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Friday 23 July 2010

Uganda becomes the 28th State Party to the Maputo Protocol!

VERSION FRANCAISE

The Coalition of the Campaign welcomes the ratification by Uganda of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol), on July 22, 2010. In acceding to this instrument, the Ugandan authorities have formally committed to promote and protect the rights of women guaranteed by this Protocol. In accordance with the provisions of this Protocol, the Ugandan authorities committed to take all necessary measures, including by adopting an adequate legislative framework, to fight against all forms of discrimination against women, ensure their rights to dignity, life, safety, health, access to justice, education, participate in political processes or their social and economic rights.

The Coalition of the campaign recalls that although several laws have been recently enacted by the Ugandan authorities to improve the situation of women, their implementation continues to be hindered by the persistence of deeply entenched traditions and patriarchal attitudes, especially in rural areas. The Coalition calls on Uganda to organize as soon as possible raise-awareness campaigns on the provisions of the Maputo Protocol, also directed to those responsible for law enforcement.

The Coalition of the Campaign Africa for Women's Rights: Ratify and Respect struggle for African states to ratify, without reservations, the international and regional instruments for the protection of women's rights and for them to respect their commitments. Since the launch of the campaign in 2009, 3 States have ratified the Maputo Protocol - the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Cameroon and Uganda, bringing to 28 the number of African Union (AU) member states parties to the Protocol - and 2 States have ratified the Protocol to the CEDAW - Guinea-Bissau and Equatorial Guinea - bringing to 19 the number of AU member States Parties to this Protocol.

Friday 5 March 2010

Dossier of Claims: Uganda

RATIFY! Although Uganda ratified the Convention on Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1985, it is yet to ratify its Optional Protocol and has not ratified the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol).

RESPECT! The Coalition of the Campaign is particularly concerned about the following continued violations of women’s human rights in Uganda: persistent discriminatory laws and customs; physical violence; unequal access to property; and limited access to justice.

Some positive developments…

The Coalition of the Campaign acknowledges the recent adoption of several laws and policies aimed at improving respect for women’s rights, including:

• The adoption of the Female Genital Mutilation Act in December 2009, which criminalises female circumcision. The Act is expected to come into force in 2010.

• The adoption of the Domestic Violence Act in November 2009, criminalizing domestic violence.

• The adoption of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act in 2008, which prescribes penalties from 15-years to life imprisonment.

• The launch by the government in November 2009 of a Road Map aimed at reducing maternal mortality, however, this campaign is silent on unsafe abortions.

DISCRIMINATION AND VIOLENCE PERSIST

In Law

In Uganda statutory law is applied alongside customary and religious laws. While the Constitution of 1995 provides for equal rights between men and women (article33) and holds laws and customs that violate the constitutional guarantees on equality to be void (Article 33(6)); discriminatory statutory, customary and religious laws remain in force.

Discriminatory statutory laws include:

Property: According to the Succession Act, property is apportioned among the deceased’s family members according to fixed proportions and widows stand to inherit 15%. If there is more than one wife, the property is shared. Under Section 27 of the Succession Act, girls cannot inherit their father’s property. FIDA-U and other women’s rights organisations successfully petitioned the Constitutional Court to declare this provision unconstitutional, however, the Attorney General has yet to reform the Succession Act to address this issue.

Most areas of family law are currently regulated by discriminatory customary and religious laws, for example:

Marriage and divorce: Although under statutory law, the minimum legal age of marriage is 18 years for both men and women, according to customary law marriages are frequently arranged for minors, especially in rural areas. In 2004, it was estimated that 32% of girls between 15 and 19 years of age were married, divorced or widowed. Polygamy is authorised under customary and Islamic law and women in polygamous relationships have no protection in the event of dissolution of the union. In some ethnic groups, custom also provides for men to “inherit” the widows of their deceased brothers (levirat).

