Women and Justice: Keywords

Domestic Case Law

AA v. Attorney General's Office, Case No. 328/2011 Criminal Appeals Court 2º Tº (2011)

Sexual violence and rape

The 28-year-old accused (AA) was sentenced to seven years and six months in prison by the Trial court for the crimes of rape, kidnapping and robbery. On March 27, 2011, AA approached the 18-year-old victim (BB) at a bus station and threatened her with a knife. BB offered him money, but AA put a knife to her throat and took her to a nearby field where he sexually assaulted her several times during several hours of the night, hit her repeatedly and also videotaped a sexual assault with his cellphone. AA then tied up BB and, before leaving her in the field, used BB’s cellphone to text her mother the location where BB could be found. He stole the cellphone and sold it at a fair. On July 22, 2011, AA was arrested. In his possession police found a memory card with pornography and the video of BB’s rape. The Appeals Court dismissed the appeal and affirmed the decision of the Trial Court. The Appeals Court amended the qualification of the crimes to aggravated. The Appeals Court also rendered opinion that the sentence imposed by the Trial Court should have been more severe due to the proven dangerous nature of AA.



Case of Guido Arturo Villalba and Other Supreme Court (2016)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement, Trafficking in persons

Clorinda Mora Romero was sentenced to jail for seven years and six months because the lower court of Asunción found that she was guilty  with her co-defendant Guido Arturo Villalba of human trafficking with the purpose of sexual exploitation.  She appealed the sentence, and the Court of Appeals rejected her motion, confirming the lower court sentence.  Finally, she challenged the decision before the Supreme Court, which dismissed the action in 2016.



Supreme Court Decision 2014Do17346 Supreme Court of South Korea (2015)

Sexual violence and rape

Defendant illegally had sex on four occasions with a girl (aged 14 years at the time) with an intellectual disability, whom he met through an online chat room. He used a cell phone to record a video clip of his sexual intercourse and to take nude pictures of the Victim. Under the Act on the Protection of Children and Juveniles against Sexual Abuse, the Prosecutor indicted Defendant on charges of having illicit sex with a disabled juvenile and producing juvenile pornography. The trial and appellate courts found Defendant guilty, and Defendant appealed to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court held that “judgment competency” means the ability to rationally discern between what is right and wrong, and “decision-making capacity” means the ability to control one’s behavior. Whether such abilities are lacking can be determined by factoring in not only an expert’s opinion on that issue but also objective evidence, such as testimonies of witnesses on the daily verbal expressions and behaviors of the child or juvenile, and circumstances that led to the charge, including the child’s or juvenile’s speech and behavior. The Court held that the Article 8(1) of the Juvenile Act severely punishes those who have illicit sex with a disabled child or juvenile who has judgment competency much weaker than ordinary children and juveniles, and who lack the ability to exercise the right to sexual self-determination. Furthermore, the Court held that Article 11(1) of the Juvenile Act punishes those who produced, imported, or exported child or juvenile pornography. The Court held that even if there may have been implied consent by Victim, such consent could not be viewed as an act of a child or juvenile with sufficient judgment competency who voluntarily exercised the right to sexual self-determination on an informed or educated basis. In affirming the lower court’s decision, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal.



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.



R v. Jheeta [2008] 1 W.L.R. 2582 Court of Appeal of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland (2008)

Sexual violence and rape

The defendant and the complainant had been involved in a sexual relationship for some time when the complainant started to receive threatening text messages and telephone calls. The complainant, who was unaware that the defendant was sending the messages, confided in the defendant and allowed him to contact the police on her behalf. He did not do so but over a long period sent her text messages purporting to be from a succession of police officers dealing with the bogus investigation, and he obtained £700 from the complainant for security protection which he pretended to arrange. Eventually the complainant wanted to break off the relationship with the defendant, but on approximately 50 occasions over a four-year period the defendant, posing as a police officer, sent text messages telling the complainant that she should have sexual intercourse with him, and that she would be liable to a fine if she did not. The complainant complied, although she would not have done but for those messages. Subsequently, the complainant approached the police, following which the defendant was arrested. During a police interview the defendant admitted that he had been responsible for the fictitious scheme and that on numerous occasions the complainant had not truly consented to intercourse. Since the complainant had been persuaded by deceptions, the court held the defendant guilty of rape.



