Prohibition on the use of harmful traditional dispute resolution mechanisms

Laws continue to exist in many countries whereby a perpetrator of violence against women is absolved of his crime if he pays the victim or her family or marries the victim. These practices not only deny women victims/survivors justice but also constitute harmful practices in and of themselves. Such is the case with the practice of “payback rape” whereby men who are members of a tribe or family of a woman who has been raped, rape a woman from the tribe or family of the perpetrator as “payback.” Or instances of forced marriage where a woman who has been raped is forced to marry the perpetrator. 

Such harmful dispute resolution practices should be eliminated and should not preclude state prosecution. Legislation to eliminate harmful practices should:

  • require a full investigation and prosecution of harmful practices regardless of any settlements that the victim, her family and the offenders have reached;
  • place responsibility for prosecuting harmful practices with the prosecutor and not with the victim or her family (See: UN Handbook, p. 40);
  • require pro-arrest and pro-prosecution policies (See: UN Handbook, p. 41); and

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