The Equality Effect uses international human rights law as a crowbar to pry open justice for women and girls around the world. Drawing on a team of feisty international lawyers, the Equality Effect supports its regional legal partners to make women’s and girls’ rights real. This goal is achieved by conducting legal research, collecting evidence, and developing test case litigation. In Kenya, we were responsible for a constitutional claim against the government for failing to protect girls who had been raped (the claimants, all victims of rape between 3-17 years of age, are known collectively as the 160 Girls); in May 2013, Kenya’s High Court agreed that the police failure to enforce existing rape laws, and police failure to protect girls from rape, is a violation of domestic, regional, and human rights law.
We are now working to secure the implementation of the High Court’s 160 Girls decision. In an unprecedented partnership, the Equality Effect is working with police, communities, and using the legal system to hold perpetrators accountable for their violence and end a climate of impunity. The work that led to the landmark 160 Girls ruling will inform our newest project in Malawi that also seeks justice for victims of rape.
As three-time Amnesty International award-winner and author Sally Armstrong writes: “Once, in a very long while, maybe once in a lifetime, you get to witness a story that shifts the way an entire country or continent sees itself. The process of change is usually daring, certainly time-consuming, invariably costly, occasionally heart-breaking, and eventually an exercise so rewarding that it is the stuff of legends; this is the story of the Equality Effect.”