R v. Dica [2004] Q.B. 1257 Court of Appeal of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland (2004)

Sexual harassment

The defendant, knowing he was HIV positive, had unprotected sexual intercourse with two women who were unaware of his disease. The women were both subsequently diagnosed as HIV positive. He was found guilty of inflicting grievous bodily harm. As a general rule, unless the activity is lawful, the consent of the victim to the deliberate infliction of serious bodily injury on him or her does not provide the perpetrator with any defence. The effect of this judgment is to remove some of the outdated restrictions against the successful prosecution of those who, knowing that they are suffering HIV or some other serious sexual disease, recklessly transmit it through consensual sexual intercourse, and inflict grievous bodily harm on a person from whom the risk is concealed and who is not consenting to it.



Furaha Michael v. The Republic Court of Appeal of Tanzania at Mwanza (2010)

Gender-based violence in general, Sexual violence and rape

The appellant was charged and convicted of rape. He was sentenced to 30 years imprisonment and ordered to pay compensation to the victim of shillings 300,000 upon completion of his sentence. His first appeal was unsuccessful, so he appealed a second time, claiming that he was not properly identified, breach of criminal procedure and the fact that the court did not allow him to call a defence witness. The Court found no merit in the appeal and upheld the conviction. It applied and followed the case of Selemani Makumba versus R Criminal Appeal, Court of Appeal of Tanzania at Mbeya 1999 (unreported). The Appellate Court considered whether or not the complainant had been raped by the appellant and concludes that “True evidence of rape has to come from the victim, if an adult, that there was penetration and no consent, and in the case of any other woman where consent is irrelevant, that there was penetration...”



Assange v Swedish Prosecution Authority [2011] EWHC 2849 High Court of Justice (2011)

Sexual violence and rape

Mr. Assange visited Sweden to give a lecture. He had sexual relations with two women there. In the home of the injured party, Assange deliberately consummated sexual intercourse with her by improperly exploiting that she, due to sleep, was in a helpless state. It is an aggravating circumstance that Assange, who was aware that it was the expressed wish of the injured party and a prerequisite of sexual intercourse that a condom be used, still consummated unprotected sexual intercourse with her. The sexual act was designed to violate the injured party's sexual integrity. Mr. Assange was accused of rape. Allegedly, the women agreed to sex on the condition Mr. Assange wear a condom. He did not do so throughout intercourse. Although the English courts had previously ruled that one cannot give conditional consent, in order to be able to allow extradition to Sweden, the Supreme Court ruled that his actions would constitute a crime under English law – thus allowing conditional consent to become valid in English law.



R(F) v. DPP [2014] Q.B. 581 Queen's Bench (2014)

Sexual violence and rape

The claimant, who did not wish to become pregnant, consented to her husband, whom she had married in an Islamic ceremony, having sexual intercourse with her on the basis that he would withdraw his penis before ejaculating. He decided that he would not withdraw, just because he deemed the claimant subservient to his control, she was deprived of choice relating to the crucial feature on which her original consent to sexual intercourse was based. Accordingly her consent was negated. She became pregnant as a result. Contrary to her wishes, and knowing that she would not have consented, and did not consent to penetration or the continuation of penetration if she had any inkling of his intention, he deliberately ejaculated within her vagina. In law, this combination of circumstances falls within the statutory definition of rape. In this case, following the conditional consent established in Assange, he was found guilty of rape.



R v. Bree [2008] Q.B. 131 Court of Appeal of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland (2008)

Sexual violence and rape

The complainant had been severely intoxicated while the defendant had sex with her. It was found that in order for sex to be consensual the victim must have the capacity (the ability) to say no. If one is so inebriated as to be incapable of refusing intercourse, such intercourse is rape. If, through drink (or for any other reason) the complainant has temporarily lost her capacity to choose whether to have intercourse on the relevant occasion, she is not consenting, and subject to questions about the defendant's state of mind, if intercourse takes place, this would be rape. However, where the complainant has voluntarily consumed even substantial quantities of alcohol, but nevertheless remains capable of choosing whether or not to have intercourse, and in drink agrees to do so, this would not be rape.



