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

Drafting the Legislative Preamble to Laws Addressing Harmful Practices

Last edited: January 26, 2011

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The legislative preamble sets the stage for the entire piece of legislation. The following elements are important to a strong and inclusive legislative preamble:

  • Legislation should “acknowledge[s] that all forms of violence against women, including all harmful practices, are a form of discrimination, a manifestation of historically unequal power relations between men and women, and a violation of women’s human rights.” (See: Good Practices on Harmful Practices Expert Group Report, p. 11) (emphasis added))
  • A statement that harmful practices against girl children are forms of child abuse;

“ All women, regardless of class, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, income, culture, educational level, age and religion, enjoy the basic rights inherent to the human person, and are ensured the opportunities and facilities to live without violence, preserve their physical and mental health and their moral, intellectual and social improvement.” Article 2;

  • Legislation should be directed towards preventing harmful practices in all forms and protecting women and girls from harmful practices committed by all perpetrators, including state agents and public agencies, as well as private entities, including family members, community, traditional and religious leaders, and groups of people; 
  • Legislation should explicitly state that harmful practices may not be justified by reference to any custom, tradition or religious consideration, and prohibit customs, practices and social and cultural patterns that discriminate against women and girls and perpetuate harmful practices (See:  UN Handbook 3.1.5);
  • A statement that the state has the duty to prevent harmful practices, to investigate and prosecute cases of harmful practices, to investigate and prevent cases of imminent harmful practices, to protect potential victims, to punish perpetrators of harmful practices, and to give support to survivors of harmful practices; and
  • Legislation should refer to international and regional human rights conventions for a human rights framework to addressing harmful practices.