Legal reform and regulation of the informal justice sector can take many forms:
In Tanzania, the Village Land Act provides for equal representation of women on village adjudication committees and village land councils in order to address issues of gender inequity in customary systems that allocate land rights.
In Uganda, the law also includes a provision that declares judgments of local land committees null and void if they prevent women and children from inheriting and reserves 25% of spots on local committees for women.
The passage of the local by-law was in part the result of ground-up efforts. The community of Kawempe, led by local non-governmental organization Centre for Domestic Violence Prevention (CEDOVIP), had passed a local by-law prohibiting domestic violence two years earlier. CEDOVIP had worked with parish-level councilors to gain support for the by-law and had ultimately gained the support of all parish level leaders. But when the advocacy efforts reached the Division level in 2006, councilors used the proposed by-law as a political issue. Both sides used the proposed law for their own political gain and misrepresented provisions of the law. As a result, the by-law did not pass at the Division level on the first try. CEDOVIP decided to work one-on-one with each member of the Division leadership. Over the next several months, CEDOVIP and community members worked through individual meetings, community forums, and meetings with police and local leaders, as well as text message and phone call advocacy to Division councilors. The local Domestic Violence By-Law was passed in October 2007.
The law provides direction to the Local Council Courts – often the first place that women seek justice – on how to deal with domestic violence cases. The by-law regulates the way in which cases of domestic violence are to be conducted providing guidelines on summoning suspects, conducting trials, and the number of people required for a quorum for judgment. It also contains jurisdictional provisions requiring that criminal matters be referred to the Police Family and Child Protection Units.
See the Legislation Module for information about the content of effective domestic violence laws.
Sources: CEDOVIP. 2001. Kawempe Division passes first ever domestic violence by-law in Uganda; Penal Reform International. 2000. Access to Justice in sub-Saharan Africa: The role of traditional and informal justice systems, pp.49-50, 60-62.
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