Criminal Laws

Last Updated May, 2010

 

Legislation should ensure all forms of widow maltreatment are criminalized and are non-compoundable. Legislation should ensure that widows have access to justice, equal protection of the law and prompt redress for the harm that they have suffered. See: Roles and Responsibilities.

 

Drafters should ensure that criminal laws prohibiting the maltreatment of widows supersede customary laws and practices that condone or authorize these violations. Legislation should state that the payment of bride price is not a defense to any forms of maltreatment of widows.

 

Legislation should appropriately penalize and punish acts of violence against women carried out as intimidation or retribution. Such violence and harassment may include violence, threats including threats of bewitchment, acid attacks, stove burnings, forced evictions, demands for the return of bride price, interference with family relations, crimes against property, and “honour” crimes. Criminal legislation should also provide for criminal no contact orders, which are similar to civil orders for protection, and may be a part of the criminal process when a violent offender is accused of a crime. For example, see: Domestic Abuse Act of Minnesota, (1979), Minnesota, §518B.01 Subd.22.