Women and Justice: Jurisdiction

Domestic Case Law

Claimant (on her own behalf and on behalf of her minor children) v. the Minister for Immigration and Asylum District Court of the Hague (2010)

Gender violence in conflict, Gender-based violence in general, Harmful traditional practices

The claimant, of Tajik descent, had a high school diploma, was an active member of a left-leaning political organization, and was a volunteer teacher for girls while she lived in Afghanistan. The Taliban arrested a friend of the claimant who worked for UNICEF and had also pressured the claimant’s family to provide details about her whereabouts. Once the Taliban occupied her village, she and her husband hid with a relative before traveling to the Netherlands. In 2008, the claimant filed an application on behalf of herself and her minor children (two daughters and a son) under the Aliens Act 2000, citing Article 3 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. The claimant argued that they were subject to inhumane treatment if they were forced to return to Afghanistan. The District Court noted that the policy relied upon did not take into account the situation of Westernized women in Afghanistan, who were at risk just having lived in Westernized society. The District Court noted that the evidence showed that not only was security a risk to all in Afghanistan, but that treatment of women and girls had deteriorated even further since the rejection of the 2003 application. Finally, the District Court referred to reports submitted in the case, noting that women returning to Afghanistan from Europe or Iran are perceived as having violated religious and social norms and, as a result, are subject to honor crimes, domestic violence, isolation and other forms of punishment. The District Court found the claimant’s appeal to be well-founded, destroyed the contested decision, and ordered the government to issue a decision taking the District Court’s findings into consideration.

Claimant v. the Minister of Justice District Court of the Hague (2010)

Gender violence in conflict, Gender-based violence in general, Sexual violence and rape

The claimant was born in Somalia and left the country when her home was destroyed and four men attempted to rape her. The claimant sought residence in the Netherlands as a refugee under Immigration Act 2000. She argued that women in Central and Southern Somalia were systematically exposed to inhuman treatment. The claimant submitted reports that abuse and rape of women, by civilians and armed groups, was frequent, and that displaced women were particularly vulnerable during their flight. Gang rape was widespread, and victims (including young girls and boys) were selected at random. Further, rape is almost never prosecuted and the victims are discriminated against because they are seen as “unclean.” The report further stated that women in Somalia do not have access to justice and receive no protection from authorities. Human Rights Watch and UN reports also described women as suffering the brunt of abuse and repression cultivated by al-Shabaab’s decrees, including forced marriage, female genital mutilation (“FGM”) and gender-based violence. The District Court opined that women are in a vulnerable position in Central and Southern Somalia and, therefore, run the risk of suffering violence and human rights violations, and cannot obtain effective protection. They are therefore a group worthy of protection from inhuman treatment and torture.

Claimants (on their own behalf and on behalf of their minor children) v. the Secretary of State for Justice, Immigration and Naturalization Service District Court of the Hague (2010)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Gender discrimination, Gender-based violence in general, Harmful traditional practices, Honor crimes (or honour crimes), Sexual violence and rape

The claimants, on behalf of themselves and their two minor daughters, sought residence permits under the Aliens Act 2000. The claimants stated that if they returned to Afghanistan, the mother and daughters would be subjected to inhuman treatment under Article 3 European Convention on Human Rights. The claimants noted that women were systematically disadvantaged and discriminated against in Afghanistan. Women were subject to violence throughout the country, including the claimants’ area of origin, and had no protection from the government (if they even had the opportunity of access to the courts). Women suffer domestic violence, sexual violence, honor crimes, and arranged marriage. Women do not have the same rights as men (even though the constitution states that men and women are equal), are seen as property, and have little to no access to education or health care. The District Court found the mother’s and daughters’ appeals well-founded and ordered the government to consider the applications.

Claimant (on her own behalf and on behalf of her minor children) v. the State Secretary of Justice District Court of the Hague (2008)

Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting, Harmful traditional practices

The government had denied three of the claimant’s applications for residence under the Aliens Act 2000. The appeal stemmed from the dispute about whether the claimant’s minor daughter was at risk for inhuman treatment (specifically, FGM) in Chad under the European Convention on Human Rights. The claimant argued that her daughter was, as a Hadjarai woman, “very strongly” at risk of FGM, and she herself had been circumcised. The government denied that FGM is a matter of tradition, ethnicity, and religion and claimed that the claimant’s story was inconsistent with what was known about FGM in Chad. The District Court found that the government’s decision was subject to review referring to a U.S. Department of State report that stated that though violence against women and FGM were prohibited by law in Chad, FGM was widespread, deeply rooted in tradition and rarely prosecuted. Further, 93% of Hadjarari women were circumcised. The District Court ordered the government to decide the claimant’s application in light of the Court’s findings.

International Case Law

Dekker v. Stichting VJV Supreme Court of the Netherlands (1990)

Employment discrimination

D, when pregnant, applied for employment as an instructor in a youth training centre with Stichting Vormingscentrum voor Jong Volwassenen (VJV). VJV considered D to be the best candidate for job, however, as the selection committee had been informed by D that she was pregnant VJV declined to offer her employment. The ECJ held that an employer who acts in the manner VJV did was in breach of the Equal Treatment Directive, and in direct contravention of the principle of equal treatment embodied in Articles 2(1) and 3(1) of Council Directive 76/207/EEC if he refuses to employ a female candidate based solely on the possible adverse consequences of her pregnancy, owing to rules on unfitness for work adopted by the public authorities, which assimilate inability to work on account of pregnancy and confinement to inability to work on account of illness. Further, the ECJ held that the application of the Equal Treatment Directive would not differ where in the circumstances described above no male applied for a post. If a woman is refused employment due to matters relating to her sex, for example pregnancy, it is always discriminatory