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Inconsistent norms and procedures

Last edited: December 20, 2011

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It can be difficult to reform a system that operates inconsistently. When there are clear rules and procedures for how a justice mechanism deals with a problem, often one can quickly identify which part of the system could be changed so as to improve outcomes for women and girls. Some informal systems operate with clear procedures and normative frameworks, but other informal systems handle similar cases in different ways, the rules of procedure may change depending on who is in charge, and the normative framework can change relatively quickly.

These characteristics can make programming challenging, because it has also been shown that forcing an informal mechanism to act in a more consistent manner may not be a helpful reform strategy. Practitioners around the world have found that working with these characteristics, instead of against them can lead to more effective programming. However, women and girl victims of violence must consistently be kept safe and perpetrators must consistently be subject to sanctions in order for the informal justice sector to be meeting its obligation to uphold the human rights of women and girls.