Custody of children: Although the Status of Children Act 1996 provides that both parents are responsible for supporting children, under customary law men have sole parental authority. A draft marriage and divorce law was presented to Parliament at the end of 2009. The draft law grants women the right to divorce spouses for cruelty, the right to choose their spouse and prohibits the practice of levirat. It also provides for equal division of property and finances in the event of divorce. However, the draft does not prohibit polygamy nor does it prohibit the “bride price” but only provides for it to be non-refundable. The proposed law would govern Christian, Hindu, and traditional marriages but not Muslim marriages. Thus many women in Uganda - where an estimated 12% of the population are Muslims - would be excluded from its application. Property: According to customary law, women do not have the right to own or inherit property.

In Practice

Although several laws have recently been enacted to improve the situation of women, their implementation is hindered by traditions and deeply entrenched patriarchal attitudes, especially in rural areas. Years of armed conflict in the northern parts of the country have also contributed to massive violations of women’s human rights.

Violence

There is widespread violence against women in Uganda and perpetrators benefit from generalised impunity, in part due to widespread social attitudes condoning such violence. Law enforcement officials rarely intervene in cases of domestic violence and wife beating is viewed as a husband’s prerogative. Rape is a serious problem in Uganda. Indeed, most rape cases are unreported and most recorded complaints are not investigated. In 2008, of the 477 rapes that police recorded, 115 were taken to court; there were no convictions. Rape was widely used as a weapon of war during the civil war since 1986. An undetermined number of women and girls were victims of abduction, rape and sexual slavery, perpetrated by rebel forces and the Ugandan People’s Defense Force (UPDF). Female genital mutilation (FGM) remains a common practice within the Sabiny Tribe, in the Kapchorwa district in the East and the Pokot ethnic group along the northeastern border.

Obstacles to access to education

Girls and boys have equal access to education in law, and they are represented almost equally in lower grades; however, the proportion of girls in higher school grades remains low, partly due to the fact that families traditionally favor boys when financially supporting their education. Parents’ inability to afford schooling correlates highly with the occurrence of child labor in rural areas. According to estimates in 2007, only 66 percent of females are literate compared with 82 percent of males. The drop-out rate of girls is higher due to other factors e.g. access to sanitary facilities, school-feeding, etc.

Obstacles to access to property

Although there are no laws preventing women from owning land in Uganda, the custom of male inheritance has resulted in the vast majority of women being excluded from land ownership. Whilst women do most of the agricultural work, it is estimated that they own only 7 percent of agricultural land. To counter this trend and curb the widespread dispossession of wives and widows, activists have campaigned for reforms to Uganda’s property laws to provide for spouses to be deemed co-owners of “family land,” ie. Land on which the married couple lives and depends. __ Obstacles to access to justice__ Ugandan women do not have adequate access to justice to claim, in particular as a result of inadequate information on their rights and laws protecting them, social pressure, cost of procedure and lack of training of law enforcement personnel trained on women’s rights.

THE COALITION OF THE CAMPAIGN CALLS ON THE AUTHORITIES OF UGANDA TO:

• Reform or abolish all discriminatory laws, in conformity with CEDAW.

• Take all necessary measures to enforce constitutional provisions rendering void discriminatory laws and customs, including implementation of campaigns to raise awareness of community and religious leaders on women’s rights.

• Ensure the full implementation of the Domestic Violence Act 2009 and the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2009, including by ensuring that victims of violence have access to immediate means of redress and protection and that perpetrators are prosecuted and punished; implementing training for law enforcement personnel, the judiciary and health workers; implementing public awareness campaigns and adopting a zero tolerance policy on all forms of violence against women.

• Eliminate all forms of discrimination with respect to the ownership, co-sharing and inheritance of land.

• Increase women’s access to education, including by expanding free education and addressing socio-economic and cultural factors that impede access to education.

• Take all necessary measures to ensure women’s access to justice, including by ensuring that women are aware of their rights and of mechanisms of access to justice; and providing access to free legal representation.

