Sisters For Change has delivered a range of VAWG programmes in the UK and globally. Our UK work focuses on investigating and documenting public authority responses to violence against Black, Asian, Minoritised and Migrant (BME) women across England and campaigning for an effective and inclusive Domestic Abuse Bill in England & Wales. Our international work focuses on implementation of international legal standards on gender equality and VAWG and reform of laws that discriminate or fail to protect women and girls. SFC reports and briefing notes offer concrete legal and policy analysis and recommendations for improving responses to discrimination and violence against women and girls. Our learning resources include SFC VAWG training courses and related case studies.

This briefing paper commissioned by Sisters For Change and authored by Prof. Thandabantu Nhlapo analyses seminal decisions of the South African Constitutional Court addressing conflicts between customary law and women’s constitutional equality rights. The first part of the paper discusses the meaning and the position of customary law in the South African legal system. The paper then explores the implications of legal dualism before considering key decisions of the Consitutional Court (and decisions of lower courts on key issues which the Constitutional Court has not yet addressed) under five themes: marriage and divorce; inheritance; access to land; traditional leadership; and domestic violence.

This report explores the prevalence of discrimination, harassment, violence and sexual exploitation in Namibia and discusses a series of recent case studies demonstrating gaps in legal protection. The report considers international and regional human rights conventions and legal standards relevant to harassment, hate speech and sexual exploitation and analyses the criminal offences, civil wrongs and civil remedies which currently exist in Namibia to tackle physical, verbal and online harassment. The report concludes with a detailed examination of three different models of harassment laws from the Commonwealth countries of the United Kingdom (England and Wales); South Africa and Canada. Four separate volumes of appendices related to this report are also available to download in PDF format, providing excerpts of legislation on discrimination, harassment and sexual exploitation from across the regions of the Commonwealth – Africa, Asia, Caribbean and the Americas, Europe and Pacific – as well as relevant international and regional conventions and directives. They are available here.

This report commissioned by Sisters For Change explores the link between gender bias and stereotyping and violence against women and girls. The report analyses the development of international and regional standards and jurisprudence on State obligations to eliminate gender bias and stereotyping and identifies case studies of good practice from Commonwealth jurisdictions including Canada, Fiji, Namibia, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, which have produced pioneering case law and domestic legislation explicitly targeting gender bias. The purpose of this report is to highlight positive developments in international and regional standards, domestic legislation and case law targeting gender bias and stereotyping to inform and improve judicial decision-making in cases of violence against women and girls across the Pacific Island region and the wider Commonwealth.

This report commissioned by Sisters For Change analyses international and regional anti-discrimination and equality standards relating to sex/gender, sexual orientation and gender identity and presents models of good practice of constitutional equality norms and anti-discrimination and equality laws from across the world. This report provides a detailed consideration of the extent to which discrimination on grounds of sex/gender, sexual orientation and gender identity is prohibited in the domestic laws of 14 countries across the five regions of the Commonwealth (Africa, Asia, Caribbean, Europe and Pacific). The purpose of the report is to support legislative reform of discriminatory laws in Commonwealth countries in order to advance equality.

This report commissioned by Sisters For Change analyses the criminalisation of marital rape and intimate partner sexual violence across the Commonwealth. It explores the colonial origins of the marital rape exemption before examining in detail the development of international and regional human rights standards relating to marital rape and gender-based violence. Through a series of country case studies, the report analyses inadequate legislative protections in relation to marital rape and the challenge that religious and customary laws in plural systems pose to legislative reform before discussing three different legislative models which have been adopted by Commonwealth countries. The purpose of this report is to advance and support the legislative reform of discriminatory laws in those Commonwealth countries where the marital rape exemption still exists in one form or another.

This report commissioned by Sisters For Change provides a comprehensive legal review of Muslim family laws across Commonwealth Asia and Africa, analysing the nature and extent to which they discriminate against Muslim women and girls. The report discusses the work of the CEDAW Committee in urging legal reform of discriminatory religious and personal laws; highlights the critical legal advocacy work of domestic Women’s Human Rights organisations across 10 Commonwealth countries; and analyses steps taken by governments to reform and/or overcome resistance to legislative change. The report concludes by making a series of recommendations for each of the countries reviewed. The purpose of this report is to advance and support the reform of family and personal laws that discriminate against Muslim women and girls.

