Last updated May 2010


Implementation of laws

Legislation should include all necessary provisions for full implementation of the laws on sexual assault, including development of protocols, regulations, and standardized forms necessary to enforce the law.  Legislation should require that these protocols, regulations and forms be developed within a limited number of months after the law is in force, and legislation should provide a fixed time that may pass between the adoption of a law on sexual assault and the date that it comes into force.  See: UN Handbook, 3.2.6 and 3.2.7.


Legislation should require full and sustained funding necessary for implementation of the law.  Legislation should provide for a specific institution to monitor the implementation of the laws on sexual assault, and for the regular collection of data on sexual assaults. See: UN Handbook, 3.3.1 and 3.3.2.


The Sexual Offences Act (2006) of Kenya includes the following provision:


“The Minister shall (a) prepare a national policy framework to guide the implementation, and administration of this Act in order to secure acceptable and uniform treatment of all sexual related offences including treatment and care of victims of sexual offences; (b) review the policy framework at least once every five years; and (c) when required, amend the policy framework. Section 46


 For detailed provisions on implementation, see the section on Funding Implementation in Implementation of Laws on Violence Against Women and Girls of the Legislation Module of



Prevention of sexual assault

Legislation should include detailed provisions for prevention of sexual assault, including public education on the human rights of women and girls and public awareness of laws and penalties. For detailed examples of country sexual assault prevention campaigns, see the Sexual Assault section in Public Awareness and Education in Implementation of Laws on Violence Against Women and Girls of the Legislation Module of


Legislation should require full funding necessary to implement provisions on prevention of sexual assault. 



Penalties for non-compliance

Legislation should provide for effective sanctions against all authorities who do not comply with the provisions. See: UN Handbook, 3.2.8.



Extraterritorial jurisdiction

Legislation should provide that persons who commit a sexual assault outside of the state are subject to the jurisdiction of the courts of the state if they are a citizen or resident of the state or if the sexual assault was committed against a citizen or resident of the state. 


Legislation should ensure full accountability for the military troops of a state, wherever their location, and full accountability for United Nations peacekeeping forces. See: Report of the Intergovernmental Expert Group Meeting to Review and Update the Model Strategies and Practical Measures on the Elimination of Violence against Women in the Field of Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, 25 (e).


UN peacekeeping forces have been implicated in charges of sexual assault, abuse, and exploitation for years, often with impunity. UN officials and the home countries of perpetrators must work together to provide accountability for these offenders.  See: UN News Centre, “UN peacekeepers involved in abuse are being punished, world body says.” (5 November 2009.)


The UN has recently issued a code of conduct for police operating under the UN flag. See: United Nations Criminal Justice Standards for United Nations Police (2009).



Civil lawsuits

Legislation should allow civil lawsuits against perpetrators. Any requirements that do not allow women to bring civil lawsuits against a husband or family member who is a perpetrator, or that require the consent of a husband or family member in order to bring a civil lawsuit, should be abolished.  See: UN Handbook 3.12.2


Legislation should allow survivor/complainants and the families of deceased victims to bring civil lawsuits against governmental or non-governmental parties for not exercising due diligence to prevent, investigate or punish sexual violence.  Legislation should allow survivor/complainants and the families of deceased victims to bring civil lawsuits on the basis of anti-discrimination laws, human rights provisions, or civil rights laws.  See: UN Handbook. 3.12.2


CASE STUDY:  Inter-American Court of Human Rights Rebukes Government of Mexico for Inaction in Femicide Cases


In Caso González y Otras (“Campo Algodonero”) v. Mexico (Spanish only), released in December, 2009, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) found that the Mexican government did not uphold the human rights of its citizens under the American Convention of Human Rights and the Convention of Belém do Pará by failing to investigate the deaths of three women in Ciudad Juarez, which has been the site of massive, and unsolved, sexual violence and femicide since 1993. This represents the first time that an international tribunal has rebuked Mexico for its inaction in the deaths of hundreds of women in Ciudad Juarez. The IACHR ruled that Mexico has the obligation to legislate and act with due diligence to prevent, investigate and sanction violence against women. It stated that Mexico violated the human rights of the families of the victims by failing to guarantee their access to justice.


The IACHR ruled that the Mexican government must implement a number of remedies, including paying more than $200,000 to each of the families of the three women, taking steps to find the perpetrators of the femicide, and creating a monument in commemoration of hundreds of murder victims.


Estimates of the number of women killed since the femicide began in 1993 range from 350 to nearly 1000. Most of the victims are young women who work in maquiladoras, factories on the border of the U.S. The majority were lived in or near Ciudad Juarez and came from middle- and working-class households.


Activist groups in Ciudad Juarez have long called for an end to impunity for the killings. Despite the creation of a forensics laboratory, verbal agreements to solve the cases, and the naming of a special prosecutor to handle the femicide, few of the murder cases have been solved, and 18 women went missing in 2009 alone.


See: “Court cites rights failure by Mexico in Juarez killings of womenThe Los Angeles Times; (11 December 2009); and “Mexico: Rebuke on Investigation of MurdersThe New York Times (10 December 2009), and De Cicco , “Mexico-Ciudad Juarez - Disappearances & Murders of Mexican Women Finally Steps Towards Justice - Inter-American Human Rights Court Judgment,” 12 December 2009.



Insurance discrimination


Legislation should prohibit the denial or cancellation of insurance policies for crisis centres, shelters, safe houses and counseling centres or other agencies that provide assistance to victims based upon the class of clients they serve.  Legislation should prohibit insurance discrimination against victims of sexual assault and stalking in relation to health, disability, life, and property insurance. See:  The Toolkit to End Violence Against Women, Ch. 3.


Asylum law

Legislation should provide that sexual assault against a vulnerable woman may constitute persecution for purposes of asylum law.  Legislation should provide that survivors of such violence should constitute a “particular social group” for the purposes of asylum law. See: UN Handbook 3.14



Independent and favorable immigration status for survivors of sexual assault

Legislation should provide that survivors of sexual assault should not be deported or subjected to other punitive actions related to their immigration status when they report such violence to the authorities.  Legislation should allow immigrants who are survivors of violence to confidentially apply for legal immigration status independently of the perpetrator. See: UN Handbook 3.7.1.