Statutory rape or defilement

A person is guilty of first-degree child molestation sexual assault if he or she engages in sexual penetration with a person 14 years of age or under.



Domestic Relations: Domestic Abuse Prevention (General Laws of Rhode Island)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

The definition of domestic abuse in Rhode Island includes (i) attempting to cause or causing physical harm, (ii) placing another in fear of imminent serious physical harm, (iii) causing another to engage involuntarily in sexual relations by force, threat of force, or duress, and (iv) stalking or cyberstalking when the perpetrator and victim are present or former family members, including stepparent and dating relationships.



Criminal Offenses: Stalking (General Laws of Rhode Island)

Stalking

This statute makes it illegal to harass or to knowingly and repeatedly follow another person with the intent to place that person in reasonable fear of bodily injury. Under the statute, stalking is a felony, punishable by imprisonment for not more than five years, by a fine of not more than $10,000, or both.



Labor and Labor Relations: Wage Discrimination Based on Sex (General Laws of Rhode Island)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

To prevent wage discrimination, Rhode Island’s equal pay law provides that no employer shall discriminate between the sexes in the payment of wages. However, merit-based variations in pay including, but not limited to, those based on skill, experience, and number of hours worked are not prohibited. Any attempt to contract around the equal pay law will be void.



Code of Virginia: Standards for court-authorized sterilization of certain persons (Va. Code § 54.1-2977)

Forced sterilization

Under certain defined circumstances, Virginia law permits sterilization for children and adults incapable of informed consent. The procedures for children incapable of informed consent are outlined in Code of Virginia § 54.1-2975 and the procedures for adults are outlined in § 54.1-2976.



Code of Virginia: Property Rights of Married Women (Va. Code § 55-35)

Gender discrimination, Property and inheritance rights

This Virginia law provides that a married woman shall have the right to acquire, hold, use, control and dispose of property as if she were unmarried. 



Code of Virginia: Rape (Va. Code § 18.2-61)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

This Virginia law defines rape as sexual intercourse with a complaining witness, or causing a complaining witness to engage in sexual intercourse with any other person, regardless of the existence of a spousal relationship and such act is accomplished (i) against the complaining witness's will, by force, threat or intimidation of or against the complaining witness or another person; or (ii) through the use of the complaining witness's mental incapacity or physical helplessness; or (iii) with a child under age 13 as the victim.



Code of Virginia: When cause of action shall be deemed to accrue in certain personal actions (Va. Code § 8.01-249(6))

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

This section of the Virginia Code provides that a cause of action resulting from sexual abuse during incapacity or infancy accrues upon the later of (1) the removal of incapacity or infancy or (2) when facts of the injury and its causal connection to the sexual abuse is first communicated to the person by a licensed physician or psychologist. 



Code of Virginia: Personal action for injury to person or property generally (Va. Code § 8.01-243(D))

Statutory rape or defilement

This section of the Virginia Code provides that a cause of action resulting from sexual abuse during incapacity or infancy accrues upon the later of the removal of incapacity or infancy or when facts of the injury and its causal connection to the sexual abuse is first communicated to the person by a licensed physician or psychologist. 



Code of Virginia: Arrest without a warrant authorized in cases of assault and battery against a family or household member and stalking and for violations of protective orders; procedure, etc. (Va. Code § 19.2-81.3)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Sexual violence and rape, Stalking

This Virginia law allows officers to make an arrest without a warrant in certain cases of assault and battery, or stalking, against a family or household member. Instead of a warrant, the arrest must be based on probable cause, the officer’s personal observations, the officer’s investigation, or a reasonable complaint from a witness.



Code of Virginia: Stalking; penalty (Va. Code § 18.2-60.3)

Stalking

Virginia law prohibits that any person, except law enforcement officers acting in the capacity of the official duties, and registered private investigators acting in the course of their legitimate business, who on more than one occasion engages in conduct with the intent to place, or when that person knows or reasonably should know that the conduct places another person in reasonable fear of death, criminal sexual assault, or bodily injury to that other person or to that other person’s family or household member is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. If the person contacts or follows or attempts to contact or follow the person after being given actual notice that the person does not want to be contacted or followed, such actions are a prima facie evidence that the person intended to place that other person, or reasonably should have known that the other person was placed, in reasonable fear of death, criminal sexual assault, or bodily injury to himself or a family or household member.



Code of Virginia: Civil Action for Stalking (Va. Code § 8.01-42.3)

Stalking

Under Virginia law, a victim has a civil cause of action against an individual who engaged in stalking conduct prohibited under Code of Virginia § 18.2-60.3, regardless of whether the individual has been charged or convicted for the alleged violation, for the compensatory damages incurred by the victim due to the conduct plus the costs for bringing the action. A victim may also be awarded punitive damages in addition to compensatory damages.



Code of Virginia: Jurisdiction; Consent for Abortion (Va. Code § 16.1–241(W))

Abortion and reproductive health rights

This Virginia law provides the judges of the juvenile and domestic relations district court jurisdiction over petitions filed by a juvenile seeking judicial authorization for a physician to perform an abortion if a minor elects not to seek permission from an authorized person.  This statute further specifies that after a hearing, a judge can issue an order authorizing a physician to perform an abortion, without the consent of any authorized person, if the judge finds that (i) the minor is mature enough and well enough informed to make her abortion decision, in consultation with her physician, independent of the wishes of any authorized person, or (ii) the minor is not mature enough or well enough informed to make such decision, but the desired abortion would be in her best interest.



Code of Virginia: Abortion (Va. Code § 18.2 et seq.)

Abortion and reproductive health rights

Under Virginia law, it is a Class 4 felony to cause destruction of a unborn child, abortion, or miscarriage through medical procedure, drugs, or other means. There is an exception for physicians who are licensed by the Board of Medicine to practice medicine and surgery, to terminate a pregnancy or assist in performing an abortion or causing a miscarriage during the first trimester of pregnancy, among other exceptions.  Informed written consent is required for an abortion under Virginia law, subject to civil penalties.  It is also a Class 3 misdemeanor to encourage an individual to have an abortion prohibited by Virginia law.



Code of Virginia: Equal Pay Irrespective of Sex (Va. Code Ann. § 40.1-28.6)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

This Virginia law prohibits employers from discriminating between employees on the basis of sex by paying less wages to employees of a certain sex than employees of the opposite sex for equal work on jobs that require equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working conditions, except where such payment is made pursuant to a seniority system, a merit system, a system which measures earnings by quantity or quality of production, or a differential based on any other factor other than sex.



Virginia Human Rights Act (Va. Code Ann. §§ 2.2-3900-03) (2014)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination, Property and inheritance rights

Virginia’s Human Rights Act outlines the policy of the Commonwealth to “[s]afeguard all individuals within the Commonwealth from unlawful discrimination because of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, age, marital status, or disability, in places of public accommodation,” including in education, real estate, and employment. The Act defines the “unlawful discriminatory practice” and “gender discrimination” as conduct that violates any Virginia or federal statute or regulation governing discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, age, marital status, or disability. The terms “because of sex or gender” or “on the basis of sex or gender” or similar terms in reference to discrimination in the Code and acts of the General Assembly include pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions. Women affected by pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions shall be treated the same for all purposes as persons not so affected but similar in their abilities or disabilities.



Cavanaugh v. Cavanaugh (2014)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Sexual harassment, Stalking

An man appealed his restraining order, which prevented him from contacting his ex-wife, arguing that the lower court did not properly establish a finding of domestic abuse despite his ex-wife’s testimony that he repeatedly used vulgar and threatening language towards her, at times placing her in fear of physical harm. The Rhode Island Supreme Court upheld the restraining order and underlying finding of domestic abuse, citing the definition of domestic abuse in Title 15, Chapter 15 of the General Laws of Rhode Island: “Among the acts specified in . . . the statute as constituting ‘domestic abuse’ is ‘stalking,’ [which means] ‘harassing another person.’” Because the court found that the ex-husband was “harassing” (and thus “stalking”) his ex-wife, the ex-husband’s conduct fell within the plain meaning of the statute defining domestic abuse. This case is important because it provides that the “unambiguous language” of Rhode Island’s domestic abuse statute does not require a finding of actual physical harm or threats of physical harm as a predicate for domestic abuse—other harassing language is enough.



Offenses Pertaining to Schools (Title 16, Chapter 38, General Laws of Rhode Island)

Gender discrimination, LGBTIQ

Discrimination on the basis of sex is prohibited in all public colleges, community colleges, universities, and all other public institutions of higher learning in the state that are operated by the board of governors for higher education. This prohibition applies to employment, recruitment, and hiring practices, employment benefits, admissions, curricular programs, extracurricular activities including athletics, counseling, financial aid including athletic grants-in-aid, student medical, hospital, and accident or life insurance benefits, facilities, housing, rules and regulations, research, and all other school functions and activities. Notwithstanding these prohibitions, schools may do the following: (i) maintain separate but comparable restrooms, dressing, and shower facilities for males and females, including reasonable use of staff of the same sex as the users of these facilities; (ii) provide separate teams for contact sports or for sports where selection for teams is based on competitive skills, provided that equal athletic opportunities which effectively accommodate the interests and abilities of both sexes are made available; (iii) maintain separate housing for men and women, provided that housing for students of both sexes is as a whole both proportionate in quantity to the number of students of that sex that apply for housing and comparable in quality and cost to the student; and (iv) permit the establishment and operation of university based social fraternities and sororities.



Rhode Island Fair Housing Practices Act (Title 34, Chapter 37, General Laws of Rhode Island)

Gender discrimination, LGBTIQ, Property and inheritance rights

The Rhode Island Fair Housing Practices Act prohibits housing practices that discriminate based on gender identity or expression, which is defined to include a person’s actual or perceived gender, as well as a person’s gender identity, gender-related self-image, gender-related appearance, or gender-related expression; whether or not that gender identity, gender-related self-image, gender-related appearance, or gender-related expression is different from that traditionally associated with the person's sex at birth.



Minor Electronically Disseminating Indecent Material to Another Person - "Sexting" Prohibited (Title 11, Chapter 9, General Laws of Rhode Island)

Statutory rape or defilement

Rhode Island law prohibits minors from knowingly and voluntarily and without threat or coercion using a computer or telecommunication device to transmit an indecent visual depiction of himself or herself to another person. Minors who transmit indecent images of themselves will not be subject to sex offender registration.



Duty to Report Sexual Assault (Title 11, Chapter 37, General Laws of Rhode Island)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

Under Rhode Island’s statute criminalizing sexual assault, anyone other than the victim with  knowledge or reason to know that a first-degree sexual assault or attempted first-degree sexual assault is taking place or has taken place shall immediately notify the police. Anyone who knowingly violates this statute is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for no more than one year, a $500 fine, or both (§ 11-37-3.3.).



Uniform Act on Prevention of and Remedies for Human Trafficking (Chapter 11, General Laws of Rhode Island)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement, Trafficking in persons

This law makes it a felony to knowingly engage in, or benefit from, knowing participation in recruiting, enticing, harboring, transporting, providing, or obtaining by any means another person, intending or knowing that the person will be subjected to forced labor in order to commit a commercial sexual activity. The statute also mandates the creation and composition of a council on human trafficking to provide victims services, analyze human trafficking in Rhode Island, conduct a public awareness campaign, coordinate training on human trafficking prevention and victim services for state and local employees. It creates an affirmative defense to prostitution charges for victims of human trafficking, enumerates aggravating factors, and outlines criminal procedure details.



Sexual Assault - Prior sexual conduct of the complainant - Admissibility of Evidence (Title 11, Chapter 37, General Laws of Rhode Island)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

If a defendant who is charged with sexual assault intends to introduce evidence at trial that the victim has engaged in sexual activities with other persons, he or she must give prior notice to the court of the intention to introduce such evidence. The notice must be given orally and out of the hearing of any other spectators or jurors. Upon receiving such notice, the court must order the defendant to make a specific offer of the proof that he or she intends to introduce, and the court will rule on the admissibility of the evidence before it can be offered at trial. The purpose of this “rape shield” statute is to encourage victims to report crimes without fear of inviting unnecessary probing into the victim’s sexual history.



Sexual Assault - Prior sexual conduct of the complainant - Admissibility of Evidence (Title 11, Chapter 37, General Laws of Rhode Island)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

If a defendant who is charged with sexual assault intends to introduce evidence at trial that the victim has engaged in sexual activities with other persons, he or she must give prior notice to the court of the intention to introduce such evidence. The notice must be given orally and out of the hearing of any other spectators or jurors. Upon receiving such notice, the court must order the defendant to make a specific offer of the proof that he or she intends to introduce, and the court will rule on the admissibility of the evidence before it can be offered at trial. The purpose of this “rape shield” statute is to encourage victims to report crimes without fear of inviting unnecessary probing into the victim’s sexual history.



23 Pa. C.S.A. § 6101, Protection from Abuse Act (1990)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

This statute provides for Protection From Abuse Orders (“PFA Orders”). These PFA Orders act as a safeguard to victims and their children from a family/household member who is abusing them. The Protection from Abuse Act also provides for absolute confidentiality between a victim and a domestic violence counselor/advocate to encourage open and honest dialogue.



23 Pa. C.S.A. § 3701, Domestic Relations - Alimony and Support (1990)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Property and inheritance rights

The determination of the nature, amount, and duration of alimony is based on the court’s weighing of several factors. Among the factors considered by the court in its alimony determination are the following: (1) the relative earnings of the parties; (2) the ages and the physical, mental, and emotional conditions of the parties; (3) the sources of income of both parties, including, but not limited to, medical, retirement, insurance, or other benefits; (4) the expectancies and inheritances of the parties; (5) the duration of the marriage; (6) the contribution by one party to the education, training, or increased earning power of the other party; (7) the extent to which the earning power, expenses or financial obligations of a party will be affected by reason of serving as the custodian of a minor child; (8) the standard of living of the parties established during the marriage; (9) the relative education of the parties and the time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking alimony to find appropriate employment; (10) the relative assets and liabilities of the parties; (11) the property brought to the marriage by either party; (12) the contribution of a spouse as homemaker; (13) the relative needs of the parties; (14) the marital misconduct of either of the parties during the marriage; (15) the Federal, State, and local tax ramifications of the alimony award; (16) whether the party seeking alimony lacks sufficient property, including, but not limited to, property distributed under Chapter 35 to provide for the party’s reasonable needs; and (17) whether the party seeking alimony is incapable of self-support through appropriate employment.



23 Pa. C.S.A. § 5301, Domestic Relations - Child Custody (2010)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage

In making custody and visitation decisions, Pennsylvania courts look to various factors in determining what is in the “best interest of the child.” The factors weighed by the court include: (1) the well-reasoned preference of the child, based on the child’s maturity and judgment; (2) the need for stability and continuity in the child’s education, family life and community life; (3) which parent is more likely to foster a relationship between the noncustodial parent and the child; (4) each parent’s history of violent or abusive conduct; and (5) specific criminal convictions. The court will only award sole custody when it is in the best interest of the child. Shared custody will only be awarded if: (1) one or both parents apply for it; (2) the parents have agreed to shared custody; or (3) the court determines it is in the best interest of the child. It is within the court’s discretion to require the parents to attend counseling sessions. Further, the court may review and consider recommendations from the counselor in making the final custody decision.



