Issue 13
Monday, 14 August 2017
Charles Darwin University
CDU Law lecturer Jeswynn Yogaratnam
CDU Law lecturer Jeswynn Yogaratnam

Hybrid laws key to reducing gender violence in T-L

By Ellie Turner

Tackling entrenched violence against women in Timor-Leste will require a balance between modern justice and traditional law, according to a new book. 

Law lecturer Jeswynn Yogaratnam contributed a chapter to the book “Gender in Human Rights and Transitional Justice”, which highlights the complexities the post-conflict state faces in achieving gender justice.

Mr Yogaratnam said Timor-Leste’s criminal justice system treated domestic violence as a public crime and may be viewed as displacing traditional law, or "lisan".

“There must be some conciliation in the form of hybridity when extending a modern justice system into a traditional society,” he said.

Mr Yogaratnam said his chapter explored the role of non-government organisations as the “change agents” that work to identify gaps in legislation and drive reform to help achieve better outcomes for victims of gender violence.

“Civil societies engage with community leaders who may influence a change in attitude – this means lisan does not become passé, but rather a form of restorative justice for traditional ceremonial expectations of healing within the community,” he said.

“Gender in Human Rights and Transitional Justice”, published by Palgrave Macmillan, explores the progress and challenges women face in post-conflict areas worldwide.