• Strengthen efforts to address stereotypical attitudes about the roles and responsibilities of women and men, including educational measures, awareness-raising and public education campaigns directed at women and men.

• Include women, from all ethnic groups, in national reconciliation and peace building initiatives, in accordance with UN Resolutions 1325 and 1820, and ensure that such initiatives include measures of accountability, redress and rehabilitation for women and girls who have been victims of violations.

• Ratify the Maputo Protocol and the Optional Protocol to CEDAW.

• Implement all recommendations issued by the CEDAW Committee, in August 2002.

Principal sources

• Focal Points: FHRI, FIDA-U

• Recommendations of the CEDAW Committee, August 2002

• AFROL, Gender profile, www.afrol.com

• Inter Parliamentary Union, www.ipu.org

• Wikigender, www.wikigender.org

THE CAMPAIGN FOCAL POINTS IN UGANDA

Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI) FHRI is an independent, non-partisan human rights NGO established in 1991. FHRIconducts human rights monitoring, promotes access to justice for poor and vulnerable groups and raises awareness. FHRI’s main activities on women’s rights include: promoting access to justice; providing pro-bono legal assistance to women victims of violations; and raising awareness on domestic violence and women’s rights. www.fhri.or.ug

Association of Women Lawyers in Uganda (FIDA-U) FIDA-U is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit making civil society organization, composed of Ugandan women lawyers, which aims to achieve observance of the law, human rights and gender equality. www.fidauganda.org

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Wednesday 13 January 2010

Steps forward for women in Uganda?

VERSION FRANÇAISE

Source: Womensnews
By Claire Hoi

On 11 November 2009, The Ugandan National Assembly finally adopted a law criminalising domestic violence. On 10 December, defenders of women's rights won a further victory when a bill prohibiting female genital mutilation flew through parliament. These two new laws are currently awaiting signature by the President to take effect.

It is hoped that these developments may also pave the way for the adoption of further reforms on women's rights, in particular concerning discrimination in the areas of marriage and divorce.

A draft law on marriage and divorce is currently before Parliament. The draft law grants women the right to divorce spouses for cruelty, the right to choose their spouse and the abolition of the customary practice of widow inheritance. Polygamy is prohibited. It also provides for equal division of property and finances in the event of divorce.

However, the proposed law would govern Christian, Hindu, and traditional marriages but not Muslim marriages. Thus many women in Uganda - where an estimated 12 % of the population are Muslims - would be excluded from its application.

Furthermore, the current bill does not prohibit the traditional practice of the husband's family giving marriage gifts to the wife's family, the so-called « bride price »,which can inhibit abused woman from leaving their husbands for fear that they could demand refund of the gifts. However, in the proposed legislation, bride price will not be returnable in the event of divorce.

Friday 10 July 2009

ENGAGEZ VOUS POUR LES DROITS DES FEMMES !

Communiqué de presse

La coalition l'Afrique pour les droits des femmes : ratifier et respecter lance un appel aux Etats n'ayant toujours pas ratifié le Protocole à la Charte africaine relatif aux droits de la femme en Afrique

english version

Le 11 juillet 2009 - Aujourd'hui le Protocole à la Charte africaine des droits de l'Homme et des peuples relatif aux droits de la femme en Afrique fêtera ses six ans. Adopté en 2003 à Maputo, Mozambique, et entré en vigueur en 2005, le Protocole a désormais été ratifié par la majorité des Etats africains qui se sont engagés à «éliminer toutes formes de discrimination à l'égard des femmes et (à) assurer la protection des droits de la femme». Cependant 26 Etats n'ont toujours pas ratifié le Protocole** .

Ce texte extrêmement important, à l'instar de la Convention des Nations unies sur l'élimination de toutes les formes de discrimination à l'égard des femmes (Convention CEDAW) ratifiée par la quasi totalité des Etats africains, offre un cadre juridique de référence pour assurer le respect des droits humains des femmes: élimination des discriminations et des pratiques néfastes; droit à la vie et à l'intégrité physique; égalité des droits en matière civile et familiale ; accès à la justice; droit de participation au processus politique; protection dans les conflits armés; droits économiques et protection sociale; droit à la santé et à la sécurité alimentaire, etc.