23 Pa. C.S.A. § 3501, Domestic Relations - Property Division (1990)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Property and inheritance rights

Pennsylvania is an equitable distribution state, which means the court will “equitably and fairly” divide, distribute, or assign the marital property between the parties, regardless of marital misconduct. “Marital property” generally means all property acquired by either spouse during the marriage. All property acquired by a spouse during their marriage is presumed to be marital property regardless of how title is held. In making its “equitable and fair” division of marital property, the court will weigh numerous factors, which include: the length of the marriage; any prior marriage of either party; the age, health, station, amount, and sources of income, vocational skills, employability, estate, liabilities, and needs of each of the parties; the contribution by one party to the education, training, or increased earning power of the other party; the opportunity of each party for future acquisitions of capital assets and income; the sources of income of both parties, including, but not limited to, medical, retirement, insurance, or other benefits; the contribution or dissipation of each party in the acquisition, preservation, depreciation or appreciation of the marital property, including the contribution of a party as homemaker; the value of the property set apart to each party; the standard of living of the parties established during the marriage; the economic circumstances of each party at the time the division of property is to become effective; the federal, state and local tax ramifications associated with each asset to be divided, distributed or assigned; the expense of sale, transfer, or liquidation associated with a particular asset; and whether the party will be serving as the custodian of any dependent minor child(ren).



23 Pa. C.S.A. § 3301, Domestic Relations - Grounds for Divorce (1990)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Domestic and intimate partner violence

Under Pennsylvania law, a divorce can be either “fault-based” or “no-fault.” Grounds for a “fault-based” divorce include the following: abandonment (unmoving spouse has left the home) without a reasonable cause for a period of one or more years; adultery; cruel and barbarous treatment (unmoving spouse has treated movant in a way that puts his/her life or health at risk); bigamy (movant’s spouse married movant without first divorcing his/her spouse); imprisonment for two or more years; or movant’s spouse has acted in a way that made movant’s life unbearable or extremely difficult. Grounds for a “no-fault” divorce include the following: insanity or a serious mental disorder that resulted in confinement in a mental institution for at least 18 months immediately before the commencement of a divorce action; or where a complaint has been filed alleging that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.” When the grounds for divorce is that the marriage is “irretrievably broken,” the court may find that there is a “reasonable prospect of reconciliation.” If the court makes such a finding, it will continue the matter for up to 120 days, but not less than 90 days, unless the parties agree to a longer period. During this continuation period, if either party requests it, the court will require up to a maximum of three counseling sessions.



Local Authorities Act (1992)

Gender discrimination

The Local Authorities Act establishes local authority councils within local government and defines their powers, duties and functions. The Act provides that the slate of candidates from any given political party up for election in a municipal, village or town council election must contain at least three female persons where the council consists of 10 or fewer members and at least five female persons where a council consists of 11 or more members, in an attempt to increase the presence of women in decision making positions. 



Combating of Immoral Practices Act (1980)

Sexual violence and rape, Trafficking in persons

The Combating of Immoral Practices Act aims to prevent and reduce prostitution and the existence of brothels.  The Act imposes a criminal penalty for keeping a brothel of imprisonment for a period not exceeding three years or imprisonment and a fine. The Act punishes procuring or attempting to procure any female to have unlawful carnal intercourse with imprisonment for a period not exceeding five years. The Act also imposes criminal sentences for offenses related to prostitution and various immoral acts, such as the owner or occupier of a property permitting such acts, living on earnings of prostitution, or enticing someone to commit an immoral act.



Social Security Act (1994)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

The Social Security Act provides maternity benefits to women through a compulsory combined scheme for sickness, maternity and death benefits through matching employer and employee contributions. The Act establishes the National Medical Benefit Fund to administer the payments for such benefits and the National Pension Fund for pension benefits for those who have retired. The Act also makes a provision for the funding of training programs for disadvantaged and unemployed persons through a Development Fund.



Communal Land Reform Act (2002)

Gender discrimination, Harmful traditional practices, Property and inheritance rights

The Communal Land Reform Act 2002 aims to regulate the allocation of customary land rights in communal lands and to establish Communal Land Boards. Communal land that previously belonged to indigenous communities is now vested in the state, which then distributes and allocates the land among the rural communities. This Act takes precedence over customary law and is much more favorable to women’s rights. Under the Act, four women must be appointed to the Communal Land Boards. Furthermore, the Act provides that a customary land right that was allocated to a particular holder of such right shall upon the death of such holder be re-allocated to the surviving spouse. This provides protection to a surviving wife who may now remain on the communal land where previously she would lose the rights to such land upon the death of her husband.



Affirmative Action (Employment) Act (1998)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

The aim of this Act is to achieve equal employment opportunities through affirmative action plans to redress the conditions of designated persons in the Act who have been previously disadvantaged by past discriminatory laws and practices with the aim of eliminating discrimination in the workplace. The Act also establishes an Employment Equity Commission. Women are specifically mentioned as a designated group. An affirmative action plan achieves its purpose by obliging employers to make equitable efforts to accommodate and further the employment opportunities of those in designated groups. Employers must also fill positions of employment by giving priority and preferential treatment to those in designated groups. Where employers do not adhere to the Act, they may be referred to the Commission or to mediation, and may be placed under review. Furthermore, any person who discriminates against a person who has participated in the proceedings provided for in the Act, or obstructs or prevents compliance with the Act by any party, or fails to comply with certain provisions of the Act can be held criminally liable and on conviction be liable to a fine not exceeding N$16,000 or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding 4 years or both.



Co-Operatives Act (1996)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

This Act states that where a co-operative has more than five female members, or if more than one-third of its members are women (whichever is the lesser) and no woman has been elected as a member of its board, the board must appoint a woman as a board member within its first meeting to increase the representation of women in management positions. A similar provision is provided for sub-committees of boards.



Labour Act (2007)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination, Sexual harassment

The Labour Act (the “Act”) establishes protections for employees and regulates the employer/employee relationship. In particular, this Act prohibits any form of child labor, forced labor, or discrimination and/or sexual harassment in the workplace. The Act also provides for basic conditions of employment to which an employer must adhere, including maternity leave for female employees. An employer may not provide disadvantageous terms in an employment contract or promote unfair labor practices. Violations of this Act expose employers to various penalties. Employees may refer disputes to the Labour Commissioner or the Labour Court to obtain relief.



Maintenance Act (2003)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Gender discrimination

The Maintenance Act (the “Act”) imposes equal rights and burdens in relation to the payment of child support (and enforcement of child support orders) on both parents and abolishes customary laws to the contrary. The Act also states that husbands and wives are equally responsible for each other’s maintenance.



Children's Status Act (2006)

Gender discrimination, Property and inheritance rights

Among other things, the Children’s Status Act gives children born out of wedlock the same legal privileges as children born to married couples (e.g., inheritance rights, custody, guardianship, etc.) and provides various legal mechanisms (e.g., court orders) to protect these rights. 



Married Persons Equality Act (1996)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Forced and early marriage, Gender discrimination, Harmful traditional practices, Property and inheritance rights

The Married Persons Equality Act (the “Act”) abolishes the marital power of the husband over his wife and her property and amends community property laws. It further provides women with the power to register immovable property in their own name, gives them legal capacity to litigate and contract, and allows them to act as directors of companies. The Act also establishes that the minimum age for marriage is 18, thereby prohibiting child marriages.



Abortion and Sterilization Act (1975)

Abortion and reproductive health rights, Forced sterilization

The Abortion and Sterilization Act (the “Act”) was adopted from South Africa and prohibits abortions, except in extreme circumstances where either: (i) the mother’s life is in danger; (ii) not having an abortion would constitute a serious threat to the mother’s mental health; (iii) there is a serious risk that the child will be born with physical and/or mental defects; or (iv) the child is a product of rape or incest. It also criminalizes performing abortions, except in the circumstances listed above. Finally, the Act states the circumstances in which sterilizations may be performed, including on people incapable of consent. 



The Combating Rape Act (2000)

Harmful traditional practices, Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

The Combating of Rape Act (the “Act”) seeks to prevent rape and provides minimum imprisonment sentences for rape. It also abolishes the previous law, which presumed that a boy under the age of 14 was incapable of rape and sexual intercourse. This Act also regulates the granting of bail to perpetrators to further protect the rights of the victim, and provides protection to victims of rape and sexual abuse. Finally, it abolishes the customary rule, common among rural areas, that marriage is a justification for, or a defense to, rape.  



The Combating Domestic Violence Act (2003)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

The Combatting of Domestic Violence Act (the “Act”) prohibits domestic violence, which it broadly defines to include physical abuse, sexual abuse, economic abuse, intimidation, harassment, entering the private residence of the complainant without consent, emotional, verbal or psychological abuse, and any threats of the above. Various types of relationships are also covered, including customary or religious marriages and relationships where the parties are not married. The Act amends the Criminal Procedure Act 1977, and allows courts to issue protection orders for victims and to punish perpetrators with a fine not exceeding N$8,000 and/or imprisonment not exceeding two years. 



The Constitution of the Republic of Namibia (1990)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Employment discrimination, Forced and early marriage, Gender discrimination

The Constitution serves as the fundamental law of Namibia and establishes the Republic of Namibia as an independent, secular, democratic, and unitary state safeguarding the rights to justice, liberty, dignity, and equality. Chapter 3 of the Constitution protects fundamental rights and freedoms, including the right to equality and freedom from discrimination, including on the grounds of sex. It also bans child marriages and mandates equal rights for men and women entering into marriage, during the marriage, and at the dissolution of the marriage. Additionally, Parliament may not make any laws that contravene the Constitution, nor can the Executive take any action that abolishes or contravenes Chapter 3 of the Constitution. Any such laws or actions would be invalid.



Alabama Code Title 26. Infants and Incompetents § 26-21-4 (2014)

Abortion and reproductive health rights

Since 1987, Alabama has had a judicial bypass law, which allows pregnant minors to obtain a court’s permission to have an abortion without parental consent. In 2014, the Alabama legislature passed House Bill 494 to amend the law. The original judicial bypass statute provided for an ex parte hearing with only the judge, the minor, and her attorney present. The 2014 amendments added to the proceedings parties who are permitted or required to “examine” the minor and represent the interests of the unborn child, the state, and the minor’s parents.  It would have also allowed the appointment of a guardian to represent the interests of the fetus. The District Court of the Middle District of Alabama found these amendments unconstitutional and severed them from the judicial bypass law in Reproductive Health Services v. Marshall (2017).



Alabama Code Title 13A. Criminal Code § 13A-11-72 (2015)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

In 2015, Alabama amended its gun legislation to prohibit anyone who has been convicted of a misdemeanor offense of domestic violence or is subject to a domestic abuse protective order from possessing a firearm. The amended statute provides: “No person who has been convicted in this state or elsewhere of committing or attempting to commit a crime of violence, misdemeanor offense of domestic violence, violence offense as listed in Section 12-25-32(14), anyone who is subject to a valid protection order for domestic abuse, or anyone of unsound mind shall own a firearm or have one in his or her possession or under his or her control.”



Decreto Legislativo 26 marzo 2001, n. 151 (Legislative Decree No. 151/2001) (2001)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

This legislative decree protects maternity and paternity, and prohibits discrimination on the basis of either. It regulates parental leave, leave for the illness of a child, rest, and the treatment of pregnant workers to protect their health. (Note: PDF is the consolidated text only. Follow the external link for the entire text of the decree.)



Codice Civil (2019)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Gender discrimination, Property and inheritance rights

The Italian Civil Code provides for succession and inheritance, each of which require equal treatment of male and female children (Book II, Title I). In cases in which the conduct of a spouse or co-habitant causes serious physical or mental harm to the other spouse or co-habitant, but the conduct does not constitute a criminal act, the court may issue a family order of protection. A judge may order the party concerned to stay away from the home, the spouse's place of work, the residences of extended family members, and the children's school (Book I, TItle IX, art. 342). The judge can also order the intervention of social services or a family mediation center.



Codice Penal (1930)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting, Sexual harassment, Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

The Italian Penal Code prohibits domestic violence (art. 572), female genital mutilation (art. 583), and harassment (art. 612). Punishable crimes against a person's freedom also include slavery and forced prostitution (art. 600), human trafficking (art. 601), and sexual violence (art. 609). Sexual acts coerced through violence, threats, or abuse of authority carry a prison sentence of five to 10 years. Aggravating factors in sexual violence cases include pregnancy, a victim under 14 years old, and use of a weapon. Sexual acts with a minor are not punishable when(1) the perpetrator is also a minor, (2) the minor is at least 13 years old, and (3) the age difference between the two is no more than three years (art. 609).



Costituzione della Repubblica Italiana (Constitution of the Republic of Italy) (1947)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

The Constitution provides for equality before the law without consideration of sex, race, religion, political affiliation, language, and social conditions (art. 3). It also recognizes the moral and legal equality of spouses (art. 29). Finally, it mandates equal employment opportunity for men and women (art. 37).

(English translation available through RefWorld.)



Código Penal (Penal Code) (2018)

Abortion and reproductive health rights, Domestic and intimate partner violence, Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting, Forced and early marriage, Gender-based violence in general, LGBTIQ, Sexual harassment, Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement, Trafficking in persons

Under section 142 (Crimes against people) of the Portuguese Penal Code, abortion is permitted if performed by a doctor and in the following scenarios: (1) risk of death or grave physical or mental harm to the mother; (2) the fetus is in risk of grave illness or malformation, up to the 24th week of pregnancy; (3) pregnancy was caused by rape or sexual assault, up to the 16th week of pregnancy; (4) by the mother’s choice, up to the 10th week of pregnancy. Article 118 provides that the statute of limitations on crimes of sexual violence and female genital mutilation against minors do not expire until the victim is at least 23 years old. Prostitution is not considered a crime in Portugal. However, the economic exploitation of prostitution by third parties is considered a crime under the Penal Code. A homicide that reveals “especial censurabilidade ou perversidade” (special censorship or perversity) is punishable with 12 – 25 years imprisonment. These special circumstances include a current or former spousal relationship between the perpetrator and victim, a sexual motive, and hate crimes including those based on sex, gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity. Article 144a bans female genital mutilation and imposes a prison sentence of two to 18 years. Articles 154b, 159, and 160 ban forced marriage, slavery, and human trafficking, respectively. Article 163 bans sexual coercion, which carries a sentence of one to eight years for coercing a significant sexual act. Article 164 punishes “violação”, which is forcible intercourse, with imprisonment for one to six years.



