Women and Justice: Keywords

Domestic Case Law

HKSAR v. C.Y.L. Court of First Instance (2015)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

The defendant pleaded guilty to having sexual intercourse with his daughter, a minor. The daughter became pregnant as a result and the child was adopted.. The judge commended the daughter for reporting the offense, despite the defendant’s attempt to persuade her not to. The defendant was sentenced to six years and eight months in prison.

AA v. Fiscalía General de la Nación, Caso No. 299/2010 Tribunal Apelaciones Penal 1º Tº (First Criminal Appeals Court) (2010)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

The Trial Court sentenced the accused (AA) to two years in prison for aggravated domestic violence.  The court considered the aggravating circumstances to be the accused’s recidivism and the use of his strength to overpower his female victim.  AA had a history of domestic violence against his wife (BB).  Even though he had repeatedly assaulted BB and stabbed her once, BB refused to file a complaint against him.  A family court judge imposed a restraining order against AA pursuant to which he could not get closer than 300 meters to BB and her children. However, BB on several occasions allowed AA back in her home and near the children.  On October 7, 2008, AA came over to BB’s house with the intention of moving back in, but when BB declined, AA locked her and her children in a room for two hours.  He did not physically assault them, but did threaten to kill them.  BB filed a complaint and AA was convicted of domestic violence.  AA appealed arguing that BB had subsequently withdrawn her criminal complaint against him, which constituted consent to his conduct. The Appeals Court determined that the victim’s withdrawal of her complaint was a consequence of “battered women’s syndrome,” and had no bearing on a criminal action.  The Appeals Court dismissed the appeal and affirmed the decision of the Trial Court.

El Tribunal de Primera Instancia condenó al acusado (AA) a dos años de prisión por violencia doméstica agravada. El Tribunal consideró que las circunstancias agravantes eran la reincidencia del acusado y el uso de su fuerza para dominar a su víctima femenina. AA tenía antecedentes previos de violencia doméstica contra su esposa (BB). Aunque había asaltado repetidamente a BB y la apuñaló una vez, BB se negó a presentar una queja contra él. Un juez de un tribunal de familia impuso una orden de restricción contra AA en virtud de la cual no podía acercarse más de 300 metros a BB y sus hijos. Sin embargo, BB en varias ocasiones permitió que AA regresara a su casa y estuviera cerca de los niños. El 7 de octubre del 2008, AA vino a la casa de BB con la intención de regresar, pero cuando BB declinó, AA la encerró a ella y a sus hijos en una habitación durante dos horas. No los agredió físicamente, pero amenazó con matarlos. BB presentó una queja y AA fue condenado por violencia doméstica. AA apeló argumentando que BB había retirado posteriormente su denuncia penal contra él, lo que constituía un consentimiento para su conducta. El Tribunal de Apelaciones determinó que la retirada de la denuncia de la víctima fue una consecuencia del "síndrome de las mujeres maltratadas" y no tenía relación con una acción penal. El Tribunal de Apelaciones desestimó el recurso y confirmó la decisión del Tribunal de Primera Instancia.

AA v. Fiscalía General de la Nación, Caso No. 6/2009 Tribunal Apelaciones Penal 2º Tº (Second Criminal Appeals Court) (2009)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

The Trial Court sentenced the accused (AA) to three years and six months in prison for the kidnapping and continuous sexual abuse of a 15-year-old girl (BB). AA had been sexually abusing BB once a week since she was 11 years old. When BB was 15 years old, AA called her over to his house under false pretenses and then, against her will, he locked her inside and raped her for six hours.  AA was drunk and when he got distracted, BB was able to escape and find a neighbor who helped her.  The Trial Court determined that there was enough evidence to prove the kidnapping and the continuous sexual abuse. The Appeals Court dismissed AA’s appeal and  affirmed the decision of the Trial Court, except for qualifying the rape as continuous sexual abuse. Based on the facts of the case, the Appeals Court ruled the sexual abuse as repetitive instead of continuous.  It also determined that AA’s inebriation was voluntary, and thus had no relevance in sentencing.

El Tribunal de Primera Instancia condenó al acusado (AA) a tres años y seis meses de prisión por el secuestro y el abuso sexual continuo de una niña de 15 años (BB). AA había abusado sexualmente de BB una vez por semana desde que tenía 11 años. Cuando BB tenía 15 años, AA la llamó a su casa con falsos pretextos y luego, contra su voluntad, la encerró y la violó durante seis horas. AA estaba borracho y cuando se distrajo, BB pudo escapar y encontrar a una vecina que la ayudó. El Tribunal de Primera Instancia determinó que había pruebas suficientes para probar el secuestro y el abuso sexual continuo. El Tribunal de Apelaciones desestimó la apelación de AA y confirmó la decisión del Tribunal de Primera Instancia, excepto que calificó la violación como abuso sexual continuo. Con base en los hechos del caso, el Tribunal de Apelaciones dictaminó que el abuso sexual era repetitivo en lugar de continuo. También determinó que la embriaguez de AA era voluntaria y, por lo tanto, no tenía relevancia en la sentencia.

AA v. Fiscalía General de la Nación, Caso No. 359/2013 Tribunal Apelaciones Penal 1º Tº (First Criminal Appeals Court) (2013)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

The Trial Court sentenced the accused (AA) to four years in prison for aggravated sexual abuse of a minor (BB). AA and the mother of BB had a common law marriage. AA had been sexually abusing BB since she was eight years old and started raping her when she turned 11.  At age 14, BB became pregnant as a result of rape committed by AA.  BB’s mother discovered AA’s abuse and filed the criminal complaint.  AA confessed to being the victim’s “lover.”  The court found aggravating circumstances including that AA had taken advantage of his domestic relationship with BB’s mother and that he had abused his victim during the night. AA’s confession constituted an attenuating circumstance, reducing the sentence imposed.  The Appeals Court dismissed AA’s appeal and affirmed the Trial Court’s decision, ruling that there was enough evidence presented to establish the facts of the case.

El Tribunal de Primera Instancia condenó al acusado (AA) a cuatro años de prisión por abuso sexual agravado de un menor (BB). AA y la madre de BB tenían un matrimonio común. AA había abusado sexualmente de BB desde que tenía ocho años y comenzó a violarla cuando cumplió los 11. A los 14 años, BB quedó embarazada como resultado de una violación cometida por AA. La madre de BB descubrió el abuso de AA y presentó esta denuncia penal. AA confesó ser el "amante" de la víctima. El tribunal encontró circunstancias agravantes, incluyendo que AA se había aprovechado de su relación doméstica con la madre de BB y que había abusado de su víctima generalmente durante las noches. La confesión de AA constituyó una circunstancia atenuante, reduciendo la sentencia impuesta. El Tribunal de Apelaciones desestimó la apelación de AA y confirmó la decisión del Tribunal de Primera Instancia, dictaminando que se presentaron suficientes pruebas para establecer los hechos del caso.

Congdon v. Congdon Court of Appeals of Virginia: Richmond (2003)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Domestic and intimate partner violence, Property and inheritance rights

In this divorce case, the husband appealed the trial court’s decision to grant spousal support to the wife notwithstanding her adultery, based on the court’s finding that manifest injustice would otherwise result.  The appellant and the appellee were married for 20 years and had two children.  The appellant had a stable career in the trucking business and earned $250,000 per year and had assets totaling more than $6 million.  The appellee was the primary caretaker for the children and worked part-time as a receptionist earning $10 an hour.  She did not contest that she had an affair for at least five years during the marriage.  The court noted, however, that the evidence “portrayed the appellant  as a profane and verbally abusive man,” who frequented “strip joints and topless bars,” and frequently boasted and bragged about these experiences in lewd terms in front of the appellee and their children.  He was also verbally abusive to his children.  Several witnesses testified that “they had never once seen [him] show any affection or any kindness toward [his wife],” and that he “chronically complained” to the appellee and others about her “weight, appearance, housekeeping, and spending habits.”  The trial court explained that Va. Code § 20-107.1(B)the law precludes an award of support to any spouse found guilty of adultery, subject to narrow exceptions, including when the trial court determines from “clear and convincing evidence, that denial of support and maintenance would constitute manifest injustice, based upon the respective degrees of fault during the marriage or relative economic circumstances of the parties. The question before the court was whether the trial court committed a reversible error in stating that the statutory standard for deciding if a denial of support and maintenance constitutes a manifest injustice involved considering “either” the respective degrees of fault during the marriage “or” the relative economic circumstances of the parties.  In affirming the ruling of the trial court, the Court of Appeals held that the trial court erred, but also that it was a harmless error as it was supported by facts that satisfied the correct standard. The court determined that the proper standard for determining if a denial of spousal support would constitute a manifest injustice must consider “both” the comparative economic circumstances “and” the respective degrees of fault, i.e., the test was a conjunctive test rather than the disjunctive test used by the trial court.  Nevertheless, the Court of Appeals affirmed the ruling under correct test.  With respect to the relative degrees of fault, the Court of Appeals explained that adultery was not dispositive and that a reasonable factfinder could conclude that appellant’s severe and longstanding abusive conduct went beyond “mere incivility or petulance” and tipped the scales in appellee’s favor.  Moreover, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s finding of “extreme disparities” in the relative economic situations of the parties.  Consequently, the trial court erred in stating the standard for determining if a denial of spousal support would cause manifest injustice as requiring either economic disparities or fault instead of both factors, but the error was harmless as the factual findings addressed both factors under the appropriate standard.

