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Human rights organizations

Human rights organizations such as The Advocates for Human Rights, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch monitor the implementation of laws on violence against women by researching and writing reports on the government response to violence against women and girls in countries all over the world. They establish the prevalence of an issue and analyze the government’s compliance with international human rights standards around the issue. They study the responses of the legal, medical and social service providers. They determine if the government has met its duty to prosecute perpetrators of violence and to provide safety for victims. They also issue recommendations for governments and all major stakeholders on relevant issues, including training and funding allocation. 

For example, in 2012, The Advocates for Human Rights published The Implementation of Croatia’s Domestic Violence Legislation and The Implementation of the Republic of Moldova’s Domestic Violence Legislation. In March of 2010, Amnesty International published Case Closed: Rape and Human Rights in the Nordic Countries Summary Report. In December, 2009, Human Rights Watch published We Have the Promises of the World: Women’s Rights in Afghanistan.

For more human rights reports from these organizations, visit their websites and search under Publications or Library.

Case Study: Monitoring the Implementation of the Bulgarian Law on Domestic Violence

In 2008, The Advocates for Human Rights and the Bulgarian Gender Research Foundation published Implementation of the Bulgarian Law on Protection against Domestic Violence. The monitors conducted interviews of all principals involved in implementation of Bulgaria’s Protection against Domestic Violence Act (2005), (LPADV) including government ministry officials, police, judges, prosecutors, women’s organizations, and the media. Monitors described the policies promulgated by various government ministries, and noted deficiencies in funding for state obligations, such as sufficient numbers of shelters for victims of domestic violence. Monitors found that the use of the order for protection authorized by the LPADV was increasing, and that it was generally supported by the Bulgarian legal community. The monitors also noted procedural and substantive issues that were limiting the full implementation of the LPADV, such as a short time frame (30 days from the last act of violence) in which the victim must file for an order for protection (p. 29), and judges who did not fully utilize their authority under the LPADV to protect the victim. p.34

The study concluded that implementation of the LPADV, in the two years since its passage, had been generally positive, but that challenges remained, including the need for amendment to criminalize violations of orders for protection [This amendment was passed in 2009] and to allow state prosecution of low and medium-level assaults when victim and perpetrator are related. The monitors issued a number of recommendations to all principals, including priority recommendations to the Bulgarian government that it make a clear financial commitment to meeting the objectives set forth in the LPADV and that it provide adequate and consistent funding to Bulgarian NGOs, which are providing many services to domestic violence victims. p. 51-53

See: CASE STUDY: Bulgarian NGOs work to get funding for domestic violence law implementation, in Domestic Violence.

Case study:  Breaking the Silence: Sexual Violence in Cambodia

In 2010, Amnesty International (AI) issued Breaking the Silence: Sexual Violence in Cambodia. The report was based on interviews with female victims of rape, service providers, government officials, law enforcement agents, and lawyers in several Cambodian provinces. It called on the Cambodian government to meet its obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international human rights instruments Cambodia has ratified. The report identified several barriers faced by rape victims who sought justice, including:

  • societal norms that subordinate women and place a high premium on female virginity;
  • poverty, which hampers victims' ability to cover costs for transport to health clinics, police and courts and reduces their access to justice because of inability to pay bribes to police and court officials;
  • delays and lack of thoroughness in police investigations;
  • fear of retaliation by the perpetrator, particularly in cases where police officers raped sex workers;
  • police facilitation of out-of-court monetary settlements between the families of the perpetrator and the victim, on the condition that the victim withdraw the criminal complaint;
  • lack of government social services for rape victims;
  • lack of coordination between NGOs providing social services to rape victims; and
  • lack of services for victims with disabilities and special needs;

Cambodia's new Penal Code, which clarifies and expands the definition of rape and sets a minimum age of consent, will come into effect in 2010. AI recommended that the Cambodian government address inadequate law enforcement, and improve rape victims' access to services.

Case study:  Guatemala’s Femicide Law: Progress Against Impunity?

In 2009, a year after the Guatemalan government passed the Law Against Femicide and Other Forms of Violence Against Women (2008), the Guatemalan Human Rights Commission (GHRC), a non-profit organization based in Washington D.C., U.S.A., published a monitoring report entitled Guatemala’s Femicide Law: Progress Against Impunity? The GHRC reported that the femicide law "represents an important step in challenging the history of gender violence and rampant impunity," but has yet to stem the rising tide of murders. The report noted that the government has made progress in implementing some aspects of the femicide law, including the first conviction in February, 2009. The report found that a lack of understanding of the law, continued social unrest, and inadequate efforts to implement the law impede serious progress in implementation. The GHRC stated that the violence must be framed within the context of human rights for all Guatemalans. It recommended that the government of Guatemala improve investigation and prosecution of crimes of violence against women, improve protection of the victims of violence and their children, increase education of both the professionals responsible for responding to such crimes and the public, and develop a coordinated approach to healing for families.

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