Gender Gender

Marital rape gender-based violence, says UN Women

THE United Nations (UN) Women has called on all governments to explicitly criminalise marital rape as it is gender-based violence (GBV) against a spouse.
In Zambia, the Anti-gender-based Violence Act states that marital rape is an offence although there is no provision in the Penal Code, making it difficult for prosecution.
UN Women executive director Phumzile Ngcuka said currently more than half of all countries do not yet have laws that clearly criminalise marital rape or that are based on the principle of consent.
She said this ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, which fell on November 25.
“Along with criminalising rape, there is need to place the victim at the centre of response and also holding rapists to account.
“This means strengthening the capacity of law enforcement officials to investigate these crimes and supporting survivors through the criminal justice process, with access to legal aid, police and justice services, as well as health and social services, especially for women, who are most marginalised,” Ms Ngcuka said.
She said having more women in the police service and training them adequately is a crucial first step in ensuring that survivors begin to trust it again and feel that their complaint is being taken seriously at every stage of what can be a complex process.
Ms Ngcuka said progress also requires that relevant authorities tackle the many institutional and structural barriers, patriarchal systems and negative stereotyping around gender that exist in security, police and judicial institutions, as they do in other institutions.
“Those who use rape as a weapon know just how powerfully it traumatises and how it suppresses voice and agency. This is an intolerable cost to society. No further generations must struggle to cope with a legacy of violation,” she said.

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