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

Addressing customary laws and practices that conflict with formal laws

Last edited: January 28, 2011

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Drafters should take steps to ensure that customary practices and laws do not condone or allow forced and child marriages. Many countries separate legal systems, and formal, customary, and even state-sanctioned customary legal systems may co-exist. Conflicts among these systems, both in the written laws and their application, can arise. While one system may provide protection to women from discrimination, another system may conflict in law or practice to discriminate against women. Laws should resolve conflicts between customary and formal laws in a manner that respects the survivor’s human rights and principles of gender equality. (See: UN Handbook, p.15) Drafters should ensure that any supremacy laws include outreach to local and customary leaders to facilitate the implementation of these guarantees. Laws should ensure that use of a customary adjudication mechanism does not preclude the victim from accessing the formal justice system.

(See: Harmful Practices)

Promising Practice: Fatwas, or Islamic legal pronouncements, are issued by scholars authorized to pronounce judgments on Sharia law. In 2001, two Bangladesh High Court judges declared it illegal for any authority except for the courts to issue fatwas. When the judgment resulted in widespread backlash, women’s organizations supported them and leveraged global support for the decisions. (See: Negotiating Culture: Intersections of Culture and Violence Against Women in Asia Pacific, Mishra, 2006, p. 31)