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Djibouti: Protection, services and recourse available to women who are victims of domestic violence (2003-2007)

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ottawa
Publication Date 15 March 2007
Citation / Document Symbol DJI102429.E
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Djibouti: Protection, services and recourse available to women who are victims of domestic violence (2003-2007), 15 March 2007, DJI102429.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/469cd6a62.html [accessed 22 August 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Human rights sources consulted indicate that although few cases are reported, domestic violence against women exists in Djibouti (US 8 Mar. 2006, Sec. 5; UN 27 Feb. 2003, para. 203; see also SIHA Aug. 2004, ch. 3). An August 2004 report by Strategic Initiatives for Women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA), a "network of civil society organisations from North and South Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia and Somaliland" (SIHA n.d.), states that violence against women in Djibouti is "widely seen in the family and is tolerated rather well by the society, including women" (ibid. Aug. 2004, ch. 3). Men in Djibouti reportedly use customary laws to "justify acts of [domestic violence] with the aim to discipline their wives, sisters, or daughters" (ibid.).

According to Djibouti's June 2004 National Ten-Year Evaluation Report on Implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action, there is a lack of reliable data regarding violence against women because the topic is "culturally taboo" (14; see also SIHA Aug. 2004). The report further notes that, in Djibouti, women who are victims of domestic violence often do not file complaints against abusive husbands due to family and societal pressures, "traditional considerations" or because they believe their family could be put in jeopardy (Djibouti June 2004, 14).

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2005 indicates that under Djiboutian law, those who commit "torture and barbaric acts against a spouse" could be sentenced to up to 20 years in jail (US 8 Mar. 2006; see also Djibouti June 2004). However, sources consulted report that incidents of domestic violence are usually dealt with inside the family or clan structure instead of in the court system (US 8 Mar. 2006, Sec. 5; UN 27 Feb. 2003). In Djibouti, it is reportedly rare for the police to intervene in cases of domestic violence (ibid.; US 8 Mar. 2006, Sec. 5). According to Country Reports 2005, the country does not have a law prohibiting spousal rape (ibid.).

In February 2005, Djibouti ratified a protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (UN 21 Feb. 2005; see also CISA 29 Mar. 2005). Adopted for ratification in Maputo [Mozambique] in July 2003 and commonly referred to as the Maputo Protocol, the protocol protects a range of women's rights, including the prohibition of violence against women in the public and private spheres (CISA 29 Mar. 2005; ACHPR 11 July 2003). The Protocol came into force in November 2005 following its required ratification by 15 African governments (CISA 25 Nov. 2005). Information on whether the Maputo Protocol has been effectively implemented in Djibouti could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

Since December 1998, Djibouti has also been a state party to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) (UN 19 Dec. 2006). Information on the implementation of CEDAW in Djibouti could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

References

African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR). 11 July 2003. Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa. [Accessed 2 Feb. 2007]

Catholic Information Service for Africa (CISA) [Nairobi]. 25 November 2005. "Protocol On Rights of Women Comes Into Force." (Factiva/AllAfrica)
_____ . 29 March 2005. "Governments Urged to Ratify Women's Rights Protocol." (Factiva/AllAfrica)

Djibouti. June 2004. Office of the Prime Minister and Ministry for the Promotion of Women, Family Well-Being, and Social Affairs. National Ten-Year Evaluation of the Beijing Platform for Action. (United Cities and Local Governments Web site) [Accessed 6 Feb. 2007]

Strategic Initiatives for Women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA). August 2004. Violence Against Women: Experience of Some Civil Society Organizations in the Horn of Africa." [Accessed 6 Feb. 2007]
_____ . N.d. "Who Are We?" [Accessed 6 Feb. 2007]

United Nations (UN). 19 December 2006. Division for the Advancement of Women. "Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW): States Parties." [Accessed 6 Feb. 2007]
_____ . 21 February 2005. Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN). "Djibouti: Anti-FGM Protocol Ratified but Huge Challenges Remain." [Accessed 2 Feb. 2007]
_____ . 27 February 2003. Commission on Human Rights. Integration of the Human Rights of Women and The Gender Perspective: Violence Against Women. Report of the Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, Its Causes and Consequences, Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy, Submitted in Accordance with Commission on Human Rights Resolution 2002/52. (E/CN.4/2003/75/Add1, Human Rights Internet Web site). [Accessed 6 Feb. 2007]

United States. 8 March 2006. Department of State. "Djibouti." Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2005. [Accessed 6 Feb. 2007]

Additional Sources Consulted

Internet sites, including: Afrik.com; AllAfrica; Amnesty International (AI); Djibouti – Ministère de la promotion de la Femme, du bien-être familial et des Affaires sociales; European Country of Origin Information Network (ecoi.net); Factiva; Freedom House; Human Rights Watch (HRW); Jeune Afrique; Les Pénélopes; United Kingdom Home Office; United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women; Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR); United States Department of State; Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML).

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at http://www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/en/. Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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