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Reclaiming (WO)Manity: The Merits and Demerits of the African Protocol On Women’s Rights

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 April 2006

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Women all over the world have experienced discrimination and victimisation. However, the level of suffering women in Africa experience far exceeds imaginable proportions. Trapped between the unholy matrimony of poverty and harsh economic conditions, dictatorial regimes, religious beliefs, and cultural and traditional practices, women in Africa have been subjected to some of the worst forms of gender-based violence, abuse, victimisation, prejudice and oppression. Yet, women are at the same time the symbol of love and so central to the maintenance of African ways of life. The African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights was criticised for its failure to maintain a proper balance between women's rights and African tradition. This article argues that the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (African Women's Protocol) adopted by the African Union on 11 July 2003 to beef up the protection of women's rights on the continent is amenable to a similar criticism. While it deals with many important issues affecting African women, it fails to articulate a clear or consistent African approach to women's rights. As a result, it is difficult to reconcile the Protocol with the existing body of jurisprudence in the regional human rights system as developed under the African Charter and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.

T.M.C. Asser Press 2006

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