This report commissioned by Sisters For Change provides a comparative legal review of gender recognition laws across the Commonwealth. It outlines the international and regional human rights standards for recognising gender identity and expression and provides a comparative analysis of legal gender recognition laws in seven Commonwealth countries – New Zealand, Malaysia, India, Namibia, South Africa, Guyana and Malta. The report concludes by drawing out broad themes from the country case studies and providing a set of practical general recommendations for legal reform. The purpose of this report is to provide guidance to Commonwealth countries wishing to develop domestic gender recognition laws.

The report highlights the shocking findings of the biggest in-depth survey ever conducted in Indonesia to measure work-place exploitation and the prevalence of harassment, abuse and sexual violence experienced by women domestic workers in employers’ homes. The survey was designed by Sisters For Change and carried out by JALA-PRT union leaders and members across Greater Jakarta, south Sulawesi, Yogyakarta special region, and Central Java.

This report was produced by Sisters For Change (SFC), the National Dalit Movement for Justice (NDMJ) and Dalit Sthree Sakthi (DSS), three independent NGOs that use law as a tool for social change and as a means to hold state authorities to account. Though in-depth legal case evidence and analysis of hundreds of cases of violence against Dalit women and girls that, the findings in this report highlight the multiple obstacles that Dalit women face to access justice and persistent and systemic violations of Dalit women’s human rights, including their fundamental rights to equal protection of the law.

This report evidences the high levels of discrimination and violence suffered by Dalit women in Karnataka State, Southern India and the failings of the criminal justice system in investigating and prosecuting perpetrators. It makes 9 concrete recommendations to policy-makers.

This report evidences the high levels of sexual harassment, violence and abuse suffered by women garment workers in Bangalore, India. It highlights the failure of corporate compliance with domestic law and the lack of government monitoring of internal grievance procedures and complaints.

This report provides a comprehensive and critical analysis of village-level implementation of Indonesian domestic laws relating to violence against women and community responses to sexual and domestic violence against women and girls. The area of study is a conservative regency of rural Java, Indonesia.

This report by Sisters For Change, in partnership with The Manchester Maya Project (a consortium of specialist Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic and Migrant (BME) violence against women service providers) is the result of extensive research examining local authority responses and approaches to domestic abuse; commissioning and funding of domestic abuse services across Greater Manchester, UK. The report raises serious questions as to the compliance of local services with their homelessness, safeguarding, equality and human rights duties in relation to BME women victims of domestic abuse.

In 2017, Sisters For Change launched its report, Unequal Regard, Unequal Protection: Public authority responses to violence against Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BME) women in England at the House of Lords in London. The report, assessing six local authority areas across England, was produced in collaboration with five BME Violence Against Women (VAW) service providers. It presents the most extensive analysis of public authority responses to violence against BME women to date, with a scope that ranges from an evaluation of current practices of commissioning and funding of BME VAW service providers, to a legal analysis of the weaknesses and failings in current public authority and criminal justice responses to BME victims of domestic abuse and slavery, domestic homicide, trafficking and child sexual exploitation, to findings revealing discrimination in the provision of social care and support to BME victims of violence.

From 2018 – 2020, Sisters For Change developed a series of briefing notes aimed at non legal experts working locally or globally in the field of women’s rights and VAWG in an effort to explain key legal concepts and terminology, seminal treaties and core legal principles. A selection are presented below. Please access more notes through the Briefing Notes and Learning Resources tabs above.

Understanding Legal Terminology – A Guide for Non-lawyers, 2020

International Human Rights Treaty Bodies – A Guide for Non-lawyers, 2020

CEDAW – A Guide for Non-lawyers, 2020

A Practical Guide to making a complaint to the CEDAW Committee, 2020

The Maputo protocol – A Guide for Non-lawyers, 2020

A Practical Guide to the Istanbul Convention, 2020

Gender Discrimination – A guide to key concepts and terms, 2020

The prohibition of Gender Discrimination in International Law, 2020

The Criminalisation of Marital Rape across the Commonwealth, 2020

A Guide to International Legal Standards on Gender Stereotyping, 2020

The response of public authorities to violence against BME women in England, 2019

From 2018 – 2020, Sisters For Change developed a series of briefing notes aimed at non legal experts working locally or globally in the field of women’s rights and VAWG in an effort to explain key legal concepts and terminology, seminal treaties and core legal principles. A selection are presented below. Please access more notes through the Briefing Notes and Learning Resources tabs above.

