Women and Justice: Keywords

Domestic Case Law

Regina v. Cadoo Supreme Court of Grenada and the West Indies Associated States (2017)

Statutory rape or defilement

The defendant pled guilty to rape and was before the court for sentencing.  Both victims were young girls between the ages of 14 and 15 at the time of the offense.  The defendant raped the victims multiple times, and one of the victims became pregnant as a result.  In sentencing the defendant, the court observed that there were several aggravating factors:  the victims were minors and the defendant was 16 years their senior; the defendant was a relative and a person of trust; after one of the victims became pregnant, she sought help from the defendant but defendant again sexually assaulted her; and the offense occurred while the defendant was on bail.  The only mitigating factor was the defendant’s guilty plea.  Accordingly, the court sentenced defendant to 10 years imprisonment.



J. v. The Queen High Court of Australia (2018)

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

In 2015, the appellant was charged and convicted for committing five sexual offenses against his sister. The had purportedly occurred over  years,. Most of the charged offenses, sexual exploitation of a child and two rapes, occurred when the appellant was an adult, but prosecutors also charged him with an indecent assault committed when he was 11 or 12 years old and thus presumed to be incapable of the offense. To rebut this presumption, the prosecution offered evidence of the appellant’s earlier, uncharged acts of sexual violence against his sister beginning when he was five or six years old. In the first appeal, the Court of Criminal Appeal found that the prosecution’s rebuttal evidence was insufficient to overcome the doli incapax presumption for the indecent assault charge and the evidence was “too sparse” to sustain a conviction for the third count in the indictment. The court upheld the other three convictions. In this appeal, the High Court examined whether it was permissible for the prosecution to use evidence of the dismissed charges for “contextual” purposes related to the remaining three charges, each of which the appellant was convicted. In dismissing this appeal, the High Court found unanimously that the evidence was relevant because it illustrated the family background in which the appellant and his sister were raised and that it was admissible “relationship evidence.” The court found that without such contextual evidence, the sexual abuse claims could easily have been seen as implausible.



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. V.U. High Court of Namibia (2007)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Sexual violence and rape

The accused conceived a child after incestuous sexual intercourse with her brother. After the child was born, the mother tied a scarf around its neck and buried it alive. At trial, she claimed that the child was strangled by its own umbilical cord and was already dead when she buried it. However, medical and forensic evidence showed that the child died from strangulation and suffocation due to the mother’s actions. She was convicted of murder. 



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. 



Sentencia nº 965 de Tribunal Supremo de Justicia Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (2012)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

A mother was charged with sexual abuse of her own son and daughter.  The trial court issued an order of detention pending trial.  When the mother brought an extraordinary constitutional petition seeking protection against the order, the court of appeals declined to hear the petition on the ground that such a petition can heard only after ordinary remedies have been exhausted.  On appeal to the Supreme Court, the mother argued that the underlying order of detention suffered from various constitutional defects, mainly that special courts have exclusive jurisdiction to hear cases involving sexual violence against a girl and that the trial court therefore lacked jurisdiction.  (The mother argued, moreover, that she was being prosecuted and detained in order to prevent enforcement of her visitation rights—this after she had already been deprived of them the two years prior.)  The Supreme Court affirmed the appellate decision, noting that the mother had not exhausted any of the three remedies still available to her:  motion for reconsideration, motion for substitution, and an ordinary appeal. 



Warren v. R. Court of Appeal (2015)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

The applicant was convicted in the Circuit Court of Kingston for the offences of indecent assault, incest and assault. Later, a single judge granted leave to appeal and granted legal aid to the appellant. The prosecution conceded that the learned trial judge erred in imposing a sentence of 15 years imprisonment in respect of the incest charge, under the Child Care Protection Act of 2004, because the appellant was actually charged under the Incest (Punishment) Act, which establishes as maximum penalty for the crime is five years. As a consequence, the appeal against the sentence was allowed on the incest charge and this was set aside and substituted for five years imprisonment. The Court didn’t take into account, nor studied, the possibility of amending the indictment due to the specific circumstances and seriousness of the case, that is, the fact that the appellant sexually assaulted an underage girl on more than one occasion, and also, according to the evidence, threatened her to kill her if she made him go to prison.



