Law & the courts

Download authoritative guides to international frameworks governing women's rights, as well as country specific reports on national legal developments across Asia.

Global perspectives on women's legal rights

Landscape Analysis of Domestic Violence Laws

Trust Law (Thomson Reuters Foundation et al), 2013
"TrustLaw Connect partnered with CMS and DLA Piper International LLP to produce a comparative analysis of the laws that govern anti-domestic violence in 24 jurisdictions, specifically: Cambodia, China (PRC), Czech Republic, England & Wales, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Kenya, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, North Korea, Poland, Russia, Rwanda, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Taiwan, Ukraine and Vietnam."

Progress of the World’s Women: In Pursuit of Justice

UN Women, 2011-12

"The past century has seen a transformation in women’s legal rights, with countries in every region expanding the scope of women’s legal entitlements. Nevertheless, for most of the world’s women the laws that exist on paper do not always translate into equality and justice. In many contexts, in rich and poor countries alike, the infrastructure of justice – the police, the courts and the judiciary – is failing women..."

From Rights to Remedies: Implementing International Human Rights Decisions

Open Society Foundations (Justice Initiative), 2013

"States have the primary responsibility to implement the decisions of human rights courts and treaty bodies. A fundamental principle of the international human rights system is that only state actors, by cooperating with the international and regional systems ... can make its promise real. Thus, while the quality of the recommendations and decisions made by international systems matters, how states realize those obligations ... matters at least as much—if not more."

Women's Legal Rights over 50 Years: What is the Impact of Reform?

World Bank Policy Research Working Paper, 2013

"This study uses a newly compiled database of women’s property rights and legal capacity covering 100 countries over 50 years to test for the impact of legal reforms on employment, health, and education outcomes for women and girls. The database demonstrates gender gaps in the ability to access and own property, sign legal documents in one’s own name, and have equality or non-discrimination..."

State Accountability Framework for Eliminating Violence against Women

Due Diligence Project, 2014

"The ‘due diligence principle’, as it is commonly termed, holds States accountable for human rights abuses committed not only by the State or State actors, but also by non-State actors. Violence against women (VAW) is most often perpetrated by non-State actors — for example, a close male relative or an intimate partner.1 The due diligence principle is a critical tool in the formulation of accountability."

Customary Justice: Perspectives on Legal Empowerment

International Development Law Organisation, 2011

"Rule of law practitioners from around the world are keenly aware that customary justice systems are a potentially important means of improving access to justice. ... the world’s poor overwhelmingly favor customary justice systems over their formal counterparts. While the quality and equity of the outcomes delivered may vary, the sheer volume of outcomes suggests that there is significant opportunity to enhance legal empowerment by improving ... justice processes... communities already use."

Justice through Equality: Building Religious Knowledge for Legal Reform in Muslim Family Laws

The Oslo Coalition, Norwegian Centre for Human Rights, 2013

The report was the output of a project which brought together "a diverse group of Muslim experts to discuss gender equality in Muslim family law. They included religious scholars; experts in the social, human and legal sciences, and NGO activists. All shared a commitment to engaging with the Islamic tradition to bring about reform consonant with modern understandings of justice.”

Women & Land Rights: Legal Barriers impede Women's access to Resources

Trust Law & World Bank, 2013

"The Thomson Reuters Foundation and the World Bank partnered to better understand legal frameworks that affect women’s ability to access resources, with a particular focus on the legal and cultural barriers to women’s secure land rights. It covered both statutory and customary law..."

Regional perspectives on women's legal rights

Gender Equality in Country Constitutions of Asia and Asia Pacific

UN Women, 2013

“This document is a mapping of all provisions that relate to gender equality in the constitutions of Asia and Asia Pacific. It is a complete list that includes some provisions that are strong on ensuring gender equality, some that are weak (e.g., equality and non-discrimination guarantees that do not mention gender or sex), and some that may not comply with human rights standards such as CEDAW.”

Access to Justice for Women in plural legal systems in SE Asia

UN Women, 2014

"Despite ratification of human rights treaties, the reality for too many women is that justice remains out of reach. Even where gender-responsive laws exist, women continue to be denied justice because of deficits in the implementation of laws and their inaccessibility to women as a consequence of intersecting inequalities."

The Council of Europe Istanbul Convention

Council of Europe, 2014

On August 1, the Istanbul Convention, a landmark treaty of the Council of Europe dedicated to preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, entered into force. XX Council of Europe member states have now ratified the Istanbul Convention and 23 have indicated their political will by signing it, leaving 11 member states with no action on this at all. Read more from the EU Human Rights Commissioner Nils Muiznieks here.

CEDAW Jurisprudence 2003 - 2012

Council of Europe, 2013

This is a working paper prepared by the Council of Europe Secretariat for reference purposes only. A useful summary of case law citing CEDAW from across the EU.

