Equality Now

Equality Now is an international human rights advocacy organization, with offices in New York, Nairobi and London, committed to ending violence and discrimination against women and girls around the world. It was among the first international organizations to develop advocacy campaigns to protect the fundamental rights of women and girls.
Sep 9, 2010

Update on AGLDF

Updates on Ethiopia and Zambia cases: Excellent news is that the government of Zambia decided to not pursue an appeal in R.M.'s case, rendering the judgment final and possible to site as precedent. To support R.M.’s case and to respond more strategically and collectively, AGLDF convened a coalition of Zambian organizations that were already working on issues relating to violations of the rights of girls. Recently, Equality Now secured a three-year grant from the UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women to scale up the activities of the coalition. Additionally, Zambian officials acknowledged the outpouring from our Women’s Action Network, and the Ministry of Education asked for our help in drafting guidelines to protect schoolgirls from sexual violence.

In Ethiopia, our staff continues to work to negotiate a friendly settlement on Woineshet's behalf.

Other current cases: Incest in Pakistan: AGLDF is pursuing a case where a 15-year-old girl (N) was raped by her father. In Pakistan, there is no specific law on incest in the penal code, and given the conservative nature of society, issues such as rape and incest are surrounded by stigma and very difficult to address.

Working with a local partner, we found a pro-bono lawyer who was successful in persuading the police to not dismiss the case and getting the prosecutor, who was bribed by the father, suspended. We hope to set a precedent and work towards including a provision on incest in Pakistan’s penal code, making it a higher offense than rape. To facilitate this case, AGLDF will continue to strategize with N’s lawyer, consult with and support local groups, and monitor N’s situation.

FGM in Kenya: AGLDF is monitoring a case seeking justice for a 10-year-old Maasai girl, who bled to death after being subjected to FGM in Kenya. Her father and the circumciser were arrested and are facing manslaughter charges. AGLDF retained a lawyer to help the prosecution bring a successful case (public prosecutors in Kenya are often not lawyers themselves), but the case has stagnated because the police have not tracked down the defendants so that they appear in court. AGLDF is working with our local partner to put pressure on the police to investigate so that the case can move forward.

Potential New Cases Peacekeeper abuses: There are numerous incidents involving the sexual abuse of young girls by UN peacekeepers and aid workers. AGLDF is working with a lawyer on possibly bringing a class action suit in US courts on behalf of the victims against the perpetrators and the senior UN officials (past and present) who have not acted sufficiently.

Acid attacks, Pakistan/ Bangladesh: Acid attacks on girls are commonly used as a form of revenge for refusal of sexual advances, proposals of marriage and demands for dowry. AGLDF is studying the issue and is in talks with local groups to strategize on legal reform and identify roadblocks in survivor’s access to justice.

Sex tourism: Sex tourism originating from the United States is a major human rights issue facing adolescent girls in several countries as well as a contributing factor to sex trafficking. Building on Equality Now’s long history of working to shut down U.S.-based sex tour operators, we are exploring initiating a civil lawsuit on behalf of the young girls who are abused by convicted sex tourists.

Rape by pastor, Kenya: A pastor raped three young girls in his congregation, but instead of charging him with “defilement” (statutory rape), the prosecutor charged him with “indecent exposure,” which has a minimal sentence. This case shows problems with the implementation of the law, especially when the perpetrator is influential. Thus, our local partner is working to have the charges amended, but if they are not successful, AGLDF will take this case to demonstrate the impediments to protecting girls’ rights in the system of justice.

Aug 11, 2010

Summer 2010 Update on AGLDF

Pakistan – incest (AGLDF) The trial date in N’s case has now been postponed to September 2, 2010. We have commenced work on our report on rape and incest in Pakistan and are currently working on compiling a list of good practices on procedural and substantive laws on rape/incest from around the world. We are coordinating with our partner organization War Against Rape to assemble a list of attending Pakistani organizations for the workshop on incest we plan to hold in December.

Zambia – teacher rape Equality Now is currently compiling model school guidelines on sexual harassment and grievance procedures to submit to the Zambian Ministry of Education to help them formulate guidelines to address violence against schoolgirls.

Possible new cases Brazil Sex tourism Equality Now is investigating a sex tourism case involving a US citizen who has been accused of bringing onto his fishing tours in Brazil young girls who were then sexually exploited by his clients. We have written statements from five of the victims and are exploring the possibility of bringing a lawsuit in the United States on behalf of them. Through this civil litigation against a sex tourism company, we hope to obtain restitution for the girls as well as set a legal precedent on civil remedies available to such victims, which we hope will serve as a deterrent to sex tourists.

May 12, 2010

AGLDF Update

Case Updates

Incest in Pakistan: N was the victim of brutal incest by her father, and with the support of her mother and her mother’s family, insisted on pursuing her case, even as the police tried to discourage her from making a statement. Currently, N is reunited and living with her mother and all of her siblings and has just finished her 9th grade board exams.

The case is now in trial and a number of hearings have taken place. Unfortunately, the previous Superintendent Police (SP), who was sympathetic to N’s case, was reassigned, and a new SP was appointed. Luckily, before leaving, the SP declared the perpetrator guilty in his final police report, and N’s lawyer is working towards getting this report admitted as evidence into the trial.

N’s aunt and uncle from her father‘s side and her teacher have also changed their testimony, which has hampered the trial. N’s lawyer predicts that this will be a long and slow trial, and Equality Now plans to visit Pakistan to continue to assist in the case, including by monitoring court proceedings.

FGM in Kenya: AGLDF was monitoring a case of a 10-year-old Maasai girl who bled to death after being subjected to FGM in Kenya. Her father and the circumciser were arrested but subsequently absconded. AGLDF and our local partner Tasaru Ntomonok Initiative (TNI) put pressure on the police to find the perpetrators, and they were finally arrested in February 2010. Both pled guilty to manslaughter, and on April 1, 2010 each was sentenced to ten years in prison. This case was important in demonstrating to the Maasai community that the Kenyan law enforcement system is serious about the implementation of the anti-FGM law. In addition, it helped raise awareness of the potentially deadly consequences of the practice.

During our intervention with the Kenyan police in this case, we realized that police officers responsible for implementing the anti-FGM law have limited knowledge of the law as well as of the harmful consequences of FGM. As a result, while the legal case has ended, Equality Now and its Kenyan partner TNI continue to follow up with the police in order to encourage them to hold training session on these matters.

Abduction and rape to force marriage in Ethiopia: Since friendly negotiations with the Ethiopian government have failed to produce a reasonable settlement for Woineshet, Equality Now is requesting that the African Commission declare the case admissible.

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