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African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights

Prevention and Eradication of Violence against Women and Children (Addendum to the SADC Declaration on Gender and Development)




  1. We signed the SADC Declaration on Gender and Development at our Summit in Blantyre, Malawi on 8 September 1997, committing ourselves and our respective countries to take 'urgent measures to prevent and deal with the increasing levels of violence against women and children'.

  2. In furtherance of this commitment, SADC Ministers of Justice, Gender/Women's Affairs, Legislators, Government Officials and Representatives of Non-Governmental Organisations convened a SADC Conference on the Prevention of Violence Against Women in Durban, South Africa, on 5 to 8 March 1998, which recommended the adoption of certain measures:

REAFFIRMING our commitment to the prevention and eradication of violence against women and children in our region ; 


  1. Reflects the unequal relations of power between women and men, resulting in the domination and discrimination of women by men;

  2. Is acknowledged by the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action of 1993 as a serious violation of fundamental human rights;

  3. Includes physical and sexual violence, as well as economic, psychological and emotional abuse;

    1. occurring in the family, in such forms as threats, intimidation, battery, sexual abuse of children, economic deprivation, marital rape, femicide, female genital mutilation, and traditional practices harmful to women;

    2. occurring in the community, in such forms as threats, rape, sexual abuse, sexual harassment and intimidation, trafficking in women and children, forced prostitution, violence against women in armed conflict; and that

    3. perpetrated or condoned by the agents of the state;


  1. The levels of cases of the various forms of violence against women and children continue to increase;

  2. Existing measures to protect women and children against violence have proved inadequate, ineffective and biased against the victims.

WE STRONGLY CONDEMN violence against women and children in all its forms, and resolve that the following measures be adopted:


  1. Enacting laws such as sexual offences and domestic violence legislation making various forms of violence against women clearly defined crimes, and taking appropriate measures to impose penalties, punishment and other enforcement mechanisms for the prevention and eradication of violence against women and children;

  2. Adopting legislative measures to ensure the protection and removal of all forms of discrimination against, and empowerment of women with disabilities, the girl-child, the aged, women in armed conflict and other women whose circumstances make them especially vulnerable to violence;

  3. Reviewing and reforming the criminal laws and procedures applicable to cases of sexual offences, to eliminate gender bias and ensure justice and fairness to both the victim and accused;

  4. Introducing, as a matter of priority, legal and administrative mechanisms for women and children subjected to violence, effective access to counselling, restitution, reparation and other just forms of dispute resolution;

  5. Adopting such other legislative and administrative measures as may be necessary to ensure the prevention and eradication of all forms of violence against women and children;

Social Economic Cultural and Political

  1. Promoting the eradication of elements in traditional norms and religious beliefs, practices and stereotypes which legitimise and exacerbate the persistence and tolerance of violence against women and children;

  2. Introducing and supporting gender sensitisation and public awareness programmes aimed at eradicating violence against women and children;

  3. Encouraging the media to play a constructive role in the eradication of violence against women and children by adopting guidelines which ensure sensitive coverage of the issue and avoid the pepertuation of stereotypes;


  1. Providing easily accessible information on services available to women and children victims/survivors of violence, including women and children with disabilities;

  2. Ensuring accessible, effective and responsive police, prosecutorial, health, social welfare and other services, and establishing specialised units to redress cases of violence against women and children;

  3. Providing accessible, affordable and specialised legal services, including legal aid, to ensure the just and speedy resolution of matters regarding violence against women and children;

  4. Providing easily accessible, affordable and, where possible, free social, and administrative services for the empowerment of women and children victims/survivors of violence;

Education Training and Awareness Building

  1. Introducing and promoting gender sensitisation and training of all service providers engaged in the administration of justice, such as judicial officers, prosecutors, police, prison, welfare and health officials;

  2. Undertaking and sharing research of the gathering of statistics and other information on the causes, prevalence and consequences of violence against women and children;

  3. Encouraging the exchange of national, regional and international best practices for the eradication of violence against women and children;

Intergrated Approaches

  1. Ensuring that all these measures are implemented in an integrated manner by all stakeholders;

Budgetary Allocations

  1. Allocating the necessary resources to ensure the implementation and sustainability of the above programmes;


  1. Regional policies, programmes and mechanisms to enhance the security and empowerment of women and children, be adopted and their implementation monitored;

  2. Urgent consideration be given to the adoption of legally binding SADC Instruments on Preventing Violence Against Women and Children, and to ensure that these commitments are translated into tangible actions;

  3. SADC convene a Regional Conference, before the end of the Year 2000, to review progress made in the implementation of the above measures and recommendations.

  4. This addendum is an integral part of the 1997 SADC Declaration on Gender in Development.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, WE, the Heads of State or Government, or duly authorised Representatives of SADC Member States, have signed this Addendum.

DONE at Grand Baie this 14th day of September 1998 in two(2) original texts in the English and Portuguese languages, both texts being equally authentic.