Código Civil (Civil Code) (2010)

Forced and early marriage, Gender discrimination, LGBTIQ

Section 1577 of the Portuguese Civil Code provides for the right of marriage, regardless of gender, to anyone over the age of 16, provided that whoever wishes to marry before the age of 18 must also present an authorization of their parents or legal guardians. The Civil Code also provides that marriage requires free will of both parties, and therefore any marriage that is performed without the will of both spouses is void.



Código do Trabalho (Lei n.º 7/2009) (2018)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination, Sexual harassment

Section 29 of the Portugese Labor Law ensures equal opportunity in labor and and prevents gender discrimination. The Code also guarantees maternity and paternity leave, bans harassment, establishes universal preschool for children until the age of five, and requires children to attend school.



Constituição da República Portugal (Constitution of the Portugese Republic) (1976)

Gender discrimination, LGBTIQ

The Portuguese Constitution in Section 9 provides that it is the duty of the State to promote equality among men and women.  Section 13 further provides that no one shall be privileged or discriminated against for birth, gender, race, language, place of origin, religion, political or ideological conditions, social or economic status, or sexual orientation.



Código de la Familia (Family Code - Law No. 1289 of February 14, 1975) (1994)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Property and inheritance rights

Divorce in Cuba results in the dissolution of matrimonial ties and all other effects described in Article 49 of the Family Code. Pursuant to Article 50, divorce can be obtained by judicial decree or notarial deed. Prior to the enactment of the Second Final Disposition of Law No. 154 (“Law No. 154”), divorce in Cuba could only be obtained by means of judicial decree. However, Law No. 154 liberalized the means to obtain a divorce by allowing divorce to be effected by notarial deed. Divorce can be achieved by the mutual agreement of the spouses or when the tribunal confirms that the specific circumstances make divorce in the best interest of the spouses and the children and, as a result, for society. The law considers that a marriage has “lost sense”   for the spouses and their children and, hence, for society as a whole, when there are causes that create a situation in which, objectively, marriage is no longer, or cannot in the future be, the union of a man and a woman which allows them to exercise the rights, satisfy the obligations and achieve the objectives mentioned in Articles 24 through 28 (inclusive) of the Family Code. The law makes clear that each of the parties can exercise the option of divorce at any time during which the motivating cause exists. If the spouses have lived together for more than one year or had children during the marriage, the tribunal will award alimony to one of them in the following cases: (1) to the spouse that does not have a paying job and lacks other means of sustenance (this type of alimony is provisional and will be payable by the other spouse for six months if there are no minor children being taken care of by the receiving spouse or for one year if there are such minor children, so that the receiving spouse can obtain a paying job); and (2) to a spouse which as a result of incapacity, age, illness or other insurmountable impediment is unable to work and lacks other means of substance. In this case, the alimony will continue as long as the obstacle persists.

 

El divorcio en Cuba resulta en la disolución de los lazos matrimoniales y todos los demás efectos descritos en el Artículo 49 del Código de la Familia. En conformidad con el Artículo 50, el divorcio se puede obtener por decreto judicial o escritura notarial. Antes de la promulgación de la Segunda Disposición Final de la Ley No. 154 ("Ley No. 154"), el divorcio en Cuba solo podía obtenerse mediante un decreto judicial. Sin embargo, la Ley No. 154 liberalizó los medios para obtener un divorcio al permitir que se efectúe mediante escritura notarial. El divorcio puede lograrse mediante el acuerdo mutuo de los cónyuges o cuando el tribunal confirma que las circunstancias específicas hacen que el divorcio sea en el mejor interés de los cónyuges y los hijos y, como resultado, para la sociedad. La Ley considera que un matrimonio ha "perdido el sentido" para los cónyuges y sus hijos y, por lo tanto, para la sociedad en su conjunto, cuando hay causas que crean una situación en la que, objetivamente, el matrimonio ya no es, o no puede ser, en el futuro. La unión de un hombre y una mujer les permite ejercer los derechos, cumplir con las obligaciones y lograr los objetivos mencionados en los Artículos 24 a 28 (inclusive) del Código de la Familia. La ley deja claro que cada una de las partes puede ejercer la opción de divorcio en cualquier momento durante el cual exista la causa motivadora. Si los cónyuges han vivido juntos durante más de un año o han tenido hijos durante el matrimonio, el tribunal otorgará la pensión alimenticia a uno de ellos en los siguientes casos: (1) al cónyuge que no tiene un trabajo remunerado y carece de otros medios de sustentarse (este tipo de pensión alimenticia es provisional y será pagadero por el otro cónyuge durante seis meses si el cónyuge que recibe no cuida a los niños menores de edad o por un año si hay tales hijos menores, para que el cónyuge que los recibe pueda obtener un trabajo remunerado); y (2) a un cónyuge que, como resultado de una incapacidad, edad, enfermedad u otro impedimento insuperable, no pueda trabajar y carezca de otros medios de sustancia. En este caso, la pensión alimenticia continuará mientras persista el obstáculo.



Código penal (Penal Code) (1999)

Abortion and reproductive health rights, Gender discrimination, Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

Chapter VI of Title 8 (Crimes against Life and Physical Integrity) delineates the circumstances under which abortion is illegal and establishes the penalties performing illegal abortions. Pursuant to Article 267 of the Criminal Code, anyone who, without complying with public health regulations established in respect of abortions, performs an abortion or in any way destroy the embryo, with the consent of the pregnant woman, is subject to a penalty of imprisonment for three months up to one year or a fine of 100 to 300 cuotas. If an abortion is performed (1) for profit, (2) outside of official institutions or (3) by a person that is a physician, such person is subject to an increased punishment of imprisonment for two to five years. Pursuant to Article 268, an individual who purposefully destroys the embryo (a) without using any force or violence on the pregnant woman, but without her consent, is subject to two to five years’ imprisonment or (b) with the use of any force or violence on the pregnant woman, is subject to three to eight years’ imprisonment. If concurrently with the occurrence of (a) or (b), any of the circumstances described in (1), (2) or (3) also exist, the punishment is increased to imprisonment for four to ten years. If a pregnant woman dies as a result of any of the above actions, the offending person is subject to imprisonment for a period of five to twelve years. Articles 270 and 271, respectively, prescribe the punishments for those who, without intending to do so, cause an abortion and for those who prescribe any abortion-inducing substance to destroy the embryo.

 

Chapter I of Title XI covers crimes against the normal development of sexual relations. Article 298 prescribes a penalty of four to ten years imprisonment for anyone who rapes a woman (either through vaginal intercourse or contra naturam) if during the criminal event any of the following circumstances occurs: (a) use of force or sufficient intimidation in order to achieve the goal or (b) if the victim is in a mentally disturbed state or suffers from temporary insanity, or the victim is deprived of reason or sense for any reason, or unable to resist, or lacks the ability to understand the consequences of her actions or to conform her conduct. Article 298 prescribes a term of imprisonment of 7 to 15 years if (a) the event is carried out with the participation of two or more persons, (b) if the perpetrator dresses up in military uniform or purports to be a public official, in each case, to facilitate consummating the act or (c) if the victim is over 12 and under 14 years of age. Finally, the Article prescribes a term of imprisonment of 15 to 30 years or the death penalty if (a) the event is carried out by a person who has previously been sanctioned for the same crime, (b) as a result of the act, the victim suffers serious injuries or illness, or (c) if the perpetrator knows that he is infected with a sexually transmitted disease. Anyone who rapes a minor who is under 12 years of age will be punished with either a term of imprisonment of 15 to 30 years or the death penalty, even if none of the circumstances described in the preceding sentence occur. Article 299 of the Criminal Code sanctions individuals guilty of “active” pedophilia. Any person who commits an act of “active” pedophilia using violence or intimidation, or by taking advantage of the fact that the victim is deprived of reason or sense or unable to resist, will be punished with imprisonment for seven to 15 years. Such penalty increases to 15 to 30 years or death if (a) the victim is a minor under 14 years of age, even if the circumstances set forth in the immediately preceding sentence are not present, (b) if, as a consequence of the criminal act, the victim suffers serious injuries or illness or (c) if the perpetrator has been previously sanctioned for the same crime.       

Article 295 imposes a punishment of imprisonment for a term of six months to two years or a fine of 200 to 500 cuotas, or both, to anyone who discriminates, or promotes or incites, discrimination, against another person, with manifestations in an offensive manner, on account of sex, race, color or national origin, or with actions to obstruct or impede, with motives relating to sex, race, color or national original, the exercise or enjoyment of rights of equality set forth in the Constitution. Any person who spreads ideas based on the superiority of races or racial hatred or commits, or incites, acts of violence against any race or group of people of another color or ethnic origin, shall be subject to the same punishment as indicated above. 

 

El Capítulo VI del Título 8 (Delitos contra la vida y la integridad física) describe las circunstancias bajo las cuales el aborto es ilegal y establece las sanciones por realizar abortos ilegales. En conformidad con el artículo 267 del Código Penal, cualquier persona que, sin cumplir con las normas de salud pública establecidas con respecto a los abortos, realice un aborto o destruya de cualquier modo el embrión, con el consentimiento de la mujer embarazada, está sujeta a una pena de prisión. Por tres meses hasta un año o una multa de 100 a 300 cuotas. Si se realiza un aborto (1) con fines de lucro, (2) fuera de las instituciones oficiales o (3) por una persona que es un médico, dicha persona está sujeta a un aumento de la pena de prisión de dos a cinco años. En conformidad con el Artículo 268, una persona que destruye a propósito el embrión (a) sin usar ninguna fuerza o violencia contra la mujer embarazada, pero sin su consentimiento, está sujeta de dos a cinco años de prisión o (b) con el uso de cualquier fuerza o violencia en la mujer embarazada, está sujeto de tres a ocho años de prisión. Si concurrentemente con la ocurrencia de (a) o (b), cualquiera de las circunstancias descritas en (1), (2) o (3) también existen, el castigo se incrementa a la prisión de cuatro a diez años. Si una mujer embarazada muere como resultado de cualquiera de las acciones anteriores, la persona ofensora está sujeta a prisión por un período de cinco a doce años. Los artículos 270 y 271, respectivamente, prescriben los castigos para aquellos que, sin la intención de hacerlo, causan un aborto y para aquellos que prescriben cualquier sustancia inductora del aborto para destruir el embrión.

 

El Capítulo I del Título XI cubre los delitos contra el desarrollo normal de las relaciones sexuales. El artículo 298 prescribe una pena de cuatro a diez años de prisión para toda persona que viole a una mujer (ya sea por coito vaginal o contra naturam) si durante el evento criminal ocurre alguna de las siguientes circunstancias: (a) uso de la fuerza o suficiente intimidación para: lograr la meta o (b) si la víctima está en un estado mentalmente perturbado o sufre de locura temporal, o si la víctima está privada de razón o sentido por cualquier razón, o no puede resistirse, o carece de la capacidad de entender las consecuencias de las acciones o para conformar su conducta. El artículo 298 prescribe un período de prisión de 7 a 15 años si (a) el evento se lleva a cabo con la participación de dos o más personas, (b) si el perpetrador se viste de uniforme militar o pretende ser un funcionario público, en en cada caso, para facilitar la consumación del acto o (c) si la víctima es mayor de 12 años y menor de 14 años. Finalmente, el artículo prescribe un período de prisión de 15 a 30 años o la pena de muerte si (a) el evento es llevado a cabo por una persona que ha sido sancionada previamente por el mismo delito, (b) como resultado del acto, la víctima sufre lesiones o enfermedades graves, o (c) si el autor sabe que está infectado con una enfermedad de transmisión sexual. Cualquier persona que viole a un menor de edad menor de 12 años será castigada con una pena de prisión de 15 a 30 años o con la pena de muerte, incluso si no ocurre ninguna de las circunstancias descritas en la oración anterior. El artículo 299 del Código Penal sanciona a las personas culpables de pedofilia "activa". Cualquier persona que cometa un acto de pedofilia "activa" mediante el uso de la violencia o la intimidación, o aprovechando el hecho de que la víctima está privada de razón o sentido o no puede resistir, será castigada con pena de prisión de siete a 15 años. Dicha penalización aumenta a 15 a 30 años o fallece si (a) la víctima es menor de 14 años, incluso si las circunstancias establecidas en la oración inmediatamente anterior no están presentes, (b) si, como consecuencia de la acto criminal, la víctima sufre lesiones graves o enfermedad o (c) si el autor ha sido previamente sancionado por el mismo delito.

 

El artículo 295 impone una pena de prisión de seis meses a dos años o una multa de 200 a 500 cuotas, o ambas, a cualquier persona que discrimine, promueva o incite a la discriminación de otra persona, con manifestaciones de manera ofensiva. , debido al sexo, raza, color u origen nacional, o con acciones para obstruir o impedir, con motivos relacionados con el sexo, raza, color u origen nacional, el ejercicio o disfrute de los derechos de igualdad establecidos en la Constitución. Cualquier persona que difunda ideas basadas en la superioridad de las razas o el odio racial o cometa, o incite, actos de violencia contra cualquier raza o grupo de personas de otro color u origen étnico, estará sujeta al mismo castigo que se indicó anteriormente.



Código de Trabajo (Labor Code - Law No. 116 of December 20, 2013) (2013)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

Chapter 1 of Cuba’s Labor Code sets forth the basic principles of the Labor Code, with specific reference to providing women with positions that are compatible with their physical and physiological characteristics and allowing women to incorporate themselves in the workforce, and entitlements to maternity leave for women, before and after childbirth, including medical services, free of cost, required by maternity. Additionally, Chapter 8 of the Labor Code is devoted to promoting policies conducive to women’s labor, including requirements that (1) the workplace create and maintain labor and sanitary conditions that are adequate for the participation of women in the labor process (Section 2); (2) labor conditions are consistent with the physical and physiological characteristics of women, taking into account, inter alia, women’s elevated functions as mothers (Section 4); and (3) single mothers be provided with stipends to help them care for their children until they return to work (Section 4).



Republic of Cuba Constitution of 1976 (amended 2002; English) (1976)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

Article 44 of Cuba’s Constitution states that women and men enjoy equal economic, political, cultural, social and familial rights and that Cuba (the “State”) “guarantees that women will be offered the same opportunities and possibilities as men to achieve their full participation in the development of the country.” Article 44 further states that the State grants working women paid maternity leave before and after childbirth, and temporary work options compatible with their maternal function.



Law No. 36 of 2009 Concerning Health (2009)

Abortion and reproductive health rights

Article 75(2) of this law prohibits abortion except for the case of medical emergency or necessity and rape.



Regulation/Perkap No. 10/2007 on the Organisation and Work of the Woman and Children Service Units (2007)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Gender-based violence in general, Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement, Trafficking in persons

Woman and Child Service Units (UPPA) handle all cases of violence against women, including human trafficking, domestic violence, sexual violence, and other related crimes, in all 305 Indonesian units. UPPA’s units range from district police levels and up. Ideally the Integrated Services for Women and Children Units (P2TP2A) should handle not only cases of violence, but also should serve as centers where women can go for information and empowerment.



