A Shift Toward Gender Equality in Prosecutions: Realizing Legitimate Enforcement of Crimes Committed Against Women in Municipal and International Criminal Law
Southern Illinois University Law Journal, Vol. 33, No. 2, Winter 2009
35 Pages Posted: 16 Apr 2009
Date Written: April 14, 2009
A new era of law enforcement has emerged recognizing the importance of punishing gender-specific violence. This first wave of "gender-sensitive prosecutors" has changed the way crimes against women are handled in the criminal justice system. The enactment of gender neutralizing laws and policies has dramatically improved the enforcement of crimes against women and attempts to end the era of impunity. This Article addresses the changes in prosecutions and further considers international human rights treaties that require gender equality in law enforcement.
In criminal law, it is the willingness of a prosecutor to exercise his or her discretionary authority to file a case that has the most profound impact upon actual realized justice. Thus, this shift toward gender equality in enforcement directly impacts the exercise of prosecutorial discretion. This Article discusses the voluntary and involuntary changes to prosecutors' exercise of discretion to pursue justice in crimes that impact women. Recently prosecutors are giving priority to and extending specialized resources for the prosecution of gender-specific crimes, such as: domestic violence and various forms of sexual violence. Although there is still much work to be done, the modern era of enforcement of the human rights of women has begun.
Keywords: gender, prosecutorial discretion, rape, domestic violence, crimes against women
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