Nobrega v. Commonwealth of Virginia Supreme Court of Virginia (2006)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Statutory rape or defilement

The defendant was convicted of rape and sexual abuse of his minor daughter and appealed, challenging the trial court’s refusal to order the victim to undergo a mental health examination and the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his conviction.  The defendant’s daughter, who was 11 years old, reported to her mother that defendant had sex with her on two occasions when she was seven and eight years old. In a motion to order a psychiatric examination of the child, defendant pointed to the child’s mental health history, which showed that she “had been diagnosed with psychological disorders and exhibited dysfunctional behavior.” The trial court denied the motion and the Virginia Court of Appeals affirmed the denial. The issue before the Court was whether the trial court erred in denying defendant’s motion to subject the plaintiff, a rape victim, to a psychiatric examination and whether the plaintiff’s testimony alone, without the requested mental examination, was sufficient to sustain defendant’s conviction. The Court affirmed the lower courts, finding that the trial process afforded “adequate safeguards to the accused to test the competency of the complaining witness without a court-ordered mental health examination of that witness.” Therefore, “a trial court has no authority to order a complaining witness in a rape case to undergo a psychiatric or psychological evaluation.”  With respect to the sufficiency of the evidence, the court noted its precedents establishing that “the victim’s testimony alone, if not inherently incredible, is sufficient to support a conviction for rape,” and that because the child’s testimony was not inherently incredible, it was sufficient to sustain defendant’s conviction. The trial court did not err in denying defendant’s motion to subject plaintiff to a mental examination and the plaintiff’s testimony, by itself, was sufficient to support the conviction.

The State v. Nkasi High Court of Namibia (2010)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Female infanticide and feticide

The accused negligently killed his daughter by beating her to death with a stick, which he meant as punishment. He also intentionally shot and killed his son with a shotgun and attempted to shoot his wife. He was convicted of culpable homicide, murder, attempted murder, obstructing the course of justice, possession of a firearm without a license, and the unlawful possession of ammunition. The court sentenced him to 44 years imprisonment. With respect to the conviction for negligent homicide, the court found that parents do not have carte blanche to punish their children. The court also found that the accused’s previous acts of violence against his wife and children constituted aggravating circumstances. The court further emphasized the seriousness of domestic violence and noted that sentencing in such cases should serve as retribution for those harmed, including the community at large and as deterrence to others.

F.N. v. S.M. High Court of Namibia (2012)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Domestic and intimate partner violence

The appellant and respondent are divorced parents of three children. At the time of the divorce, custody of the children was awarded to the respondent. The appellant then moved for an interim protection order, claiming that the respondent physically abused their minor children. A court granted the interim protection order on October 3, 2011, and awarded the appellant interim custody of the children, subject to visitation by the respondent, and ordered respondent to cease abusing the children. The Magistrate’s Court subsequently discharged the interim order on October 24, 2011, based on Section 12 of the Combating of Domestic Violence Act 4 of 2003, reasoning that the beatings were an isolated incident and were only meant to punish the children for bad behavior. The appellant challenged the discharge. The appellate court agreed with appellant and granted a final protection order effective through July 2013, which awarded the appellant custody of the children with visitation for the respondent on alternate weekends and holidays. In its decision, the appellate court stated the importance of rooting out the “evil that is domestic violence in order to give effect to the protection of the constitutional value of human dignity.”

Hicks v. State of Alabama Supreme Court of Alabama (2014)

Abortion and reproductive health rights

The defendant was charged with chemical endangerment of a child for ingesting cocaine while pregnant, which resulted in her child testing positive for cocaine at birth. The defendant was convicted after a guilty plea, but challenged her conviction on appeal, arguing that the legislature did not intend for Alabama’s chemical endangerment statute to apply to unborn children. Additionally, she alleged that if the statute applied to unborn children, the law was: (1) bad public policy because it does not protect unborn children and (2) unconstitutionally vague. The Alabama Supreme Court rejected Hicks’ claims, relying on an Alabama Court of Appeal decision, Ankrom v. State, 152 So.3d 373 (Ala. Crim. App. 2011), in which the court held that the plain language of the statute included an unborn child or viable fetus in the term “child.” The Alabama Supreme Court refused to consider the defendant’s public policy arguments, stating that policy arguments are ill-suited to judicial resolution and should instead be directed at the legislature. Finally, the court concluded that the law was not vague, as it “unambiguously protects all children, born and unborn, from exposure to controlled substances.”

Carne v Wride & Carne v Nicholas Supreme Court of the Northern Territory (2012)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

The appellant Barry Carne was formerly in a relationship with L.S., the victim and the mother of his four children.  One day Carne entered L.S.’s home without consent, destroyed property, and confronted L.S..  During the altercation he grabbed and twisted L.S.’s right hand and fingers, causing her to fall in pain.  As a result he was charged with aggravated assault, and a domestic violence order was issued against him.  The domestic violence order restrained him from contacting, approaching, intimidating or harassing the victim and from exposing their children to domestic violence.  While the domestic violence order was in force, Carne again went to L.S.’s house.  After L.S. did not answer, he attempted to hang himself outside the home, only to be saved by his son, who was 14 at the time.  Carne was charged with breaching the domestic violence order, and pleaded guilty.  The sentencing magistrate sentenced him to eight months’ imprisonment for the breach and two months for the aggravated assault, to be served concurrently.  Carne appealed the sentence, claiming that it was manifestly excessive, and argued that the magistrate took into account irrelevant matters, in particular his suicide attempt.  The court of appeal considered the definition of “domestic violence” and whether Carne’s attempted suicide in front of the children was an attempt to cause mental harm to L.S. and/or her children.  The court held that the sentencing magistrate had not received sufficient evidence from the prosecution demonstrating that Carne had attempted the suicide in order to cause mental harm to L.S. and/or her children and, accordingly, it was not open to the magistrate to make such a finding.  The magistrate was required to exclude any other reasonable hypothesis, permitted by the facts, regarding the attempted suicide before concluding that the intent was to cause mental harm.  As such, the sentence was reduced to one month’s imprisonment.

Ministério Público v. [Undisclosed Parties], 9/14.7GCTND.C1 Tribunal da Relação de Coimbra (Court of Appeal of Coimbra) (2016)

Sexual harassment, Statutory rape or defilement

The Public Prosecutor (Ministério Público) brought charges against the defendant, “A” (name omitted from public record), for sexual harassment against the victim, “D” (name omitted from public record) a minor girl. A had naked pictures of D and threatened to expose them using the internet unless D agreed to have sexual intercourse with him. The Lower Court held that D’s conduct did not meet the requirements of sexual harassment under section 163 of the Portuguese Penal Code, which requires a grave threat to the victim as an element of the crime. The Lower Court held that the threat to expose naked pictures of D is considered a grave threat under the Portuguese Penal Code. The Public Prosecutor appealed, and the Appellate Court reversed the decision, finding B guilty of sexual harassment.

