July 14, 2017
UPDATE: United Nations Recognizes 160 Girls Project
On June 9, 2017, in Geneva, Switzerland, 160 Girls was recognized in The United Nations’ inaugural best practices report for the elimination of discrimination against women, intended to provide a roadmap for future change initiatives. This is a terrific endorsement of the value the law can have when applied using collaborative, creative and interdisciplinary means to achieve concrete change. 160 Girls is achieving systemic change for all 10,000,000 girls in Kenya and beyond.
“160 Girls” Victory: Koskie Minsky Proud Supporter of The Equality Effect’s Work to Win Landmark Constitutional Case
In a landmark ruling, 240 young women in Kenya who were sexually assaulted as minors have won a Constitutional claim against the Kenyan government. The Equality Effect, a Toronto-based charity which aims to achieve justice for women and girls through law and policy reform, launched the case on behalf of these young women whose complaints of sexual assault were not investigated by Kenyan police. The Kenya High Court agreed with the young women – the police had violated their human rights and created an atmosphere of impunity for perpetrators by failing to investigate their claims. The Court found the police “directly responsible” for the harm suffered by the young women and ordered the police to enforce laws against sexual assault. The Kenyan government now has two weeks to appeal the decision
This successful case is part of their “160 Girls” project, a legal initiative to seek justice and protect girls and young women from rape. Koskie Minsky is proud to have contributed to this victory as part of the “16 Firms for 160 Girls” campaign. This collaborative initiative between the Equality Effect and 16 of the leading law firms in Canada, including Koskie Minsky will help the organization as it expands its work into Ghana and Malawi.
Melissa Reiter, a lawyer in the Pensions and Benefits group at Koskie Minsky, is part of the legal team who worked on the case on behalf of the “160 Girls”. For the last three years, Melissa has worked passionately with the legal team researching and developing the test-case litigation.
In the event that the Kenyan government appeals, the “160 Girls” team is ready to press on. Regardless of a potential appeal, the High Court Decision represents a significant milestone in the effort to achieve progress. In the words of Fiona Sampson, Executive Director of the Equality Effect, “The ‘160 Girls’ decision provides a foundational block upon which future equality claims can be built.”.
The “160 Girls” victory celebration held on June 11th at L’Espresso Bar Mercurio was a wonderful success. Elizabeth Mitchell, Arleen Huggins, Katherine Ferreira and Melissa Reiter were all in attendance to celebrate the landmark legal victory achieved by “160 Girls”. Over $55,000 was raised from the evening.