Rape Laws and Human Rights

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Human rights are moral values or principles which are descriptive of an individual’s behaviour and are protected as legal rights under national and international laws. A state, being in charge of the people it governs and subject to the international law, is under a duty to take all reasonable steps in ensuring that the human rights of it’s subjects are protected. As all humans are equal in the eyes of the law, international human rights laws are designed to ensure that laws made by states comply with these international laws. However, states have regularly failed to do meet these expectations when addressing the issue of women rights and rape laws.
There are a large number of states whose rape laws are in violation of international human rights laws. Two examples of such states are Ethiopia and Pakistan. To understand why these two states have failed to meet the expectations of international law it is important to understand what category of law rape falls under.

Rape is a type of sexual assault by one or more persons against another person with that person’s consent. The act may be carried out by physical force and without the other person’s consent. Rape is a criminal act as it invades the victim’s right to their self and body. As a crime, to prove rape that rape has occurred there is a need for collecting evidence to prove rape. To ensure that fair and just evidence is collected states have also made evidence laws. These laws work hand in hand with rape laws when proving that the crime has occurred.

It is therefore very important that laws on evidence used by states should also be in line with human rights laws. Some states, due to religious influences or bad societies, use laws of evidence which do not protect the human rights of women. In some states, these laws require a woman to be a virgin in order to be raped. If a woman is not a virgin, then she cannot be raped. This sort of law is unfair to every woman in these two countries as it only protects rights of women who have certain characteristics. This is a violation of human rights law as all women are not treated equally.

States need to understand the importance of correcting their rape, evidential and human rights laws. As Human rights primarily governed by international law, there are international courts which assure that human rights are protected. This was done in a case brought by a 13-year-old girl in Ethiopia; Africa’s human rights court ordered the state of Ethiopia to pay $150,000 to the victim because the evidence laws of the country were not compatible with human rights.

It is important for states to understand the need for having fair and just human rights. If states do not have such rights, they are in violation of international law and therefore will be required to compensate the victims of violation. There are many states in the world which breach these rights. Women are therefore entitled to take the states to international courts of human rights and make the states compensate.

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Marwin Ramos

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