UK compliance with the Istanbul Convention, 2018

Improving public authority responses to violence against BME women, 2018

Improving public authority responses to high risk victims of domestic abuse, 2018

Improving accountability in local government responses to domestic abuse & VAWG, 2018

Oversight & accountability: Role & powers of the Domestic Abuse Commissioner, 2018

Definition of domestic abuse, 2018

Sisters For Change submitted a response to the Government Consultation on the Domestic Abuse Bill in 2018 and written evidence to Parliamentary Select Committees scrutinising the Bill in 2018 and 2019. These are available for download below.

From 2018 – 2020, Sisters For Change developed a series of briefing notes aimed at non legal experts working locally or globally in the field of women’s rights and VAWG in an effort to explain key legal concepts and terminology, seminal treaties and core legal principles. A selection are presented below. Please access more notes through the Briefing Notes and Learning Resources tabs above.

SFC PowerPoint Presentation 1: International Protection of Women’s Rights – Introduction to CEDAW

SFC PowerPoint Presentation 2: Holding state authorities to account for violence against women and girls

SFC PowerPoint Presentation 3: VAWG: The duty to investigate crimes of series violence and illustration through two key cases

Key case: Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis v DSD and another, UK Supreme Court, February 2018

SFC Case Study 1: Failure to provide suitable accommodation for BME women victims of domestic abuse, resulting in hate crimes

SFC Case Study 2: Breach of equality and human rights duties in provision of homelessness accommodation to BME victims of domestic abuse

SFC Case Study 3: Failure to safeguard vulnerable BME women victims of violence results in eviction and denial of access to children

This briefing paper commissioned by Sisters For Change and authored by Prof. Thandabantu Nhlapo analyses seminal decisions of the South African Constitutional Court addressing conflicts between customary law and women’s constitutional equality rights. The first part of the paper discusses the meaning and the position of customary law in the South African legal system. The paper then explores the implications of legal dualism before considering key decisions of the Consitutional Court (and decisions of lower courts on key issues which the Constitutional Court has not yet addressed) under five themes: marriage and divorce; inheritance; access to land; traditional leadership; and domestic violence.

This report explores the prevalence of discrimination, harassment, violence and sexual exploitation in Namibia and discusses a series of recent case studies demonstrating gaps in legal protection. The report considers international and regional human rights conventions and legal standards relevant to harassment, hate speech and sexual exploitation and analyses the criminal offences, civil wrongs and civil remedies which currently exist in Namibia to tackle physical, verbal and online harassment. The report concludes with a detailed examination of three different models of harassment laws from the Commonwealth countries of the United Kingdom (England and Wales); South Africa and Canada. Four separate volumes of appendices related to this report are also available to download in PDF format, providing excerpts of legislation on discrimination, harassment and sexual exploitation from across the regions of the Commonwealth – Africa, Asia, Caribbean and the Americas, Europe and Pacific – as well as relevant international and regional conventions and directives. They are available here.

This report commissioned by Sisters For Change explores the link between gender bias and stereotyping and violence against women and girls. The report analyses the development of international and regional standards and jurisprudence on State obligations to eliminate gender bias and stereotyping and identifies case studies of good practice from Commonwealth jurisdictions including Canada, Fiji, Namibia, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, which have produced pioneering case law and domestic legislation explicitly targeting gender bias. The purpose of this report is to highlight positive developments in international and regional standards, domestic legislation and case law targeting gender bias and stereotyping to inform and improve judicial decision-making in cases of violence against women and girls across the Pacific Island region and the wider Commonwealth.