Liu v. Zhu Court of Huilai County, Guangdong Province (2013)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Sexual violence and rape, Sexual harassment

The plaintiff Liu alleged that she had a illegitimate son with a Yang when she was working in Sichuan province. Soon after that, she was having another child with a Chen. Since Chen was not going to perform his duty as a father, Liu decided to give birth to the child and raise it herself. Several months later, Liu’s first son, Yang was introduced by a matchmaker to the respondent as an adopted son. Out of the strait situation Liu faces, she agreed. Several days later, the respondent Zhu proposed since the son is too naughty and needs his mother to look after him, it is better that Liu came along. Liu came and Zhu’s little brother asked Liu to marry Zhu, and they will pay her 100,000 as gift, but Liu need to take care of Zhu. Liu agreed. After the wedding, Liu found out the respondent was disabled and sit on a wheelchair, having no sexual capability. However, the respondent kept sexually harassing the plaintiff. Plaintiff argued that she was cheated to get married, and Zhu lacks sexual ability, therefore she sued for divorce. The court finds that although the marriage is facilitated by a matchmaker, the two have lived together for many years and have developed some feelings for each other. Plaintiff’s arguments are not supported by any evidence, thus are not considered by the court.


Chile v. Rodrigo Gacitua Escobar, Criminal Court of Viña del Mar, 2013 Criminal Court of Viña del Mar (2013)

Gender discrimination

The Criminal Court of Viña del Mar sentenced Rodrigo Gacitúa Escobar to life imprisonment for a series of robberies, rapes, and other crimes committed between 2010 and 2012. The prosecutor, Vivian Quiñones, expressed satisfaction at the result, and pointed out the impact of the testimony from the victims. The defense unsuccessfully attempted to discredit the victims’ testimony, including using postings on social media.



Mushabe Abdul v. Uganda Court of Appeals of Uganda (2007)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

Appellant was convicted of defilement of a four-year-old girl. The victim was sent to a well to fetch water for her family. On the victim’s way to the well, appellant grabbed the victim, threw her to the ground, and forcibly had sexual intercourse with her. He then fled but was later arrested. At trial, appellant denied the charges and claimed that the victim’s father had framed him. The trial court rejected his claim and sentenced him to 14 years imprisonment. On appeal, appellant requested a sentence reduction from 14 years to eight years. The court of appeals dismissed the appeal, holding that the 14-year sentence was not inappropriate or excessive, and that, in light of the circumstances, there was no reason to reduce the sentence.



Shekara vs. State of Karnataka Supreme Court of India (2009)

Sexual violence and rape

A man induced a girl to have intercourse with him on a false promise to marry her and then threatened to kill her and her mother. School records showed that the girl was less than 16 years of age. The Court held the man could not be convicted of rape for his false promise, but he could be convicted for the use of criminal force on a woman with intent to outrage her modesty. This case demonstrates that men can be criminally convicted for lying to a woman in order to have intercourse with her.



Satyapal v. State of Haryana Supreme Court of India (2009)

Statutory rape or defilement

A village man sexually assaulted an 11-year-old girl; he ran away when the girl’s aunt approached. In an attempt to avoid the stigma of a sexual attack, her family convened a village panchayat to resolve the dispute. The police were contacted when the panchayat was unsuccessful, and the girl did not have a medical examination until 80 hours after the attack. The exam found vaginal bruising but not penetration. Despite the delays, the Court upheld the conviction under § 376 of the Penal Code. This case is notable because the Court allowed a delay in filing the report and found that full penetration is not necessary for a rape conviction.



State of Rajasthan v. Hemraj & Anr Supreme Court of India (2009)

Sexual violence and rape

The Supreme Court held that a woman present for a gang rape did not share the common intention to rape and, therefore, could not be convicted of rape. According to §§ 375 and 376 of the Penal Code, only a man can commit rape, making it impossible for a woman to be convicted of a gang rape. This case is important because it raises the issue of how or when to hold women responsible for sexual violence against other women.



