Throughout this knowledge module, 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 62/14963/16865/206, 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.

Other Provisions Related to Domestic Violence LawsResources for Developing Legislation on Domestic Violence
Sexual Harassment in Sport Tools for Drafting Sexual Harassment Laws and Policies
Immigration Provisions Resources for developing legislation on sex trafficking of women and girls
Child Protection Provisions Resources on Forced and Child Marriage
Other provisions related to dowry-related and domestic violence laws
Related Tools


Last edited: January 26, 2011

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Legislation on violence against women should provide safety, aid, and empowerment for survivors through criminal and civil provisions that include a broad range of remedies and reparations.

Drafters should include provisions for restitution, asset forfeiture, civil liability or causes of action for sex trafficking, a crime victims’ rehabilitation fund, orders for protection or harassment restraining orders, protections for privacy, and a victim-advocate caseworker privilege. 

Drafters should add victims of trafficking to any classification or definition of “crime victim” to ensure that victims of trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation receive all of the services and benefits available.

In 2012, the Human Rights Council conducted a panel discussion on women’s human rights, including the theme of remedies and reparations for women subjected to violence. A Summary of the Human Rights Council panel discussion on the theme of remedies for women subjected to violence: Report of The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights sets forth some general principles, challenges, and promising practices in providing effective, just, and culturally sensitive reparations for women who have been subjected to violence in different contexts.

The following summary of points made during the panel discussion may guide creation of promising reparation programmes:

  • It is the obligation of States to ensure that women victims of violence have full access to justice, including reparations.
  • Reparations encompass compensation, restitution, rehabilitation, measures of satisfaction, and guarantees of non-repetition.
  • Victims must be adequately informed of their rights to reparations.
  • The reparation process should “allow for women and girls to come forward when they are ready and the registration process should take into account obstacles women may face if displacement is necessary or other costs are implicated.”
  • The reparation process “must not expose women to further harm, stigmatization and ostracism and should take into account their safety and best interest at all times, including by ensuring confidentiality and avoiding public disclosure of violations suffered.”
  • The reparation process should ensure eligibility standards for reparations are inclusive, avoid re-victimization, and are aware of obstacles and challenges victims of certain crimes may face.
  • The reparation process should ensure meaningful participation by the victim in the design and delivery of reparations.
  • Generic compensation schemes that do not have a requirement of prosecution or conviction provide a positive avenue through which women who experience violence can claim compensation. This is especially significant given the low number of convictions in various areas.
  • Remedies and reparation programmes should be also created in post-conflict settings.
  • In traditional and informal justice processes, care should be taken to monitor customary dispute-resolution mechanisms as well as differences in outcomes that exist between decisions at the formal judicial level and the non-formal process that fail to protect women’s rights.  (See also the module on Justice that reviews formal and informal justice mechanisms.)
  • In developing reparation policies and programs, there is a call for “substantive participation of women who have been subjected to violence and civil society actors, such as women’s groups and community leaders, alongside men and boys, to ensure a holistic concept of remedies and reparations.”
  • Effort should be made to ensure remedies and reparations “are specific to individual circumstances and culture in order to prevent discrimination, stigmatization, and re-victimization of victims of violence.”

(See: Summary of the Human Rights Council panel discussion on the theme of remedies for women subjected to violence, Human Rights Council, 2012)

Drafters should review Module 13 of the UNODC Anti-Human Trafficking Manual for Criminal Justice Practitioners, which explains the different forms of compensation for victims: through the assets of offenders (civil liability) or through state-funded compensation schemes. (See: UNODC Anti-Human Trafficking Manual for Criminal Justice Practitioners, Module 13, 2009)

Promising Practice: Reparations Extended to More Victims of Sexual Violence in Peru 

After six years of limiting reparations for sexual violence only to victims of rape, Peruvian congress passed a law in 2012 making victims of other forms of sexual violence eligible for civil war reparations. According to Peru’s truth and reconciliation commission, the newly recognized forms of sexual violence – including sexual slavery, forced abortion, forced prostitution and kidnapping – were widespread during Peru’s twenty-year conflict. The law will extend reparations to at least 500 more women, who now will be eligible for monetary compensation and free healthcare, therapy, and even education, since many women who experienced sexual violence during the civil war were not able to continue in school. (See: Mattia Cabitza, “Peru Widens Civil War Compensation for Victims of Sexual Violence,” The Guardian, 28 June 2012; Womankind Worldwide, Press Release, 2012 in English; DEMUS, Press Release, 2012 in Spanish).


COMP.ACT Project Case Study-

Anti-Slavery International and La Strada International initiated and led the European campaign, COMP.ACT to increase awareness and implementation of compensation measures for victims of human trafficking. The campaign lists several goals: to raise awareness and to insert compensation into the international anti-trafficking agenda; research the current options and obstacles victims face when attempting to access compensation; make recommendations for improved implementation of compensation strategies; and ensure greater access to compensation for trafficking victims in Europe. 

The campaign was based on the premise that victims of trafficking have a right to seek compensation, as established in international law, and that such measures not only empowers victims and supports recovery, but also can be seen as a prevention mechanism. The COMP.ACT coalition engaged partners in 14 countries throughout Europe to conduct research on the current measures for compensation available to victims on a national level and the various obstacles that victims face when accessing compensation. Each country-based coalition then made recommendations to address the obstacles victims face and conducted awareness raising activities in country. Internationally, partners raised awareness in the international community and conducted advocacy to include compensation measures in national, regional and international law.

In their report, COMP.ACT:  Findings and Results of the European Action for Compensation for Trafficked Persons, the coalition reports a number of results in the first three years of the project. Examples of reported successes include:

  • Partners have reported an increase in the number of trafficked persons applying for and receiving compensation. For example, since 2010, LEFӦ-IBF of Austria has claimed compensation for every trafficked person in criminal court, and that 7 persons in 2012 were awarded compensation.
  • Inclusion of compensation in anti-trafficking policies and action plans. For example, Bulgarian partners, Animus Association/La Strada Bulgaria successfully incorporated compensation into the national referral mechanism.
  • Increased knowledge of compensation and access to information and strategies to effectively claim compensation for victims and advocates. For example, La Strada Ukraine trained hotline consultants and La Strada Belarus conducted six regional trainings for law-enforcement.
  • Increased knowledge and awareness about compensation internationally. Since the beginning of the campaign, compensation has been included in a number of international or regional legislation and policy. For example, the European Union Directive 2011/36/EU includes the right to compensation, and the Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings that monitors the implementation of the Council of Europe Convention (GRETA) have included information on compensation in their country reports and recommended member states to remove any barriers that may be in place for victims of trafficking.

In addition to the above listed results, The COMP.ACT coalition produced a toolkit for practitioners working with trafficking victims. The toolkit includes a research template; awareness raising materials, including posters; and guidance for lawyers on representing trafficking persons in compensation claims.

  • COMP.ACT Toolkit, COMP.ACT Project: European Action for Trafficked Persons, 2012, in English.
  • Guidance on Representing Trafficked Persons in Compensation Claims, COMP.ACT Project: European Action for Trafficked Persons, 2012, in English.
  • Listen to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe announce the launch the COMP.ACT campaign to demand compensation for trafficking victims.  Listen in English.  

(See: COMP.ACT: Findings and Results of the European Action for Compensation for Trafficked Persons, COMP.ACT Project, 2012)


Note: While restitution, asset forfeiture and crime victims’ rehabilitation funds are typically part of the criminal law scheme addressing sex trafficking, they are included here because they should be reviewed with provisions such as civil liability claims and other means of compensating victims for harm.