Convaincues que la lutte contre les discriminations et les violences à l'égard des femmes passe par la modification du cadre législatif, plus d'une centaine d'associations ont lancé, le 8 mars dernier la campagne «L'Afrique pour les droits des femmes: Ratifier et Respecter» appelant les États africains à ratifier le Protocole de Maputo et les autres instruments de protection des droits humains des femmes et à tout mettre en oeuvre pour garantir le respect de leurs dispositions.

Menée par la Fédération internationale des ligues des droits de l'Homme (FIDH), en coopération avec cinq organisations régionales africaines*** , cette campagne est soutenue par de nombreuses personnalités, telles les prix Nobel de la paix Mgr Desmond Tutu et Shirin Ebadi, les prix Nobel de littérature, Wole Soyinka et Nadine Gordimer, par les artistes Angélique Kidjo, Tiken Jah Fakoly et Youssou N'Dour ou encore par Mme Soyata Maiga, Rapporteure spéciale de la Commission africaine des droits de l'Homme et des peuples sur les droits des femmes en Afrique.

Toutes les organisations et personnalités signataires de la campagne vous appellent par conséquent à saisir l'occasion de l'anniversaire du Protocole à la Charte africaine sur les droits de la femme en Afrique pour le ratifier et ainsi affirmer vos engagements en faveur des droits des femmes dans vos pays.


** Algérie, Botswana, Burundi, Cameroun, Congo-Brazzaville, Côte d'Ivoire, Egypte, Erythrée, Ethiopie, Gabon, Guinée, Guinée équatoriale, Kenya, Madagascar, Maurice, Niger, Ouganda, République centrafricaine, Sao Tome et Principe, Sierra Leone, Somalie, Soudan, Swaziland, Tchad, Tunisie


*** Femmes Africa Solidarités (FAS), Women in Law in South Africa (WLSA), African Center for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS), Women in Law and Development in Africa (WILDAF) et Women's aid Collective (WACOL)

COMMIT TO THE PROTECTION OF WOMEN'S RIGHTS!

Press Statement

The coalition of the campaign "Africa for women's rights : ratify and respect !" issues a call to states that have failed to ratify the Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women in Africa

version française

11 July 2009 - Today marks the sixth anniversary of the adoption of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa. Adopted in 2003 in Maputo, Mozambique, the Protocol entered into force in 2005 and has now been ratified by the majority of African states which have thus committed themselves to “ensur(ing) that the rights of women are promoted, realised and protected”. However, 26 States have yet to ratify the Protocol** .

This Protocol, like the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW Convention) which has been ratified by almost all African States, provides a legal framework of reference for ensuring respect for women's human rights: elimination of discrimination and harmful practices; right to life and to physical integrity; equality in the domain of the family and civil rights; access to justice; right to participate in the political process; protection in armed conflicts; economic rights and social protection; right to health and food security, etc.

Convinced that the fight against discrimination and violence against women requires changes to the the legal framework, on 8 March this year over one hundred organisations launched the campaign “Africa for Women's Rights: Ratify and Respect” calling on African States to ratify the Maputo Protocol and the other women's rights protection instruments and to take all necessary measures to guarantee respect of their provisions.

Initiated by the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), in cooperation with five African regional organisations*** , this campaign has the support of patrons including the Nobel Peace Prize Laureates Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Shirin Ebadi, the Nobel Literature Prize Laureates Wole Soyinka and Nadine Gordimer, the artists Angélique Kidjo, Tiken Jah Fakoly and Youssou N'Dour, as well as Ms. Soyata Maiga, Special Rapporteur of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa.

