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Supplement to the Handbook for Legislation on Violence against Women

image of Supplement to the Handbook for Legislation on Violence against Women

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Recommendations for legislation on “harmful practices”

There are examples where multiple legal systems have resulted in negative outcomes for women victims/survivors of “harmful practices”. This has particularly been the case in countries where multiple legal systems are either explicitly or tacitly endorsed by the Constitution. To counteract this, a number of States have adopted Constitutional provisions which explicitly state that, where customary or other legal systems exist, they must function in accordance with human rights standards. For example, under Uganda’s Constitution, “[l]aws, cultures, customs or traditions which are against the dignity, welfare or interest of women or which undermine their status are prohibited by this Constitution”. The South African Constitution states that “[w]hen interpreting any legislation, and when developing the law or customary law, every court, tribunal or forum must promote the spirit, purport and objects of the Bill of Rights”.

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