Sabwe Abdu v. Uganda Supreme Court of Uganda (2010)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

Appellant was convicted of defilement of a girl less than 18 years old and was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment. Trial testimony established that while the 13-year-old girl and her younger sister were fetching water at a well, appellant, disguised as a ghost, ordered the two to remove their dresses, blindfolded them, and led them through a swamp to some bush where he had sexual intercourse with the older sister. He then left the sisters in the bush overnight, and the sisters’ father was unable to find them. Appellant then went to the father’s house and told him that he could use his witchcraft powers to find the sisters if the father paid him two goats and two chickens. Upon payment, appellant went back to the brush and brought the sisters to his home, claiming that they needed treatment. While at Appellant’s home, the older sister told her father that appellant had raped her. At trial, the court rejected appellant’s defense that a ghost had abducted the sisters and he was merely using his witchcraft powers to help find the girls. Instead, the court relied on the sisters’ testimony, who claimed that they recognized appellant’s voice. The Supreme Court upheld the conviction and sentence. First, the court found that appellant lived only a quarter mile away from the sisters and used to come to their home and speak to their father, thus supporting the assertion that the sisters were able to identify appellant through voice recognition. Second, the court found that appellant’s witchcraft defense could not be reasonably believed and that the fact that he immediately located the sisters upon payment supported the inference that he was the one who brought them there.



Sgt. Canbera Dickson v. Uganda Court of Appeals of Uganda (2010)

Sexual violence and rape

This is an appeal challenging a rape conviction and sentencing of 15 years imprisonment. Appellant, an army sergeant, went to a village and used a gun to murder his maternal uncle. On the same day, he led his victim, a widow of appellant’s late brother, to an abandoned house and raped her at gunpoint. Three days later, the victim reported the incident and was medically examined. Because she recently had a baby, the medical examiner was unable to find any physical damage to her body. Appellant appeals on two main grounds: (1) without medical proof of penetration, the victim’s accusation requires corroboration to stand; (2) the sentence of 15 years was excessive. On appeal, the court accepted the prosecution’s argument that, because the victim was a new mother and was being held at gunpoint, it was very unlikely that she would have been physically damaged from the penetration or struggle. The court also followed prior precedent that held that, in certain criminal cases, corroboration was not necessary for a conviction. Concerning sentencing, the court also agreed with the prosecution. The court found that appellant had been given a gun by the military to protect the people of Uganda, but instead appellant used that gun to terrorize and rape the victim. Because of those circumstances, the court refused to be lenient, but rather increased appellant’s sentence to 25 years.



Utpal & Anr. v. State of West Bengal Supreme Court of India (2010)

Gender-based violence in general

On April 28, 1984 four or five men took Ms. Sitarani Jha from a bus stop to a house under construction and two of the men forcibly raped her. The trial court determined that the prosecution had not proven the case beyond a reasonable doubt. The case was appealed and the high court determined that the defendants were guilty under section 376/34 of the India Penal Code. The case was brought before the Supreme Court to determine if the high court erred in finding the appellants guilty of rape, because no physical injuries were found on the private parts of the victim’s body. The Supreme Court determined that the high court did not err. Ms. Sitarani jha was able to identify her attackers, and that a lack of injuries on the private parts of a rape victim were not enough to acquit an identified rapist.



R. v. Ewanchuk Supreme Court of Canada (1999)

Sexual violence and rape

The female complainant was repeatedly touched in a progressively intimate manner by the accused, despite the fact that she clearly said “no” on each occasion. Any compliance by the complainant with the accused’s advances was done out of fear, as she believed that they were locked inside the accused’s trailer. The conversation that took place between the two in the trailer clearly demonstrated that the accused knew that the complainant was afraid and that she was an unwilling participant. The complainant filed suit against the accused for sexual assault in the Alberta Court of the Queen’s Bench. Despite the trial judge’s acceptance of the complainant’s testimony regarding her lack of consent, the judge acquitted the accused on the basis of “implied consent”; the Court of Appeal affirmed. On the issue of whether the trial judge erred in his understanding of consent in sexual assault, and on whether the defense of “implied consent” was proper, the Supreme Court of Canada held that there was error and ordered that an appeal from that decision be allowed.



