Table 4

Key findings regarding factors shaping the efficacy of legal accountability strategies for SRHR

Ways court or law decision formulated
  • Administrative or procedural hurdles enshrined in law can stymie the exercise of the right or access to justice

  • Laws that lack specificity can be hard to enforce

  • Laws that specifically address potential obstacles to implementation (such as fear of liability) can be easier to implement

  • Conflict among laws can undermine implementation

Access to courts
  • Ease of access to the constitutional court is allowed for complainants can shape the realisation of access to justice

  • The ability to submit amicus briefs or the solicitation of expert testimony shape the case law courts issue

Criminal law (refers to laws criminalising undesirable behaviour, for example, child marriage, and laws that provide remedy to people experiencing an SRHR violation, for example, gender-based violence)
  • Can create space to have social dialogue on important issues

  • Criminal laws do not necessarily influence the environment that enables SRHR rights violations, particularly in contexts where people do not trust the judiciary, police or the government more broadly

  • Marginalised populations may lack access to the remedies enshrined in criminal law

  • Recourse to criminal law itself can engender further harm, as it is misapplied or abused in a way that reinforces social hierarchies

Cultural norms
  • Reflecting the distribution of power in society, affected people themselves often do not know what their rights are

  • Embedded norms that favour the supremacy of men at the household and community levels limited access to justice for women experiencing SRHR violations, as well as the realisation of entitlements

  • Patriarchal norms can shape the response provided by the health sector, the police and others actor charged with ensuring the implementation of SRHR laws

  • Enshrining an element of SRH in law can create legitimacy that fosters social change

  • A public health frame helped to lessen the influence of politics as well as social and cultural norms

  • In contexts where the judiciary is more independent, recourse to litigation may be less politicised than legislation

State capacity and resources
  • State capacity and resources are important drivers of the extent of implementation of both civil and criminal laws related to SRH

Litigation in response
  • Legal accompaniment can help to ensure the implementation of existing law

  • Legal advocacy strategies can help to further refine case law, both to make it more expansive or to make it more limited

  • SRHR, sexual and reproductive health and rights.