Gender-based discrimination remains one of the greatest threats to women's health and lives worldwide, despite domestic, regional, and international human rights guarantees of equality, reproductive and sexual rights, and a range of other rights. Such guarantees remain empty promises if not recognized and reinforced by national courts. Legal Grounds: Sexual and Reproductive Rights in African Commonwealth Courts, Volume II continues to provide much-needed information about whether and how national courts of African Commonwealth countries apply human rights laws in decisions that affect the rights of women. The case summaries and thematic highlights can be useful resources for women's rights advocates seeking to further develop litigation and advocacy strategies. This volume includes judicial interpretations of both statutory and customary laws and addresses a range of issues, including sexual violence, marriage-related gender discrimination, validity of customary and religious marriages, property inheritance and distribution, age of consent to sexual activity, abortion and claims of fetal interests, and HIV discrimination. Cases focusing on child maintenance and custody demonstrate that infringements on women's rights also have grave implications for the rights of children. Further, while some of the cases are not expressly gender-related and the rationale for the court decisions reached do not explicitly touch on women's rights, they illustrate the types of violations faced by women in the region and their potential impact on women's well-being and rights. Finally, a number of cases underscore how African advocates, particularly women's groups, are holding governments accountable under their regional and international human rights obligations.
New York, NY
Center for Reproductive Rights
University of Toronto, Faculty of Law
University of the Free State
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