Women and Justice: Keywords


Penal Code (Amendment) Act of 1998 (1998)

Gender discrimination, Sexual violence and rape

In 1998, the Penal Code Act was amended to make the offence of rape gender-neutral and to move away from a phallus-specific definition. The Amendment introduced a minimum sentence of 10 years to a maximum term of life imprisonment and made bail unavailable to persons accused of the offense. The amendment also made mandatory HIV testing for persons convicted of rape, and in the case wherein rape was accompanied by violence or the rapist was unaware of his or her HIV+ status, a minimum sentence of 15 years with corporal punishment was introduced. For cases wherein the convicted person was aware of his or her HIV status, the minimum sentence was set at 20 years imprisonment with corporal punishment. Excerpts of amended language available here.

Criminal Justice Administration Act of 2009 (2009)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

Section 23 of the Criminal Justice Administration Act states that proceedings regarding accusations of certain crimes shall be held in camera (privately).  These crimes include rape, grievous sexual assault, marital rape, sexual intercourse with a person under age sixteen, indecent adult, or involvement in prostitution.

Domestic Case Law

Roe v. Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region Supreme Court of Ohio (2009)

Abortion and reproductive health rights

The parents of a minor who received an abortion sued Planned Parenthood, which they alleged had performed the abortion illegally because the clinic did not notify them in advance. The plaintiffs sought the medical records and any reports of abuse relating to minors who had received abortions in the prior 10 years. The defendant refused to produce the records of nonparty patients on the ground of physician-patient privilege. The trial court ordered the defendant to produce the non-party records with identifying information redacted, but the Court of Appeals of Ohio reversed. The Supreme Court of Ohio affirmed the Court of Appeals’ ruling, holding that the medical records of non-party patients were not discoverable.

International Case Law

Sapana Pradhan Malla v Office of Prime Minister and Council of Minister and Others Supreme Court of Nepal (2007)

Gender discrimination

The Forum for Women, Law and Development in Nepal brought a petition to the Supreme Court filing for an exhaustive law ensuring privacy for vulnerable groups; particularly women, children, and persons living with HIV/AIDS. The Court ruled that enforcing the right to privacy for these and other sensitive parties in legal proceedings is inextricable from other Constitutional rights, including life and dignity, and vital to ensuring justice. Therefore, the Court ordered a directive for a law to be passed ensuring the right to privacy and set forth detailed guidelines for maintaining privacy to be followed in the interim. This ruling guarantees a crucial right to victims of gender violence and other abuses, opening a window for them to seek justice without fearing further injury from social stigma, discrimination, or retaliation. Furthermore, the ruling acknowledges that certain Constitutional rights much be positively enforced through legal codes.