This report commissioned by Sisters For Change analyses international and regional anti-discrimination and equality standards relating to sex/gender, sexual orientation and gender identity and presents models of good practice of constitutional equality norms and anti-discrimination and equality laws from across the world. This report provides a detailed consideration of the extent to which discrimination on grounds of sex/gender, sexual orientation and gender identity is prohibited in the domestic laws of 14 countries across the five regions of the Commonwealth (Africa, Asia, Caribbean, Europe and Pacific). The purpose of the report is to support legislative reform of discriminatory laws in Commonwealth countries in order to advance equality.

This report commissioned by Sisters For Change analyses the criminalisation of marital rape and intimate partner sexual violence across the Commonwealth. It explores the colonial origins of the marital rape exemption before examining in detail the development of international and regional human rights standards relating to marital rape and gender-based violence. Through a series of country case studies, the report analyses inadequate legislative protections in relation to marital rape and the challenge that religious and customary laws in plural systems pose to legislative reform before discussing three different legislative models which have been adopted by Commonwealth countries. The purpose of this report is to advance and support the legislative reform of discriminatory laws in those Commonwealth countries where the marital rape exemption still exists in one form or another.

This report commissioned by Sisters For Change provides a comprehensive legal review of Muslim family laws across Commonwealth Asia and Africa, analysing the nature and extent to which they discriminate against Muslim women and girls. The report discusses the work of the CEDAW Committee in urging legal reform of discriminatory religious and personal laws; highlights the critical legal advocacy work of domestic Women’s Human Rights organisations across 10 Commonwealth countries; and analyses steps taken by governments to reform and/or overcome resistance to legislative change. The report concludes by making a series of recommendations for each of the countries reviewed. The purpose of this report is to advance and support the reform of family and personal laws that discriminate against Muslim women and girls.

This report commissioned by Sisters For Change provides a comparative legal review of gender recognition laws across the Commonwealth. It outlines the international and regional human rights standards for recognising gender identity and expression and provides a comparative analysis of legal gender recognition laws in seven Commonwealth countries – New Zealand, Malaysia, India, Namibia, South Africa, Guyana and Malta. The report concludes by drawing out broad themes from the country case studies and providing a set of practical general recommendations for legal reform. The purpose of this report is to provide guidance to Commonwealth countries wishing to develop domestic gender recognition laws.

The report highlights the shocking findings of the biggest in-depth survey ever conducted in Indonesia to measure work-place exploitation and the prevalence of harassment, abuse and sexual violence experienced by women domestic workers in employers’ homes. The survey was designed by Sisters For Change and carried out by JALA-PRT union leaders and members across Greater Jakarta, south Sulawesi, Yogyakarta special region, and Central Java.

This report was produced by Sisters For Change (SFC), the National Dalit Movement for Justice (NDMJ) and Dalit Sthree Sakthi (DSS), three independent NGOs that use law as a tool for social change and as a means to hold state authorities to account. Though in-depth legal case evidence and analysis of hundreds of cases of violence against Dalit women and girls that, the findings in this report highlight the multiple obstacles that Dalit women face to access justice and persistent and systemic violations of Dalit women’s human rights, including their fundamental rights to equal protection of the law.

This report evidences the high levels of discrimination and violence suffered by Dalit women in Karnataka State, Southern India and the failings of the criminal justice system in investigating and prosecuting perpetrators. It makes 9 concrete recommendations to policy-makers.

This report evidences the high levels of sexual harassment, violence and abuse suffered by women garment workers in Bangalore, India. It highlights the failure of corporate compliance with domestic law and the lack of government monitoring of internal grievance procedures and complaints.

This report provides a comprehensive and critical analysis of village-level implementation of Indonesian domestic laws relating to violence against women and community responses to sexual and domestic violence against women and girls. The area of study is a conservative regency of rural Java, Indonesia.

This report by Sisters For Change, in partnership with The Manchester Maya Project (a consortium of specialist Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic and Migrant (BME) violence against women service providers) is the result of extensive research examining local authority responses and approaches to domestic abuse; commissioning and funding of domestic abuse services across Greater Manchester, UK. The report raises serious questions as to the compliance of local services with their homelessness, safeguarding, equality and human rights duties in relation to BME women victims of domestic abuse.