Ministério Público v. [Undisclosed Parties], 108/14.5JALRA.E1.S1 Supremo Tribunal de Justiça (Supreme Court of Justice) (2016)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement, Trafficking in persons

One month after marrying the victim, “BB” (name omitted from public record), the defendant, “AA” (name omitted from public record) coerced BB to become a prostitute so she could help with their financial problems. After BB engaged in sexual relations as a prostitute, AA began to physically assault BB and to threaten to kill her children, alleging that was enjoying being a prostitute. Concurrently, AA’s 15-year old daughter “CC” (name omitted from public record) moved in with AA and BB, and shortly thereafter, AA engaged in non-consensual sexual activities with CC for approximately six months. AA had previously convictions for robbery, physical harassment and child pornography, among others. The Superior Court of Justice found AA guilty of the crimes of promoting prostitution under section 169 of the Portuguese Penal Code, domestic violence under section 152 of the Portuguese Penal Code, sexual abuse of a person incapable of resistance under sections 164 and 177 of the Portuguese Penal Code and illegal possession of weapon, and sentenced AA to 16 years of imprisonment.

Ministério Público v. [Undisclosed Parties], 570/14.6PFSXL.L1-3 Tribunal da Relação de Lisboa (Lisbon Court of Appeal) (2016)

Statutory rape or defilement

The Appellate Court reaffirmed the District Court’s decision which found defendants, “Mr. V” and “Ms. M” (both names omitted from public record), guilty of child sexual abuse pursuant to sections 171 and 177 of the Portuguese Penal Code and sentenced Mr. V and Ms. M to five years in prison. According to evidence (including photos and victim’s testimony) presented to the Appellate Court, Mr. V and Ms. M would play games with the victim, “L” (name omitted from public record), their five-year-old daughter, during which L had to touch and kiss part of Mr. V’s and Mrs. M’s bodies in exchange for candies or the ability to watch television. The Appellate Court held that, although the conduct in question occurred in an apparently playful environment, Mr. V and Ms. M incentivized L to behave with sexual connotation that could jeopardize her personal development. 

Application by Court of First Instance Court to Annul a Certain Criminal Provision Constitutional Court (2016)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

The Turkish Criminal Code, Article 103, Number 5237, provides sentencing for child sexual abuse without graduating the sentence in proportion to the child’s age. The Bafra High Criminal Court applied to the Constitutional Court to annul this provision, and the Court annulled the following two provisions: (1) child sexual abuse carries a sentence between eight and fifteen years; (2) child sexual molestation carries a sentence between three and eight years. The Court reasoned that the legislature may consider the country’s moral values and social and cultural structure in determining the punishment, and while heavier sentences for crimes against younger children who are more vulnerable to sexual assault would be reasonable, the Court opined that in some cases the crime and the punishment might not be proportional, which would violate the “state of law” principle. Therefore, the Court annulled the sentencing guidelines, effective six months following publication in the Official Gazette.

Blake v. R. Court of Appeal (2015)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

The applicant pleaded guilty before the Circuit Court of Westmoreland for the offence of having sexual intercourse with a girl under the age of 16, in violation of section 10(1) of the Sexual Offences Act. He was in a serious relationship with the underage girl, but the matter was brought to the attention of the police when the complainant discovered she was pregnant and there was a dispute regarding the defendant’s paternity (tests showed he indeed was the father). He then argued that he was lured and tempted by the complainant, who would attend to his shop in revealing clothes and make sexual advances to him. The grounds for the defendant’s application was that the four-year sentence was manifestly excessive and that the judge was obliged to indicate, as a matter of law, the sentence that would have been imposed if the applicant had been convicted at trial and use that as a starting point for taking into account the fact that the applicant had plead guilty. In addition, his counsel highlighted as mitigating factors: the girl was just six months away from the age of consent and the sexual intercourse was consensual. His counsel also argued that the judge did not take into consideration the character and antecedents of the applicant, as well as the classic sentencing principles of retribution, deterrence, prevention and rehabilitation. However, the Court decided that, although the indication of a starting point for sentencing would have been desirable, they do not see the omission as being fatal to the reasoning underlying the sentencing. They also highlighted that it’s clear that Parliament has recognized this offence as a serious one, and their commitment against it. This case is particularly important because the Court stated that Jamaica has particular difficulties in dealing with offences involving young girls constantly being abused and exploited by older men, and that they have to get the message out that the children must be allowed to transition into adulthood without any molestation. Furthermore, the court stated that the pregnancy of the girl must not be taken as a mitigating factor, because that would send the message that a man who gets the girl pregnant is likely to be treated more favorably by the Court. Finally, the Court insisted that these pronouncements, in the context of the alarming local circumstances, should be guiding principles in sentencing these matters and cases.

NJA 2005 s. 712 Högsta domstolen (Supreme Court) (2005)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Sexual violence and rape

L.G. was accused of violation of a woman’s integrity (Sw. kvinnofridskränkning), assault (Sw. misshandel) and rape of his wife, C.G.  Because the couple’s three children were present when the alleged abuse occurred, L.G. was also charged with violation of their integrity.  The Supreme Court found that C.G.’s statements were more credible than L.G.’s, partly because the couple’s three children concurred with C.G.’s version of events.  Accordingly, due to L.G.’s repeated violation of C.G.’s integrity, the Supreme Court found L.G. guilty of violating C.G.’s integrity.  Regarding the rape charge, however, the Supreme Court did not find sufficient evidence to convict L.G.  Aside from C.G.’s testimony – which left doubt as to the time of the alleged rape – there was no evidence to substantiate the rape charge.  Therefore, the Supreme Court held that the prosecution failed to prove the rape charge beyond a reasonable doubt.  Nonetheless, because the court determined that L.G. had assaulting C.G. and their children, the court sentenced L.G. to two years and six months imprisonment.

F.A.P.A., Case No. 191-09-2016 Tribunal de Sentencia de Chalatenango (2016)

Sexual harassment, Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

F.A.P.A., the defendant, was a 54-year-old unmarried Salvadoran farmer residing in La Reina, El Salvador. At the time of the allegations giving rise to the case, he was receiving treatment for epilepsy.  An evening, F.A.P.A. visited his niece.  F.A.P.A. and his niece, a minor, were sitting on a couch watching television when his niece’s mother left the room to attend to her other children.  During that time, F.A.P.A. engaged in sexual behavior with his niece against her will by touching her genitals and kissing her in the mouth.  F.A.P.A. was subsequently arrested by Salvadoran police officers for sexually harassing his niece.  F.A.P.A. later confessed to these underlying facts.  Section 165 of the El Salvadoran Penal Code states a person is liable for sexual harassment when that person (1) engages in sexual behavior involving phrases, touching , signs, or other unequivocal conduct of a sexual nature or content, (2) the action is undesired by the person who receives it, (3) the action does not constitute a more serious sexual offence, (4) in the case of a person of legal age, the action is repeated, and (5) the action is intentional.  The court found that F.A.P.A.’s confession of intentionally touching his niece’s genitals and kissing her against her will satisfies the elements of sexual harassment.  Although F.A.P.A. was being treated for epilepsy, the court found that he was capable of distinguishing right from wrong and acted consciously.  The court found F.A.P.A. guilty of sexual harassment punishable by two years imprisonment.  However, in lieu of the prison sentence, the court exercised its discretion under articles 77 and 79 of the Penal Code and sentenced F.A.P.A. to two years of probation with the following restrictions: (1) prohibition from leaving the country; (2) prohibition from approaching the victim or her family; (3) prohibition from ingesting intoxicating drinks; and (4) will be under probationary surveillance.

Luis Alonso G.P., Case No. 145-2016-3 Tribunal Segundo de Sentencia de San Salvador (2017)

Sexual harassment, Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

In May 2015, a girl purchased bread from Defendant Luis Alonso, a 50-year-old baker, at his home.  While the girl was at Luis’ home, Luis physically attacked her and stated that he would “rape her.”  Although Luis did not carry out his threat, he threatened the girl that if she reported him, she would pay and that he would continue to harass her and physically assault her every time he saw her on the street.  In February, 2016, the girl was approached by Luis in a small town in Ciudad Delgado and was afraid that Luis would sexually assault her again so she reported the previous events to patrolling officers.  The patrolling officers arrested Luis for sexual harassment.  Section 165 of the El Salvadoran Penal Code provides that a person is liable for sexual harassment—punishable by three to five years imprisonment—when that person engages in unwanted sexual conduct involving phrases, touching, signs or other unequivocal sexual conduct that does not in itself constitute a more serious offense.  The court found that the defendant Luis Alonso sexually harassed the girl in violation of article 165.  The court replaced the three-year prison sentence with 144 days of community service and ordered that Luis pays the victim a civil penalty of $300.

