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Non-governmental mechanisms

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) all over the world have created monitoring reports on different aspects of violence against women and girls.

NGOS may form coalitions or partnerships to monitor violence against women. For example, The Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development has, in partnership with other NGOs, developed research, analysis and responses on violence against women in the region, and provided a forum for networks and consultations for NGOs to coordinate and share information with the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women. See: Specific Indicator Initiatives and Issues in the ESCAP Region Related to the Measurement of Violence against Women (2007).

NGO coalitions often write Shadow Reports which are submitted to the Committee to Eliminate All Forms of Violence against Women (CEDAW). Shadow reports are intended to accompany a government’s report, and to give another viewpoint of the situation in the country. For example, see: the Alternative Report on the Implementation of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women in Ukraine (2008) and The Alternative Report of Evaluation regarding the implementation of Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (2006), Moldova.

A recent monitoring report, Domestic Violence in Brazil: Examining Obstacles and Approaches to Promote Legislative Reform (2010), cited important contributions of a shadow report to CEDAW authored by civil society: It noted that special women’s police stations existed in only 10% of Brazilian municipalities in 2007, and that insufficient funding and lack of police training have limited the capacity of the women’s police stations to investigate crimes of violence against women. See: Brazil and Compliance with CEDAW (2007).

In Serbia, NGOs conducted an independent monitoring study on the implementation of the recommendations made by CEDAW to Serbia’s Initial Report to the Committee in 2007. The report, A Summary Presentation of Analysis Findings and Recommendations (2009), called on the government to collect information on the types and frequency of domestic violence committed as well as perpetrator and victim characteristics.  Additionally, the NGOs called on the government to provide public services with systematic training on how to interact with domestic violence survivors, and to collect data monitoring public employees’ compliance with that training.

NGOs have monitored many different aspects and types of legislation on violence against women and girls.  For example, a 2009 NGO monitoring report entitled Asia: Mind the Gaps: A Comparative Analysis of ASEAN Legal Responses to Child-Sex Tourism examined the implementation of international treaties and existing laws of member states of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) regarding child-sex tourism. The report, the first regionally comparative analysis on child-sex tourism, was compiled at the request of ASEAN national governments and sought to support NGOs, law enforcement officials, academics, international agencies, and governments combating child-sex tourism.

Domestic Violence Legislation and its Implementation: An Analysis for ASEAN Countries Based on International Standards and Good Practices (2009), written by the Lawyers Collective Women’s Rights Initiative of India, provides both an analysis of legislation at the regional level and an overview of global good practices on domestic violence response systems.

NGO reports can play a key role in policy development on violence against women and girls and in bringing about legislative change.

Case study: International Center for Reproductive Health’s comparative analysis of implementation of laws on FGM in five European countries
contributes to policy development at national and international level

In 2003-2004, the International Centre for Reproductive Health coordinated a monitoring study on the difficulties of implementing legal provisions related to female genital mutilation (FGM) in European countries, in order to find out why, despite the fact that specific laws on FGM exist, few cases reached courts in Europe.

The study analyzed the implementation of laws and barriers to their implementation in Belgium, Sweden, Spain, United Kingdom, and France. The monitors assessed the following:

  • presence of criminal law provisions on FGM
  • existence of FGM practices in local communities
  • reporting of cases
  • investigations of reported cases
  • court cases on FGM

Field work, consisting of document analysis and case study, was performed by local partners. A comparative analysis of the data from all five countries was performed. See: International Center for Reproductive Health (ICRH), Assessing the impact of legislation in Europe with regard to female genital mutilation (2004).

The monitoring project identified factors that were obstructing the implementation of laws on FGM, and provided recommendations for better implementation, including recommendations for improved training of professionals and for cooperation among sectors.  Importantly, it contributed to policy development at the national level in Belgium and at the European Union (Resolution A5-0285/2001, which referenced the work of ICRH).

For descriptions of other projects and reports which have collected data on violence against women and monitored the legal system using various methods, see: Bringing Security Home: A Compilation of Good Practices (2009) by the OSCE Gender Section.

Case study:  Africa for Women’s Rights: Ratify and Respect! Dossier of Claims

Africa for Women’s Rights: Ratify and Respect! Dossier of Claims (2010) summarizes the statutory laws, customary laws, traditions, and practices on women’s human rights in over thirty African countries. It was written by national human rights and women’s organizations in Africa who are partner organizations in the Campaign “Africa for Women’s Rights: Ratify and Respect!” initiated by the Fédération Internationale des ligues des Droits de l’Homme (FIDH) in collaboration with regional organizations.

Each country chapter begins with an accounting of the women’s human rights documents which have been ratified by the country. Positive legal developments which have occurred in recent years are described in detail, as are laws and practices which perpetuate discrimination and violence against women and girls. Subject areas which are emphasized include violence, discrimination in the family such as marriage laws and inheritance practices, and other barriers to justice, such as lack of access to education, health, employment, political participation, and freedom of movement.

For example, in the chapter on Cameroon, the authors note that although civil laws exist on the minimum age for marriage, customs and traditions have caused forced and child marriage to be widespread. The chapter on Democratic Republic of Congo takes note of the adoption of two laws against sexual violence but states that sexual violence is still practiced with impunity, even in relatively stable areas. The chapter on Niger describes the cumulative effect of discriminatory statutes, customary and religious laws. Each chapter contains a number of recommendations of specific measures for the government which address these discriminatory laws and practices. Finally, the document calls upon all African states to “ratify international and regional instruments protecting women’s rights, to repeal all discriminatory laws, to adopt laws protecting the rights of women and to take all necessary measures to ensure their effective implementation.”

This description of existing laws and practice followed by sharp notation of reality on-the-ground is an example of a powerful kind of monitoring study.

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