Md. Kalam v. The State of Bihar Supreme Court of India (2008)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

A man convicted of raping a six-year-old girl appealed his sentence of 10 years, alleging the child’s testimony should not have been accepted without corroboration. He also insisted his sentence was too harsh. A child’s testimony is acceptable as long as the court carefully evaluates it. Both the trial court and the High Court did this and found the child’s evidence reliable. The Supreme Court denied his appeal regarding the girl’s testimony but lessened his sentence to 5 years imprisonment with fines.



Moti Lal v. State of M.P Supreme Court of India (2008)

Sexual violence and rape

A man raped a woman while she guarded her husband’s agricultural field. The woman and her husband filed a police report, and the man was arrested and convicted under §§ 450 and 376(1) of the Indian Penal Code and § 3(1)(xii) of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Prevention of Atrocities Act. The offender appealed his conviction on the grounds that the prosecution relied too heavily on the victim’s testimony. The Court denied his appeal. Emphasizing the stigma associated with incidents of rape, the Court reaffirmed Indian courts’ presumption that rape victims who file reports are telling the truth.



Bangladesh National Women Lawyers Association v. The Cabinet Division Bangladesh Supreme Court (2011)

Gender-based violence in general, Harmful traditional practices, Sexual harassment, Sexual violence and rape, Trafficking in persons

In an application under Article 102 of the Constitution, the Bangladesh National Women's Lawyers Association (BNWLA) petitioned the Supreme Court of Bangladesh (High Court Division) to address the exploitation and abuse endured by child domestic laborers in Bangladesh. The BNWLA argued that child domestic workers are subjected to economic exploitation, physical and emotional abuse, and the deprival of an education in violation of their fundamental constitutional rights. In support of these arguments, it presented multiple reports of extreme abuse suffered by child domestic workers. In deciding this case, the Court reviewed the current laws in Bangladesh, including the Labour Act, 2006, which fails to extend labor protections to "domestic workers," including children, and lacks an effective implementation and enforcement system. The Court directed the government of Bangladesh to take immediate steps to increase its protection of the fundamental rights of child domestic workers including prohibiting children under the age of twelve from working in any capacity including domestic settings; supporting the education of adolescents; implementing the National Elimination of Child Labour Policy 2010 and applying the Labour Act, 2006 to domestic workers. Additionally, the Court directed the government to monitor and prosecute incidents of violence against child domestic workers, maintain a registry of domestic workers and their whereabouts to combat trafficking, promulgate mandatory health check-ups and strengthen the legal framework relating to child domestic workers.



International Case Law

Rosendo Cantu v. Mexico Inter-American Court of Human Rights (2010)

Sexual violence and rape

Rosendo Cantu was walking home when she was stopped and questioned by a group of soldiers. When she did not give the soldiers the answers they were looking for, two of the soldiers raped her while six others watched. Subsequent to the rape, the State failed to carry out an effective investigation into the allegations of sexual violence by members of the armed forces. The Inter-American Court held that Mexico had committed an act of turtler. It placed special importance on the vulnerable situation of Ms. Cantu given the fact that she was a minor and also a member of the indigenous community. It found Mexico in violation of the right to personal integrity, dignity, privacy, the rights of the child and due process rights. It also found that the State had failed to comply with its due diligence obligations to prevent, investigate and punish violence against women and the general obligation of non-discrimination in accessing justice. The Court ordered Mexico to pay monetary compensation for the harms suffered and to also ensure that Ms. Cantu's daughter received a scholarship to study.