All the organisations involved in the campaign, and the campaign's patrons, call on the Presidents of the 26 states that have not yet done so, to seize the occasion of this anniversary to ratify the Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women in Africa and thus affirm their commitments to respecting the rights of women.


** Algeria, Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo-Brazzaville, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Niger, Saharawi Arabic Democratic Republic, Sao Tome et Principe, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Swaziland, Tunisia, Uganda


*** Femmes Africa Solidarités (FAS), Women in Law in South Africa (WLSA), African Center for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS), Women in Law and Development in Africa (WILDAF) et Women's aid Collective (WACOL)

Friday 17 April 2009

Portraits de femmes par Titouan Lamazou

Titouan Lamazou, navigateur, parrain de l'association Lysistrata et artiste a décidé de se consacrer depuis maintenant huit ans au projet "femmes du monde". Il parcourt les continents afin d'interviewer des femmes de tous horizons sur leur condition, leur vie. Il réalise des portraits de chaque femme qu'il rencontre, en vidéo, photo et aquarelle.

L’association Lysistrata a pour mission de soutenir des initiatives dont le but est de défendre les femmes dans le monde et d’améliorer leur sort. Ce soutien, technique ou financier, favorise les initiatives locales.

Dans ce film, Adak , soudanaise, raconte que lorsque son mari est décédé pendant la guerre, tout ce que le couple possédait lui a été retiré. « Selon les coutumes qui existent ici, lorsque le mari meurt, c’est le beau-frère qui hérite de tout et de la femme aussi. Cette loi familiale a été faite pour favoriser les hommes et considérer les femmes comme leur propriété, au même titre que le bétail. Donc les femmes n’ont aucun droit. Et ces lois sont reconnues jusque devant la Cour suprême. Les femmes ne sont pas des objets, mais des êtres humains. Je pense aussi que le changement doit passer par les lois et pas seulement par les mentalités. C’est au parlement de voter une loi spécifiant que les femmes ont des droits et ne sont pas la propriété de l’homme. Tout le monde devrait être traité avec équité devant la loi ».

En RDC, Françoise raconte les circonstances de son viol par des militaires en 2003... Cathy, membre de Solidarité des Associations Féminines pour les Droits de la Femme (SAFDF), une organisation congolaise qui lutte pour l’accès des femmes à la justice, aborde les divers problèmes liés au viol: l'indifférence des autorités, constituées pour la plupart d'hommes, la contamination des femmes violées par le virus du sida, l’exclusion des victimes rejetées par leurs familles, la prise en charge des enfants issus du viol et l’impunité des auteurs de crimes sexuels. Pour palier à l’absence des femmes dans les services de police et de justice, et contrer les réticences des victimes agressées par des hommes à exposer leurs problèmes devant d’autres hommes, l’association de Cathy accompagne ces femmes pour « les rapprocher de la justice ».


Zanouba est réfugiée au Tchad pour fuir les persécutions du régime de Khartoum. Elle explique les conditions de vie des femmes dans le camp d'Iriba qui accueille environs 15 000 réfugiés: les guerres entre les différentes familles au sein des camps, la violence des hommes, les longues jounées des femmes qui sont souvent les seules à travailler, les marches interminables pour aller chercher du bois et de l'eau au cours desquelles les viols sont fréquents.


A Gulu, au Nord Est de l’Ouganda, Rose Marie soigne les victimes du conflit qui oppose l’Armée de Résistance du Seigneur (un groupe armé rebelle) aux forces gouvernementales. Les garçons sont enrôlés comme soldats de Dieu, les filles les plus jolies offertes aux combattants, les autres abattues. Le dispensaire de Rose Marie accueille ces jeunes filles qui ont été kidnappées, violées, esclavagisées et tente de les aider à se réinsérer dans la société et à vivre après de telles souffrances. « Depuis tant d’années, sans jamais baisser les bras devant le cynisme épouvantable des pouvoirs, sans céder à la peur et aux menaces, Rose Marie s’applique à réparer des vies dévastées ».