Juan Carlos F.G., Case No. 18-2016-3 Tribunal Segundo de Sentencia de San Salvador (2017)

Sexual harassment, Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

Defendant Juan Carlos, a member of a gang known as the Mara Salvatrucha (MS), was arrested for sexually harassing and detaining a 16-year-old girl.  The victim was waiting for a bus an early afternoon when the defendant snatched her bag, attempted to kiss her, grabbed her by the neck, and forced her into a restaurant.  When the victim attempted to run away, the defendant pursued her and forcibly took her into a house where the defendant detained her in a room.  An anonymous individual in the neighborhood informed the police that the defendant was holding a girl captive.  Police officers entered the house and arrested the defendant.  Section 165 of the El Salvadoran Penal Code  provides that a person is liable for sexual harassment when that person engages in unwanted sexual conduct involving phrases, touching, signs or other unequivocal sexual conduct that does not in itself constitute a more serious offense.  Sexual harassment is punishable by three to five years of imprisonment.  Section 165 further provides that sexual harassment against a child under the age of 15 is punishable by eight years imprisonment.  Additionally, Section 148 of the El Salvadoran Penal Code provides that a person is liable for deprivation of freedom when that person deprives another of his or her individual liberty.  The crime of deprivation of freedom is punishable by three to six years imprisonment. The court found that the defendant sexually harassed the victim in violation of article 165 and deprived the victim of her freedom in violation of article 148.  Because the defendant performed multiple crimes, he was sentenced to 10 years 8 months of imprisonment. Three years of this sentence are attributable to sexual harassment, five years attributable to deprivation of freedom, increased by 1/3 for depriving a minor under the age of 18 of her liberty.  

AP 2537/09 – Dalibor Perić Ustavni Sud Bosne i Hercegovine (Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina) (2009)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Domestic and intimate partner violence

In 2004, the common-law marriage between Dalibor Perić (“Perić”) and his wife was terminated.  Perić’s ex-wife was granted custody of their two-year-old son, and Perić was ordered to pay BAM 100 per month in child support.  Over the next three years, Perić never paid child support, he verbally abused and physically assaulted his ex-wife and her parents resulting in two domestic violence charges.  In addition, he beat the child on several occasions.  In 2007, the mother of the child filed a motion to terminate Perić’s parental rights.  Two years later, the Basic Court in Bijeljina stripped Perić of his parental rights pursuant to Article 106 of the Family Law of the Republika Srpska.  The County Court of Bijelina dismissed Perić’s appeal and upheld the lower court’s ruling.  Perić then appealed to the Constitutional Court of BiH, arguing the ruling of the County Court violated his right to a fair trial and right to private and family life.  Because no draft decision received a majority vote, the Constitutional Court of BiH dismissed Perić’s appeal.

Decision available in English here.

2016 (A). No. 1731 Supreme Court of Japan (2014)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

The defendant committed acts of obscenity upon a young girl.  He alleged that it was only for a monetary purpose—to record the act and give the record to his acquaintance in return for receiving a loan —and that he had no sexual intent.  The defendant appealed the High Court’s ruling that sexual intent is not required to establish a prima facie case of indecent assault, which is proscribed by Article 176 of the Japanese Penal Code.  He argued that the High Court’s finding was inconsistent with a judicial precedent holding that sexual intent is an element for the crime.  The Supreme Court, upon noting that the scope of sexual crimes cannot be properly determined without taking into account the views of contemporary society, found that, in the present day, the focus should be on the existence, details, and extent of sexual damage caused to a victim rather than an assailant’s intent.  Thus, the Supreme Court, sustained the High Court’s finding and overturned the 47-year-old jurisprudence. The Court found that, while it could not deny that there may be a situation in which the sexual intent of a perpetrator becomes an important factor in finding the crime, it was not reasonable to uniformly require the existence of such a factor for the crime of indecent assault.  

2016 (Kyo) No. 45 Supreme Court of Japan (2017)

Gender-based violence in general, Statutory rape or defilement, Trafficking in persons

The appellant in this case had been arrested and punished with a fine for allegedly paying for child prostitution in violation of the Act on Punishment of Activities Relating to Child Prostitution and Child Pornography, and the Protection of Children (before its revision by Act No. 79 of 2014).  The news media reported the his arrest for the alleged charge, and all or part of the coverage was made available at several websites that were searchable on the appellee search engine.  This case concerned the appellant’s request—based on his personal rights and moral interests—for an order of provisional disposition, requiring the search engine to make websites that refer to the appellant’s criminal record unsearchable.  The High Court dismissed the request.  The Supreme Court, on one hand, recalled its finding from precedents that the protection of information related to an individual’s privacy is subject to legal protection.  On the other hand, it noted that search engines’ provision of search results (1) may constitute acts of expression and (2) has become an important infrastructure for distribution of information through the internet.  The Supreme Court then found that the evaluation of whether providing particular search results amounts to an illegal action must take into account both the benefits of making the information at question unsearchable on the one hand, and reasons and circumstances pertaining to providing such search results on the other hand; the court can require that the search engine remove such search results only if the former exceeds the latter.  In this case, the Supreme Court found that, while the criminal record at issue pertained to the privacy of the appellant and which he did not wish to be made largely available to the public, such information also concerned the public interest in light of the nature of crimes relating to child porn and child prostitution.  In addition, the Supreme Court took into account that the information dissemination was limited to a certain degree considering that such search results did not show up unless a search engine user used the appellant’s name and his residing prefecture together as search keywords.  Thus, the Supreme Court found that the benefit of making the information at issue unsearchable did not exceed the need of having the websites at issue on the search engine and sustained the lower court’s ruling.

Case of Derlis Mauro Rodríguez Rojas Criminal Appeals Court (2002)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

The child victim was sexually abused by Derlis Mauro Rodriguez.  The parents of the victim stated that the child was found with the defendant in an abandoned house while he was touching her.  Medical reports confirmed the defendant had been sexually abusing the victim.  The defendant was sentenced to fifteen years in prison, which was confirmed by the Criminal Appeals Court on April 16, 2002.

Case of Florencio Arias, et al. Criminal Appeals Court (2003)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

A nine-year-old girl was sexually abused by her father, Florencio Arias, on several occasions.  The defendant was sentenced to 10 years in prison, which was confirmed by the Criminal Appeals Court on April 25, 2003.

J.E.R.A. v. Attorney General's Office Supreme Court (2009)

Sexual violence and rape

The defendant in this case sexually assaulted his stepdaughter, who was 12-years-old at the time. The defendant was sentenced to 15 years in prison for rape. During his appeal, the defendant argued that the trial court failed to legally assess all the evidence presented. During her initial testimony, the victim declared that it was her stepfather who had caused the sexual abuse apparent in her psychological and physical examinations. However, she recanted two months later and stated that the abuse had actually been inflicted by her boyfriend. Nonetheless, the trial court convicted the victim’s stepfather. On appeal the Court found no error. It reasoned that the timing between the contradictory declarations and, most importantly, the nature of the second declaration indicated that the first testimony was correct. The Court found that such a declaration was a product of the stepfather’s pressure as it lacked many details and appeared disingenuous. The Court dismissed the procedural challenge and confirmed the sentence. 

En este caso, el acusado agredió sexualmente a su hijastra, que tenía 12 años en ese momento. El acusado fue condenado a 15 años de prisión por violación. Durante su apelación, el acusado argumentó que el tribunal de primera instancia no evaluó legalmente todas las pruebas presentadas. En su testimonio inicial, la víctima declaró que fue su padrastro quien había causado el abuso sexual aparente en sus exámenes físicos y psicológicos. Sin embargo, ella se retractó dos meses después y declaró que el abuso había sido infligido por su novio. No obstante, el tribunal de primera instancia condenó al padrastro de la víctima. En la apelación, La Corte no encontró ningún error. Razonó que el momento entre las declaraciones contradictorias y, lo más importante, la naturaleza de la segunda declaración indicaban que el primer testimonio era correcto. El Tribunal determinó que la segunda declaración era producto de la presión del padrastro, ya que carecía de muchos detalles y parecía poco sincera. El tribunal terminó la apelación y confirmó la sentencia como decisión final.

