Mozambique: Protect women & girls—reject discrimination in the new Penal Code

Photos from March protest by NGOs in Mozambique – Courtesy of Lambda Mozambique
UPDATE 13 NOVEMBER 2014: Your voices were heard — Mozambican President Armando Guebuza did not sign the damaging and discriminatory Penal Code into law! The President returned it to Parliament to revise the provisions that violate Mozambique’s Constitution, including articles on gender equality and children’s rights. According to a letter from the President, his decision was made based on input from the Ministry of Justice, the Attorney General’s office and civil society members like you. On behalf of Equality Now and our partners, thank you for taking action! We will continue to update you with developments from Mozambique and our partners.

In June 2014, Mozambique is set to enact a new penal code that would foster a culture of violence and discrimination if passed as currently written. While progressive revisions have been made in the proposed draft (Penal Code Review Bill), damaging  provisions  in the legislation remain, including:

  • vague and limited definitions of rape, which could make it easier for rapists to escape prosecution and fails to protect women from marital rape (Article 217)
  • allowing relatives of perpetrators of all crimes to escape prosecution for hindering an investigation or evidence tampering, worsening impunity for crimes of sexual violence (Article 24)
  • defining the rape of a minor as the rape of someone under the age of 12, which directly contradicts laws in Mozambique that define a child as anyone below the age of 18 (Article 218)

Furthermore, Equality Now and our partners are concerned that a provision from an earlier draft of the legislation, which would allow a rapist to escape punishment by marrying his victim (former Article 223), might be re-introduced into the current draft right before the vote.

If this legislation is approved without rectifying these harmful discriminatory provisions, the ramifications for women and girls would be extremely harmful, signaling that rape and sexual violence are less serious crimes, if crimes at all, and will not be prosecuted vigorously. Such laws would also violate Mozambique’s Constitution—which guarantees equal rights before the law—and other regional and international human rights instruments, which Mozambique has ratified, including the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa (the Maputo Protocol).

Please stand with Equality Now, our partners in the Solidarity for African Women's Rights (SOAWR) coalition, and WLSA Mozambique, Fórum Mulher and other Mozambican NGOs in calling on Mozambique’s Parliament to reject the discriminatory provisions in the draft Penal Code.

Letters will be sent in Portuguese. View the English translations here.

Letter #1

Maria Benvinda Delfina Levi

Minister of Justice

Dr. Orlando da Graça

Secretary General, Constitutional Council

Graça Machel

Former First Lady of Mozambique & South Africa

Dra. Verónica Nataniel Macamo Dlhovo

President, Assembleia da República

Dr. Teodoro Andrade Waty

President, Committee on Legal Affairs, Human Rights & Legality of Parliament

To learn more about the campaign & for a list of full contact information for the government officials above, see: