Algeria accused of 'tokenistic' response to sexual violence against women - new briefing
Marital rape not considered a criminal offence, and rapists can escape prosecution by marrying their victim if she is a minor
Algeria has been accused of being “tokenistic” in its efforts to combat sexual violence against women and girls, as Amnesty International published a new 30-page briefing on gender violence in the north African country.
Amnesty’s 30-page report - published to coincide with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women - is calling for the authorities to adopt new measures to ensure perpetrators of sexual violence are held to account and to strengthen survivors’ access to justice, health and support services.
Sexual violence has marred Algeria’s recent history, with hundreds - if not thousands - of women abused during the country’s conflict during the 1990s. Amnesty’s briefing acknowledges that the Algerian authorities have taken some long overdue steps to address sexual and gender-based violence earlier this year when they adopted a decree to provide financial compensation for victims of sexual violence by armed groups in the 1990s. The Algerian authorities have also proposed draft laws, which, if adopted, would make violence against a spouse and sexual harassment in public places criminal offences.
However, Amnesty believes the new measures do not go far enough and are symptomatic of a fragmented approach to sexual and gender-based violence.
Amnesty International Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui said:
“Although the Algerian authorities have taken some positive steps this year, their approach to the issue of sexual and gender-based violence has been at best selective, if not tokenistic.
“Under current Algerian law women and girls who have survived sexual violence are not adequately protected; the definition of rape falls short of international standards and marital rape is not considered a criminal offence. A legal loophole still allows a rapist to escape prosecution by marrying his victim, if she is a minor. Comprehensive reforms are urgently needed."
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