N.C. v. Caldwell Alabama Supreme Court (2011)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

N.C., a minor, filed a personal injury action against her physical education teacher, her school principal, and the Tallapoosa County Board of Education. N.C. alleged that after her seventh grade physical education class, she was pulled into the boys’ locker room and raped by A.H., a 12th grade student whom her teacher, Caldwell, had appointed as a teacher’s aide. N.C.’s complaint alleged that Caldwell had actual knowledge that A.H. was sexually harassing students and had negligently or wantonly supervised N.C. and the other students in her class. Caldwell, the principal, and the Board filed motions for summary judgment, arguing that N.C.’s claims were barred by the doctrine of state-agent immunity. N.C. opposed entry of summary judgment against only Caldwell. The trial court reasoned that the Alabama Supreme Court “has been particularly reluctant to hold an educator responsible for sexual misconduct by another” and granted summary judgment in favor of Caldwell based on stage-agent immunity. On appeal, the Alabama Supreme Court considered an exception to state-agent immunity: “a State agent shall not be immune from civil liability in his or her personal capacity . . . when the State acts willfully, maliciously, fraudulently, in bad faith, beyond his or her authority, or under a mistaken interpretation of the law.” The Alabama Supreme Court found that Caldwell was exercising judgment in the discharge of his duty to supervise students at the time of the rape, which occurred after the dismissal bell had rung. Nonetheless, the Alabama Supreme Court held that there was a genuine issue of material fact as to (i) whether Caldwell actually appointed A.H. as a student aide, and, if so, whether he acted beyond his authority in doing so, and (ii) whether Caldwell ignored and failed to report allegations of sexual harassment from other female students about A.H.. The Alabama Supreme Court also found that there was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether Caldwell was aware that A.H. was sexually harassing other female students and, if so, whether he failed to respond to the allegations. The Alabama Supreme Court concluded that these issues of material fact precluded summary judgment and accordingly reversed the trial court.

Uganda v. Kamuhanda High Court at Fort Portal (2014)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

The accused was charged with murdering his father.  The accused’s mother testified that her husband, the deceased, repeatedly physically abused his wife and children.  After a day of drinking, the deceased chased his wife and children out of the house.  The deceased’s wife went to see her older son, Muhwezi.  Muhwezi took his mother to the local council chairman, who took her to the police.  After the police refused to do anything, the deceased’s wife and children spent the night at the local council chairman’s home.  The deceased was found dead in the family home the next morning.  Muhwezi confessed that he argued with his father and killed him in self-defense.  The prosecutor requested at least 40 years imprisonment, but the Court, citing researched on the effects of long-term domestic violence, sentenced the accused to two years imprisonment.

Kamaze v. State High Court (2013)

Statutory rape or defilement

The appellant was convicted of raping his minor daughter and sentenced to 18 years and three years imprisonment, for rape and incest respectively, to run concurrently. He appealed his conviction, claiming that his minor daughter was the only witness to the alleged crime, that the trial judge improperly assumed the complainant was under 18 years old, that the prosecution did not meet its burden of proof, that his rights to legal representation were not explained, and that the sentences were unreasonable. The High Court of Namibia (“High Court”) determined that the child’s testimony was sufficient to sustain the conviction pursuant to Section 208 of Act 51 of 1977, which allows for conviction based on “the single evidence of any competent witness.”  The High Court held that “although the complainant is a single witness to the actual rape, the fact that she immediately reported that to her sister and her niece corroborates her evidence,” and that the medical report, which was the result of a doctor’s examination conducted on the night of the rape after the complainant took a bath, corroborated her account of being raped.  However, the High Court allowed the appeal on the charge of incest.  The High Court cited the “single intent” test, which requires that two criminal acts be considered as one transaction if the evidence for one of the acts necessarily involves proof of another criminal act.  The Court stated that the defendant had a single intent – to rape his daughter – so he should only be convicted of one crime (rape) rather than two. 

State v. Naruseb High Court of Namibia (2012)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

The accused was tried for beating and raping his girlfriend A.S. (the third complainant), sexually abusing and beating their five-month-old male and female twin children, and murdering his son by throwing him on the floor.  Medical experts testified that the injuries on the twins suggested sexual and other physical violence.  Denying the charges, the accused testified that A.S., the children’s mother, beat the twins and assaulted the accused. The accused also argued that there was no credible evidence of the crime and that the prosecution failed to meet its burden of proof because A.S. was the only eye-witness to the accused’s alleged crimes. The High Court of Namibia disagreed, finding the accused not credible and finding the A.S. credible, not least because the circumstantial and medical evidence supported her testimony. Citing precedent regarding single witnesses, the Court determined that a single eye-witness is sufficient to sustain a conviction if the witness (a) is credible, (b) gives her statement in a straight-forward manner, and (c) has no reason to falsely incriminate the accused.  In addition, an inference may be properly drawn from the fact that the accused and the complainant were the only two adults in the room between the time the complainant went to bed at night without injuries and when she awoke in the morning with injuries. This finding is significant for domestic violence cases, which often do not involve unbiased third-party testimony.  

People of the Philippines v. Anacito Dimanawa Supreme Court of Philippines (2010)

Custodial violence, Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

The appellant was convicted of statutory rape of his daughter. The appellant claimed the rape had not happened because the daughter was not home, and that she was not a credible witness. The Supreme Court agreed with the findings and conclusion of the trial and appeals courts that rape was committed by the appellant. The Supreme Court noted that the testimony of a child-victim is to be given full weight and credence. The Supreme Court noted that respect for elders is deeply rooted in Filipino children and recognized by law such that there is a presumption that the child testified truthfully. Moreover, the concurrence of the age of the victim and her relationship to the offender warranted upgrades to the sentencing penalty.

People of the Philippines v. Rodolfo de Jesus Y Mendoza Supreme Court of Philippines (2013)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

The appellant was found guilty of the crime of statutory rape of his daughter. On appeal, the appellant argued there was insufficient physical evidence of the rape. The Supreme Court noted that the results of the physical examination did not discount the possibility that the daughter was raped. The Supreme Court further noted that rape of a minor under 12 years of age is statutory rape. It explained that (a) in statutory rape, only the following two elements must be established: 1) carnal knowledge or sexual intercourse; and 2) that the woman is below 12 years of age and (b) both of those elements had been established.

People of the Philippines v. Antonio Mendoza Y Butones Supreme Court of Philippines (2005)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

The appellant was convicted of rape of his daughter. The Supreme Court affirmed the conviction, noting that the appellant failed to proffer a credible defense, instead merely denying the accusations. To the contrary, there is a recognized presumption of credibility when a daughter accuses her father. The conviction was upheld.

Counsellor, et al. v. Republic of Liberia Supreme Court of Liberia (2008)

Harmful traditional practices, Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

On appeal, the Supreme Court affirmed the lower court’s judgment that appellants, Living Counsellor, Wisdom Counsellor, and Righteous Counsellor, were guilty of rape. Their four female victims ranged from ages 7 to 12. The victims were introduced into the Kingdom Assembly Church of Africa, or the “Never Die Church,” so named because it promised followers eternal life on earth. It also promoted free sexual relations among its members. The victims testified that they were beaten and raped by members of the church. The court stated that “the evidence adduced during the trial show that rape is institutionalized in the Never Die Church. The testimonies given by the prosecution witnesses also points to a situation where the victims were living in a condition of servitude almost identical to slavery.” The appellants argued that “they did not rape the girls but that they only share love with their sisters because they have no earthly mother or father but only Wonderful Counsellor.” They argued that their conviction should be overturned because they were also charged with gang rape, but the trial judge failed to instruct the jury on that charge. Still, their conviction was upheld because they were convicted of rape nonetheless.