Law No. 21 of 2007 on Prevention of Human Trafficking (2007)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement, Trafficking in persons

This law criminalizes the act of human trafficking and sets out minimum and maximum sentencing standards (up to 15 years) for its various permutations, such as in assisting or abetting such a crime. It also states that Indonesia will cooperate with regional and international authorities in order to thwart any actions relating to human trafficking and sexual exploitation.



Law No. 23 of 2004 on Elimination of Domestic Violence (2004)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

The law on elimination domestic violence defines “domestic violence” in Indonesia. Specifically, it includes sexual and physical abuse as well as negligence of the household. The law sets out the rights of the victims to seek protection, the burden on the government and the public to stop actions of domestic violence and provide the required protection and assistance to recovery. The law also sets out the criminal penalty for acts of domestic violence.



Law No. 13 of 2003 Concerning Manpower (2003)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

The prevailing Indonesian labor laws reflect anti-discrimination principles. Each employee shall have equal opportunity without discrimination to obtain work and shall be entitled to equal treatment from the employer without discrimination (Articles 5 and 6 of the Labor Law). The Labor Law stipulates that termination of an employment relationship shall not be permitted if it is based on the ideology, religion, political inclination, ethnic group, race, social group, gender, physical condition or marital status of the employee (Article 153 (i) of the Labor Law).



Law No. 26 of 2000 - Establishing the Ad Hoc Human Rights Court (2000)

Forced sterilization, Gender violence in conflict, Gender-based violence in general, International law, Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement, Trafficking in persons

Article 9 defines crimes against humanity to include violent acts such as rape, sexual slavery, forced prostitution, forced pregnancy, forced sterilization or other forms of sexual violence.



Penal Code of Indonesia (1999)

Abortion and reproductive health rights, Gender discrimination, LGBTIQ, Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

Article 260 punishes spouses who conceal from their spouse a legal barrier to marriage with a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment. Article 284 punishes adulterous spouses and their partners, regardless of their marital status. The penal code only criminalizes acts of rape outside marriage unless the wife is underage and incurs injuries as a result. Articles 285 prohibits forcing or threatening force a woman to have sexual intercourse outside of marriage and punishes violators with a maximum penalty of 12 years. Article 286 punishes sexual intercourse with an unconscious or helpless woman with a maximum of nine years imprisonment. If there is a complaint, Article 287 imposes a maximum sentence of nine years imprisonment for “carnal knowledge” of a girl outside of marriage when the man knows or reasonably should presume that she is less than 15 years of age. Prosecutions are triggered automatically when the girl is less than 12 years of age. Article 288 punishes husbands that have “carnal knowledge” of their wives who “are not yet marriageable” if it results in injury (four years imprisonment), serious injury (eight years), or death (12 years). Article 292 punishes adults that have carnal knowledge of those they know to be or reasonably should know to be minors of the same sex with a maximum of five years imprisonment. Article 293 punishes sexual abuse of a minor with a maximum of five years imprisonment. Incest is punishable by a maximum of seven years imprisonment pursuant to Article 294. Article 297 prohibits trafficking in woman and boys, which carries a maximum sentence of six years imprisonment. Article 299 imposes a four-year maximum sentence for abortion and provides for a one-third increase in sentencing for professionals (e.g., doctor, midwife) who perform abortions.



Law No. 7 of 1984 on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (1984)

Gender discrimination, International law

This law ratifies the UN treaty on the convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (adopted by the UN General Assembly on 18 December 1979 (resolution 34/180)) to help prevent any gender-based discrimination against women and ensuring that women will have equal rights and opportunities in all fields of life.



Law No. 1 of 1974 Marriage Law (1974)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Forced and early marriage, Gender discrimination, Property and inheritance rights

This law sets the legal age of marriage without parental consent at 21 years of age. With parental consent, girls may marry at age 16 and men may marry at age 19. Marriages under the legal age are void and there are penalties for knowingly entering into or authorizing child or early marriage. The law also sets the requirements for polygamy, which include the first wife’s inability to fulfill her spousal duties (e.g., bearing children), the permission of the man’s current wife or wives, permission from the local Court, and proof that the man will treat all of his wives and children fairly and provide for them equally. Women are prohibited from marrying a second husband. The law also provides the conditions for the cancellation (annulments and divorce) of a marriage, the obligations of husbands and wives, property rights of spouses, the obligations of parents to their children, the legitimacy of children, the requirements of guardianship, foreign marriages, and the children of mixed-religion marriages.



Law No. 68 of 1958 (1970)

Gender discrimination, International law

This law ratifies the UN treaty on the convention on Political Rights of Women (Convention on the Political Rights of Women open for signature on 31 March 1953) recognizing that everyone has a right to take part in the government of their country and recognizing women’s right to vote and participate in the political process of the country. This law gives the same rights to Indonesian women as is provided under the convention and protects those rights under Indonesian Law.



Law on Employment and Work of Foreigners (2015)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination, LGBTIQ

Article 4(6) of the Law on Employment and Work of Foreigners provides that when employing a foreigner, the employer must not put the job seeker in less favourable position due to race, color of skin, gender, age, health condition, that is, disability, religious, political or other convictions, trade union membership, national or social background, family status, property status, sexual orientation, or due to other personal circumstances. (English translation available from the ILO through the external link.)



Law on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men (2012)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination, Sexual harassment

The Law on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men (the “LEOWM”) is specialized legislation that prohibits discrimination on grounds of sex and gender. Articles 3(3), 4, 5 and 7 expressly mention that prohibition of sex discrimination is an essential part of the law. The LEOWM further provides that “gender-based sexual harassment is any type of unwanted verbal, non-verbal or physical behaviour of sexual nature, aimed at or resulting in violation of the dignity of a person, especially when an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive atmosphere is created.” (English translation available from the ILO through the external link.)



Law on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men (2012)

Gender discrimination, Sexual harassment

The Law on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men (the “LEOWM”) is specialized legislation that prohibits discrimination on grounds of sex and gender. Articles 3(3), 4, 5 and 7 expressly mention that prohibition of sex discrimination is an essential part of the law. The LEOWM further provides that “gender-based sexual harassment is any type of unwanted verbal, non-verbal or physical behaviour of sexual nature, aimed at or resulting in violation of the dignity of a person, especially when an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive atmosphere is created.” (English translation available from the ILO through the external link.)



Law on Prevention of and Protection from Discrimination (Official Gazette of the Republic of Macedonia nos. 50/2010, 44/2014, 150/2015, 31/2016 and 21/2018) (2010)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination, LGBTIQ, Sexual harassment

The Law on Prevention of and Protection from Discrimination (the “LPPD”), which entered into force in 2011, introduced the concepts of direct and indirect discrimination (Article 6), instruction to discriminate (Article 9) and harassment and sexual harassment (Article 7). The LPPD covers almost all grounds of discrimination as covered by EU law i.e. “ sex, race, colour, gender, belonging to a marginalized group, ethnic origin, language, nationality, social background, religion or religious beliefs, other types of beliefs, education, political affiliation, personal or social status, mental and physical impediment, age, family or marital status, property status, health condition or any other basis anticipated by a law or ratified international agreement." However,  the LPPD does not cover discrimination based on sexual orientation. Article 9 of the LPPD also covers sexual harassment, which states that “sexual harassment shall be unwanted behavior of sexual nature, manifested physically, verbally or in any other manner, aimed at or resulting in violation of the dignity of a person, especially when creating a hostile, intimidating, degrading or humiliating environment." Article 4 of the LPPD covers a wide scope on the prohibition on harrassments, which includes: (a) labour and labour relations; (b) education, science and sport; (c) social security, including the area of social protection, pension and disability insurance, health insurance and health protection; (d) judiciary and administration; (e) housing; (f) public information and media; (g) access to goods and services; (h) membership and activity in unions, political parties, citizens’ associations and foundations or other membership-based organizations; (i) culture, and (j) other areas determined by law. (English translation available from the ILO through the external link.)



Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia of 1991 (1991)

Gender discrimination

Article 9 of the Constitution provides that all citizens of the Republic of Macedonia are equal in their freedoms and rights, regardless of “sex, race, colour of skin, national and social origin, political and religious belief, property and social status”. Article 110 of the Constitution expressly prohibits discrimination among citizens on the ground of sex, race, religion or nation, social or political affiliation. (English translation available from the ILO through the external link.)



Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia (1945)

Gender discrimination

The Indonesia Constitution does not discuss gender or women specifically, but instead guarantees rights to “him/her.” The 1945 Constitution is the basis for the government of Indonesia and it carries the highest legal authority. Article 27 of the 1945 Constitution states that: “(i) all citizens shall have equal status accorded by law and the government, and are obliged to respect the law and government without exception; and (ii) each citizen shall be entitled to work and to have a reasonable standard of living.” Article 28I of the Constitution adopted in 1945, and amended in 2002, includes the following provisions: “The rights to life, freedom from torture, freedom of thought and conscience, freedom of religion, freedom from enslavement, recognition as a person before the law, and the right not to be tried under a law with retrospective effect are all human rights that cannot be limited under any circumstances.” Article 28B of the Constitution adopted in 1945, and amended in 2002, includes the following provisions: “Every child shall have the right to live, to grow and to develop, and shall have the right to protection from violence and discrimination.” Article 28G of the Constitution adopted in 1945, and amended in 2002, includes the following provisions: “Every person shall have the right to be free from torture or inhumane and degrading treatment, and shall have the right to obtain political asylum from another country.” (External link includes unofficial English translation.)



Constitution of Belize (2011)

Gender discrimination

Section 3 of the Constitution of Belize (the “Constitution”) provides that every person in Belize is “entitled to the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual” regardless of sex.  Section 16 of the Constitution also prohibits any laws that are discriminatory or have discriminatory effect and defines “discriminatory” to include discrimination based on sex. 



Criminal Code (2000)

Abortion and reproductive health rights, Forced and early marriage, LGBTIQ, Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

The Belize Criminal Code defines and criminalizes rape, including marital rape (Sections 46, 71-74); carnal knowledge of female child (Section 47); procuring or attempting to procure a woman (Section 49-50); compulsion of marriage (Section 58); incest by males (Section 62); abortion, miscarriage, and child destruction (Sections 111-12, 127).  The Code mandates a minimum sentence of eight years for rape (Section 46), 12 years of carnal knowledge of a female child (Section 47), and a life sentence for habitual sex offenders (Section 48).

Of particular note:

  • Marital rape under Section 72 requires a showing that the spouses have separated, the marriage is dissolved, an order or injunction has been made, granted or undertaken against the spouse, or that the sexual intercourse was preceded or accompanied by assault and battery.  Lack of consent is not enough if the parties are married.  
  • The Criminal Code also criminalizes same-sex relationships under Section 53, which criminalizes “carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any person or animal.”
  • Abortion and the aiding of abortion are felonies and carry a prison term of 14 years to imprisonment for life under Section 111.  There are limited exceptions under Section 112 if two registered medical practitioners agree that the abortion is necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother or her family or if the child may be seriously handicapped.


Domestic Violence Act (2000)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Property and inheritance rights

Belize enacted the Domestic Violence Act #19 in 2000 to provide greater protection and assistance to domestic violence victims.  It was enacted in recognition of the pervasive nature of domestic violence in Belize society in order to increase the resources available to deal with domestic violence cases.  The Domestic Violence Act defines domestic violence and governs protective orders, occupation orders, tenancy orders, other orders relating to counselling, the use of furniture and household effects, payment of rent, mortgage, utilities and compensation for any monetary loss due to domestic violence.  Where a protective order or interim protective order is violated, the individual violating the order may be liable to a fine of up to $5,000 or to imprisonment for up to six months.  (Section 21)



Married Persons (Protection) Act (2000)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Domestic and intimate partner violence, Sexual violence and rape

Under the Married Person (Protection) Act, a married woman can apply for an order that she is not “bound to cohabit with her husband,” for legal custody of children under the age 16, and for maintenance.  A married woman’s application for one of these orders must include either a husband’s assault on her of requisite seriousness, desertion, cruelty, willful neglect to provide maintenance, the husband is a “habitual drunkard,” the husband had a venereal disease and insisted on sex, the husband compelled her to prostitution, or adultery.  The same orders are available to a husband, but on more limited grounds: the wife is a “habitual drunkard,” cruelty, adultery, or desertion.  The Supreme Court may still make an order for the judicial separation of a husband and wife and for the payment of alimony, which is separate from the legal options available under this Act.



Protection Against Sexual Harassment Act (2003)

Sexual harassment

The Protection Against Sexual Harassment Act defines “unwelcome sexual advances,” outlines actionable forms of sexual harassment, and the process for filing a complaint with the court.  It is the court that may then carry out investigations and “may endeavor by such means as it considers reasonable to resolve a complaint.”  This Act also penalizes retribution and retaliation against complainants or witnesses, as well as false complaints.



Evidence Act (2000)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

Section 74 of the Evidence Act governs “[r]estrictions on evidence at trials for rape.”  This section provides that when a man is being prosecuted for rape or attempted rape, the “sexual experience of a complainant with a person other than that defendant” is inadmissible.  The exception to this rule is if a judge is satisfied that it would be unfair to the defendant to refuse to allow the evidence.  Under Section 92(3), a judge has discretion to warn the jury of the “special need for caution” when the prosecution relies only on the testimony of the accuser where a person is “prosecuted for rape, attempted rape, carnal knowledge or any other sexual offence.”



Families and Children Act (2000)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage

The Families and Children Act governs the rights of a child, legal capacity and disabilities of children, guardianship and custody of children, status of children, support of children by government, maintenance rights and duties of members of the family as between themselves, maintenance of persons in public institutions, maintenance during divorce, separation or nullity, parentage of children, care and protection of children, foster-care, approved children homes, adoption, and the establishment of the National Committee for Families and Children.



Criminal Code of the Northern Territory of Australia (2019)

Sexual violence and rape

In the Northern Territory a person is guilty of a crime if he/she has sexual intercourse with another person without the other person’s consent and knows about, or is reckless as to, the lack of consent.  Consent is defined as “free and voluntary agreement.”  Circumstances in which a person does not consent to sexual intercourse include circumstances where: force is used; the victim fears force or harm to themselves or someone else; the victim is unconscious or not capable of free agreement; or the victim is unable to understand the sexual nature of the act.  In addition, consent is no longer assumed where the victim is married to the accused.  The prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused knew that the victim was not consenting or was reckless as to whether the victim was consenting.  Recklessness includes not giving any thought to whether the person is consenting to sexual penetration.  A defendant is not guilty of the offence if he or she mistakenly believed that consent had been given.



