Sexual Violence Legislation in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Need for Strengthened Medico-Legal Linkages

Posted: 3 Feb 2010

See all articles by Nduku Kilonzo

Nduku Kilonzo

Liverpool VCT, Care & Treatment, Nairobi

Njoki Ndung'u

Director, Center for Legal Information and Communication in Kenya, Nairobi

Nerida Nthamburi

Center for Legal Information and Communication, Nairobi

Caroline Ajema

Liverpool VCT, Care & Treatment, Nairobi

Miriam Taegtmeyer

Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine

Sally Theobald

Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine

Rachel Tolhurst

Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Liverpool, UK

Date Written: November 1, 2009

Abstract

Six sub-Saharan African countries currently have laws on sexual violence, including Kenya, and eight others have provisions on sexual violence in other legislation. Effective legislation requires functioning medico-legal linkages to enable both justice to be done in cases of sexual violence and the provision of health services for survivors of sexual violence. The health sector also needs to provide post-rape care services and collect and deliver evidence to the criminal justice system. This paper reviews existing data on sexual violence in sub-Saharan Africa, and summarises the content of sexual violence legislation in the region and the strengths and weaknesses of existing medico-legal linkages, using Kenya as a case study. Many sub-Saharan African countries do not yet have comprehensive post-rape care services, nor substantial co-ordination between HIV and sexual and reproductive health services, the legal and judicial systems, and sexual violence legislation. These need to be integrated by cross-referrals, using standardised referral guidelines and pathways, treatment protocols, and medico-legal procedures. Common training approaches and harmonised information across sectors, and common indicators, would facilitate government accountability. Joint and collaborative planning and working at country level, through sharing of information and data between the different systems remain key to achieving this.

Keywords: sexual violence, law and policy, medico-legal, HIV/AIDS, Kenya, sub-Saharan Africa

Suggested Citation

Kilonzo, Nduku and Ndung'u, Njoki and Nthamburi, Nerida and Ajema, Caroline and Taegtmeyer, Miriam and Theobald, Sally and Tolhurst, Rachel, Sexual Violence Legislation in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Need for Strengthened Medico-Legal Linkages (November 1, 2009). Reproductive Health Matters, Vol. 17, No. 34, pp. 10-19, November 2009. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1543793

Nduku Kilonzo (Contact Author)

Liverpool VCT, Care & Treatment, Nairobi ( email )

Nairobi
Kenya

Njoki Ndung'u

Director, Center for Legal Information and Communication in Kenya, Nairobi ( email )

Nairobi
Kenya

Nerida Nthamburi

Center for Legal Information and Communication, Nairobi ( email )

Nairobi
Kenya

Caroline Ajema

Liverpool VCT, Care & Treatment, Nairobi ( email )

Nairobi
Kenya

Miriam Taegtmeyer

Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine ( email )

Pembroke Place
Liverpool, LL3 5QA
United Kingdom

Sally Theobald

Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine ( email )

Liverpool
United Kingdom

Rachel Tolhurst

Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Liverpool, UK ( email )

Liverpool
United Kingdom

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