Women and Justice: Keywords

Domestic Case Law

Ah-Chong v. The Queen Supreme Court of New Zealand (2015)

Sexual violence and rape

Appellant Ah-Chong was convicted of assault with intent to commit sexual violation by rape.  As a defense, Ah-Chong claimed that the victim consented to the sexual activity.  The trial judge gave the jury instructions that they had to be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant had no reasonable grounds to believe that consent existed.  The appellant argued that the jury instructions were wrong, claiming that there were two separate mens rea elements: one for the assault and one for intention to rape.  The Supreme Court previously held in L v R that only a reasonable belief of consent, even if mistaken, could provide a defense to the charge of sexual violation by rape.  The appellant argued that a mistaken belief of consent constitutes a defense to the charge of assault, even if the belief was unreasonable.  The Court rejected this jury instruction.  The trial judge correctly informed the jury that based on the complainant’s account of the event, there was no possibility of finding a mistaken belief in consent relating to the assault, but not the intention to rape.  The Court extended the analysis from L v. R, holding that the mental element for attempted rape was satisfied if there was a mistaken and unreasonable belief that consent was present.

Ministério Público v. [Undisclosed Parties], 39/09.0TAFCR.C1 Tribunal da Relação de Coimbra (Court of Appeal of Coimbra) (2011)

Sexual harassment, Statutory rape or defilement

The defendant, a teacher, was charged with sexual harassment of children for multiple offenses against two of his students. On repeated occasions, the defendant inappropriately touched and made obscene gestures to the students, who were 11 and 12 years old. The Lower Court found the defendant guilty of the charges. The defendant appealed, arguing that he did not have sexual intent towards the students, and therefore did not satisfy all requisites of the crime of sexual harassment under section 171 of the Portuguese Penal Code. The Appellate Court affirmed the Lower Court’s decision, and held that the crime of sexual harassment of children under section 171 of the Penal Code requires only that the victim’s freedom and sexual self-determination is hindered by the defendant.

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.