Women and Justice: Keywords

Domestic Case Law

Republic of the Philippines v. Manalo Supreme Court of the Philippines (2018)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage

The respondent was married to a Japanese national. The couple filed for divorce in Japan. The respondent then petitioned to cancel the entry of marriage in the Civil Registry of San Juan, Metro Manila, as she was no longer married to her Japanese husband. The Regional Trial Court denied the petition ruling that the divorce obtained by the respondent in Japan cannot be recognized, due to Article 15 of the New Civil Code, which “does not afford Filipinos the right to file for a divorce, whether they are in the country or living abroad if they are married to Filipinos or to foreigners, or if they celebrated their marriage in the Philippines or in another country.” In addition, unless Filipinos are naturalized citizens of another country, Philippines law controls matters of family rights and duties, including marriages. The Court of Appeals overturned the Regional Trial Court decision, holding that Article 26 of the Family Code of the Philippines is applicable, even if it was the respondent who filed for divorce. Because the Japanese husband is now no longer married to the respondent, it would be unjust to still consider the respondent to be married to him. The Supreme Court partially affirmed the Court of Appeals decision. The Court noted that the burden was on the respondent to prove the divorce was validated by Japanese law as well as her former husband’s capacity to legally remarry. Thus, the case was remanded to the court of origin for further proceedings and for consideration of evidence presented regarding Japanese law on divorce.

平成19年(行ツ)164 (2007 (Gyo-Tsu) No. 164) 最高裁 (Supreme Court of Japan) (2008)

Gender discrimination

The issue before the Supreme Court was whether a part of a provision in the Japanese Nationality Act conformed with Article 14.1 of the Japanese Constitution, which prohibits discrimination based on race, belief, sex, social status, or lineage. The provision at issue did not grant Japanese nationality to a child born out of wedlock to a non-Japanese mother and a Japanese father––even if the father formally declares and recognizes the father-child relationship––unless the child obtains legal recognition as a child of the man and the woman through their marriage. The Supreme Court first noted that the Japanese Nationality Act does not grant Japanese nationality to a child in the aforementioned situation although it recognizes a parent-child relationship and grants Japanese nationality to a child born out of wedlock if (1) the child’s mother was Japanese or (2) the child’s Japanese father filed for the recognition of the father-child relationship before the child’s birth. The Court found that, while creating this distinction was reasonable at the time of the legislation, such a distinction amounted to unjustifiable discrimination in present day Japan. Thus, the Supreme Court found that the part of the provision at issue was unconstitutional and invalid. In its reasoning, the majority opinion stated, inter alia, “under the Japanese Nationality Act that adopts the principle of jus sanguinis, maintaining a distinction in terms of eligibility to have Japanese nationality based on whether the Japanese parent is the mother or the father of the child at issue does not accord with the basic principle of equality of the sexes.”

本件の争点は、当時の日本の国籍法の一部の合憲性である。当時の国籍法は日本国民である父の非嫡出子について、父母の婚姻により嫡出子たる身分を取得した者に限り日本国籍の取得を認めている。同じく日本国民である父から認知された子でありながら父母が法律上の婚姻をしていない非嫡出子は、その余の同項所定の要件を満たしても日本国籍を取 得することができないという区別が生じていた。最高裁は、このような区別を設けることは、立法当時は合理的であったが、現在の日本では合理的理由のない差別であると判断し、問題となった規定の一部を違憲・無効とした。その理由として、「日本国民である母の非嫡出子が出生により日本国籍を取得するにもかかわらず,日本国民である父から出生後に認知されたにとどまる非嫡出子が届出による日本国籍の取得すら認められないことには,両性の平等という観点からみてその基本的立場に沿わない」と述べた。

Morales-Santana v. Lynch United Court of Appeals (2015)