Domestic and Family Violence Act (Northern Territory) (2017)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

The Domestic and Family Violence Act 2007 (NT) empowers the Magistrates’ Court to issue orders for the protection for victims of domestic violence.  A domestic violence order may impose restrictions on the ability of the person whom the order is against to contact, use violence against, damage the property of, threaten, stalk or harass the victim.  A domestic violence order may be issued to victims including: a spouse or former spouse of the perpetrator of the violence; a person who is or has been living with the perpetrator; a relative or former relative of the perpetrator; and a person who has or has had an intimate personal relationship with the perpetrator.  The domestic violence order may be sought by the victim (if over 15 years old), his/her legal representative, a police or child protection officer, or a court.  Knowingly breaching a domestic violence order is a criminal offence, punishable by up to 400 penalty units ($62,000 as of August 2018) or imprisonment for two years.  The domestic violence order remains in force for the period stated, but may be revoked earlier by the victim’s consent or a court order.



Anti-Discrimination Act of 1992 (Northern Territory) (2018)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination, LGBTIQ, Sexual harassment

The Anti-Discrimination Act prohibits discrimination in certain settings on the grounds of any designated attribute, including sex, sexuality, marital status, pregnancy, parenthood, and breastfeeding.  Unlike in other Australian jurisdictions, “gender identity” and “sex characteristics” are not included as designated attributes in the Northern Territory.  The settings in which discrimination based on a designated attribute is prohibited include: education, work, accommodation, provision of goods, services and facilities, clubs, and superannuation.  Discrimination includes any distinction, restriction, or preference made based on a designated attribute that has the effect of nullifying or impairing equality of opportunity, and harassment based on a designated attribute.  Certain exceptions from the prohibition of discrimination exist, including: certain religious circumstances; provision of rights or privileges connected to childbirth; and discrimination aimed at reducing disadvantage.  Alleged victims of prohibited discrimination can lodge a complaint against the discriminating person or entity, which will trigger a conciliation.  If the matter is not resolved through conciliation, the Northern Territory Anti-Discrimination Commissioner may assess the complaint.  If the Commissioner finds that the complaint is substantiated, the Northern Territory Civil and Administrative Tribunal can order that the discriminator pay compensation to the victim, discontinue the discriminating behavior, or do any other act specified by the Tribunal.  



Termination of Pregnancy Law Reform Act of 2017 (Northern Territory) (2017)

Abortion and reproductive health rights

The Termination of Pregnancy Law Reform Act 2017 (NT) reforms the laws in the Northern Territory relating to terminations of pregnancy by improving access to abortion and abortion drugs, and prohibiting harassing conduct targeted at persons seeking abortion.  From July 1 2017, termination was made available in the Northern Territory up to 14 weeks into a pregnancy if a medical practitioner considers the termination to be appropriate having regard to: all relevant medical circumstances; the woman’s current and future physical, psychological and social circumstances; and professional standards and guidelines.  For women who are more than 14 weeks but fewer than 23 weeks into the pregnancy, an abortion is permitted if two medical practitioners agree that the termination is appropriate having regard to the same factors.  Only terminations necessary to preserve the life of the pregnant woman are permitted 23 weeks or more into the pregnancy.  The Act makes it an offense to engage in harassing conduct in termination facilities or any area that is within 150m of such facilities.  The maximum penalty for such an offense is 100 penalty units ($15,500 as of August 2018) or 12 months’ imprisonment.



The Revised Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (2004)

Abortion and reproductive health rights, Domestic and intimate partner violence, Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting, Forced and early marriage, Gender-based violence in general, Harmful traditional practices, Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement, Trafficking in persons

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.



Revised Family Code (2000)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Forced and early marriage, Gender discrimination, Harmful traditional practices, Property and inheritance rights

The current family law in Ethiopia provides that there must be, inter alia, consent by both spouses to constitute a valid marriage (Article 6); respect and support between spouses (Article 49); equal rights in the management of the family (Article 50); fidelity owed by both husband and wife (Article 56). This is a substantial step forward in Ethiopian law.



Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination, Gender-based violence in general, Harmful traditional practices, International law

Article 9 of the FDRE Constitution provides that all international treaties ratified by Ethiopia are integral parts of the law of the land. Similarly, Article 13.2 provides that fundamental rights and freedoms shall be interpreted in a manner conforming to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenants on Human Rights and International instruments adopted by Ethiopia. Ethiopia has ratified many of these treaties including ICCPR, ICESCR, and CEDAW. Article 35 of the FDRE Constitution pertains to the Rights of Women. The article provides for equal rights under the constitution, equal rights with men in marriage, entitlement to affirmative measures, protection from harmful traditional practices, the right to maternity pay, the right to consultation, property rights (including acquiring and controlling and transferring property), employment rights, and access to family planning education. It is worth noting that this article explicitly imposes an obligation and accountability on the state to protect women from violence at Article 35.4:  “The State shall enforce the right of women to eliminate the influences of harmful customs. Laws, customs and practices that oppress or cause bodily or mental harm to women are prohibited.”



Domestic Violence (Amendment) Act 2017 (2017)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Property and inheritance rights, Sexual harassment, Stalking

  • Prevent gaps in protection. An interim protection order (IPO) protects survivors during police investigation, while a protection order (PO) protects survivors during criminal court proceedings. The amendments specify when an IPO ends, and when a PO begins, so survivors won’t be left without protection between police investigations and court proceeding.
  • Strengthen the IPO to prevent further abuse. With the amendments, an IPO can include additional safeguards, like prohibiting an abuser from coming near a survivor – so police can intervene before further violence happens.
  • Expand the definition of domestic violence. The expanded definition will protect against: misappropriating property, which causes distress; threatening, which causes distress or fear for safety; or communicating (including electronically) with the survivor to insult modesty.
  • Improve rehabilitation provisions. A court can no longer order a survivor to attend reconciliatory counselling with the abuser, which puts the survivor in danger. Instead, the abuser can be ordered to complete a rehabilitation programme.
  • Recognise survivor’s right to exclusive occupancy. If a court grants a survivor occupancy of a shared residence, it must grant the survivor exclusive occupancy – not just a specified part of the residence.
  • Keep survivors better informed. The police officer must keep survivors informed on the status of investigation, status of IPO and PO, and important court dates.
  • Create the Emergency Protection Order (EPO). The EPO helps survivors get protection faster – EPOs are issued by social welfare officers who are easily accessible (IPOs are issued by magistrates). Survivors won’t have to make a police report to get an EPO. The EPO is valid for seven days, and protects against physical injury and fear of physical injury.


Social and Economic Development Policy Act (2006)

Abortion and reproductive health rights, Employment discrimination, Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting, Forced and early marriage, Gender discrimination, Harmful traditional practices, Property and inheritance rights, Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

Section 7 (Gender Equity, Equality and Empowerment) provides for: (a) gender equality through gender policy aimed at the elimination of structural gender biases and increased participation in education; (b) strengthening the activities of Ministry of Gender Development and women’s rights NGOs; (c) adequate protection from violence through penal and civil sanctions; (d) protection of female children, notably from female genital mutilation, early marriage, and teenage pregnancy; (e) increasing women’s participation in labour force and policy and economic institutions; (f) elimination of legal and customary practices which are barriers to ownership of land, capital and other property; and (g) establishing reproductive health services.



An Act to Amend the New Penal Code Chapter 14 Section 14.17 and 14.71 and to address Gang Rape (2006)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

The Act to Amend the New Penal Code Chapter 14 Section 14.17 and 14.71 (the “Law”) and to address Gang Rape provides the definition for rape, gang rape and the concept of consent. Under Section 1(a)(i) and (ii), a person (male or female) commits rape if they intentionally penetrate the vagina, anus, mouth or any other opening of another person’s body with their penis or a foreign object or any other part of their body without the victim’s consent. Under Section 1(b), rape is committed where the victim is less than 18 years old, provided the perpetrator is above the age of 18 years. Under Section 2, the Law provides that the crime of gang rape has been committed if (i) a person purposefully promotes or facilitates rape (ii) a person agrees with one or more other person(s) to engage in or cause rape as defined in Section 1 above. Additionally, consent is defined as agreeing to sexual intercourse by choice where that person has a) freedom of choice and b) the capacity to make that choice. The Law also provides a number of circumstances where there is a presumption of a lack of consent. These fall into three categories: 1) where violence is used or threatened against the victim;  2) where the victim was unable to communicate to the accused at the time of the act (e.g. because of disability or unconsciousness); 3) where the perpetrator impersonated a person known to the victim in order to induce the victim to consent.



HIV Control of the Disease and Related Issues (Amending Title 33) (2010)

Abortion and reproductive health rights, Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination, Harmful traditional practices, Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

HIV, Control of the Disease and Related Issues (Amending Title 33) (the “Law”), institutes various government initiatives and provides guidance in dealing with HIV-related issues specifically affecting women. For example, the Law provides that the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and/or National AIDs Commission (the “Health Institutions”) must take into consideration differences in sex and gender when providing education about HIV. Additionally, the Law lists a number of key issues which the Health Institutions should address in their strategies and programs for protecting and fulfilling the human rights of women in the context of HIV. These include:

  1. The equality of women in public and domestic life (Section 18.9(i));
  2. Sexual and reproductive rights, including the concept of consent and a woman’s right to refuse sex and her right to request safe sex (Section 18.9(ii));
  3. A woman’s right to independently utilise sexual health services (Section 18.9(ii));
  4. Increasing educational, economic, employment and leadership opportunities for women (Section 18.9(iii));
  5. Strategies for reducing differences in formal and customary law which prejudice women’s rights (Section 18.9(v)); and
  6. The impact of harmful traditional practices on women (Section 18.9(vi)).

Furthermore, the Law directs the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, the Ministry of Justice, and the Liberian National Police to implement educational programs for their personnel in relation to sexual assault perpetrated on women. These are designed to provide personnel working for these government agencies with a better understanding of sexual assault and protect the rights of sexual assault victims.



Anti-Human Trafficking Law (2005)

Sexual violence and rape, Trafficking in persons

The Law also provides a number of rights and remedies for victims of human trafficking. Section 3 provides that a victim has a right to restitution including damages to compensate for costs of medical treatment, rehabilitation, transportation costs, lost income, legal fees, and general compensation for distress and pain as well as any other loss he or she suffered. Compensation is paid by the defendant directly to the victim upon conviction. The right to restitution is not affected by the victim returning to his or her home country or by the victim not being present in Liberian jurisdiction. Section 9 provides immunity to any immigration offence that may have been committed as a direct result of being trafficked. Additionally, under Section 8, the Law confirms that consent to sex is not a valid defence to trafficking when violence is used to commit the crime. The Law also imposes corporate liability on international transport companies that fail to verify that passengers in company vehicles which enter other countries have the requisite travel documentation. A company may be fined for failing to comply. Additionally, a company that knowingly facilitates trafficking is liable for the cost of accommodating and providing meals to the victim and any dependent. 



Offenses Against the Family, Chapter 16: Penal Law - Title 26 - Liberian Code of Laws Revised (1978)

Abortion and reproductive health rights, Gender discrimination, Harmful traditional practices

Under Section 16.1 of the Penal Law, bigamy and polygamy are illegal unless a legal defence is provided. Such defences include a defendant’s belief that his or her former spouse is dead. Under Section 16.3, abortion beyond the twenty-fourth week of pregnancy is illegal. An abortion is legal if it occurs only after a licenced physician determines there is a substantial risk that continuing the pregnancy would gravely impair the mother’s physical and/or mental health. An abortion may also be justified if the child would be born with grave physical or mental defects or if the pregnancy was the result of illegal intercourse such as rape. Additionally, the abortion must be sanctioned by two physicians who have certified in writing the reasons why the abortion is necessary. The Penal Law also prohibits a woman from carrying out an abortion herself by any means once beyond the twenty-fourth week of pregnancy.



Equal Rights of the Customary Marriage Law of 1998 (1998)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Dowry-related violence, Forced and early marriage, Gender discrimination, Harmful traditional practices, Property and inheritance rights

The Equal Rights of the Customary Marriage Law of 1998 (the “Law”) repeals previous Liberian marriage laws and provides various rights and protections for women within the context of marriage. These include:

  1. Entitling a wife to one-third of her husband’s property (Section 2.3).
  2. Providing that a husband must respect his wife’s human rights (Section 2.5).
  3. Affirming that a wife’s property acquired before and during the marriage is exclusively hers; she can deal with this property in her own name as she sees fit without consent of her husband (Section 2.6(a)).
  4. Confirming that every woman has a right to marry a man of her choosing (Section 2.10).
  5. Entitling a wife to one-third of her husband’s property when her husband dies (Section 3.2).
  6. Entitling a widow to remain on the premises of her late husband (or to take another husband of her choice and vacate the late husband’s premises) (Section 3.3).
  7. Entitling a widow to administer her husband’s estate by making a petition to the probate court of their jurisdiction (Section 3.5).

The law also prohibits some of the common harmful practices towards wives, including: 1)  husband taking a dowry from his wife or his wife’s parents (Section 2.2); 2) arranging for a girl under the age of 16 to be given in marriage to a man (Section 2.9); 3) compelling a widow to marry a member of her late husband’s family (Section 3.4(a)).



Swiss Civil Code (2013)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage

Art. 96: A person cannot remarry until the person proves that his or her previous marriage has been annulled or dissolved.

Art. 105: A person can annul a marriage if a spouse was already married when they wed.



Swiss Penal Code (2014)

Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting, Forced and early marriage, Harmful traditional practices, Sexual harassment, Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement, Trafficking in persons

Art. 124: A person who seriously injures a female’s genitals can be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison or fined.  A person may be punished for causing such injuries abroad if the person is not extradited.

Art. 181a: The statute provides that anyone who coerces someone to marry or register a same-sex partnership by the use of force or threats can be punished by sentence of custody of up to five years.  The statute applies even if the marriage occurred outside Switzerland if the person has not been extradited. 

Art. 187: A person can be punished by up to five years in custody or a fine for (1) committing a sexual act with a person under 16 years old, (2) inciting a child under 16 to commit a sexual act, or (3) involving a child under 16 in a sexual act.

Art. 190: A person can be sentenced to between 1 and 10 years in custody or a fine for using violence, threats, or psychological pressure to force a female to engage in a sexual act, or for making her incapable of resisting. 

Art. 195: A person can be sentenced to 10 years in custody or fined for (1) inducing or encouraging a minor to engage in prostitution for financial gain, (2) inducing a person into prostitution by taking advantage of their dependency, (3) restricting a prostitute’s freedom to act by controlling his or her work as a prostitute, or (4) making a person continue as a prostitute against his or her will.

Art. 198: A person may be fined for offending someone by performing a sexual act in the presence of another who is not expecting it or sexually harassing someone through physical acts or indecent language. 



Federal Act on Gender Equality (1996)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination, Sexual harassment

Article 1 of this act states that it is intended to promote equality between men and women.  Article 3 prohibits discrimination against employees based on sex.  Article 4 prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace.  Article 5 provides for relief, including injunctive relief and lost salary.  Article 10 protects against retaliation against complainants. 



Federal Constitution of the Swiss Confederation (1999)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

Art. 8 of the Constitution provides that all people are equal and no person may be discriminated against because of gender.  The Constitution also states that men and women have equal rights and the law shall ensure their equality.  Art. 35 provides for protection of fundamental rights even in private relationships.



