The ICJ at the forefront in the struggle to eliminate violence against women
Over the last year, since 25 November 2016, the ICJ has published a series of (video) profiles introducing the remarkable work of ICJ women Commissioners and Honorary Members.
“The ICJ has a strong focus on the struggle to eliminate violence against women. It is supporting the judiciary, independent civil society organizations and women’s rights defenders, in their work to promote international standards, ensure that victims are made visible and that States understand their responsibilities and obligations. At the same time, the ICJ provides much-needed judicial education on gender-based violence,” said Justice Radmila Dragicevic-Dicic, ICJ Commissioner, member of ICJ’s Executive Committee, and Justice of the Supreme Court of Serbia, on the occasion of 25 November, International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
ICJ Commissioners have been at the forefront of the work to reform justice systems to make it easier for women to take cases of domestic violence to the courts, to punish perpetrators of rape and sexual assault as a war crime, to challenge discriminatory religious and family laws and to support victims of human trafficking and forced prostitution.
The ICJ has also supported judicial training programmes on access to justice for women. In 2016, the ICJ, in collaboration with UN Women, hosted a workshop for representatives from the judiciaries of Indonesia, Philippines, Timor Leste, and Thailand.
The participants of the workshop developed and adopted the Bangkok General Guidance for Judges in Applying a Gender Perspective.
In follow up, for example, the Supreme Court of Indonesia has now issued a Regulation based on the General Guidance, requiring judges to apply a gender perspective as they consider cases before them that involve women’s human rights.
Working in partnership with other organizations and the UN, the ICJ and its Commissioners will continue to work to ensure justice for women and to end gender-based violence.
The video interviews of ICJ women Commissioners and Honorary Members can be accessed here:
Justice Radmila Dragicevic-Dicic has worked on issues of organized crime and human trafficking. In the Serbian Constitution, human trafficking is now categorized as a crime against humanity and is taken very seriously. Radmila highlights the importance of ensuring the non-punishment, safety and protection of victims as well as their right to access compensation.
Prof Jenny Goldschmidt is a former President of the Equal Treatment Commission of the Netherlands and has combined academic research with practical work, with a particular focus on non-discrimination and the concepts of equality. She considers it is vital to take cases to the Treaty Bodies and courts everywhere to establish severe measures against discrimination and domestic violence.
Asma Jahangir is an Honorary Member of the ICJ, and the co-founder of Pakistan’s first all female law firm. She worked on a number of landmark cases including on issues such as whether women could get married without their father’s permission, be entitled to family maintenance or whether women should be judged according to religious law.
Imrana Jalal is a human rights lawyer and gender specialist in the Asian Development Bank in Manila. Imrana helped draft and negotiate the passage of the ground-breaking Fiji Family Law Act, which took twelve years to pass. She considers that in the area of family law, some progress has been made but it is hard because it is based on the premise that women have an equal right to property and this directly confronts social norms.
Hina Jilani is an advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and served as the first UN Special Representative on Human Rights Defenders. She considers domestic violence in Pakistan as a major problem. Although the Pakistani judiciary is traditionally very conservative, Ms Jilani considers there has been progress because women’s rights advocates present cases in such a way as to make the social inequalities and injustices apparent.
Justice Sanji Monageng is a member of the International Criminal Court. She considers that the ICC has not done very well in prosecuting sexual and gender-based violence so far. The new Chief Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, has created a policy on sexual violence and gender issues, establishing a dedicated unit. She says is it evident in the cases that now come before her, there is a lot more attention being paid to sexual violence.
Karinna Moskalenko is a Russian lawyer and a founder of the International Protection Centre in the 1990s after Russia had ratified the Optional Protocol to the ICCPR. She explains her work to support women who are much more vulnerable than men, particularly because of the problem of domestic violence.
The former ICJ Vice-President Michèle Rivet was the first President of the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal from 1990 and until 2010. For Michèle, those who work in the field of human rights form a global village and have a duty to help women victims of violence: “we must all walk together on the long march to equality.”
Prof. Leila Zerrougui is Algerian and has served at the Algerian Supreme Court. She worked in the DRC as part of the UN Stabilization Mission and was Special Representative of the Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict. In the DRC, she established mobile criminal justice system, with an investigator, prosecutor and a mobile court and prison in every Province. In this context, she explained how rewarding it was to see a colonel taken to the village where he and his soldiers had raped women to face justice there.
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