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.