In 2017, Sisters For Change launched its report, Unequal Regard, Unequal Protection: Public authority responses to violence against Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BME) women in England at the House of Lords in London. The report, assessing six local authority areas across England, was produced in collaboration with five BME Violence Against Women (VAW) service providers. It presents the most extensive analysis of public authority responses to violence against BME women to date, with a scope that ranges from an evaluation of current practices of commissioning and funding of BME VAW service providers, to a legal analysis of the weaknesses and failings in current public authority and criminal justice responses to BME victims of domestic abuse and slavery, domestic homicide, trafficking and child sexual exploitation, to findings revealing discrimination in the provision of social care and support to BME victims of violence.

From 2018 – 2020, Sisters For Change developed a series of briefing notes aimed at non legal experts working locally or globally in the field of women’s rights and VAWG in an effort to explain key legal concepts and terminology, seminal treaties and core legal principles. A selection are presented below. Please access more notes through the Briefing Notes and Learning Resources tabs above.

Understanding Legal Terminology – A Guide for Non-lawyers, 2020

International Human Rights Treaty Bodies – A Guide for Non-lawyers, 2020

CEDAW – A Guide for Non-lawyers, 2020

A Practical Guide to making a complaint to the CEDAW Committee, 2020

The Maputo protocol – A Guide for Non-lawyers, 2020

A Practical Guide to the Istanbul Convention, 2020

Gender Discrimination – A guide to key concepts and terms, 2020

The prohibition of Gender Discrimination in International Law, 2020

The Criminalisation of Marital Rape across the Commonwealth, 2020

The response of public authorities to violence against BME women in England, 2020

A Guide to International Legal Standards on Gender Stereotyping, 2020

From 2018 – 2020, Sisters For Change developed a series of briefing notes aimed at non legal experts working locally or globally in the field of women’s rights and VAWG in an effort to explain key legal concepts and terminology, seminal treaties and core legal principles. A selection are presented below. Please access more notes through the Briefing Notes and Learning Resources tabs above.

The response of public authorities to violence against BME women in England, 2020

From 2018 – 2020, Sisters For Change developed a series of briefing notes aimed at non legal experts working locally or globally in the field of women’s rights and VAWG in an effort to explain key legal concepts and terminology, seminal treaties and core legal principles. A selection are presented below. Please access more notes through the Briefing Notes and Learning Resources tabs above.

UK compliance with the Istanbul Convention, 2018

Improving public authority responses to violence against BME women, 2018

Improving public authority responses to high risk victims of domestic abuse, 2018

Improving accountability in local government responses to domestic abuse & VAWG, 2018

Oversight & accountability: Role & powers of the Domestic Abuse Commissioner, 2018

Definition of domestic abuse, 2018

Sisters For Change submitted a response to the Government Consultation on the Domestic Abuse Bill in 2018 and written evidence to Parliamentary Select Committees scrutinising the Bill.

SFC Learning Resources include 3 PowerPoint Presentations in PDF format that were delivered at Sisters For Change VAWG Legal Workshops held for VAWG front-line service providers and case workers between 2017 and 2019.

The presentations are on the following topics: (1) the international protection of women’s rights under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women; (2) the obligations of public authorities in the UK to protect victims from violence under the Human Rights Act 1998; (3) key domestic and ECHR cases on the duty to investigate sexual violence crimes (with the UK case also available in full for download). 

In addition, we have designed a series of 3 case studies to assist frontline BME VAW support workers to challenge unlawful decisions by public authorities. These are also available for download below.

SFC PowerPoint Presentation 1: International Protection of Women’s Rights – Introduction to CEDAW

SFC PowerPoint Presentation 2: Holding state authorities to account for violence against women and girls

SFC PowerPoint Presentation 3: VAWG: The duty to investigate crimes of series violence and illustration through two key cases

Key case: Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis v DSD and another, UK Supreme Court, February 2018

SFC Case Study 1: Failure to provide suitable accommodation for BME women victims of domestic abuse, resulting in hate crimes

SFC Case Study 2: Breach of equality and human rights duties in provision of homelessness accommodation to BME victims of domestic abuse

SFC Case Study 3: Failure to safeguard vulnerable BME women victims of violence results in eviction and denial of access to children

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