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Introduction

Throughout this knowledge asset, reference to certain provisions or sections of a piece of legislation, part of a legal judgment, or aspect of a practice does not imply that the legislation, judgment, or practice is considered in its entirety to be a good example or a promising practice.

Some of the laws cited herein may contain provisions which authorize the death penalty. In light of the United Nations General Assembly resolutions 62/14963/168, 65/206, and 67/176 calling for a moratorium on and ultimate abolition of capital punishment, the death penalty should not be included in sentencing provisions for crimes of violence against women and girls.

Enacting legislation to address violence against women is a first step in combating violence against women. However, in order to end violence against women, it is also critical to mandate implementation of these laws, and to develop strategies to facilitate implementation. Those mandated to implement legislation regarding violence against women, including police, prosecutors, judges, helping professions, and community leaders, must have an in-depth understanding of such legislation and must be able to implement it in an appropriate and gender-sensitive manner. In addition, it is important for society as a whole to be aware and educated about violence against women. Laws and strategies should outline the responsibilities of individuals and organizations from both the public and private sectors on a local, national, and global level. The ideal model for ending violence against women is a community that comes together across sectors, agencies, and civil society groups to develop a commitment to support victims and hold perpetrators accountable. Reflecting this commitment in action plans, campaigns, inter-agency agreements, local and regional plans, etc., is the best way to ensure that laws on violence against women are effectively implemented. This joint planning and communication is referred to as a “coordinated community response.”

Components of Implementation of Laws on Violence Against Women

The following are critical components that must be addressed in law to ensure effective implementation:

  • National or local action plan including an interagency approach or coordinated community response
  • Budget
  • Training and capacity building for public officials
  • Specialized police and prosecutorial units
  • Specialized courts or other dispute resolution mechanisms
  • Protocols, guidelines, standards and regulations
  • Time limit on activating legislative provisions
  • Penalties for non-compliance by relevant authorities

(See: UN Handbook for Legislation on Violence Against Women, sec. 3.2)

Each of these components is dealt with in the sections below, but several examples of laws from around the world are provided here for quick reference.

National or local action plan including a coordinated community response

  • In its preamble, Spain’s Organic Act 1/2004 of 28 December on Integrated Protection Measures against Gender Violence specifies that “Gender violence is approached from an integrated, multidisciplinary standpoint, starting from the processes of education and socialization.” In its statement of purpose, the act states that it “establishes integrated protection measures whose goal is to prevent, punish and eradicate this violence and lend assistance to its victims.”

Budget

  • The United States’ Violence Against Women Act and its subsequent reauthorizations create dedicated funding streams for NGO programs to address violence against women in communities around the country, including among special populations such as rural communities and indigenous communities. See: Title I, Sec. 101, Stop Grant Improvements.

Training and capacity building

Specialized police and prosecutorial units

  • Myanmar’s Anti-Trafficking in Persons Law requires the creation of a “specially trained force for the prevention of trafficking in persons” and “speedy and effective investigation and exposure.” See: Art. 8(e).

Specialized courts or tribunals

  • The Caribbean Community Model Legislation on Sexual Harassment establishes a specialized tribunal to deal with cases of sexual harassment in the workplace, education, housing, and provision of goods and services.

Protocols, guidelines, standards and regulations

  • Kenya’s Sexual Offences Act provides for the promulgation of regulations to implement the legislation relative to sexual assault, rape, and sexual harassment.See paragraph 47.

Time limit on activating legislative provisions

  • The Philippines’ Republic Act 9262 (2004) states in section 46 that: Within six (6) months from the approval of this Act, the DOJ, the NCRFW, the DSWD, the DILG, the DOH, and the PNP, and three (3) representatives from NGOs to be identified by the NCRFW, shall promulgate the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of this act.

Penalties for non-compliance by relevant authorities

  • Costa Rica’s Criminalization of Violence against Women Law (2007) states that public officials who deal with violence against women “must act swiftly and effectively, while respecting procedures and the human rights of women affected” or risk being charged with the crime of dereliction of duty. See: Art. 5.

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