ActionAid UK Paper Highlights Barriers to Justice for Women and Girls Hurt by Violence

April 15, 2019

ActionAid UK this week released a global positioning paper on violence against women and girls around the world—and the barriers to justice they face. To author this work, the international human rights organization turned to DAI’s Sarah Maguire, Director of the company’s Governance team at DAI Europe.

Violence against women and girls is severe and widespread, and it prevents women across the globe from reaching their full potential. An estimated one in three women is subjected to violence, with 35 percent having experienced either physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner, or sexual violence at the hands of someone else. In many countries, survivors lack any effective means of justice, and are left without remedy or safety.

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To address this issue, ActionAid UK is launching a three-year “Justice Deficit” campaign, which includes research to influence policy change in key partner countries and in the United Kingdom to make justice for survivors of violence accessible. The Justice Deficit: A Global Overview aims to deepen and develop global positions, policy, and advocacy work on violence against women and girls, and offers policy recommendations for national governments and international donors. It focuses specifically on the role played by the justice system (or the lack thereof) in preventing and responding to this prevalent form of human rights abuse.

DAI’s Sarah Maguire led the drafting of the paper. A globally recognized expert on human rights law and violence against women and girls, Maguire has practiced at the Bar of England and Wales in criminal defense, immigration, asylum, and family law, and has served as a Senior Human Rights Adviser for the U.K. Department for International Development. At DAI, she has led human rights and justice sector programs in Pakistan, Kenya, and Sierra Leone.

“ActionAid UK has a distinguished record in the field of access to justice and on women’s and girls’ issues, both in its project implementation and in its policy work,” said Maguire. “We are delighted to be working with ActionAid on this important initiative.”

Forthcoming from ActionAID are four country case studies that will unpack justice challenges involving violence against women and girls. Partner countries for the project are Ghana, Kenya, Jordan, and Nepal—selected not for their particular records in justice and violence, but because they offer a cross-section of instances where laws are lacking, where good laws exist but implementation is lacking, and where inadequate laws and weak implementation coincide.

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