LM v. The Queen Supreme Court of New Zealand (2014)

Sexual violence and rape

Section 144 of the Crimes Act 1961 “provides for the prosecution of New Zealanders for conduct which, if it had occurred in New Zealand, would be contrary to specified provisions of the Crimes Act involving sexual offending against children and young people.” The appellant, a New Zealander, was found guilty of a sex crime against a child. The crime was committed in Russia and the other offender in the case was a Russian man. At issue on appeal was whether the aforementioned law allowed for “the prosecution of a New Zealander (being LM) on the basis of party liability for “offending” where the principal “offender” is not a New Zealander.” The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that the appellant was in fact liable as a principal and noting that a miscarriage of justice had not occurred. Furthermore, the Court stated that a “wrong decision” regarding party liability “does not warrant the allowing of the appeal.”

Sexual Assault Against a Minor is a Presumed Violent Act: Habeas Corpos No. 74.983-6 (in Portugeuse) Brazilian Federal Supreme Court (1997)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

The Brazilian Federal Supreme Court (Supremo Tribunal Federal or “STF”) denied the petition for writ of habeas corpus of Mario Somensi, upholding the constitutionality of Article 224(a) of the Penal Code which establishes a presumption of violence in sex crimes against minors. Somensi was convicted of rape and child abuse, and was sentenced to a prison term of eight years for rape and one year and ten months for child abuse. In his appeal and writ, Somensi argued he had committed no violence and that the presumption of violence set forth in Article 224(a) of the Penal Code was unconstitutional. The Court first noted that the provision in question predated Brazil’s 1988 Constitution and could not be found “unconstitutional” with respect to its construction. Rather, the Court examined its compatibility with the 1988 Constitution and found that the purpose of the presumption – to protect minors who legally are incapable of offering consent – was consistent with and expressed by the broad statement in Article 227 § 4 of the Constitution that “[t]he law shall severely punish abuse, violence and sexual exploitation of children and adolescents.” The STF held that the presumption did not violate constitutional principles, even when the presumption embraced what otherwise would be a factual matter requiring evidentiary proof.

Ancich v. Ancich Arizona Court of Appeals (2009)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

Father and Mother were divorced in 2003 and were granted joint custody of their son, Z.  In January 2008, Mother sought an order of protection against Father covering her house, her mother’s house, and Z’s school, claiming that Father, a police officer, had committed domestic violence against her, and had intimidated Z to a point where he left a suicide note.  After an evidentiary hearing, the family court found sufficient evidence to support an order protecting Mother.  The court found, however, evidence was insufficient to cover Z in the order, and thus removed Z’s school from coverage.  Father appealed, arguing that the order was wrongly entered because only Mother’s side of the story “had been heard,” to which the court responded that the family court was entitled to resolve conflict in evidence.  The court determined that Mother’s account was more convincing, and thus rejected Father’s argument.  Father also argued that because of the protective order, he must check his service weapon at the end of every shift and asked for it again at the beginning of every shift.  As a result, he could not perform security work in off-duty hours.  The court did not consider the argument because Father failed to cite any legal authority in support of a need for him to perform off-duty security work.  Finally, Father argued that the protective order would diminish his right to participate decision-making about Z.  The court found the argument unconvincing because father was free to reach Mother via e-mail or phone.  Accordingly, the court affirmed the family court’s grant of a protective order covering Mother.

Van Zijl v. Hoogenhout (2004)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

The appellant suffered years of sexual abuse by her uncle, the respondent, during her childhood.   She sued him for damages at the age of 48 and the respondent claimed that her suit should have been brought within one year of her attaining her majority. The Court held that the victim of sexual abuse as a child who only in adulthood acquired an appreciation of the responsibility of the abuser for the abuse may sue the abuser within three years of acquiring that appreciation.

R v. Mkhatshwa Supreme Court of Swaziland (2007)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

The appellant was convicted of raping his 12 year old daughter and sentenced to 22 years imprisonment. The Court upheld the sentence in light of the heinous nature of rape as a crime and the importance of society sending a message of severe condemnation of the crime.

Rex v. Mfanzile Mkhwanazi High Court of Swaziland (2003)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

The accused was charged on two counts of rape of a 14 year old girl and of an 11 year old girl. The Court noted that in cases where the complainants are young and may be prone to flights of imagination leading to false accusations, the accusations should only be doubted in so far as the child's capacity for recollection and observation seem questionable.  In this case, the children were found to be trustworthy and the accused convicted of both counts. 


Gesamte Rechtsvorschrift für Fortpflanzungsmedizingesetz (Reproductive Medicine Act) (1992)

Abortion and reproductive health rights

Medically assisted reproduction is permissible only to married couples, or those in a registered partnership or cohabitation.  Further, it is only permitted to the couple if certain difficulties in conceiving exist, such as (i) all other possible or reasonable treatments to induce pregnancy through sexual intercourse are unsuccessful or hopeless; (ii) pregnancy through sexual intercourse would expose the spouse or partner to a serious risk of transmitting a serious infectious disease; (iii) the couple is two women living in a registered partnership; or (iv) for certain couples where there may be difficulty becoming pregnant or giving birth, or giving birth to a child with a hereditary disease (which would require the child be kept alive through constant use of modern medical technology, or has severe brain damage or severe pain that cannot be treated) due to genetic dispositions.  Surrogacy is not permitted Austria because medically assisted reproduction is only permissible within a marriage or registered partnership or cohabitation, and only the ova and the semen of the spouses, registered partners, or cohabitants may be used. There are two exceptional circumstances in which a third party’s genetic material may be used for medically assisted reproduction: (i) the semen of a third person may be used if the spouse, registered partner or cohabitant is not capable of reproduction, or if the couple is two women in a registered partnership; or (ii) the oocyte of a third person may be used if a woman, younger than 45, whom the pregnancy will be induced is otherwise not able to reproduce.

Offences Against the Person Act (2010)

Abortion and reproductive health rights, Trafficking in persons

The Offences against the Person Act lists acts recognized in law as punishable offences and details the ways in which the law deals with the offenders under the said acts. Child stealing is recognized as a felony and any person convicted for child stealing shall be imprisoned for a term not exceeding seven years. Kidnapping is recognized as a felony and any person convicted shall be liable to imprisonment for life. Attempts to procure abortion (by virtue of the pregnant woman unlawfully administering any substances to terminate her pregnancy by whatsoever means) is recognized as a felony and shall be liable for imprisonment for life. Infanticide (the act by which a woman willfully causes the death of her child under the age of twelve months) is a punishable offence recognized as the offence of manslaughter of a child.

Child Pornography (Prevention) Act of 2009 (2009)

Statutory rape or defilement, Trafficking in persons

The Child Pornography (Prevention) Act prohibits the production, distribution, importation, exportation or possession of child pornography and the use of children for pornography A “Child” is a male or a female person under the age of 18 years. Child pornography constitutes any visual representation, any audio recording or written material depicting engagement of a child in sexual activity or depicts body parts of child for sexual purposes, or depicts a child subject to torture, cruelty, or physical abuse of a sexual context. A person who has custody of, charge or care of a child and knowingly causes or incites the involvement of a child in the production of child pornography commits an offence and will be liable for a fine or to imprisonment (or both) for a term not exceeding 15 years. The production or distribution of child pornography carries a penalty of imprisonment for a term not exceeding 20 years. Possession of child pornography carries a penalty of a fine or imprisonment (or both) for a term not exceeding 8 years. The receipt of any financial benefit from any offence in terms of the act carries a penalty of a fine or imprisonment (or both) for a term not exceeding 20 years. The act preserves the identity of the victims, thereby preventing any disclosure in relation to the victim. Any person that publishes information in contravention of the act shall be liable for a fine not exceeding one million dollars or imprisonment for a maximum period of 12 months. 

Schweizerisches Strafgesetzbuch/Swiss Penal Code, Article 213: Incest (2019)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

Provides for criminal penalties of imprisonment for not more than three years or a monetary penalty for any person who has sexual intercourse with a blood relative in direct line or with a brother or sister, or a half-brother or half-sister.

Schweizerisches Strafgesetzbuch/Swiss Penal Code, Article 196: Sexual Acts with Minors Against Payment (2019)

Statutory rape or defilement, Trafficking in persons

Provides for criminal penalties of imprisonment for not more than three years or a monetary penalty for any person who carries out sexual acts with a minor or induces a minor to carry out such acts in return for payment or promises of payment. Unofficial English translation available here. 

