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 Home > News & Policies > June 2005

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
June 30, 2005

Women’s Justice and Empowerment in Africa

"Because we believe in human dignity, America and many nations have joined together to confront the evil of trafficking in human beings.…Women and children should never be exploited for pleasure or greed, anywhere on Earth."

-- President George W. Bush
September 21, 2004


Today's Action

  • Today, President Bush announced approximately $55 million to support women's justice and empowerment in Africa. This initiative will work to assist the existing efforts of four African countries to combat sexual violence and abuse against women, and empower them in society. As the programs in these four nations develop, their successes will produce a ripple effect through other countries in their regions.

Protecting and Empowering Women

  • The $55 million will be used to bolster women's justice and empowerment in Africa by:
    • Strengthening the capacity of the legal system to protect women and punish violators by training police, prosecutors, and judges in sexual violence and abuse cases against women, and developing or strengthening laws which protect women and empower their role in society.
    • Rehabilitating, reintegrating, and empowering former victims in society by bolstering the capacity of shelters and counseling programs, and addressing health care needs of women.
    • Increasing awareness of the need for women's justice and empowerment, through high-level engagement, conferences, public awareness, and education.
  • Women's Justice and the Link to HIV/AIDS: The $55 million announced today would complement America's ongoing efforts to stem the spread of HIV/AIDS and fight human trafficking.
    • In January 2003, the President announced the Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), a five-year, $15-billion initiative to combat the global HIV/AIDS pandemic. Prostitution, trafficking of individuals into prostitution, sexual violence, and sexual victimization of women and children are considered factors in the spread of HIV/AIDS. During last year's G-8 focus on HIV and tuberculosis, G-8 members also acknowledged how sexual violence against women and girls has contributed significantly to the spread of the HIV virus.
  • Empowerment of Women through the Legal System: Many African nations have already taken steps to improve legal rights for women, including new sexual offenses laws, higher penalties for sexually violent offenses against women, anti-trafficking and prostitution legislation, and laws which grant women greater rights to property and inheritance.
    • The four target countries identified for this program have all taken some steps, but require additional support and technical assistance for adequate implementation including: police, investigative, prosecutorial, and judicial training and assistance; the development of DNA labs and other specialized equipment; the establishment of Hotline numbers for reporting rape or violence; the development of laws criminalizing violence and abuse against women and new evidentiary rules to protect the identity of women; and the development of women's empowerment laws.

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