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UN SG urges greater access for women to justice system

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] called [official statement] Monday for the implementation of measures to allow women greater access to justice systems. In his statement to leaders of around 80 nations during the High-Level Meeting of the General Assembly on the Rule of Law [official website], he described women as "champions for justice" who can be of great assistance in improving the rule of law in communities. For example, local women who were subject to crimes are more likely to open up to female police officers and the community would be better served if public administration can reflect both male and female perspectives. Ban laid out three commitments that nations must undertake to ensure more women have access to justice: (1) banning laws that discriminate against women; (2) employing more female leaders into the justice system; and (3) increasing funding that would break down obstacles for women in their attempt to gain access to justice. The Secretary-General added that the success of justice for women lies not within new laws or funding but within the change of mindset that values gender equality.

Last week Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] reported that Bangladesh's personal laws governing marriage, separation and divorce overtly discriminate against women [JURIST report]. In August the UN Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice [official website] called on the government of Tunisia to ensure that women's rights are protected [JURIST report] in line with the nation's international human rights obligations. The call came amid the country's new constitution which presented a setback for women's rights by making them "complementary" to men's rights. In July Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] submitted a briefing to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women [official website] detailing the failure of the Mexican government [JURIST report] to protect women from torture, killings, sexual violence and other ill-treatment. During the same month, Women Under Siege [advocacy website] found 81 instances [JURIST report] of sexual assault and rape by military forces in Syria since anti-government demonstrations began in March 2011.

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