Lei Nº 11.108 (2005)

Abortion and reproductive health rights, Gender discrimination

On April 7, 2005, Law No. 11.108/2005 was published to amend existing Law No. 8.080/1990. It included a new chapter that mandated that all health services of the Unified Health System (“SUS”) must allow the presence of an accompanying party chosen by the parturient woman, throughout the entire labor, birth, and the immediate post-partum period.



Lei Nº 11.340 (2006)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, International law

On August 7, 2006, Law No. 11.340 was enacted to create a new body of legal provisions tackling the issue of domestic violence against women in Brazil. Commonly known as “Lei Maria da Penha” (or Maria da Penha Act), the new law criminalized different forms of domestic violence against women, established stricter punishment for offenders, facilitated preventive arrests, and created other special protective and relief mechanisms for women, including special courts, designated police stations, and shelter for women. The new law, considered a landmark statute, was named after Maria da Penha, a Brazilian bio-pharmacist who became paraplegic after being shot and electrocuted by her husband. After nearly two decades of ineffective criminal prosecution, Maria da Penha took the case to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, where Brazil was ultimately criticized for its inefficient treatment of issues regarding domestic violence (case available here). In effect since 2006, the Maria da Penha Act has been praised by the United Nations as one of the most progressive laws in combatting domestic violence against women.



Lei Nº 11.770 (2008)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

On September 9, 2008, Law No. 11.770 was enacted to create a tax incentive program for private companies that offer an additional sixty (60) days of maternity leave on top of the mandatory 120 days set forth in Decree No. 5.452/1943. The incentive also applies for adoptions.



Resolução nº 175/2013 (2013)

Gender discrimination, LGBTIQ

On May 14, 2013, the National Justice Council issued a resolution stating that competent authorities are not allowed to refuse (a) to celebrate same-sex civil marriages nor (b) to convert same-sex common-law marriages (stable union) into civil marriages.  The National Justice Council is a public administrative body that aims to advance the work of the Brazilian judicial system. The resolution was issued after the Supreme Court declared in 2011 that it is unconstitutional to apply a different legal treatment to same-sex common-law marriages (stable union), from the one applied to heterosexual common-law marriages (stable union). 



Law No. 13.104/2015 (“Lei do Feminicídio”) (2015)

Female infanticide and feticide, Femicide

On March 9, 2015, Brazil’s existing criminal code was amended to criminalize femicide, with sentencing ranging from twelve to thirty years of imprisonment. The new legislation defined femicide as a sex-based homicide committed against women, with the involvement of domestic violence, discrimination or contempt for women. The crime is aggravated if the victim is a pregnant woman, a woman within the first three months of maternity, a girl under the age of fourteen years or a woman over sixty years of age. Besides amending the existing criminal code, the new legislation also amended Law no. 8.072/1990, adding femicide to the list of heinous crimes.



On the Local Elections (No. 595-VIII) (2015)

Gender discrimination

The Local Election Act of Ukraine establishes quotas for female representation in the legislative bodies at local level elections, requiring that representation of persons of one sex in the electoral lists of candidates for members of local councils in multi-mandate constituencies should be at least 30% of the total number of candidates in the electoral roll.



On the Political Parties in Ukraine (No. 2365-III) (2001)

Gender discrimination

The Political Parties Act of Ukraine establishes quotas for female representation in the Ukrainian parliament, requiring that the size of the quota (i.e. the minimum level of representation of women and men in the electoral list of candidates from one political party) must be not less than 30% of the total number of candidates in the electoral list.



On Principles of Preventing and Combating Discrimination in Ukraine (No. 5207-VI) (2012)

Gender discrimination

The Anti-Discrimination Act of Ukraine (the “Act”) addresses discrimination in all areas of life, including public and political activities.  Under the Act, “discrimination” is defined to include situations where a person or group of persons suffer limitations in the recognition, implementation or use of rights and freedoms in any form due to reasons such as race, age, gender, etc.  The Act provides that all forms of discrimination are prohibited in Ukraine and all persons should have equal rights and freedoms as well as opportunities for their implementation and establishes civil, administrative and criminal liability for the violation of anti-discrimination legislation (including under the Act). The Act does not however provide for any specific penalties.



On the Amendments to the Criminal and Criminal Procedure Codes of Ukraine in order to implement the provisions of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (2017)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Forced and early marriage, Forced sterilization, Gender discrimination, Gender-based violence in general, International law, Sexual violence and rape

The Criminal and Criminal Procedural Codes of Ukraine were amended in December 2017 to adopt provisions of the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention) adopted in 2011.  As a result of these amendments, forced marriage (i.e. forcing a person to marry or to continue being in a forced marriage, or to enter into a cohabitation without official registration of marriage, or to continue such cohabitation) is punishable by restraint of liberty for up to three years or imprisonment for the same period and domestic violence (i.e. deliberate systematic violence against a spouse or ex-spouse or other person with whom the perpetrator is in family or intimate relationship, leading to physical or psychological suffering, disorder of health, disability, emotional dependence) is punishable with public works for up to 240 hours or detention for up to six months, or restraint of liberty for up to 5 years or imprisonment for up to two years.  In addition, the amendments:

  • introduce new corpus delicti, such as “illegal abortion or sterilization” (i.e. performed by a person without medical education or without consent of the victim) which is punishable by imprisonment for up to 3 years;
  • establish punishment for rape of a spouse or ex-spouse or other person with whom the perpetrator is in a family or intimate relationship (imprisonment for up to 10 years); and
  • increase punishment for sexual violence to up to 15 years, if such acts resulted in serious consequences.


On Preventing and Combating Domestic Violence (No. 2229-VIII) (2017)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

The Domestic Violence Protection Act of Ukraine (the “Act”) introduces the concept of “domestic violence” which is defined to include action or inaction of physical, sexual, psychological or economic violence committed within a family or between relatives, or between former or current spouses or other persons who live (or lived) together as a family, irrespective of whether the person who committed domestic violence lives (or lived) together with the victim, as well as a threat of similar actions. The Act contains a series of governmental steps aimed at combatting domestic violence and improving the status of victims of domestic violence, which includes, without limitation, that the Ukrainian government maintain a unified state register of cases of domestic violence and sex-based violence and to establish a relevant call center, the adoption of immediate injunctions with respect to domestic violence offenders, provision of free of charge legal assistance to all victims in all cases of domestic violence, free medical, social and psychological help, and reimbursement of inflicted harm and damage to the victim’s physical and psychological health. The Act, through amendments to the Code of Administrative Offences Act, makes domestic violence or sex-based violence punishable by a fine in the amount of 20 non-taxable minimal wages or public works for the period from 30 to 40 hours or administrative detention for the period of up to seven days. If such actions are repeated within a year, the punishment is increased up to 40 non-taxable minimal wages, public works for the period of up to 60 hours or administrative detention for up to 15 days.



On Ensuring the Equal Rights and Opportunities for Women and Men (No. 2866-IV) (2005)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination, Gender-based violence in general, Sexual harassment

The Equal Opportunities Act of Ukraine (the “Act”) provides for the legal framework of men and women’s parity in all spheres of social life through providing legal support for equal rights and opportunities, removal of gender-based discrimination and prevention of misbalance between women’s and men’s opportunities in implementing the rights granted to each of them by the Constitution and other laws.  Pursuant to the Act, “equal rights” means absence of gender-based restrictions or privileges.  The Act provides that equal rights for men and women will be ensured in the election process, civil service, employment and career, social security, entrepreneurial activity and education, in each case, through the relevant government/regulatory bodies.  The Act prohibits gender-based violence (which is defined as “actions directed at persons through their sex, stereotyped widespread customs or traditions or actions that relate predominantly to persons of a determined sex and create physical, sexual, psychological or financial damage or suffering”) and sexual harassment (defined as "sexual actions of a verbal or physical nature, which may humiliate or insult the person who is dependent on the perpetrator due to work, official, financial or other reasons").  Violation of the Act can result in a limitation order being issued to temporarily restrict the rights of the offender and protect the rights of the victim, including prohibiting the victim on residing with the victim at their place of residence, approaching the victim up to a certain distance and limitations on telephone calls or other communication with the victim.



Constitution of Ukraine (Law of Ukraine No. 254к/96-ВР) (1996)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

Article 24 of Ukraine’s Constitution provides that there can be no privileges or restrictions based on sex or other grounds, and guarantees that the equality of rights for women and men is ensured by providing equal opportunities to each in socio-political and cultural activities, access to education, work and remuneration, special measures on labor protection and health of women, pension privileges and creating conditions enabling women to combine work and maternity.



Civil Code of Iran (Inheritance) (1969)

Gender discrimination, Harmful traditional practices, Property and inheritance rights

With regards to inheritance law (Arts. 906-915), a widow inherits less than a widower in Iran.  A widow inherits one-quarter of her deceased husband’s property if the deceased husband left no children behind, and one-eighth if he did leave children behind.  In contrast, a surviving husband inherits half of his deceased wife’s property if she left no children behind and one-quarter if she did leave children behind (Art. 913).  Consistent with this pattern, under Iranian Civil Code Article 907, sons inherit twice as much as daughters when a parent is deceased.



Civil Code of Iran (Citizenship) (1969)

Gender discrimination, Property and inheritance rights

Article 976 states that children born to Iranian fathers are considered Iranian subjects. No clause exists extending the same rights to children born of Iranian mothers where the child’s father is not Iranian. This provision demonstrates that Iranian women cannot pass on their Iranian nationality to their children. 



Civil Code of Iran (Divorce and Dissolution of Marriage) (1969)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Gender discrimination, Harmful traditional practices

The Iranian Civil Code also reflects deep gender inequalities in its divorce law (Arts. 1120-1157).  With only a few exceptions, a husband can divorce his wife “whenever he wishes to do so” (Art. 1133).  However, women may only seek divorce by making a request before an Islamic judge and in only a limited number of circumstances in which the husband has created “difficult and undesirable conditions” in the marriage (Art. 1130).  If this criteria has been satisfied, the Islamic judge can compel the husband to divorce his wife. 



Civil Code of Iran (Marital Duties) (1969)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Gender discrimination, Harmful traditional practices, Property and inheritance rights, Sexual violence and rape

According to Iranian law, the husband is the exclusive holder of the position of “head of the family”  (Art. 1105).  As such, the husband provides his wife with the cost of maintenance (Art. 1106), “which includes dwelling, clothing, food, furniture, and provision of a servant if the wife is accustomed to have servant or if she needs one because of illness” (Art. 1107) Article 1108 creates a duty on the part of women to satisfy the sexual needs of their husbands at all times.  This is the tamkin (submission) requirement of Sharia law.  If a wife refuses to fulfill her duties, she may be barred from receiving maintenance payments. The husband determines his wife’s place of residence and thus controls her freedom of movement (Art. 1114).  If the dwelling of the wife and husband in the same house involves the risk of bodily or financial injury or that to the dignity of the wife, she can choose a separate dwelling.  If the alleged risk is proved, the court will not order her to return to the house of the husband and, so long as she is authorized not to return to the house, her cost of maintenance will be on the charge of her husband (Article 1115). In addition, the husband may prevent his wife from exercising a certain profession if he deems it “incompatible with the family interests or the dignity of himself or his wife” (Art. 1117).



The Islamic Penal Code of Iran, Book 5 (2013)

Abortion and reproductive health rights, Domestic and intimate partner violence, Gender discrimination, Harmful traditional practices

Articles 623-624 of Book Five of the Islamic Penal Code of Iran ban abortion and proscribe prison sentences for, respectively, "anyone" and doctors, midwives, and pharmacists. Article 630 of the Iranian Penal Code allows a man who witnesses his wife in the act of having sexual intercourse with another man (zina) to kill both of them if he is certain that his wife is a willing participant. If the husband knows that is wife was the subject of coercion, he is justified in murdering only the other man. Under Article 638 of the Iranian Penal Code, women who appear in public without the Islamic hijab may be sentenced to ten days to two months in prison or fined fifty thousand (USD $1.50) or five hundred thousand Rials (USD $15.00). (Full Persian version: http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/natlex4.detail?p_lang=en&p_isn=103202)



The Islamic Penal Code of Iran, Books 1 & 2 (2013)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Domestic and intimate partner violence, Gender discrimination, Harmful traditional practices, LGBTIQ

Article 147 of the Islamic Penal Code specifies that the age of maturity triggering criminal responsibility is 15 Islamic lunar calendar years for boys, but only nine Islamic lunar calendar years for girls. This signifies that young girls can be charged as criminally responsible adults in Iran before they reach the age of puberty. Articles 237-239 forbid same-sex kissing and touching, which will be punished by 31-74 lashes. Female genital touching (musaheqeh) is punished by 100 lashes. Article 225 mandates the death penalty for adultery (zina), which international commentators have noted is disproportionately applied to women (e.g., UN Special Rapporteur for Violence Against Women report: http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Women/A-68-340.pdf). Article 199 describes the number and gender of witnesses needed to prove various crimes; no crimes may be proven with female witnesses alone and any female witness requires corroboration of a man and another woman. (Full Persian version of the Penal Code available at: http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/natlex4.detail?p_lang=en&p_isn=103202)



Royal Decree of 25 April 2014 (2014)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

Pursuant to the Pay Gap Law of 22 April 2012, a mediator may be appointed to generate an action plan for gender neutrality or to intercede with employees who feel victimized by unfair treatment at work. This Royal Decree of 25 April 2014 determines the role and the qualifications of the mediator, enumerates the deontological rules s/he must respect, and describes the mediation procedures. 



Pay Gap Law of 22 April 2012 (2012)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

The Pay Gap Law of 22 April 2012 seeks to reduce the wage gap between men and women through various measures. For example, the social balance sheet has to be submitted by certain enterprises in their financial statements and must be broken down according to the gender of the employees. Functional classifications of employees must be gender-neutral. In addition, every enterprise employing at least 50 people has to prepare an analysis every two years in order to determine whether or not the enterprise applies a gender neutral remuneration policy. Such enterprises can also, at the request of the works council or of the Committee on Prevention and Protection at Work, appoint a mediator to generate an action plan for gender neutrality or to intercede with employees who feel victimized because of unfair treatment. A Royal Decree of 25 April 2014 determines the role and the required qualifications of this mediator as well as the deontological rules he/she needs to respect, and describes the mediation procedure.


Collective Labor Agreement No. 95 of 10 October 2008 (2008)

Employment discrimination, LGBTIQ

The Collective Labor Agreement No. 95 of 10 October 2008 was established by the National Labor Council to ensure compliance with equal treatment principles at all stages of the employment relationship. Equal treatment implies the absence of discrimination based on several factors, including gender and sexual orientation. The principle of equal treatment must be complied with at every stage of the labor market, e.g., the employment relationship, the conditions for access to employment, conditions for employment, and termination of employment. It was made binding in law by the Royal Decree of 11 January 2009.



