“‘Violence against women’ means all acts perpetrated against women which cause or could cause them physical, sexual, psychological, and economic harm, including the threat to take such acts; or to undertake the imposition of arbitrary restrictions on or deprivation of fundamental freedoms in private or public life in peacetime and during situations of armed conflicts or of war…”
Article 1, Maputo Protocol
The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (the “Maputo Protocol”) is a women’s rights treaty adopted to complement the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights. It is one of three treaties worldwide that focuses exclusively on women’s rights and directly addresses state responsibility to eliminate violence against women.
The Maputo Protocol covers a wide spectrum of women’s rights and incorporate provisions that relate to the specific threats women encounter – including violence in the family, at work, in their communities and during times of armed conflict. It calls for the elimination of all forms of gender-based violence within the rights to life, integrity and security of the person (Article 4), with other provisions reinforcing state obligation to end gender-based violence and discrimination. It contains progressive wording on sexual and reproductive rights (Article 14) the right to “a positive cultural context” (Article 17) and a “healthy and sustainable environment (Article 18). As well as the right to be protection of the rules of international humanitarian law in armed conflict (Article 11) the Maputo Protocol includes the “right to a peaceful existence and the right to participate in the promotion and maintenance of peace.”(Article 10) including diversion of military spending to social development, particularly for women (Article 10(3) It is also the first women’s rights treaty in the world to call for the elimination of female genital mutilation (Article 5) and address the HIV/AIDS pandemic through women’s experiences of it (Article 14).
The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights is responsible for interpreting issues related to the application of the Maputo Protocol, and states are required to include information on its implementation in their biennial reports to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the “Commission”).