Women and Justice: Keywords

Domestic Case Law

H.V.N. v. EM-M Defensa-FAA and Others Cámara Nacional de Apelaciones en lo Contencioso Administrativo Federal (National Federal Administration Appeals Court) (2015)

Employment discrimination, Sexual harassment

The plaintiff filed suit against her employer, the Ministry of Defense—Argentine Air Force, seeking damages for sexual harassment and workplace persecution because her supervisor made indecent proposals, threatened her employment if she did not accede to his demands, made sexually explicit comments, and impeded her advancement.  The trial court ruled against the plaintiff on the basis that (1) a psychological report indicated that she suffered from “moderate reactive development,” therefore making it impossible to determine the level of fault that corresponded to the alleged hostile conduct or to her “moderate reactive development,” (2) while certain testimony indicated the plaintiff was subject to certain “inconveniences” caused by her supervisor, the court found that these were insufficient to support a claim of sexual harassment or other unlawful conduct and (3) the plaintiff was therefore subject to a higher burden of proof in relation to the alleged conduct and that this burden was not met.   In reversing the trial court’s ruling, the appellate court noted that (1) workplace sexual harassment is characterized by extreme psychological violence in the workplace that is both systematic and prolonged and that is carried out for the purpose of devaluing, perturbing, or debasing the victim so that the victim abandons the workplace or accepts other workplace conditions, and (2) particular difficulties arise in proving that the offensive conduct took place. For this reason, the court noted, special importance must be given to testimony given by work colleagues, medical or psychological reports to determine the existence of physical or psychological damage and documentary evidence.  Specifically, the appellate court found that the plaintiff presented sufficient witness testimony, documentary evidence and psychological and accounting reports to sustain her claims. In addition to allowing damages, the appellate court ordered the defendants to pay costs.

Mensah v. The Republic Court Martial Appeal Court (2009)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

In 2008, Mr. Mensah married ABI Dosu Theresa when they were both members of the Ghana Armed Forces. Because Mr. Mensah was an officer and Theresa was a female of a different rank, the marriage violated the Armed Forces Act, which requires that for a male officer to marry a lower-ranked woman, the woman must first resign and obtain the “requisite prior approval for her release from the Ghana Armed Forces.” Mr. Mensah was thus dismissed from the Armed Forces. The Court upheld the dismissal, holding that the law was not discriminatory and was a justified means that the Armed Forces used to maintain discipline.

International Case Law

Yilmaz v. Turkey European Court of Human Rights (2008)

Gender-based violence in general

A 20-year-old Y killed himself while performing his compulsory military service after being provoked by Sergeant A’s physical and verbal violence who had been informed of Y’s problems linking to his sister’s marital difficulties. The ECtHR concluded a violation of Article 2 as the authorities failed to effectively protect the victim from the improper conduct of his superiors.

X and Relatives v. Colombia Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (2008)

Sexual violence and rape

Rape by military members. Case was brought before the Commission against Colombia for failing to prosecute members of the Colombian military for sexually assaulting the victim. The Complaint sought to have Colombia assume international responsibility for violating articles 1(1), 5, 7, 8, 10, 11 and 22 of the American Convention on Human Rights, as well as Articles I, V, VII, XI, XVIII and XXVI of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man. Colombia and the petitioners were able to reach a friendly settlement under which the victim was awarded moral and material damages. Under the friendly settlement, Colombia also agreed to pay for the victim's education, provide her with medical and psychological services, and other necessary services to fully compensate the victim and her family. Colombia also agreed to reopen the criminal investigation and to work with the victim to fully investigate and prosecute her case.

Plan de Sánchez Massacre v. Guatemala Inter-American Court of Human Rights (2004)

Gender-based violence in general, Sexual violence and rape

The IACHR submitted this case to the Court, alleging violations by Guatemala of the rights to humane treatment, to judicial protection, to fair trial, to equal treatment, to freedom of conscience and of religion, and to private property, in combination with the obligation to respect rights. These allegations arose from a massacre carried out by the Guatemalan army against a primarily Mayan community. During the massacre, approximately 20 girls ages 12 to 20 were mistreated, raped and murdered. Guatemala acknowledged its international responsibility for the massacre and withdrew any objections to the allegations. The Court found that Guatemala "breached the rights set forth in Articles 5(1) and 5(2) (Right to Humane Treatment); 8(1) (Right to Fair Trial); 11 (Right to Privacy); 12(2) and 12(3) (Freedom of Conscience and Religion); 13(2) paragraph a and 13(5) (Freedom of Thought and Expression), 16(1) (Freedom of Association), 21(1) and 21(2) (Right to Property), 24 (Right to Equal Protection) and 25 (Right to Judicial Protection) of the American Convention on Human Rights; and that it did not fulfill the obligation to respect rights set forth in Article 1(1) of that Convention, as set forth in paragraphs 47 and 48 of the instant Judgment." 

La Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos presentó este caso a la Corte, alegando violaciones por parte de Guatemala de los derechos humanos, con respecto a la protección judicial, a un juicio justo, a un trato igualitario, a la libertad de conciencia y de religión, y a la propiedad privada, en combinación con la obligación de respetar dichos derechos. Estas acusaciones surgieron a partir de una masacre llevada a cabo por el ejército guatemalteco contra una comunidad principalmente maya. Durante la masacre, aproximadamente 20 niñas de 12 a 20 años fueron maltratadas, violadas y asesinadas. Guatemala reconoció su responsabilidad internacional por la masacre y retiró cualquier objeción a las acusaciones. El Tribunal determinó que el país "violó los derechos establecidos en los artículos 5 (1) y 5 (2) (Derecho a un trato humano); 8 (1) (Derecho a un juicio justo); 11 (Derecho a la privacidad); 12 (2) ) y 12 (3) (Libertad de conciencia y religión); 13 (2) párrafos a y 13 (5) (Libertad de pensamiento y expresión), 16 (1) (Libertad de asociación), 21 (1) y 21 ( 2) (Derecho a la propiedad), 24 (Derecho a la igualdad de protección) y 25 (Derecho a la protección judicial) de la Convención Americana sobre Derechos Humanos, y que no cumplió con la obligación de respetar los derechos establecidos en el artículo 1 (1) de esa Convención, tal como se establece en los párrafos 47 y 48 de la presente Sentencia. "


Report of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women its causes and consequences on her visit to the United States of America (2011)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Sexual violence and rape

Report by Rashida Manjoo, Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, on her mission to the United States of America (2011).