Royal Decree of 11 January 2009 (2009)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination, LGBTIQ

The Royal Decree of 11 January 2009 makes Collective Labor Agreement No. 95 of 10 October 2008, established by the National Labor Council, on equal treatment at all stages of the employment relationship, binding in law. Equal treatment implies the absence of discrimination based on several factors, including gender and sexual orientation. The principle of equal treatment must be complied with at every stage of the labor market, e.g., the employment relationship, the conditions for access to employment, conditions for employment, and termination of employment.


Law establishing a federal Center for the analysis of the migratory flows, the protection of the fundamental rights of foreigners and the fight against trafficking in human beings (Amendments to the Law of 15 February 1993) (2013)

Employment discrimination, LGBTIQ, Trafficking in persons

The Law of 15 February 1993 created the Centre for Combating Discrimination and Racism. Over the years, the scope of the Centre's anti-discrimination work expanded to include other forms of discrimination, like sexual orientation discrimination. In 2013, it was renamed the Interfederal Centre for Equal Opportunities and its mandate formally included the rights of foreigners and their humane treatment. In 2015, Myria (the Federal Migration Centre) split off to focus on human trafficking and protecting the human rights of migrants and foreigners. The Interfederal Centre was renamed Unia in 2016 and continues to focus on anti-discrimination and equal opportunity advocacy. Unia can take legal action in instances of discrimination based on race, sexual orientation, disability, age, religion, and other criteria of discrimination (e.g., health, wealth, political beliefs, physical characteristics, etc.). Myria may also take legal action on instances of discrimination within its mandate. More information about Unia, its work, and anti-discrimination resources is available on its website (information available in English, Français, Nederlands, and Deutsch). More information about Myria, its work, and anti-discrimination resources is available on its website (also in En, Fr, Ne, and De).


Anti-Discrimination Law of 10 May 2007 (2007)

LGBTIQ

The Anti-discrimination Law of 10 May 2007 prohibits discrimination (other than gender-based discrimination, which is the subject of the Gender Law) on the basis of several criteria, including sexual orientation. In line with the Gender Law, differences and positive action are only allowed under strict conditions and if justified by a legitimate aim. Victims, as well as the Centre for Equal Opportunities and Combatting Discrimination and Racism created by the Law of 15 February 1993, can take legal action. If the plaintiff produces facts that indicate that there has been discrimination, the burden of proof is on the defendant to demonstrate that there was no discrimination.


Law of 16 December 2002 Creating the Institute for Equality of Men and Women (2002)

Gender discrimination

Interest groups of the Institute for Equality of Men and Women, created by the Law of 16 December 2002 to monitor gender equality and to fight any form of gender-based discrimination, may bring legal action in cases of gender discrimination. The Institute is responsible for (i) guaranteeing and promoting equality between men and women, (ii) combating all forms of discrimination or inequality based on sex, and (iii) creating and implementing a proper legal framework of appropriate structures, instruments, and measures. More information on the Institute and the rights it protects is available on its website (available in English, Français, Nederlands, and Deutsch).


Gender Law of 10 May 2007 (2007)

Abortion and reproductive health rights, Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination, Harmful traditional practices, International law, LGBTIQ, Property and inheritance rights, Sexual harassment

The Gender Law of 10 May 2007 combats discrimination between women and men (thereby implementing European Union legislation) and prohibits every form of discrimination based on gender, change of gender, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood. Direct and indirect discrimination, giving orders to discriminate, intimidation and sexual intimidation are all explicitly prohibited. Discrimination is prohibited with regard to access to goods and services, social security, social benefits, membership of professional organizations, and employment relations and conditions. Differences (in terms of access to certain goods or services, or employment conditions) are only allowed if it is objectively justified by a legitimate aim and if the restrictions are appropriate and necessary to achieve this aim. Differences are also allowed on a temporary basis in the context of positive action to prevent or compensate for gender-related disadvantages. Victims of discrimination can submit a reasoned complaint or take legal action. If the plaintiff has produced facts which indicate that there has been discrimination, the burden of proof is on the defendant to demonstrate that there was no gender-based discrimination.


Constitution of Belgium (2014)

Gender discrimination

Article 10 of the Constitution lays down the basic principle of equality and explicitly guarantees equality between men and women. Article 11 provides the legal basis for the adoption of legislation ensuring that there is no discrimination, while Article 11bis ensures equal access to elected mandates and public mandates.


Anti-Stalking Control Law (Act No. 81 of 2000) (2000)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Dowry-related violence, Gender-based violence in general

The Stalker Control Law prohibits acts of stalking, against a victim or the victim’s spouse, at the victim’s residence, place of employment or school.  In addition to broadly prohibiting stalking, the statute also includes lying in wait, demanding a meeting, violent acts, silent phone calls and sending dirty or explicit items, animal carcasses or sexually insulting materials. The Chief of Police may issue a warning, and the Public Safety Commission may issue a prohibition order, upon petition by the victim. To ensure its effectiveness, the statute provides for imprisonment with work or a fine to be imposed on people who repeatedly violate the Law or who violate a prohibition order.



Act on Securing, Etc., of Equal Opportunity between Men and Women in Employment (Act No. 113 of 1972) (2017)

Gender discrimination, Sexual harassment

The Act on Securing, Etc. of Equal Opportunity and Treatment between Men and Women in Employment (‘the Act’) aims to promote equal opportunities and treatment of men and women in the workplace. The Act falls under Article 1 of the Constitution’s mandate for the government to ensure equality under law and promote measures to ensure the health of working women during pregnancy and after childbirth.  Japan enacted the Act in 1985 upon the United Nation’s ratification of Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women.  The Act prohibits employment discrimination based on sex at each stage of recruitment, assignment, and promotion. It also prohibits discriminatory treatment based on marriage status, pregnancy and childbirth.  In addition, an Amendment to the Act in 2017 obligates employers to take steps to prevent harassment based on a protected status.  To ensure its effectiveness, the Act requires that employer violations of the statute be publicly announced, and a fine imposed on employers who violate the reporting obligation.  



Penal Code (Act No. 45 of 1907) (2007)

Sexual violence and rape, Trafficking in persons

The Penal Code (the “Code”) covers Japanese criminal law and sentencing.  The relevant provisions with respect to gender justice issues in the Code are Rape, Gang Rape, Forcible Indecency, and Inducement to Promiscuous Intercourse.  Rape was initially classified as a crime only involving female victims, but was amended to include men in 2017. The Code states that a person who commits one of more of the listed crimes shall be punished by imprisonment with work for life, or for a definite term corresponding to the gravity of a crime.  Further, based on the “Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, Supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime” adopted by the United Nations, the Code was amended in 2005 to include the crime of Human Trafficking. Under the amendment, selling or purchasing a human is a crime, with the criminal punishment being more severe in cases with the purpose of profit, indecency or marriage.



Constitution of Japan (1945)

Gender discrimination

Under Article 14 of the Japanese Constitution, “all citizens of Japan are equal under the law, and shall not be discriminated against in political, economic or social relations on the basis of sex.”  Article 24 of the Constitution states that marriage can only be formed through the mutual consent of both sexes, and it must be maintained through mutual cooperation of husband and wife. Furthermore, Article 24 provides that “husband and wife have equal rights” under the law.  Based Article 14 and Article 24, the following laws were enacted: the Basic Act for a Gender Equal Society requires the state and local public entities to take steps towards the formation of a gender-equal society; the Act on Securing of Equal Opportunity and Treatment Between Men and Women in Employment prohibits employers from discriminating based on gender; and the Act on the Prevention of Spousal Violence and the Protection of Victims etc. and the Stalker Control Law protect women from gender-based violence.



Constitution of Japan (1945)

Gender discrimination

Under Article 14 of the Japanese Constitution, “all citizens of Japan are equal under the law, and shall not be discriminated against in political, economic or social relations on the basis of sex.”  Article 24 of the Constitution states that marriage can only be formed through the mutual consent of both sexes, and it must be maintained through mutual cooperation of husband and wife. Furthermore, Article 24 provides that “husband and wife have equal rights” under the law.  Based Article 14 and Article 24, the following laws were enacted: the Basic Act for a Gender Equal Society requires the state and local public entities to take steps towards the formation of a gender-equal society; the Act on Securing of Equal Opportunity and Treatment Between Men and Women in Employment prohibits employers from discriminating based on gender; and the Act on the Prevention of Spousal Violence and the Protection of Victims etc. and the Stalker Control Law protect women from gender-based violence.



International Criminal Court: Trust Fund for Victims (Rome Statute Article 79) International Criminal Court (1998)

Gender-based violence in general

The Trust Fund for Victims (“TFV”) implements reparations when the ICC orders an award and is significant in recognizing the importance of reparations in achieving justice for victims.  Under Article 79 of the Rome Statute, the ICC may order that money collected through fines or forfeiture are transferred to the TFV and used to benefit victims of crimes and their families.  Pursuant to Rule 85 of the Rules of Evidence and Procedure, victims include both (i) individuals who have suffered harm as a result of the commission of a crime within the ICC’s jurisdiction, and (ii) organizations and institutions that have suffered harm to their property.  Due to the large number of individuals that generally are victims of the crimes prosecuted by the ICC, the TFV is better placed than the ICC to effectively support such victims.  In fact, the TVF can deal with victims beyond those participating in the ICC proceedings, can consult with victims, and can use voluntary contributions to assist victims.  For instance, the TVF is providing support in northern Uganda and DRC by supporting gender-specific projects, such as reproductive health services, schools for girls, trauma-based counselling, and reconstructive surgery.



International Criminal Court: Rules of Evidence and Procedure International Criminal Court (2005)

Gender-based violence in general

The Rules of Evidence and Procedure (“Rules”) are a subordinate instrument for the application of the Rome Statute and to protect the rights of women in relation to sexual violence cases.  For instance, under Rule 63(4) corroboration is not required to prove any crime within the ICC’s jurisdiction, including crimes of sexual violence.  This is significant given the challenges faced in obtaining evidence in respect of sexual and gender-based crimes, and the physical and psychological impact on the victims.  In cases of sexual violence, according to Rule 70 consent cannot be inferred where the victim was under coercion, incapable of giving genuine consent, or by reason of silence or lack of resistance.  Finally, under Rule 71 evidence of the prior or subsequent sexual conduct of a victim or witness is generally inadmissible in order to prevent attempts to undermine or discredit victims of sexual violence.



Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, Article 28 International Criminal Court (1998)

Gender violence in conflict

Article 28.  Responsibility of commanders and other superiors.  Under this provision, military commanders are held criminally responsible for crimes committed by armed forces under their effective command and control, such as rape and any sexual violence used in war.  This applies to instances where the superior knew or should have known about such crimes, or failed to take all necessary and reasonable measures to prevent their commission.  The crimes committed by the armed forces must have been a result of the failure of the commander to properly exercise control over them.  In addition, there must be evidence beyond any reasonable doubt that the commander is responsible and the crimes were sufficiently widespread so that it is evident that they occurred during the ordinary implementation of the military action for which the commander is responsible.  The goal of this provision is to encourage commanders and superiors to prevent effectively the perpetration of crimes by their forces.



Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, Article 8 International Criminal Court (1998)

Gender violence in conflict

Article 8.  Sexual and gender-based crimes as war crimes.  Through its inclusion of sexual and gender-based crimes as distinct war crimes, this provision recognises that gender-based violence is routinely committed in the context of armed conflicts.  Under Article 8(2)(b)(xxii), rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, and enforced sterilization are acts amounting to war crimes.  Any other form of sexual violence constituting a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions can also amount to a war crime: e.g., torture, wilfully causing great suffering, and the taking of hostages.  Similarly, all types of war crimes (for instance, torture) may contain gender elements.  Article 8 was interpreted by the ICC in Prosecutor v. Katanga and Ngudjolo.  In that case, although the crimes could not be attributed to Katanga, the ICC found that forcible nudity constitutes an outrage upon personal dignity, which amounts to a war crime under Article 8(2)(b)(xxi).



Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, Article 7(1)(c) International Criminal Court (1998)

Trafficking in persons

Article 7(1)(c).  Enslavement as a crime against humanity. This provision is significant in identifying human trafficking as a crime against humanity.  For the ICC to have jurisdiction, the perpetrator must exercise powers demonstrating ownership, such as purchasing, selling, lending, or bartering.  The definition also requires the imposition of “a deprivation of liberty,” which may refer to forced domestic labour or the reducing of a woman to a servile status.  To amount to a crime against humanity, it must be committed “as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against a civilian population.”  Hence, this provision also enables the prosecution of organizers of human trafficking.  For example, the Prosecutor is considering an investigation in Libya and is urging States to prosecute perpetrators.  The Prosecutor is particularly concerned about migrants, in particular women and children, that are held in detention centres in Libya, where there are allegations of sexual violence, forced labour, human trafficking, and of migrants being sold in a slave market.



Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, Article 7(1)(h) International Criminal Court (1998)

Gender discrimination

Article 7(1)(h).  Persecution on the basis of gender. Under the Rome Statute, persecution on the basis of gender is specifically included as a crime against humanity.  This means that the ICC has jurisdiction over crimes involving the intentional and severe deprivation of fundamental rights contrary to international law against a group targeted on the basis of gender.  Although the ICC has not yet brought a prosecution in respect of this crime, there are crimes under preliminary examination.  For example, the Prosecutor has found a reasonable basis to believe that gender-based persecution has been committed in Nigeria by Boko Haram.  The Prosecutor’s Office has identified that, by reason of their religion or for attending school, Boko Haram has carried out sexual violence against women and girls, including abductions, sexual slavery, and forced marriages.  This offence is significant in being the only sexual and gender-based crime that requires discriminatory intent, as the Prosecutor must prove the crime was based on gender grounds.  The crime is also an important recognition of the need to combat impunity for systematic persecutions on the basis of gender.



Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court International Criminal Court (1998)

Femicide, Forced and early marriage, Forced sterilization, Gender discrimination, Gender violence in conflict, Sexual violence and rape, Trafficking in persons

The intention behind the Rome Statute of 2002 (“Rome Statute” or “Statute”) in establishing the International Criminal Court (“ICC”) is to prosecute the most serious crimes of international concern and to end impunity.  The Rome Statute is significant in being the first international criminal law instrument that recognises forms of sexual violence, such as rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, and enforced sterilization, as distinct war crimes.  This legal instrument is also novel in prescribing gender-based crimes as the basis of war crimes or crimes against humanity committed during armed conflicts.  In particular, the Statute gives the ICC jurisdiction over gender-based crimes if they constitute acts of genocide.  In this case the crimes, such as rape, can be an integral part of the destruction inflicted upon the targeted groups and may be charged as genocide.  The Prosecutor must further apply and interpret the Statute in line with internationally recognised human rights, including women’s human rights and gender equality.  The States Parties should also consider the need to appoint judges with legal expertise on violence against women or children.