Mwape v. The People Supreme Court of Zambia (2012)

Statutory rape or defilement

The appellant was charged with defilement contrary to Section 138 of the Penal Code, Chapter 87 of the Laws of Zambia (unlawful carnal knowledge of a girl under 16 years) and was sentenced to the minimum mandatory sentence of 15 years’ imprisonment. On behalf of the appellant, the appeal was filed on two grounds. On ground one, it was contended that the Court had erred in law by deciding not to conduct a voir dire and proceeding to receive the sworn evidence of a child. On ground two, it was contended the court below erred by finding corroboration and concluding the appellant was guiltywwww. Relative to the first grounds, the Court held that, while there had been no voir dire and while the Magistrate had failed to inquire as to whether the child understood the nature of the oath, this did not necessitate a re-trial, given that such orders are typically discretionary and this was not the only evidence tendered at trial. Relative to the second grounds, the Court observed that the question of identity was not in dispute and that there was substantial corroborative evidence that the crime had been committed. Accordingly, the Court concluded that the grounds lacked merit, as the Court was competent to convict the appellant even without the victim’s evidence. The Court further noted that the crime was compounded by the breach of trust that the appellant (who was the prosecutrix’s step-grandfather and exercising parental responsibility over her at the time) had committed against the victim and, therefore, set aside the 15-year minimum sentence in favor of a 20-year hard labour sentence. 



Sikazwe v. The People Supreme Court for Zambia (2012)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

The appellant was charged with incest contrary to Section 159(1) of the Penal Code but was convicted of the lesser charge of indecent assault contrary to Section 137(1) as amended by Act No. 15 of 2005, Cap 871, as the medical evidence ‘left a lot to be desired’ (as described by the Magistrate). However, when the matter was sent to the High Court for sentencing, the sentencing judge substituted the charge of indecent assault with incest and sentenced the appellant to 20 years imprisonment with hard labor. The appellant appealed this conviction and sentence on the basis that the Magistrate “erred in law and fact when he tried and convicted the appellant without the Director of Public Prosecutions’ consent.” In support of this argument, the appellant noted that the instructions of the Director of Public Prosecutions were to try the appellant for rape not incest. Therefore, in the absence of express consent by the Director of Public Prosecutions as required by Section 164 of the Penal Code, Cap 871, the trial court had jurisdiction neither to hear the matter nor to proceed to convict the appellant on indecent assault and sentence him to 20-year term for incest. The Supreme Court reviewed the letter from the Director of Public Prosecutions and noted that, while the first paragraph gave the impression that he had sanctioned the prosecution to go ahead with the charge of incest, the remainder of the letter made it clear that he had also sanctioned the appellant’s prosecution on a charge of either rape or defilement. The Supreme Court also noted that the latter could potentially enable a conviction of indecent assault under the relevant provisions of the Penal Code. Thus, the Supreme Court confirmed that the Director of Public Prosecutions rightly guided the prosecution and the court below to invoke whichever of these provisions as necessary. Moreover, the Supreme Court stated that the Magistrate rightly concluded that ‘the medical evidence left a lot to be desired.’ Ultimately, it concluded that the appellant was not guilty of the offence of rape, but that he was guilty of the offence of indecent assault contrary to Section 137 of the Penal Code and that the sentencing judge was mistaken to sentence the appellant for incest. The Supreme Court quashed the incest conviction, but still upheld the conviction for indecent assault and imposed a 20-year prison sentence.



Case of Joao María Dos Santos Supreme Court (1997)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

S.J.D.S and M.J.D.S (16 and 13 years old) were sexually abused by their father, Joao María Dos Santos on several occasions.  The victims testified that they were forced to have sexual relations with their father.  The accused admitted that he raped them.  The accused was sentenced to 16 years in prison.  His sentenced was confirmed by the Supreme Court in 1997.



Case of Alejandro Candia Criminal Appeals Court (2011)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

Two minor children, an eight-year-old boy and a twelve-year-old girl, were raped by their father, once and multiple times over several years, respectively.  The defendant was sentenced to 20 years in prison, but the Criminal Appeals Court reduced the sentence to 19.6 years in prison on October 11, 2001, after finding that the 20-year sentence was impermissible under Paraguay’s sentencing guidelines.



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.



