What Makes Domestic Violence Legislation More Effective?
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Domestic violence against women has gained worldwide attention as a form of discrimination as well as a violation of women's human rights. An estimated one in three women in the world is affected, independent of their social standing and cultural background. In many countries around the world, laws are now in place making domestic violence against women a crime. Yet implementation often lags behind legal reforms. Women's organising is vital not only to get laws on the statute books, but can also play an important role in monitoring the implementation of these policies and holding governments to account in making domestic violence legislation more effective. This paper draws primarily on the experiences of the implementation of the Brazilian Maria da Penha Law, a comprehensive legislation package, formulated and monitored with extensive participation from feminist organisations, and passed in 2006. It also draws on examples from Bangladesh and Ghana, where women's organising has played a fundamental role in the formulation, implementation, and monitoring of policies to confront domestic violence against women.