Scorecard on GBV Laws and Policy in Africa: Engaging men and boys in the prevention and elimination of gender-based violence on the African continent

In preparation for the 57th Commission on the Status of Women held in New York – March 2013, Sonke Gender Justice, with support from UNFPA, SIDA and UN Women, developed a scorecard of GBV Laws and Policies in Africa in order to address the priority theme, the elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls. This scorecard provides an assessment of whether national policies and laws in the African region sufficiently attempt to engage men and boys in the prevention and elimination of gender-based violence (GBV).

In Issue 4
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The scorecard analyses policies and laws from eleven African countries: the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The document also offers recommendations for how such policies can increase the commitment and capacity of men and boys to play a proactive role in preventing and eliminating GBV.

The analysis found that out of the eleven countries, Uganda ranked the highest in terms of possessing policies and laws that proactively engage with men, followed by Zambia, Rwanda and South Africa. Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone and Ethiopia were ranked the lowest. It was noted however, that there are still various challenges in terms of the laws and policies within countries such as Uganda, where for example homosexuality is criminalised and marital rape is not.

The analysis found that seven out of the eleven African countries do not possess laws which criminalise marital rape, including the DRC, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

Several of the policies acknowledge that GBV is facilitated by social norms of male superiority, male sexual entitlement and the equation of masculinity with violence. A number of countries recognised the need to do gender transformation work in order to reduce rates of GBV. For example, in Uganda, many policies focus on sensitizing males and females on harmful values and beliefs on male dominance and female subordination and are committed to promoting gender equality.

However, while many policies and plans recognise that GBV is fuelled by negative masculine behaviours, a number of them do not make clear the importance of addressing this as a means of advancing women’s rights. There are very few plans in place that encourage men and boys, particularly those in leadership positions, to speak out publicly against GBV and act as advocates for change.

Unfortunately, almost none of the countries analysed had any legislation or policy aimed at protecting members of the LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) community. Even South Africa, where laws are progressive and homosexuality is not criminalised, crimes such as rape, assault and murder perpetrated against LGBTI persons as hate crimes are not recognised and addressed as such, and are instead tried as ordinary criminal offences.

The scorecard was presented at the 57th CSW in New York and was well received. All of the available hard copies were picked up and various organisations and UN agencies have requested extra copies. The scorecard will also be disseminated at events within the region, as well as to MenEngage partners, with the intention of being used as a policy advocacy tool to strengthen the engagement of men within policy for the prevention of gender-based violence.

>>Download the Scorecard on GBV Laws and Policies

By Hayley Thomson-de Boor from Sonke Gender Justice Network