Rex v. Simelane High Court (2017)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

The accused was charged with rape of his seven-year-old granddaughter between the months of August to October 2008. The prosecution alleged that the accused did intentionally have unlawful sexual intercourse with a female seven-year-old minor who is incapable of consenting to sexual intercourse. The complainant, her brother who was sharing a bedroom with her during the rapes, the complainant’s aunt who the complainant first told of the rapes, a neighbor who had been told of the accused’s actions by his wife, the doctor who examined the complainant, and the constable all testified for the prosecution. The accused denied the charges and argued that all of the witnesses were lying, specifically that the children had been coached by the police. The Court discussed the elements that the Crown must prove in order for the accused to be found guilty of rape, namely (1) the accused must be identified; (2) there must be sexual intercourse; and (3) there must be lack of consent by the complainant. The accused was found guilty of rape. In sentencing, the Court found that the Crown proved that there were aggravating factors under Section 185(bis) of the Criminal Evidence Act (1938), namely, (1) the victim was a minor of a tender age; (2) the accused sexually assaulted the victim on more than one occasion; and (3) the accused stood in locus parentis to the victim and this abused the relationship of trust. The Court found the witnesses credible and found the accused guilty as charged.



Uganda v. Katerega High Court at Kampala (2016)

Statutory rape or defilement

The accused pleaded not guilty to aggravated defilement for performing a sexual act with his 15-year-old daughter.  The judge found the accused guilty despite his denial because of DNA testing of the victim’s twin children, the testimony of the victim, and the testimony of a social worker.  In dicta before sentencing, the judge stated that African traditions must be upheld and American and European abhorrent practices like sodomy and homosexuality must be avoided.  The judge added that even these cultures reject incest.  Then the judge sentenced the defendant to 25 years, including four years subtracted for remand served.



State v. Nghidini High Court of Namibia (2015)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Statutory rape or defilement

The defendant, an 18-year-old uncle of the complainant, was criminally charged for housebreaking with intent to rape and raping his 12-year-old niece. The complainant alleged that the defendant, on three separate occasions, came to the complainant’s home and raped her.  The complainant’s mother found out after take the complainant to a clinic, which confirmed that she was pregnant, and confronting the defendant through the headman, as tradition dictates.  According to the defendant, the complainant invited him to her home and agreed to have sex with him for money, specifically N$6. Given the conflicting testimony, the High Court of Namibia (“High Court”) found that the prosecution failed to prove the housebreaking with the intent to rape and rape charges beyond a reasonable doubt.  In explaining its reasonable doubt, the Court cited the facts that complainant did not mention until her cross-examination that her uncle in fact gave her money on the day of the first rape, that she did not wake her seven-year-old brother or otherwise raise an “alarm” when her uncle arrived at her hut at night, and that she continued to withhold information from her mother “after her mother created a secure environment and the accused failed to execute his threat” to beat the complainant if she told anyone.  Still, the Court did not believe the defendant’s testimony that his niece was a “great temptress.”  Instead of homebreaking with intent to rape and rape as charged by the State, the High Court convicted the defendant under section 14, sexual offences with youths, of the Immoral Practices Act, 21 of 1980, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment and/or a fine not exceeding N$40,000.  The Court found that the State proved the three elements of that offense: the defendant (1) committed a sexual act with a child under the age of 16 (2) when he was more than three years older than her and (3) not married to her.  Although the defendant claimed that he did not know the complainant’s age, the High Court held that, in order to avoid conviction, the defendant had the burden of proving that the complainant deceived him regarding her age. The defendant failed to provide such proof. 



State v. Naruseb High Court (2012)

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

Mr. Naruseb was tried for beating and raping his girlfriend A.S. (the third complainant), sexually abusing and beating their 5-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.  



Rex v. Tekane High Court of Lesotho (2007)

Statutory rape or defilement

The defendant was convicted of persistent sexual abuse of a minor child.  The trial evidence showed that the defendant was the victim’s uncle and that he convinced her that, in accordance with tradition and custom, he was supposed to teach her to have sex.  As instructed, the minor allowed the defendant to perform sexual acts on her.  Since the child was below the legal age of consent, the High Court did not consider her level of resistance. The Court found the defendant guilty of sexually abusing a minor and sentenced him to fifteen years in prison.  



