Since 1986, the Association des Femmes Juriste de Côte d’Ivoire (Association of Women Lawyers of Ivory Coast) has been committed to the defence and promotion of women’s and children’s rights. It ensures a better dissemination of texts and laws concerning them, contributes to their access to justice, in particular by filing a civil suit, and fights against all forms of gender-based discrimination.
THE REGIONAL CONTEXT
Despite recent efforts by the Ivorian state, AFJCI notes the persistence of gender-based violence.
According to the organisation, in the city of Abidjan alone between 2019 and 2020, nearly 2,500 cases of violence against women, 1,290 forced marriages of underage girls, 1,121 cases of rape and 416 feminicides were recorded.
The situation is alarming. However, the number of victims receiving medical, psychological, legal, judicial and social care remains very low.
MAKING JUSTICE ACCESSIBLE TO WOMEN VICTIMS OF VIOLENCE
Association des Femmes Juriste de Côte d’Ivoire IN A FEW WORDS
In order to enable women to access justice and obtain redress, the association runs twelve legal clinics in different communes of Abidjan.
To defend its feminist vision, the association has identified all discriminatory texts contained in Ivorian legislation and is advocating for their removal in order to bring about a lasting change in the legal environment in favour of equality between women and men.
THE WEIGHT OF SOCIO-CULTURAL HABITS
The main difficulties encountered by the organisation, and which constitute their main challenge, are customs and socio-cultural norms. Indeed, for fear of reprisals, stigmatisation or rejection by their families and communities, women do not report the violence they suffer.
In addition, many victims prefer to settle out of court, especially because of financial constraints. This tends to protect the perpetrators and ignore the needs of the victims.
FOCUS ON THE PLUS PROJECT
In one of their twelve legal clinics, Femmes Juristes de Côte d’Ivoire are developing the PLUS project, which aims to put in place mechanisms to enable access to rights and justice for women and girls who are victims of GBV. The project focuses on existing mechanisms in order to advocate for the application of laws that sanction the perpetrators of gender-based and sexual violence.
The association has also made it a priority to strengthen communication around the laws on gender-based violence, especially the latest text adopted in December 2021 on measures to protect victims of domestic violence, rape and sexual violence other than domestic violence.
Finally, the project is designed to cover the legal costs and lawyers’ fees of women victims who wish to take their case to court to obtain justice.
Through its legal clinics and advocacy work, AFJCI has been fighting for more than thirty-five years for a justice system that truly guarantees the rights of Ivorian women. To find out more about the work of feminist CSOs around the world and to keep up to date with the progress of the Feminists in Action initiative, visit the News section.