Throughout this knowledge module, reference to certain provisions or sections of a piece of legislation, part of a legal judgment, or aspect of a practice does not imply that the legislation, judgment, or practice is considered in its entirety to be a good example or a promising practice.

Some of the laws cited herein may contain provisions which authorize the death penalty. In light of the United Nations General Assembly resolutions 62/14963/16865/206, and 67/176 calling for a moratorium on and ultimate abolition of capital punishment, the death penalty should not be included in sentencing provisions for crimes of violence against women and girls.

Other Provisions Related to Domestic Violence LawsResources for Developing Legislation on Domestic Violence
Sexual Harassment in Sport Tools for Drafting Sexual Harassment Laws and Policies
Immigration Provisions Resources for developing legislation on sex trafficking of women and girls
Child Protection Provisions Resources on Forced and Child Marriage
Other provisions related to dowry-related and domestic violence laws
Related Tools

Civil lawsuits

Last edited: January 26, 2011

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Some harmful practices may be recognized as an injury that gives rise to civil liability. 

Civil lawsuits are a valuable supplement or alternative to criminal prosecution, civil protection orders, and other available legal remedies. Depending on the facts of the case and the law of the jurisdiction, the forms of relief available to successful plaintiffs in civil lawsuits may include compensatory damages, punitive damages, declaratory and injunctive relief, and a court order requiring the defendant to pay the prevailing plaintiff’s attorney fees. In many legal systems, civil actions have advantages over criminal actions. Civil cases are governed by a lower burden of proof than criminal cases, complainants/survivors have control over the action, and some complainants/survivors consider the types of relief granted in a successful civil lawsuit more helpful than incarceration of the perpetrator. (UN Handbook, 3.12)

  • Legislation should allow civil lawsuits against perpetrators of harmful practices. 
  • Legislation should abolish any obstacles that prevent girls or their parents or guardians, or women from bringing civil lawsuits against a family member who is a perpetrator. 
  • Legislation should abolish any requirement that the consent of a husband or other family member be obtained in order to bring a civil lawsuit. 
  • Legislation should allow survivors/complainants to bring civil lawsuits against governmental or non-governmental parties for not exercising due diligence to prevent, investigate or punish harmful practices. 
  • Legislation should allow survivors/complainants to bring civil lawsuits on the basis of anti-discrimination laws, human rights provisions, or civil rights laws.