Violence against women is disturbingly persistent and pervasive in the Commonwealth with women's subordinated status, prevalent gender-biased norms and practices including patriarchal mind-sets contributing to such violations. Most Commonwealth countries have either a specific law to address the rights of women or broad legislation that covers domestic violence. However, the implementation of such laws has not been without problems as cultural norms and practices often impede women's access to justice.
This publication aims to strengthen jurisprudence of equality on violence against women by bringing together theory and practice, particularly the analysis and summary of significant case law, to serve as a resource for the judiciary in jurisdictions connected by the common law.
It challenges the reliance on gender stereotypes which have influenced judicial decisions and elaborates on the relevant human rights standards for judiciaries to consider when adjudicating cases on violence against women.
Gladys M'sodzi Mutukwa is a former Chair of WILDAF (Women in Law and Development in Africa) and is a leading women's rights advocate in Southern and East Africa.
Introduction Definition of violence against women in national and regional contexts Discussion of relevant human rights standards (international/regional/sub-regional) in relation to: a) how the courts might better apply human rights standards? b) issue of failure to protect - actions against the state Discussion on bias in the courtroom - internal/external contributory factors Case Law Comparative table of relevant legislation in Commonwealth member countries Further resources