Schweizerisches Strafgesetzbuch/Swiss Penal Code, Article 188: Endangering the Development of Minors/Sexual Acts with Dependent Persons (2019)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

Art. 188 provides for criminal penalties of imprisonment for not more than three years or a monetary penalty for any person who sexually exploits his or her relationship with a minor over the age of 16 (which is the age threshold for statutory rape under Penal Code Art. 187) who is dependent on him or her due to a relationship arising from the minor's education, care or employment or another form of dependent relationship, or for any person who encourages such a minor to commit a sexual act by exploiting such a relationship. Unofficial English translation available here.

Schweizerisches Strafgesetzbuch/Swiss Penal Code, Article 182: Trafficking in Human Beings (2019)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement, Trafficking in persons

Art. 182 provides for criminal penalties of imprisonment or a monetary penalty for any person who as a supplier, intermediary or customer engages in the trafficking of a human being for the purpose of sexual exploitation, exploitation of his or her labor or for the purpose of removing an organ. If the victim is a minor or if the offender acts for commercial gain, the penalty is imprisonment for not less than one year.  In every case, a monetary penalty must also be imposed.  The statute also provides that the soliciting of a person for these purposes is equivalent to trafficking, and that any person who commits the act abroad is also guilty of an offense. Unofficial English translation available here.

Schweizerisches Strafgesetzbuch/Swiss Penal Code, Article 67: Prohibition on carrying on an activity involving regular contact with minors following sentencing for certain offenses (2019)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement, Trafficking in persons

This article provides that a person who is sentenced to a custodial sentence of more than six months or to indefinite incarceration or involuntary commitment for offenses committed during the exercise of a professional activity or organized non-professional activity shall be prohibited from carrying on the exercise when it involves regular contact with any minors for 10 years. The offenses include: statutory rape or other child sexual abuse, rape and sexual coercion, child pornography, encouraging prostitution, and human trafficking. Unofficial English translation available here.

Schweizerisches Strafgesetzbuch/Swiss Penal Code, Article 66a: Mandatory expulsion of foreign nationals for female genital mutilation and certain other offenses (2019)

Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting, International law, Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement, Trafficking in persons

Article 66a provides that a foreign national shall be expelled from Switzerland for a period of five to 15 years if they are convicted of, among other things, female genital mutilation (Penal Code Art. 124, para. 1), forced marriage or forced registered partnership (Penal Code Art. 181a), trafficking in human beings (Penal Art. 182), sexual acts with children (Penal Code Art. 187, para. 1), sexual coercion (Art. 189), rape (Art. 190), sexual acts with persons incapable of judgement or resistance (Art. 191), encouraging prostitution (Art. 195), aggravated pornography (Art. 197, para. 4, second sentence – pornography containing genuine sexual acts with minors), genocide (Art. 264), crimes against humanity (Art. 264a), serious violations of the Geneva Convention of 1949 (Art. 264c), and other war crimes (Art. 264d and 264h). Unofficial English translation available here. 

Schweizerisches Strafgesetzbuch/Swiss Penal Code, Article 5: Offenses against minors (2019)

Statutory rape or defilement, Trafficking in persons

Art. 5 provides that the Swiss Penal Code also applies to any person who is in Switzerland, is not being extradited, and has committed any of the following offenses abroad: (1) Trafficking in human beings (Penal Code Art. 182), sexual coercion (Penal Code Art. 189), rape (Penal Code Art. 190), sexual acts with a person incapable of proper judgment or resistance (Penal Code Art. 191) or encouraging prostitution (Penal Code Art. 195) if the victim was less than 18 years of age; (2) sexual acts with dependent persons (Penal Code Art. 188) and sexual acts with minors against payment (Penal Code Art. 196); (3) sexual acts with a child (Penal Code Art. 187) and sexual acts with a minor of age less than 14; or (4) aggravated pornography (Penal Code Art. 197, para. 3 and 4) if the objects or representations depict sexual acts with minors. Unofficial English translation available here.

Domestic Violence Act and the Domestic Violence Regulations (1999)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

The Domestic Violence Act and the Domestic Violence Regulations promulgated thereunder offer complainants (any person in a domestic relationship who alleges she/he is the subject of domestic violence, including a child in the care of the complainant) the maximum protection possible from domestic abuse by imposing obligations on the police and other organs of state to prevent and assist the elimination of domestic violence (defined as including, inter alia, sexual abuse, physical abuse, stalking and harassment). Persons deemed to be in a domestic relationship include, inter alia, persons married by any law or custom, persons living (or who recently lived) together, parents of a child and parties in a romantic or sexual relationship. The Act allows any complainant to obtain a protection order against a respondent by application to the court and allows for interim orders to be granted without the respondent having received notice of such application in certain circumstances. When granting a protection order the court must make an order for the arrest of the respondent and may make an order to confiscate any weapons in the respondent’s possession.

Wet op Gesinsgeweld en die Regulasies vir Gesinsgeweld (1999)

Gesinsgeweld en intieme maatskaplike geweld​

Die Wet op Gesinsgeweld en die regulasies daarvan uitgevaardig bied klaers (enige persoon in ‘n huishoudelike verhouding wat beweer dat hy of sy die onderwerp is aan huishoudelike geweld, insluitend ‘n kind in die sorg van die klaer) die hoogste moontlike beskerming teen huishoudelike geweld aan deur verpligtinge op te lê aan die polisie en ander staatsorganisasies om die uitskakeling van huishoudelike geweld te voorkom (omskryf as, onder andere, seksuele mishandeling, fisiese mishandeling, agtervolging en teistering.) Persone wat geag word om ‘n huishoudelike verhouding te hê is, onder andere, persone wat getroud is volgens enige wet of gewoonte, persone wat saamwoon (of wat onlangs saam gewoon het), ouers van ‘n kind en partye in ‘n romantiese of seksuele verhouding. Die Wet laat enige klaer toe om ‘n beskermingsbevel teen ‘n respondent te kry deur aansoek by die hof en laat toe in sekere omstandighede dat tussentydse bevele toegestaan kan word sonder dat die respondent kennis gegee word vir sodanige aansoeke. By die toestaan van 'n beskermingsbevel moet die hof 'n bevel maak vir die inhegtenisneming van die respondent en kan 'n opdrag gee om enige wapens in die respondent se besit te konfiskeer.

Criminal Offenses: First Degree Child Molestation Sexual Assault

Statutory rape or defilement

A person is guilty of first-degree child molestation sexual assault if he or she engages in sexual penetration with a person 14 years of age or under.

Code of Virginia: Personal action for injury to person or property generally (Va. Code § 8.01-243(D))

Statutory rape or defilement

This section of the Virginia Code provides that a cause of action resulting from sexual abuse during incapacity or infancy accrues upon the later of the removal of incapacity or infancy or when facts of the injury and its causal connection to the sexual abuse is first communicated to the person by a licensed physician or psychologist. 

Families and Children Act (2000)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage

The Families and Children Act governs the rights of a child, legal capacity and disabilities of children, guardianship and custody of children, status of children, support of children by government, maintenance rights and duties of members of the family as between themselves, maintenance of persons in public institutions, maintenance during divorce, separation or nullity, parentage of children, care and protection of children, foster-care, approved children homes, adoption, and the establishment of the National Committee for Families and Children.

Domestic and Family Violence Act (Northern Territory) (2017)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

The Domestic and Family Violence Act 2007 (NT) empowers the Magistrates’ Court to issue orders for the protection for victims of domestic violence.  A domestic violence order may impose restrictions on the ability of the person whom the order is against to contact, use violence against, damage the property of, threaten, stalk or harass the victim.  A domestic violence order may be issued to victims including: a spouse or former spouse of the perpetrator of the violence; a person who is or has been living with the perpetrator; a relative or former relative of the perpetrator; and a person who has or has had an intimate personal relationship with the perpetrator.  The domestic violence order may be sought by the victim (if over 15 years old), his/her legal representative, a police or child protection officer, or a court.  Knowingly breaching a domestic violence order is a criminal offence, punishable by up to 400 penalty units ($62,000 as of August 2018) or imprisonment for two years.  The domestic violence order remains in force for the period stated, but may be revoked earlier by the victim’s consent or a court order.