Rex v. Lenyolosa High Court of Lesotho (2003)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

The defendant was convicted for sexual assault and attempted rape of his 16-year-old niece. The appellate court upheld the conviction, but overturned the sentence imposed by the trial court. The appellate court held that the lower court failed to consider aggravating factors, including the close relationship between the parties. Given the prevalence of sexual assault in Lesotho, the court determined that jail sentences needed to serve as a deterrent for both the perpetrator and the general public.  According to the court, “a very loud and clear message must be sent to all those who consider themselves with power and right to abuse or rape girls and women, that they will be dealt with the seriousness their unlawful actions demand” (p. 5).  The Court sentenced the defendant to two years imprisonment with one year suspended for five years, unless the defendant commits another violent offense.



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.



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.



Vistos los autos: “Review of fact by an Appeal court in the cause of Anonymous” Supreme Court of Argentina

Sexual violence and rape

Anonymous had been continually sexually abused and raped by her father since 2001 at the age of twelve. An Argentinean trial court had sentenced the father to eighteen years in prison for abusing his daughter, but this decision was overturned by an Argentinean appellate court, believing the father was not clearly guilty and his punishment was, thus, incommensurate with the crime. The Supreme Court overturned the appellate court decision, stating that there was clear guilt on the father’s part, repeated cries for help by Anonymous, and that the appellate court showed a lack of regard for the facts and the suffering of Anonymous. The case was remanded for new sentencing.

 

Anónimo había sido continuamente abusada sexualmente y violada por su padre desde 2001 a la edad de doce años. Un tribunal de primera instancia argentino había condenado al padre a dieciocho años de prisión por abusar de su hija, pero esta decisión fue revocada por un tribunal de apelación argentino, creyendo que el padre no era evidentemente culpable y que su castigo era, por lo tanto, incompatible con el crimen. La Corte Suprema anuló la decisión de la corte de apelaciones, declarando que había una clara culpabilidad por parte del padre, repetidos gritos de ayuda por parte de Anonymous, y que la corte de apelaciones mostró una falta de respeto por los hechos y el sufrimiento de Anonymous. El caso fue remitido para nueva sentencia.



Interpretative recourse High Court of Cassation and Justice (2005)

Sexual violence and rape

Due to inconsistencies in the application of the Romanian law criminalizing forced sexual relations with family members of opposite sex through constraint or taking advantage of the victim’s inability to defend herself or express her will, the High Court of Cassation and Justice has been called upon by the General Prosecutor to establish the legal qualification of the facts representing both rape and incest. Following analysis of the relevant legal aspects, the court decided that such cases shall be considered as rape against a family member simultaneously with incest and shall be sanctioned accordingly.



State. v. J.M. (2002)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

The appellant, M., was tried before a regional magistrate for the rape of his six-year-old daughter during 1989. He was convicted and sentenced to ten years imprisonment, which he appealed. The Court held that, especially given the age of the complainant at the time, the question of a consensual sexual relationship is moot and further stipulated that the sexual history of the complainant is not relevant in a charge of rape, unless the Court specifically judges it to be so.



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.



Facundo Tito Pocomani c/ Félix Mamani Tite Sala Penal (2000)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

Defendant appealed a conviction for raping his 15-year old niece as many as three times, rape which resulted in her pregnancy. Defendant argued that the evidence against him was circumstantial and insufficient, and alleged that the victim had engaged in sexual relations with another man, from which the pregnancy resulted. The Court held that there was sufficient evidence not only of the fact that the victim was a minor at the time of the rape, but that force and intimidation had been used by the defendant. The Court affirmed the defendant's conviction.



Julia Arhuata de Flores c/ Mario Flores Flores Sala Penal (2000)

Sexual violence and rape

Defendant was charged with repeatedly raping his two underage daughters. The victims alleged that they did not report the incidents immediately because their father threatened them against doing so. Witnesses testified that the defendant was regularly drunk and abusive. The trial court found him guilty of rape. The appellate and supreme courts affirmed the conviction.



Articles

Child Sex Abuse Within the Family in Sub-Saharan Africa: Challenges and Change in Current Legal and Mental Health Responses (2014)

Sexual violence and rape

By Cynthia Grant Bowman & Elizabeth Brundige. 47 CORNELL INT’L L.J. 233 (2014). Copyright 2014 by the Cornell International Law Journal.