The Costs of Marital Rape in Southern Africa
Wednesday, September 10, 2008 5:32 PM

On the 16th and 17th of August, 2008, the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) signed the Protocol on Gender and Development. The signing of this Protocol commits SADC countries to a series of changes that work toward ensuring gender equality. SADC countries will amend constitutions to provide equal rights for women, and work to reduce maternal mortality rates by 75%.

Nada Ali, from Human Rights Watch, applauds this development but also raises the concern that domestic violence issues are not adequately addressed in the Protocol. There continues to be no legal provision outlawing marital rape, and Ali points out that the lack of such a law is detrimental to fighting the HIV epidemic. In The Independent, Ali states, “victims of domestic violence, including marital rape, are at increased risk of HIV infection and their ability to get effective HIV treatment is drastically undermined.” According to interviews conducted by Ali, women who fear abuse by their husbands are less likely to obtain and commit to HIV treatment. Without an amendment to the Gender and Development Protocol, SADC countries risk undermining efforts to combat and prevent the spread of HIV.

To view the complete Protocol, click here. (PDF 42 pages)

Compiled from: Nada Ali, “The Costs of Marital Rape in Southern Africa,” The Independent, 18 August 2008.