EU Court of Human Rights Fact Sheet on Violence against Women

EU Court of Human Rights, June 2014

EU Court of Human Rights Fact Sheets are prepared by the Press Service and summarise the EU Court's case-law and pending cases relating to violence against women. Read more from the Council of Europe on violence against women here.

EU Court of Human Rights Fact Sheet on Domestic Violence

EU Court of Human Rights, June 2014

EU Court of Human Rights Fact Sheets are prepared by the Press Service and summarise the EU Court's case-law and pending cases relating to domestic violence. Read more from the Council of Europe on domestic violence here.

Country reports on women's legal rights

India: Verma Committee Report on Amendments to Criminal Law

Justice J. S. Verma et al, January 2013

"The constitution of this Committee is in response to the country-wide peaceful public outcry of civil society ... against the failure of governance to provide a safe and dignified environment for the women of India... The immediate cause was the brutal gang rape of a young woman in the heart of the nation’s capital in a public transport vehicle in the late evening of December 16, 2012."

India: The Reform of India’s Sexual Violence Laws

University of Oxford, Pro Bono Publico, January 2013

This paper includes the submissions prepared by Professor Sandra Fredman FBA QC (hon), with the assistance of members of Oxford Pro Bono Publico, on the invitation of the Justice Verma Committee investigating the reform of India’s sexual violence laws.

India: CEDAW Committee Concluding Observations, India 2010

UN CEDAW Committee, November 2010

[Extract] "The Committee is concerned about the lack of due diligence demonstrated by the State party in promptly investigating cases of violence against women, including sexual violence. The Committee notes with regret that the State party paid no notice to the reports of the National Human Rights Commission or to the recommendations pertaining to the investigation, the trial and the relief and rehabilitation measures needed."

India: Indian Govt Combined 4th and 5th Periodic Report to CEDAW Committee 2012

Government of India, 2012

[Extract] "The Government have undertaken various measures to address the gender stereotyping and sex roles that have been highlighted in the earlier two reports, through different modes... All forms of media have been utilised... Customary practices such as dowry, child marriage, sati, sex selective abortion etc. are addressed through legislations, programmes and community interactions."

Indonesia: CEDAW Committee Concluding Observations, Indonesia 2012

UN CEDAW Committee, July 2012
[Extract] "The Committee... remains concered about: (a) The limited information provided on the prevalence of violence against women; (b) The limited number of cases of rape and sexual assault brought to court; the lenient punishments meted out to those convicted of offences related to violence against women; ... (c) The absence of a monitoring mechanism for the enforcement of Law No. 23/2004, on domestic violence; (d) The failure to criminalize marital rape under the Criminal Code..."

Indonesia: Indonesian Govt Combined 6th & 7th Period Report to CEDAW Committee 2011

Indonesian Government (Ministry of Women's Empowerment), 2011
[Extract] "Although the Constitution of Indonesia guarantees the equality of men and women in the country, as reflected in various relevant legislation, policies and programmes, their implementation remains a challenge. Taking into account the vast geographical size and number of population, as well as the current decentralization process, dissemination and raising-awareness programmes are indeed a continuous effort."

Indonesia: Independent (shadow) report to CEDAW from Komnas Perempuan 2011

Komnas Perempuan, Indonesia National Commission onViolence against Women, October 2011
[Extract] "...several necessary improvements to the legal framework important to women’s rights in Indonesia, which were the focus of the CEDAWCommittee in its last report, have not been implemented. The revision to Indonesia’s criminal code has been lacklustre. As a result, sexual violence such as rape, sexual torture, sexual exploitation and sexual abuse experienced by women has not been fully recognized or been given the handling and attention that victims require. The delayed revision of the criminal code is thought to have
contributed to the entrenchment of impunity..."

UK: CEDAW Committee Concluding Observations, 2008

CEDAW Committee, 2008
[Extract] “The Committee calls upon the State party to ensure the full implementation of legislation on violence against women, as well as the prosecution and conviction of perpetrators … The Committee also calls upon the State party to adopt and implement a unified and multifaceted national strategy to eliminate violence against women and girls, which would include legal, education, financial and social components.”
2013 (58th Session) Concluding Observations of the CEDAW Committee are are pending publication.

UK: UK 7th Period Report to CEDAW Committee 2011

UK Government, 2011 [Extract] “VAWG is a key priority for the British Government and in November 2010, the British Government launched its “Call to End Violence Against Women and Girls,” a strategy to tackle VAWG and to outline its vision and guiding principles in this area for the next spending review period.”

UK: Women’s Equality in the UK: A Health Check, UK Shadow report to CEDAW 2013

Women’s Resource Centre, April 2013
[Extract] “The [UK] Government has made declarations supporting [women’s] equality and human rights but has reduced the UK’s national women’s and equality machinery, as well as reducing the department with this responsibility. Equally as concerning is the current threat to UK human rights protections offered to women via the Human Rights Act which Government ministers have threatened to repeal.”