Mauritanian Law: Victims of Sexual Assault May Be Imprisoned
Monday, May 11, 2009 1:22 PM

On 8 May 2009, the IRIN Humanitarian News and Analysis project of the UN Office for the Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs reported that in the West African country of Mauritania, women who assert that they are the victims of sexual assault often experience punishment instead of the legal protection they seek.

Currently, Mauritania does not have a law or government policy directed at rape, however, there is a law prohibiting sex between unmarried persons. This legal deficiency is compounded by a strong social stigma, with the result being that alleged rape victims may themselves be accused of violating the law. Thus far in 2009, seven women have been imprisoned after attempting to report sexual assault.

Representatives of the Mauritanian government told IRIN that the country is working to bring its laws into compliance with the requirements of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and to revise the country's penal code in order to define and criminalize rape.

Compiled from: Mauritania: Rape Victims Seek Justice, Find Jail, IRIN Humanitarian News and Analysis (8 May 2009); Mauritania: Rape Victims Seek Justice, Find Jail, (8 May 2009).