Women and Justice: Keywords

Domestic Case Law

Uganda v. Hamidu and Others High Court of Uganda (2004)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Forced and early marriage, Gender discrimination, Sexual violence and rape

Here, the Court rejected defendant’s argument that his mistaken belief that the complainant was his wife was a sufficient defense against a conviction of rape. The Court, relying on Article 31 of the Constitution, stated that both husband and wife enjoy equal rights in marriage and stated that the complainant’s dignity was trampled upon. The Court thus extends access to justice by construing the existing law on rape through the reasoning that the constitutional provisions on equality in marriage and the recognition of the equal dignity of women and men had effectively amended Sections 9 and 123 of the Penal Code. These sections at face exclude husbands from being held criminally liable for marital rape.

Rreshpja v. Gonzalez United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (2005)

International law, Sexual violence and rape, Trafficking in persons

The plaintiff-appellant, a citizen of Albania, arrived in the United States with a fraudulently obtained non-immigrant visa after a man attempted to abduct her in her home country. The Immigration and Nationalization Service initiated removal proceedings against her. During those proceedings the plaintiff requested either a grant of asylum or the withholding of removal and protection under the Convention Against Torture, arguing that she is at risk of being forced to work as a prostitute if she were to return to her home country. The immigration judge denied her application, as did the Board of Immigration Appeals. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the denial because the plaintiff was unable to show that she was a member of a particular social group that faced persecution in her home country.

Taylor v. The Queen Court of Appeal of Belize (2018)

Sexual violence and rape

The appellant was convicted of abduction and rape and sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment.  The complainant was kidnaped from a car, driven to a remote location, and raped multiple times by two men.  Upon arrival at the remote location, the police chased after the two men, but only caught and arrested one of the men – the appellant.  The complainant testified that the appellant wore a stocking mask, and although he had spoken to her many times the night of her kidnaping, she did not recognize him until his stockinged face was illuminated by a car light.  This identification was not made until a few days after the police arrested the appellant.  The Court of Appeal quashed the convictions because the trial judge did not direct the jury on issues related to voice identification in general or concerns related to the timing of complainant’s identification.  The Court of Appeals also faulted the prosecution for not conducting a controlled identification procedure to test the complainant’s ability to identify the appellant by the sound of his voice.  The Court did not however order a retrial because it found the evidence to be “insufficient to justify a conviction by any jury which had been properly directed” due to the “glaring evidential gaps”.  

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.  

杨恩光、李文建等拐卖妇女案, 云南省红河哈尼族彝族自治州中级人民法院 (Yunnan Province v. Enguang Yang, Wenjian Li) People’s Procuratorate of Honghe Harniyizu District Court (2014)

Forced and early marriage, Sexual violence and rape, Trafficking in persons

The defendants Yang and Li trafficked 17 Vietnamese women who were prostitutes in Vietnam to Yunnan Province, China. Yang and Li pretended to be clients and brought the women to hotels and restaurants where they kidnapped the women and transported them to China. The defendants offered the women to villagers in remote rural area of Yunnan Province, China and forced the women to marry buyers by force or threats. Under Article 48 and Article 240 of Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China, the two defendants were sentenced to the death penalty and their private property was confiscated by the court. The women were provided with assistance to return to Vietnam.



Rogers v. Republic of Liberia Supreme Court of Liberia (2009)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

On appeal, the Supreme Court reversed the lower court’s judgment that appellant, Allen Rogers, was guilty of rape. The 11-year-old complainant alleged that the appellant kidnapped her and a boy for two months, raping her daily during this time period. She testified that the appellant threatened to kill her if she talked about the rape. In his defense, the appellant testified that the week before the alleged kidnapping occurred, he knelt down to pray and heard the voice of someone he called Evee. Evee told him “your two children have come.” He then met the complainant and the other child. He took them to the town advisor, who said that the appellant could keep them at his house. The appellant was found guilty of statutory rape and given the maximum sentence of life imprisonment. The court reversed the conviction because the appellant did not receive adequate representation. His representation was inadequate because the public defender assigned to his case failed to call corroborating witnesses and counsel “knew, or ought to have known that the lone testimony of the appellant was not sufficient to establish his innocence. Thus, his failure to have ensured that other witness[es] appear to testify for the appellant was a serious dereliction of duty.” In Liberia, “the uncorroborated testimony of the accused person is not sufficient to rebut proof of guilt.” Therefore the court reversed the appellant's conviction and remanded the case for a new trial.

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.

Matter of S., R. A., E. O. A. y A., R. A. Buenos Aires Supreme Court (2006)

Gender-based violence in general, Sexual violence and rape

In this case, a defendant who had been sentenced to twenty five years for kidnapping, among other crimes, appealed his conviction, contending that he had committed lesser kidnapping (plagio) instead of the more serious crime of premeditated kidnapping (rapto) of which he was convicted. The court decided to uphold his conviction, despite the fact that there was only coercion involved. The “lessening of sexual integrity” against the will of the victims made the defendant guilty of the greater crime of rapto under article 130 of the Argentinean Penal Code.

En este caso, un acusado que había sido condenado a veinticinco años por secuestro y otros delitos, apeló su condena, alegando que había cometido secuestro menor (plagio) en lugar del delito más grave de secuestro (rapto) premeditado del cual fue condenado. El tribunal decidió defender su condena, a pesar del hecho de que solo hubo coerción. La "disminución de la integridad sexual" contra la voluntad de las víctimas hizo que el acusado fuera culpable del mayor delito de rapto en virtud del artículo 130 del Código Penal argentino.

Feddiman v. State Delaware Supreme Court (1989)

Sexual violence and rape

Here, the defendant appealed a conviction for assault, kidnapping and rape. The defendant argued that he could not be convicted of eight separate counts of rape for one victim, as this would constitute double jeopardy. The court disagreed and affirmed the superior court’s finding that the fact that there were variations in the sexual acts, there was physical movement of the victim between acts, and there was time between each offense.

State of Orissa v. Naiko Supreme Court of India (1992)

Sexual violence and rape

A woman was kidnapped in broad daylight, taken to a forest, then gang-raped. The defense argued that the woman's injuries were not severe enough for her to have resisted multiple rapists. The Court held that a woman need not present evidence of resistance to support a charge of rape.