Women and Justice: Keywords


The Islamic Penal Code of Iran, Book 5 (2013)

Abortion and reproductive health rights, Domestic and intimate partner violence, Gender discrimination, Harmful traditional practices

Articles 623-624 of Book Five of the Islamic Penal Code of Iran ban abortion and proscribe prison sentences for, respectively, "anyone" and doctors, midwives, and pharmacists. Article 630 of the Iranian Penal Code allows a man who witnesses his wife in the act of having sexual intercourse with another man (zina) to kill both of them if he is certain that his wife is a willing participant. If the husband knows that is wife was the subject of coercion, he is justified in murdering only the other man. Under Article 638 of the Iranian Penal Code, women who appear in public without the Islamic hijab may be sentenced to ten days to two months in prison or fined fifty thousand (USD $1.50) or five hundred thousand Rials (USD $15.00). (Full Persian version: http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/natlex4.detail?p_lang=en&p_isn=103202)

Domestic Case Law

Sentencia Número 677 (Ruling 677) Provincial Court of Madrid (2012)

Sexual violence and rape, Trafficking in persons

In 2010, Spain amended its Penal Code by enacting Article 177 to prohibit human trafficking. Spain did so in response to international human rights agreements regarding human trafficking. This ruling was the first conviction under this new article. Two women reported to authorities that the defendants had lured them from Paraguay under false pretenses, forced them to work as prostitutes, and physically and emotionally assaulted them. The Provincial Court of Madrid found that the defendants' actions constituted: 1) crimes against the rights of foreign nationals (Article 318 bis), 2) human trafficking for purposes of sexual exploitation (Article 177 bis), 3) solicitation by coercion to commit prostitution (Article 188.1), and 4) sexual assault (Article 179). According to the court, the fact that the defendants promoted, encouraged, or facilitated illegal immigration with the intention of using the women for prostitution was enough to find criminal sexual exploitation. The court found the victims’ testimony to be credible, realistic, and consistent, and used their testimony as the base for this decision.

En 2010, España modificó su Código Penal al promulgar el artículo 177 para prohibir la trata de personas. España lo hizo en respuesta a los acuerdos internacionales de derechos humanos relativos a la trata de personas. Esta sentencia fue la primera condena en virtud de este nuevo artículo. Dos mujeres informaron a las autoridades que los acusados las habían atraído desde Paraguay con falsas pretensiones, las obligaron a trabajar como prostitutas, y las agredieron física y emocionalmente. El Tribunal Provincial de Madrid determinó que las acciones de los demandados constituían: 1) delitos contra los derechos de los extranjeros (artículo 318 bis), 2) trata de personas con fines de explotación sexual (artículo 177 bis), 3) solicitud por coacción para cometer prostitución (artículo 188.1), y 4) agresión sexual (artículo 179). Según el tribunal, el hecho de que los acusados promovieron, alentaron o facilitaron la inmigración ilegal con la intención de utilizar a las mujeres para la prostitución fue suficiente para encontrar la explotación sexual criminal. El tribunal determinó que el testimonio de las víctimas era creíble, realista, y coherente, y utilizó su testimonio como base para esta decisión.

Sexual Assault Against a Minor is a Presumed Violent Act: Habeas Corpos No. 74.983-6 (in Portugeuse) Brazilian Federal Supreme Court (1997)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

The Brazilian Federal Supreme Court (Supremo Tribunal Federal or “STF”) denied the petition for writ of habeas corpus of Mario Somensi, upholding the constitutionality of Article 224(a) of the Penal Code which establishes a presumption of violence in sex crimes against minors. Somensi was convicted of rape and child abuse, and was sentenced to a prison term of eight years for rape and one year and ten months for child abuse. In his appeal and writ, Somensi argued he had committed no violence and that the presumption of violence set forth in Article 224(a) of the Penal Code was unconstitutional. The Court first noted that the provision in question predated Brazil’s 1988 Constitution and could not be found “unconstitutional” with respect to its construction. Rather, the Court examined its compatibility with the 1988 Constitution and found that the purpose of the presumption – to protect minors who legally are incapable of offering consent – was consistent with and expressed by the broad statement in Article 227 § 4 of the Constitution that “[t]he law shall severely punish abuse, violence and sexual exploitation of children and adolescents.” The STF held that the presumption did not violate constitutional principles, even when the presumption embraced what otherwise would be a factual matter requiring evidentiary proof.