Gender discrimination

Morales-Santana sought review of a decision made by the Board of Immigration Appeals denying his motion to reopen his removal proceedings to evaluate his claim of derivative citizenship. Morales-Santana’s derivative citizenship claim was based on the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (18 U.S.C. §1409). The 1952 Act differentiates how fathers and mothers can confer citizenship to their children. An unwed citizen mother confers citizenship on her child as long as she had been resident in the United States for a year continuously before the child’s birth. An unwed citizen father, however, cannot transfer citizenship to his child born abroad if he was not present in the United States before the child’s birth for a total of ten years. Additionally, five of the father’s ten years in the United States must be after his fourteenth birthday. Therefore, it was impossible for a father under the age of eighteen to confer citizenship to a child born abroad of a non-citizen mother. In this case, Morales-Santana’s father satisfied the requirements for transmitting citizenship applicable to unwed mothers but not the more stringent requirements applicable to unwed fathers. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals found this disparate treatment a violation of the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection and reversed the Board of Immigration Appeals decision.

Attorney General v. Unity Dow Court of Appeal of Botswana at Lobatse (1992)

Gender discrimination, International law

The respondent, Ms. Unity Dow, brought a case to the High Court of Botswana asserting that sections 4 and 5 of the Citizenship Act violated her right to equal protection of the law and protection from discrimination on the basis of sex because the sections of the Citizenship Act treated children differently depending on whether they were born to citizen mothers or to citizen fathers. The respondent had one child with an American man prior to their marriage and two children after. Botswana's citizenship requirements allowed only children born outside of marriage to inherit their mother's citizenship, so the respondent's first child was a citizen of Botswana while the two born during her marriage were not. Though not the central issue of the case, the Court noted that an immediate effect of the law could be the expulsion of the husband and non-citizen children from Botswana. The Court of Appeal upheld the High Court's decision in finding that the Citizenship Act discriminated on the basis of gender under both the Botswana Constitution and the Declaration on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women because it punishes a female citizen for marrying a non-citizen male. In addition, the Court considered similar cases in different countries in reaching its opinion. (High Court decision available at: https://www.law.cornell.edu/sites/www.law.cornell.edu/files/women-and-ju...)


Civil Code of Iran (Citizenship) (1969)

Gender discrimination, Property and inheritance rights

Article 976 states that children born to Iranian fathers are considered Iranian subjects. No clause exists extending the same rights to children born of Iranian mothers where the child’s father is not Iranian. This provision demonstrates that Iranian women cannot pass on their Iranian nationality to their children.

International Case Law

Salgado v. United Kingdom CEDAW Committee (2007)

Gender discrimination

Constance Ragan Salgado, a British citizen, moved to Colombia with her husband, a Colombian, and gave birth to a son. Salgado attempted to obtain British nationality for her son, but the British Consul in Bogotá stated that British nationality passed only though the paternal line. Although the British Nationality Act of 1981 amended British law to confer equal rights to men and women, Salgado’s son did not qualify because he was over 18. The Legislation again changed in 2002 with the passage of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act which allowed children born to British mothers between 1961 and 1983 to register as British nationals if they satisfied certain other conditions. Salgado’s complaint alleged sex-based discrimination under the British Nationality Act of 1948 which restricted nationality descent to British fathers. Salgado raised issues under article 2 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which calls for the elimination of all discriminatory laws, regulations and customs that discriminate against women, and article 9 paragraph 2 under which State parties must grant women equal rights with men with respect to the nationality of their children. She claimed that the discrimination was ongoing because her son failed to qualify for citizenship under the various amendments to the Act. Although the Committee held that the complaint was inadmissible ratione temporis because the events occurred before the Covention’s entry into force in the United Kingdom, it based its decision on the fact that Salgado’s son had reached the age of majority, at which time he could have applied for British nationality on his own. The Committee noted that the United Kingdom had enacted the challenged legislation prior to the Optional Protocol’s entry into force. The Committee also recommended that Salgado challenge the legislation by way of judicial review in the British High Court before turning to the Committee for further redress.

Proposed Amendments to the Naturalization Provisions of the Constitution of Costa Rica Inter-American Court of Human Rights (1984)

Gender discrimination

Challenge to gender-based nationality law.

Desafío a la ley de nacionalidad que se basa en género sexual.

