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Handbook on Effective Prosecution Responses to Violence against Women and Girls

image of Handbook on Effective Prosecution Responses to Violence against Women and Girls

Prosecutors play a critical role in the criminal justice response to violence against women and girls. Prosecuting gender based violent crime can be challenging. Often there are a number of challenges, due to the private nature of the offence, and police investigation may be substandard. Victims may be uncooperative, withdraw or recant their complaints. Judges or juries may employ gender bias or common myths surrounding violence against women and girls when examining the credibility of the victim and the facts of the case. Drawing upon the updated Model Strategies and Practical Measures on the Elimination of Violence against Women in the Field of Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (General Assembly resolution 65/228, annex), UNODC and UN Women have drafted the Handbook on Effective Prosecution Responses to Violence against Women and Girls. Recognizing that prosecutors work in different legal systems, it is meant to be a helpful resource for individual prosecutors and prosecution services.

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The role of the prosecution agency in law reform

The laws on violence against women have evolved considerably over the last decade and prosecutors should be aware of recent national law reforms as well as champion continued law reform efforts. Given that prosecutors are the ones who seek to prove the criminal offences of the various forms of violence against women, they have essential knowledge and experience of any challenges they face in enforcing criminal laws. This might be related to how the crimes are defined and the articulated elements of the crimes, or the law, policy or practice in implementing criminal procedural and evidentiary rules in violence against women prosecutions. They are well positioned to play a leadership role in promoting legal reform in this area.

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