By Devota Mwachang’a
The High Court of Tanzania has won the Bronze Gavel at the annual Gender Justice Uncovered Awards hosted by Women’s Link for its 2016 ruling instructing the government to ban child marriage and set the legal age for marriage to 18 for both sexes.
The case was applauded as one of the top rulings across the globe with a positive effect on women and girls’ rights.
The pronouncement came after Rebecca Gyumi, founder and director of the children’s rights advocacy group Msichana Initiative, brought the case before the high court, arguing that the law of Marriages Act discriminated against girls by allowing them to marry at 15, while boys could marry only after turning 18.
She pointed out that girls are in vulnerable group, which requires special protection in light of the obligations and risks associated with marriage.
The High court agreed, finding that the Act violated the constitution as well as Maputo Protocol, an international human rights instrument meant to guarantee equality between men and women, to which Tanzania is a signatory.
Women’s Link Worldwide announce the winners of the ninth edition of the Gender Justice Uncovered Awards, giving Gavel Awards to the best court rulings for women’s and girls’ rights and Bludgeon Awards to the worst.
Thousands of people from all over the world voted and an international jury of human rights activists deliberated to select the winning decisions in this annual ceremony, seeking to highlight the positive and negative impact judicial decisions have on the lives of women and girls around the world.
“Through the Gender Justice Uncovered Awards, the public has sent a clear message that they will not tolerate courts failing to protect women’s and girls’ rights but will passionately support courts that promote equality and improve the lives women and girls,” says Women’s Link Attorney Blakeley Decktor.
The Winning Decisions Gavel Award Winners (court rulings with a positive effect on women and girls’ rights), the Golden Gavel goes to the Superior Court of the Canary Islands in Spain, which legally defined for the first time the technique of trying cases with a gender perspective.
The Silver Gavel was awarded to a court in Colombia that convicted a man for the abduction, sexual assault, and murder of Yuliana Samboní, a seven-year-old indigenous girl, finding that the crime was a consequence of the discrimination the girl faced for her gender as well as being a child, an indigenous person, and a person living in poverty.
With 3,829 total online votes, the People’s Choice Gavel goes to the High Court of Uganda for its ruling against a public hospital for its role in the disappearance of a newborn baby. The Court emphasized the state’s duty to dedicate attention and resources to the most vulnerable women.
Bludgeon Award Winners (court rulings with a negative effect on women's and girls’ rights)
The Golden Bludgeon went to the High Court of Kenya for its decision to acquit a man for carrying on a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old girl, stating that girls often make false reports of non-consensual sex.