Girls Yean and Bosico v. Dominican Republic Inter-American Court of Human Rights (2005)

Gender discrimination

The IACHR submitted an application to the Court to determine whether the Dominican Republic had violated Articles 1(1), 2, 3, 8, 19, 20, 24 and 25 of the American Convention on Human Rights to the detriment of Dilcia Oliven Yean and Violeta Bosico Cofi. The application was based on the fact that the two girls had been denied Dominican birth certificates despite having been born within Dominican territory, leaving the girls stateless and without nationality. This also caused one of them, Violeta, to not be admitted to school since you must present a birth certificate to attend school in the Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic eventually granted the girls their birth certificates and then argued that by doing so, the girls' cause of action before the commission was null. The girls, however, argued that receiving their birth certificates did not remedy the fact that they had been stateless for four years. The Court found the Dominican Republic violated Articles 1(1), 3, 5, 18, 19, 20, and 24 of the American Convention on Human Rights and ordered the Dominican Republic to issue a public apology to the girls and to pass legislation consistent with Article 2 of the American Convention which would make it simple to acquire citizenship upon late declaration of birth.

La Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos presentó una solicitud a la Corte para determinar si la República Dominicana había violado los artículos 1 (1), 2, 3, 8, 19, 20, 24 y 25 de la Convención Americana sobre Derechos Humanos con respecto a Dilcia Oliven Yean y Violeta Bosico Cofi. La solicitud se basó en el hecho de que a las dos niñas se les habían negado los certificados de nacimiento dominicanos a pesar de haber nacido en el territorio nacional, lo cuál las dejó sin patria y sin nacionalidad legal. Esto también causó que una de ellas, Violeta, no fuera admitida en la escuela, ya que es requerimiento para asistir una escuela del país el presentar un certificado de nacimiento. La República Dominicana finalmente le otorgó a las niñas dichos certificados y luego argumentó que como ya estaba hecho, la causa de acción de las niñas ante la comisión era nula. Las niñas, sin embargo, argumentaron que recibir sus certificados de nacimiento no remedió el hecho de que habían sido despatriadas durante cuatro años. La Corte determinó que la República Dominicana en efecto violó los artículos 1 (1), 3, 5, 18, 19, 20 y 24 de la Convención Americana sobre Derechos Humanos y le ordenó a la República Dominicana emitir una disculpa pública a las niñas y aprobar leyes consistentes con el artículo 2 de la Convención Americana, lo cual facilitaría la adquisición de la ciudadanía en el momento de la declaración tardía de nacimiento.

Aumeeruddy-Cziffra and 19 other Mauritian Women v. Mauritius Human Rights Committee (1981)

Gender discrimination, International law

Twenty Mauritian women submitted a communication to the Committee stating that the Immigration (Amendment) Act of 1977 and the Deportation (Amendment Act) of 1977 constitute discrimination based on sex against Mauritian women, violation of the right to found a family and a home, and removal of the protection of the courts of law. Prior to the enactment of these laws, alien men and women married to Mauritian nationals could equally enjoy residence status by virtue of their marriage. Under the new laws, however, alien husbands of Mauritian women must apply for a “resident permit” subject to rejection by the Minister of the Interior at any time. The new laws do not similarly affect alien wives of Mauritian men. The complaint specifically alleged several violations of the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights including: article 2 obligations to recognize rights under the Covenant without distinction based on sex; article 3 obligations to ensure the equal enjoyment of civil and political rights regardless of sex; article 26’s guarantee that all persons are equal before the law and are entitled without discrimination to equal protection of the law; article 17’s protection against arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy, family, and the home; and article 23’s obligations to protect an individual’s right to marry. Although the Committee found that seventeen of the complainants were unmarried and therefore unaffected by the legislation in question, the Committee concluded that the future possibility of deportation and the existing precarious resident situation of foreign husbands in Mauritius represented an interference by the State with the family life of the remaining victims. The Committee held that any discrimination on the ground of sex within Mauritian legislation without sufficient justification was tantamount to a violation of articles 2 and 3 in conjunction with article 17, as well as direct violations of article 26 and 23. The Committee recommended that Mauritius adjust the provisions of the Immigration (Amendment) Act and the Deportation (Amendment) Act in order to implement the State’s obligations under the Covenant to prevent sex discrimination in its laws and regulations.