Putting human rights of our women first!!

The Equality Now, a Kenya based NGO, successfully advocated for the ratification of the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa to address human rights abuse suffered by women and adolescent girls.

The advocacy led to ratification of the Protocol in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Guinea-Bissau and Zimbabwe, and securing Sao Tome and Principe as a signatory. And its domestication and implementation of the Protocol were promoted among 16  countries of the African Union (AU).

“We have promoted increased collaboration between governments and civil society organisations, in partnership with the African Union and UN Women, in the application of a multi-sectoral approach as a tool for implementing the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa. Over and above this, we have produced an extensive manual on the Protocol to guide legal action for defending the rights of women and young girls. It has been well received in various quarters and is currently being translated into Arabic and Portuguese while the French version is being edited for publication. While the initial phase of the Solidarity for African Women’s Rights (SOAWR) campaign had focused on making the Protocol popular across the continent and lobbying member states to ratify it, the second phase of the campaign  is critical to ensure that women actually enjoy those rights provided for in the Protocol. The NEPAD Spanish Fund grant enabled us to set out the necessary tools to actualise rights and in building support and collaboration with relevant stakeholders. This solid base will greatly contribute to making significant advances in the campaign and thereby enabling African women to enjoy their human rights.” Equality Now .

In Sudan and Ethiopia successfully interceded to ensure that charges were dropped against a girl and 2 women accused of adultery and public indecency in Sudan:

“In 2012, Intisar Sharif Abdalla, a mother of three, was charged with adultery and sentenced to death by stoning under Article 146 of the Penal Code. She initially denied the charges and “admitted” to adultery only after being beaten and tortured by her brother and was denied access to a lawyer at the hearing. In addition, she was not provided with an interpreter to translate the court proceeding conducted in Arabic, which is not her native language. Her co- accused denied the charges and was never prosecuted. After an urgent global action released by Equality Now and representation from Mutawinat in her appeal, the case was retried and dismissed and Ms. Intisar was released.”

In 2013, a pregnant and divorced 19-year old Ethiopian woman was gang-raped  by seven men. After a video surfaced on social media of the brutal attack, she was arrested along with the perpetrators under Article 149, which exposes the victim to prosecution if she reports a rape. The Attorney General consistently blocked her from filing a rape complaint on the basis that she was under investigation for the criminal offense of offending public morality. At one point, she even faced a sentence of death by stoning for adultery, as the prosecutor debated her marital status before affirming that she was divorced. She was found guilty of committing indecent acts, sentenced to one month in prison, and fined.  Moreover, immigration charges were brought against her, which carried a two- year prison sentence and subsequent deportation. After Equality Now issued another global action calling for her release, the prosecution announced that it was no longer pursuing immigration charges and she was provided medical care following the birth of her child”.