Women and Justice: Keywords

Domestic Case Law

Munda v. Western Australia High Court of Australia (2013)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Femicide

This domestic violence case involved an appeal against a sentencing decision. The defendant was found guilty and sentenced to five years and seven months imprisonment for the manslaughter of his spouse after a history of domestic violence against his wife and other family members. The trial court considered the defendant's circumstances of disadvantage – that he was an Aboriginal man and grew up in an environment that normalized violence and alcohol abuse – as mitigating factors. In the first appeal, the prosecution successfully argued that the sentence was manifestly inadequate, and the Court of Appeal increased the sentence to seven years and nine months. The defendant then appealed to the High Court of Australia, arguing that there were insufficient grounds for the Court of Appeal to interfere with the original sentence and ignore the mitigating factors considered in the original judgment, in particular his social disadvantage. The High Court dismissed the appeal, finding that the first appellate court gave proper weight to the defendant’s social disadvantages and acted properly within its discretion in the resentencing.

International Case Law

Sawhoyamaxa Indigenous Community v. Paraguay Inter-American Court of Human Rights (2006)

Abortion and reproductive health rights, Gender discrimination, International law, Property and inheritance rights

This case involved issues involving the exposure of vulnerable members of indigenous communities, particularly children, pregnant women, and the elderly. A petition was filed against Paraguay on behalf of the Sawhoyamaxa Indigenous Community, alleging violations of, among other things, the right to fair trial and judicial protection, the right to property and the right to life. The petition noted that these violations placed children, pregnant women and the elderly in particularly vulnerable situations. The Court found Paraguay to be in violation of Articles 1(1), 2, 3, 4(1), 8, 19, 21 and 25 of the American Convention on Human Rights. The Court ordered Paraguay to formally and physically convey to the Sawhoyamaxa their traditional lands, to establish a community development fund, to pay non-pecuniary damages, to provide the Sawhoyamaxa with basic necessities until their lands were restored, to provide the Sawhoyamaxa with the necessary tools for communication to access health authorities, and to domestically enact legislation creating a mechanism for indigenous communities to reclaim their traditional lands.