Ethiopia—Committee for the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women—Gender-based Violence—January 2019

In January of 2019, the Advocates for Human Rights submit a report to the 72nd Session of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women concerning Ethiopia’s compliance with the Convention.

The report is primarily concerned with domestic and gender-based violence against women as well as gender-based violence committed by the Ethiopian Defense Forces, private militia groups, and police. While the report recognized efforts with a view toward gender equality in government, such as the first female supreme court chief and first female president, issues of domestic violence, marital rape, and emerging forms of gender-based violence threaten women’s safety. Problematic laws such as the Anti-terrorism Proclamation and the Charities and Societies Proclamation threaten the work of women in civil society and unfairly limit their free speech and expression. In particular, the laws seek to punish women who advocate for persecuted ethnic minorities. Additionally, there are prevalent accounts of prison guards raping and torturing women inmates with impunity. Furthermore, the report finds that sexual harassment and gender-based discrimination are common, with 86.3% of women in 2008 reporting sexual abuse or harassment (Awassa university study from paragraph 27).

To address these concerns, the report suggests possible recommendations, including:

  • In consultation with civil society and non-governmental organizations, amend the 2009 CSP and ATP to allow civil society to operate freely without government intervention and to allow political opposition groups to operate without fear of arbitrary arrest or detention of members.
  • Encourage the inclusion and participation of women in non-governmental organizations and civil society through committing financial resources to initiatives that raise awareness about women’s rights and provide assistance for victims of gender-based violence.
  • Create a mechanism to ensure that individuals are not arrested and detained without due process.
  • Develop and implement oversight and accountability mechanisms to ensure that detention centers operate in accordance with international human rights standards.
  • Implement programs raising public awareness about all forms of gender-based violence against women.
  • Train legal and health service providers on best practices for supporting victims and survivors of gender-based violence.