Ley Contra la Violencia Domestica con sus Reformas (Law Against Domestic Violence and Reforms, 1997 and 2005) (2005)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

Legislative Decree No. 132-97 (the “Act”) declares that the State is committed to protecting the physical, patrimonial, and sexual integrity of women against any form of violence by their spouse, former spouse, partner, ex-partner or any similar relationship. The Act is significant because it was the first time the State passed a law requiring the protection of women against domestic violence. In addition, it called on the State to adopt public policy measures necessary to prevent, punish, and ultimately eradicate domestic violence against women.

 

El Decreto Legislativo N ° 132-97 (la "Ley") declara que el Estado se compromete a proteger la integridad física, patrimonial y sexual de las mujeres contra cualquier forma de violencia por parte de su cónyuge, ex cónyuge, pareja, ex pareja o cualquier relación similar. La Ley es importante porque fue la primera vez que el Estado aprobó una ley que exige la protección de las mujeres contra la violencia doméstica. Además, obliga al Estado a adoptar las medidas políticas y públicas necesarias para prevenir, sancionar y, en última instancia, erradicar la violencia doméstica contra las mujeres.

 



Equal Opportunity for Women Act (Legislative Decree 34-2000) (2000)

Employment discrimination, Gender-based violence in general, Property and inheritance rights

The Equal Opportunity for Women Act (the “Act”), enacted by this decree 34-2000, eliminates “all forms of discrimination against women” and guarantees equality in the eyes of the law and in the areas of family, health, education, culture, work, social security, credit, and land ownership. Moreover, the Act promotes participation by women in decision-making within the power structure and expressly states that women are eligible to run for public office. This law is significant because it was intended to create and expand the scope of representation and participation of Honduran women in civil society.

 

La Ley de Igualdad de Oportunidades para la Mujer (la "Ley"), promulgada por este decreto 34-2000, elimina "todas las formas de discriminación contra la mujer" y garantiza la igualdad de género ante la ley y en las áreas de la familia, la salud, la educación, Cultura, trabajo, seguridad social, crédito y propiedad de la tierra. Además, la Ley promueve la participación de las mujeres en la toma de decisiones dentro de la estructura de poder y establece expresamente que las mujeres son elegibles para postularse para cargos públicos. Esta ley es importante porque tiene la intención de crear y ampliar el alcance de la representación y participación de las mujeres hondureñas en la sociedad civil.



Legislative Decree No. 23-2013 (2013)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

As published in El Diario Oficial La Gaceta, the official newspaper of Honduras on April 6, 2013, Article 118-A defines femicide as a crime punishable by 30 to 40 years’ imprisonment.

 

Como se publicó en El Diario Oficial La Gaceta, el periódico oficial de Honduras el 6 de abril de 2013, el Artículo 118-A define el femicidio como un delito castigable con 30 a 40 años de prisión. 



Reform of Article 23 of the Law against Domestic Violence (Legislative Decree No. 66-2014) (2014)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

Legislative Decree No. 66-2014 guarantees to victims of domestic violence the right to investigate, search, receive, and disseminate information that allows the victim to prevent an aggressor from being protected by the State.

 

El Decreto Legislativo No. 66-2014 les garantiza a las víctimas de violencia doméstica el derecho a investigar, buscar, recibir y difundir información que permita a la víctima evitar que el agresor esté protegido por el Estado. 



Law No. 06/019 of 20 July 2006, Modifying and Completing the Decree of 6 August 1959 Relating to the Congolese Penal Procedure Code (2006)

Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting, Forced sterilization, Gender-based violence in general, Sexual harassment, Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

This law requires the courts to secure the privacy and dignity, as well as physical and psychological well-being of victims of sexual violence during proceedings.  However, it does not detail any specific measures to be undertaken.  The law also stops courts from inferring sexual consent from silence or lack of resistance and prevents courts from taking into consideration a victim’s sexual history in ascertaining a defendant’s guilt.



Law No. 06/019 of 20 July 2006, Modifying and Completing the Decree of 6 August 1959 Relating to the Congolese Penal Procedure Code (2006)

Forced and early marriage, Gender-based violence in general, Sexual harassment, Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

The 2006 amendment to the Congolese Penal Code has the explicitly stated aim of bringing Congolese law relating to sexual violence in line with international standards.  The age of minority was raised from 14 to 18, the definition of rape was widened, and new types of sexual assault were criminalised.



Constitution of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Article 14 - Law n°15/013 of August 1st, 2015) (2015)

Gender discrimination

The DRC Constitution asserts the country’s commitment to gender equality under the law.  The preamble references the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and commitment to conventions pertaining to the rights of women, particularly toward gender equality in domestic and international institutions.  Article 14 gives legal effect to the commitment asserted in the preamble, stipulating that public authorities shall ensure elimination of discrimination against women and promote women’s rights.  More specifically, Article 14 requires authorities to take appropriate measures to ensure participation of women in the development of the nation and to take steps to combat all forms of violence against women in their public and private lives, and guarantees implementation of gender equality and fair representation at national, provincial and local government institutions.  The Law sets forth the application procedures of these rights.  Subsequently, Law n°15/013 of August 1st, 2015 was passed to establish specific procedures to implement Article 14 (weblink to full Constitution, pdf to Article 14 implementation law).



Constitution of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Article 14 - Law n°15/013 of August 1st, 2015)

Gender discrimination

The DRC Constitution asserts the country’s commitment to gender equality under the law.  The preamble references the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and commitment to conventions pertaining to the rights of women, particularly toward gender equality in domestic and international institutions.  Article 14 gives legal effect to the commitment asserted in the preamble, stipulating that public authorities shall ensure elimination of discrimination against women and promote women’s rights.  More specifically, Article 14 requires authorities to take appropriate measures to ensure participation of women in the development of the nation and to take steps to combat all forms of violence against women in their public and private lives, and guarantees implementation of gender equality and fair representation at national, provincial and local government institutions.  The Law sets forth the application procedures of these rights.  Subsequently, Law n°15/013 of August 1st, 2015 was passed to establish specific procedures to implement Article 14 (link to full Constitution, pdf to Article 14 implementation law).



Rape Survivor Child Custody Act (2015)

Sexual violence and rape

The Rape Survivor Child Custody Act ("RSCCA") authorizes the U.S. Attorney General to make grants to states that pass legislation terminating the parental rights of men who father children through rape.  States must use the "clear and convincing evidence" standard, which is the predominant standard in the U.S. for termination of parental rights, to determine whether the father committed rape.  



Succession Act (Amendment) Decree 22/72 of 1972 (1972)

Gender discrimination, Property and inheritance rights

Uganda allows for customary law to govern many situations, but the Succession Act restricts their applicability in inheritance cases.  It enshrines women’s right to inherit from husbands, but also privileges men because 1) the property of a married woman who dies intestate automatically will go to her spouse, unlike a man who dies intestate; 2) the matrimonial home will go to the legal heir, the determination of which prioritizes male relatives; 3) a widow (or widows in polygamous marriages, who must share) may only inherit 15% of her husband’s estate; and 4) maintenance and occupancy rights of widows terminate if they remarry.  

Original Act (1906)



Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act of 2010 (2010)

Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting, Harmful traditional practices

The Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act (“PFGM”) outlaws all acts of FGM on oneself and others as well as attempts, procurement, and participation.  It allows no exceptions for consent, religion, or culture, and creates a duty to report to the police any knowledge of planned or completed FGM.  The penalty is imprisonment not to exceed 10 years for the perpetrator and five years for any participants or abettors.  Violations are considered aggravated if the FGM causes death, the offender has control over the victim (e.g., a parent or guardian), the victim has a disability, the victim contracts HIV/AIDS, and/or the perpetrator is a health worker.  The penalty for aggravated violations is life imprisonment.  The PFGM Act also prohibits any discrimination against women and girls who have not undergone FGM and discrimination against male relatives of women who have not undergone FGM.  



Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Act of 2009 (2009)

Trafficking in persons

The Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Act of 2009 (the “PTPA”) defines and prohibits human trafficking and aggravated trafficking.  The PTPA mandates punishment for trafficking in persons, trafficking in children, using the labor of a trafficked person, promoting trafficking, attempts to traffic persons, and aiding and abetting trafficking.  The PTPA also provides for the protection of and non-discrimination against trafficked persons, including that they not be held liable for any crimes committed as a direct result of the trafficking, that survivors be provided with legal advice throughout the proceedings, and that survivors shall be provided with medical care or social services.  The sentences for trafficking in persons, aggravated trafficking, and trafficking in children are, respectively, fifteen years imprisonment, life imprisonment, and death.  



National Women's Council Act of 1993 (amended 2010, 2015) (1993)

Gender discrimination

The National Women’s Council Act (“NWCA”) creates women’s councils to coordinate and promote the organization of “the women of Uganda in a unified body; and to engage the women in activities that are of benefit to them and the nation.”  There are village, parish/ward, subcounty/division/town, county, and district women’s councils, each of which is comprised of all of the women in the geographical region.  Each council elects a six-member leadership committee, members of which may only serve on one at a time (e.g., if a woman is on the village committee and is then elected to the parish committee, her seat on the village committee is vacated).  The National Women’s Council must be comprised of one elected representative from each district, two representatives from NGOs, and two elected female student representatives.

2010 Amendments

2015 Amendments



Land Act of 1998 (amended 2004, 2010) (1998)

Property and inheritance rights

The Land Act, after amendments, protects a spouse’s occupancy of family land and requires their consent for any transaction involving the land on which they live or use for sustenance, but does not provide for automatic co-ownership between spouses.  Any decision that unconstitutionally disfavors the property rights of women and children is invalid.  The Act also requires that land management mechanisms have at least 1/3 female members.

2004 Amendments (spousal rights added)

2010 Amendments



Hindu Marriage and Divorce Act of 1961 (1961)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage

The HMD Act regulates Hindu (including Jain and Sikh) marriages and codifies the specific requirements of these marriages and divorces.  



Employment (Sexual Harassment) Regulations of 2012 (2012)

Employment discrimination, Sexual harassment

The Employment (Sexual Harassment) Regulations of 2012 (the “ESH Regulations”) define, prohibit, and provide punishments for sexual harassment in the workplace.  The ESH Regulations were produced by the Directorate of Labour pursuant to the powers conferred by the Employment Act of 2006 (sec. 7, 97(1)).  The Regulations require employers with more than 25 employees to institute measures to prevent sexual harassment, including a written sexual harassment policy, providing the written policy to all employees with a copy, posting the policy in a public area, conducting regular trainings, and designating a “gender sensitive” person to handle sexual harassment complaints.  The Regulations also provide reporting guidelines, prohibition of retaliation, and appeals processes.  The penalty for sexual harassment is a fine not to exceed six currency points (a currency point is 20,000 USH) and/or imprisonment not to exceed three months.



Employment Act of 2006 (2006)

Employment discrimination

The Employment Act of 2006 applies to all employment in Uganda other than soldiers.  The Directorate of Labour, under the Minister of Labour, has the power to issue regulations of the Act’s provisions.  Section 7 prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace.  The Employment (Sexual Harassment) Regulations of 2012 provide the details of Uganda’s sexual harassment policy.  Sections 56 and 57, respectively, provide for fully paid maternity and paternity leave.  Female employees are entitled to 60 days, four weeks of which must be taken immediately following birth or miscarriage, of paid maternity leave with the right to return to the same job or its equivalent.  A male employee is entitled to four working days of fully paid leave and the right to return to the same job immediately after his wife’s birth or miscarriage.  Uganda does not currently require employers to provide office space or time for breastfeeding.



Domestic Violence Act of 2010 (2010)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

The Domestic Violence Act of 2010 (the “DVA”) defines and prohibits domestic violence.  The penalty for domestic violence is imprisonment not to exceed two years or the payment of a fine not to exceed forty-eight currency points, or both.  At the Court’s discretion, the perpetrator may also have to provide monetary compensation to the victim.  Romantic and other familial relationships are “domestic,” and marriage is expressly not required.  Domestic violence complaints may be brought before local council courts (“LC courts”) pursuant to the procedures outlined in the DVA, which require that the LC refer the matter to the police and local magistrate court if the perpetrator is a repeat offender, the perpetrator is likely to continue to harm the victim, and the LC court’s opinion is that police and magistrate court involvement is warranted.  LC courts must also inform the police and magistrate if there are children involved in the domestic relationship.  Appeals and other procedural details about LC court proceedings can be found in the Local Council Act of 2006.  In complaints made to police officers, survivors have the right to give their statement to an officer of the same sex.  The DVA requires that magistrate courts follow the Family and Children Court Rules (from the Children Act of 2006) in domestic violence cases.  Finally, the DVA sets parameters for interim and permanent protection orders.  The DVA and the Penal Code do not criminalize a husband’s rape of his wife, or so-called “marital rape.”  A proposed bill, the Domestic Relations Bill of 2003, would criminalize such actions, but Parliament has repeatedly declined to pass it.  



Customary Marriage (Registration) Act of 1973 (1973)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Forced and early marriage, Gender discrimination, Harmful traditional practices

The Customary Marriage Act (CMA) sets parameters for acceptable customary marriages and requirements for registration and dissolution.  Customary marriages are prohibited if the female party is younger than 16 years old or the male party is younger than 18 years old, either party is of unsound mind, they are too closely related, the marriage is otherwise prohibited by one of the parties’ customs, or one of the parties is still in an existing monogamous marriage.  Subsequent monogamous or Muslim marriages will not be recognized and are void if there was a pre-existing customary marriage.



Anti-Pornography Act of 2014 (2014)

Gender discrimination, Statutory rape or defilement

The Anti-Pornography Act (“APA”) bans creation, publication, distribution, and abetting of pornography and child pornography.  It also creates a nine-member council to handle pornography issues, including public education, maintaining a registry of offenders, and destruction of seized materials.  Human rights groups have expressed concerns that the language defining pornography as “any representation through publication, exhibition, cinematography, indecent show, information technology or by whatever means, of a person engaged in real or stimulated [sic] explicit sexual activities or any representation of the sexual parts of a person for primarily sexual excitement” is overly broad and could lead to confusion.  For example, some organizations have nicknamed it Uganda’s “mini-skirt ban” because “any representation of the sexual parts of a person for primarily sexual excitement” could be interpreted as applicable to revealing clothing.



Domestic Violence Prevention Act (Chapter 29 of the General Laws of Rhode Island) (1956)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Sexual violence and rape

The Domestic Violence Prevention Act was originally enacted in 1956 to recognize the importance of domestic violence as a serious crime against society and to establish an official response to domestic violence cases that stresses the enforcement of laws to protect victims and communicate that violent behavior is not excused or tolerated. In passing the Act, the legislature specifically provided that its intent was that the Act can be enforced without regard to whether the persons involved are or were married, cohabitating, or involved in a relationship. Accordingly, the act defines victims to include “spouses, former spouses, adult persons related by blood or marriage, adult persons who are presently residing together or who have resided together in the past three years, and persons who have a child in common regardless of whether they have been married or have lived together, or persons who are, or have been, in a substantive dating or engagement relationship within the past one year which shall be determined by the court's consideration of the following factors: (1) the length of time of the relationship; (2) the type of the relationship; and (3) the frequency of the interaction between the parties.”