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ICAAD Conducts Workshop for Lawyers from 12 Pacific Island Countries at Gender and the Law Conference in Fiji

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ICAAD Conducts Workshop for Lawyers from 12 Pacific Island Countries at Gender and the Law Conference in Fiji 

Role of Gender Stereotyping and Cultural Norms on Sentencing

Nadi, Fiji – December 10, 2014: On Human Rights Day and the final day of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, we are reminded about the importance of bringing human rights awareness to every level: local, regional, and international. Recently, lawyers from across the Pacific Region (12+ countries) gathered for a Regional Consultation on Gender and the Law that was hosted by the Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT) and Fiji Women’s Rights Movement (FWRM). This brought together over 50 attorneys (including observers) representing various governments (Attorney General’s Offices), private practitioners, and civil society.

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ICAAD and our pro bono counsel, DLA Piper Australia, attended the regional consultation from Nov. 17-21st and delivered a presentation and workshop on Nov. 20th. Being a part of this Consultation gave us the opportunity to engage individuals working within different sectors of society who have the ability to work towards effective implementation of human rights within their respective countries. Securing multi-sectoral participation to assure awareness and impact on gender based violence was a predominant theme throughout the week-long event.

Regional Consultation on Gender and the Law – Nadi, Fiji Nov. 17-21st
Hansdeep Singh, ICAAD Co-Founder, center bottom row;
Emily Christie, DLA Piper Australia & ICAAD pro bono counsel, bottom row right

ICAAD / DLA Workshop

As part of our Clinton Global Initiative Commitment to Action, the workshop focused on the role of cultural norms and gender stereotypes leading to low sentencing decisions in sexual assault and domestic violence cases. Hansdeep Singh ofICAAD, and Emily Christie of DLA Piper presented data on case law analysis of approximately 1,000 cases covering 10 Pacific Island Countries (PICs).


Following the presentation, we ran a comprehensive workshop that placed lawyers in the decision making role of the judge, and asked each country group to apply an analysis to sexual and domestic violence cases based on experiences from their respective jurisdictions.

Access to Justice through Art

Additionally, the attendees adopted an Outcomes Document (organized by a Working Group) that referenced two topics that ICAAD raised during the Consultation, sentencing and pro bono:

  • “We note that while there is new legislation on family and sexual violence, generally sentencing for domestic violence offences are too low to act as deterrents for perpetrators.”
  • “Further, we call upon members of the legal profession to develop pro-bono assistance . . . [for] survivors of VAWG as a form of mitigating the barriers of accessing legal services which makes access to justice difficult for most women.”
The importance of the Outcomes Document is that lawyers, some representing government, will take back this aspirational Document to their respective countries and advocate to implement the suggested changes.

The Many Barriers Women Face

We would like to thank our hosts, RRRT and FWRM for inviting us to attend an expertly conducted Consultation. Also, we want to acknowledge all the participants from around the region who were extremely engaged and who we learned a lot from.


Our team looks forward to continued engagement with RRRT and FWRM as they work to promote the advancement of women’s rights in Fiji and the Pacific region. Moreover, we hope to assist participants back in their home countries as they implement what they learned during the Consultation.

 Watch this Video on ICAAD‘s Clinton Global Initiative
Commitment to Action in the Pacific Island Region

Defining Key Concepts From the Consultation
  • Substantive Equality: Working toward equality of outcomes rather than a one size fits all approach

  • Feminist Analysis: Zeroing in on the lived experiences of women

  • Gender Mainstreaming: Women’s interests are considered when viewing organizational/ governmental policies and structures

  • PESTAL Analysis: When looking at barriers to access to justice, consider: political, economic, social/ cultural, technological, legislative, and environmental framework


Great talk! "Dr. Prabhjot Singh is on a mission to makes healthcare more accessible. His “a-ha moment” came as he attended the funeral of one of his patients where he saw the man in context of his life and community, rather than the bare facts included on his chart. Singh realized that this man’s death had been the result of the collective failure of many systems—education, mental health, neighborhood safety, job placement, veteran support. In Dying and Living in the Neighborhood, Singh insists that we must discard our top-down approach to the healthcare system and that regardless of our leadership, the solutions won’t come from our government. We must rebuild our system from the neighborhood up." ... See MoreSee Less

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"Article 25, sub-clause 1 of the Indian Constitution guarantees
that “subject to public order, morality and health,
all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience
and the right to freely to profess, practice and propagate
religion.”38 However, its sub-clause 2 (B) and its corresponding
Explanation II is considered very controversial.
While Explanation I states that the wearing and
carrying of kirpans shall be deemed to be included in
the profession of the Sikh religion. Explanation II in
sub-clause 2 (B) states, “Hindus shall be construed as
including a reference to persons professing the Sikh, Jain
or Buddhist religion, and the reference to Hindu religious
institutions shall be construed accordingly.”39 This
constitutional provision is very discriminatory, as it connotes
that even as a multi-faith state, India seems to be
concerned about the social welfare of only one religion
(Hinduism) and its religious institutions. The appended
Explanation II effectively groups Sikhs, Buddhists, and
Jains into Hinduism. Explanation II has also led to other
discriminatory laws against these religions, including
the Hindu Succession Act (1956), Hindu Marriage Act
(1955), Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act (1956),
and Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act (1956). These
laws are largely viewed to force legal assimilation of
these religions into Hinduism, rather than recognizing
them as distinct religious identities."
... See MoreSee Less

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