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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Equality Courts as a Tool for Gender Transformation


In March 2009, Sonke Gender Justice Network filed a complaint at the Equality Court in Johannesburg against the African National Congress (“ANC”) Youth League Leader, Julius Malema. The complaint was lodged in response to remarks he made to university students concerning Jacob Zuma’s rape accuser claiming that she likely enjoyed herself during the incident. Sonke’s Equality Court case alleges hate speech, unfair discrimination and harassment of women, and is only the second high profile gender equality case to be taken to the Equality Courts since their inception in 2003. This case study provides an analysis of the Equality Courts as a new legal forum for gender transformation work by examining the history and theoretical foundations for the courts, the procedures for utilising the courts, the problems and challenges faced when using the courts, and documenting Sonke’s own experiences in lodging its case.

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