Domestic Violence Prevention Act (Chapter 29 of the General Laws of Rhode Island) (1956)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Sexual violence and rape

The Domestic Violence Prevention Act was originally enacted in 1956 to recognize the importance of domestic violence as a serious crime against society and to establish an official response to domestic violence cases that stresses the enforcement of laws to protect victims and communicate that violent behavior is not excused or tolerated. In passing the Act, the legislature specifically provided that its intent was that the Act can be enforced without regard to whether the persons involved are or were married, cohabitating, or involved in a relationship. Accordingly, the act defines victims to include “spouses, former spouses, adult persons related by blood or marriage, adult persons who are presently residing together or who have resided together in the past three years, and persons who have a child in common regardless of whether they have been married or have lived together, or persons who are, or have been, in a substantive dating or engagement relationship within the past one year which shall be determined by the court's consideration of the following factors: (1) the length of time of the relationship; (2) the type of the relationship; and (3) the frequency of the interaction between the parties.”

International Case Law

M.P. v. Denmark Human Rights Committee (ICCPR) (2017)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, International law

M.P. originally was from Sri Lanka, and of Tamil ethnicity and the Hindu faith.  She claimed her family had strong ties with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (“LTTE”).  Her father was killed and several of her brothers were subjected to violence due to the connection.  To gain protection, M.P. illegally entered Switzerland where she met her former husband and father of her two children.  Her husband was violent and abusive, and was convicted of domestic violence against her for which he was sentenced to three years imprisonment.  He was to be expelled to Sri Lanka upon his release, but forced M.P. and the children to accompany him to Denmark and make false statements to seek asylum.  M.P. was afraid of her husband, who physically assaulted her and the children and threatened to kill her and take their children away if she did no support his false version of reasons for seeking asylum.  He claimed he had been detained by the military and that M.P. had been sexually abused by the Sri Lankan army.  Danish authorities denied the family’s asylum request finding that M.P.’s husband had limited associations with LTTE.  He was returned to Sri Lanka after he assaulted another person in Denmark.  After he left, M.P. felt she could safely present the true grounds for seeking asylum in Denmark.  However, her application was rejected.  The Committee considered M.P.’s claim that forcibly removing her and her children would violate Denmark’s obligations under article 7 of the Covenant because she would be detained by authorities and beaten, raped and tortured due to her family’s alleged affiliation with LTTE.  The Committee noted its jurisprudence that the State’s role is to review and evaluate facts and evidence to determine whether a risk exists, unless the evaluation was clearly arbitrary or amounted to a denial of justice.  It then noted the findings of the Danish authorities that M.P. had not raised her family’s affiliation with LTTE before the Swiss authorities when seeking residence.  Further, it noted the finding that current background material on Sri Lanka provided no basis for believing that Tamils such as M.P. with no affiliation with LTTE whose family members had not been high-profile members of LTTE would risk persecution or abuse justifying asylum merely based on ethnicity.  Regarding claims by M.P. of alleged risk of harm by her former husband in Sri Lanka, the Committee noted that M.P. merely took issue with Denmark’s conclusions that she could seek protection if needed from her husband from Sri Lankan authorities.  The Committee concluded that the information provided did not demonstrate that M.P. would face a real and personal risk of treatment contrary to article 7 if she were deported to Sri Lanka.

Korneykova and Korneykov v. Ukraine European Court of Human Rights (2016)

Abortion and reproductive health rights, Custodial violence

The first applicant, a woman in her fifth month of pregnancy, was taken into police custody on suspicion of robbery and subsequently detained pending trial.  The woman gave birth to her son, the second applicant, while in detention.  The woman claimed that she had been shackled to bed during her stay in the maternity hospital, placed in a metal cage during court hearings before and after giving birth, and that the physical conditions of her and her child’s detention and the medical care provided to the child in pre-trial detention had been inadequate.  The Court considered that shackling to a gynecological examination chair before and after birth giving on the basis that she could escape or behave violently was unjustified, inhuman and degrading given the woman’s condition, and that holding a person in a metal cage during a trial constituted an affront to human dignity. The Court also held that keeping the woman’s son in detention without any monitoring by a pediatrician for almost three months following his birth and without adequate healthcare constituted a violation of his rights.

González Carreño v. Spain CEDAW Committee (2014)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

In 2003, a father murdered his seven-year-old daughter Andrea during a court-approved parental visitation. Ángela González, Andrea’s mother, had previously reported instances of physical abuse to the police on numerous occasions and sought court-ordered restraining orders against him to protect herself and her daughter. The father had refused to accept supervised visitations with his daughter. After killing his daughter, the father committed suicide. The mother brought suit in national court against Spanish authorities. The court ruled against her, deciding in April 2011 that the visit regime was sound and denied the case any constitutional relevance. As a result, the mother brought this complaint to the CEDAW Committee. The Committee found for the mother, stating that in deciding the parental visitation scheme the Spanish authorities should have taken into account the existing context of domestic violence in the family. Instead, the Spanish authorities had made a routine decision that this type of visitation scheme was appropriate without taking the specific facts of this case into consideration. The Committee held that the Spanish authorities thereby failed to take the best interest of the child into account. The Committee has repeatedly found that a State can be held responsible for acts of individuals if it fails to exercise necessary diligence in order to prevent violations of the CEDAW Convention. Specifically, Spain had violated articles 2 a), d), e) and f), 5 a) and 16 paragraph 1 of CEDAW. Additionally, CEDAW ruled that Spain must provide training to judges and other professionals to avoid similar failures in the future. Spain has since stated that it will introduce new mechanisms to protect children in gender violence cases, such as requiring judges to act with precaution in their decision-making.

En 2003, un padre asesinó a su hija Andrea, de siete años, durante una visita de padres aprobada por el tribunal. Ángela González, la madre de Andrea, había denunciado previamente casos de abuso físico a la policía en numerosas ocasiones y había solicitado órdenes de restricción ordenadas por el tribunal para protegerse a ella y a su hija. El padre se había negado a aceptar visitas supervisadas con su hija. Después de matar a su hija, el padre se suicidó. La madre presentó una demanda en el juzgado nacional contra las autoridades españolas. El tribunal falló en contra de ella, decidiendo en abril de 2011 que el régimen de visitas era sólido y negó al caso cualquier relevancia constitucional. Como resultado, la madre presentó esta queja al Comité de la CEDAW. El Comité determinó que la madre indicaba que, al decidir el plan de visitas de los padres, las autoridades españolas deberían haber tenido en cuenta el contexto existente de violencia doméstica en la familia. En cambio, las autoridades españolas habían tomado una decisión de rutina de que este tipo de esquema de visitas era apropiado sin tener en cuenta los hechos específicos de este caso. El Comité sostuvo que las autoridades españolas no habían tenido en cuenta el interés superior del niño. El Comité ha encontrado repetidamente que un Estado puede ser responsabilizado por actos de individuos si no ejerce la diligencia necesaria para prevenir violaciones de la Convención de la CEDAW. Específicamente, España había violado los artículos 2 a), d), e) yf), 5 a) y 16 párrafo 1 de la CEDAW. Además, la CEDAW dictaminó que España debe brindar capacitación a jueces y otros profesionales para evitar fallas similares en el futuro. Desde entonces, España ha declarado que introducirá nuevos mecanismos para proteger a los niños en casos de violencia de género, como exigir que los jueces actúen con precaución en su toma de decisiones.

Sawhoyamaxa Indigenous Community v. Paraguay Inter-American Court of Human Rights (2006)

Abortion and reproductive health rights, Gender discrimination, International law, Property and inheritance rights

This case involved issues involving the exposure of vulnerable members of indigenous communities, particularly children, pregnant women, and the elderly. A petition was filed against Paraguay on behalf of the Sawhoyamaxa Indigenous Community, alleging violations of, among other things, the right to fair trial and judicial protection, the right to property and the right to life. The petition noted that these violations placed children, pregnant women and the elderly in particularly vulnerable situations. The Court found Paraguay to be in violation of Articles 1(1), 2, 3, 4(1), 8, 19, 21 and 25 of the American Convention on Human Rights. The Court ordered Paraguay to formally and physically convey to the Sawhoyamaxa their traditional lands, to establish a community development fund, to pay non-pecuniary damages, to provide the Sawhoyamaxa with basic necessities until their lands were restored, to provide the Sawhoyamaxa with the necessary tools for communication to access health authorities, and to domestically enact legislation creating a mechanism for indigenous communities to reclaim their traditional lands.