 

Rosendo Cantu caminaba hacia su casa cuando fue detenida e interrogada por un grupo de soldados. Cuando no les dio a los soldados las respuestas que buscaban, dos de los soldados la violaron mientras que otros seis observaron. Luego de la violación, el Estado no realizó una investigación efectiva de las denuncias de violencia sexual cometida por miembros de las fuerzas armadas. La Corte Interamericana sostuvo que México había cometido un acto de turtler. La corte puso especial importancia en la situación de vulnerabilidad de la Sra. Cantu, dado que era menor de edad y también miembro de la comunidad indígena. Encontró a México en violación del derecho a la integridad personal, la dignidad, la privacidad, los derechos del niño y los derechos del debido proceso. También encontró que el Estado no había cumplido con sus obligaciones de diligencia debida para prevenir, investigar y sancionar la violencia contra las mujeres y la obligación general de no discriminación en el acceso a la justicia. El Tribunal ordenó a México que pagara una compensación monetaria por los daños sufridos y también para garantizar que la hija de la Sra. Cantu recibiera una beca para estudiar.



M. and Others v. Italy and Bulgaria European Court of Human Rights (2012)

Sexual violence and rape

In May 2003, a Roma family with Bulgarian nationality traveled to Italy with a promise of work in a villa. M.’s parents alleged that they were threatened and forced to return to Bulgaria, leaving M.—their 17 year old daughter—in the villa, where she was raped and beaten. M.’s mother returned to Italy on 24 May and reported to the police that her daughter had been kidnapped. M. was rescued from the villa seventeen days later, on 11 June 2003. No criminal proceedings were taken against M.’s kidnapper but the police instituted proceedings against M.’s parents for perjury and libel, believing that the accusations of kidnapping were untrue and that M.’s parents had contracted to marry M. to the alleged kidnapper for a sum of money. The European Court of Human Rights found a violation of Article 3—prohibition of ill-treatment—in the investigation of rape and beating by the Italian authorities, which it ruled was ineffective. The Court found no violation of Article 3, however, in the steps taken by the police to secure the release of M.



Karen Tayag Vertido v. The Philippines CEDAW Committee (2008)

Gender discrimination, Sexual violence and rape

Karen Tayag Vertido, an employee of the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the Philippines, was raped by a former President of the Chamber in 1996. The case remained at the trial court level for eight years before the Regional Court of Davao City acquitted the defendant in 2005. The Court scrutinized Vertido’s testimony with “extreme caution,” and challenged her credibility on the ground that “an accusation of rape can be made with facility.” The Court specifically declined to apply Filipino Supreme Court precedent cases establishing that failure to escape does not negate the existence of rape, stating that Vertido had ample opportunities to escape her attacker. In her complaint to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, Vertido argued that the Court’s actions subjected her to revictimization and violated articles 2(c), 2(f), and 5(a) of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and CEDAW General Recommendation 19, which obliges a State to modify or abolish existing laws, regulations, and practices that constitute discrimination against women. The Committee held that the State Court erred in relying on gender-based myths and stereotypes about rape and rape victims in Vertido’s case, and stressed that there should be no assumption in law or practice that a woman gives her consent where she had not physically resisted unwanted sexual conduct. The Committee recommended that the State provide Vertido with appropriate compensation, review the definition of rape under existing law to ensure that lack of consent is a essential element of the crime of rape, remove any requirement that sexual violence be committed by violence or force, and require appropriate training for judges, lawyers, and law enforcement officers in understanding crimes of rape and other sexual offenses.



X and Y v. The Netherlands European Court of Human Rights (1985)

Sexual violence and rape

A mentally handicapped girl was raped but had no legal capacity to appeal against the prosecution’s decision not to press charges. The ECtHR found that positive obligations under Article 8 could arise requiring the State to adopt measures even in the sphere of the relations of individuals between themselves. Local legislation therefore suffered from a deficiency regarding the victim, which disclosed a failure to provide adequate protection.



Hadijatou Mani Koraou v. Republic of Niger ECOWAS Community Court of Justice (2008)

Forced and early marriage, Gender discrimination, Gender-based violence in general, Harmful traditional practices, Sexual violence and rape, Trafficking in persons

Hadijatou Mani, who was born to a mother in slavery, was sold to a local chief at age 12. For the next nine years she was subjected to rape, violence, and forced labor without remuneration. When Niger’s Supreme Court failed to convict her master under Article 270.1-5 of the Nigerien Criminal Code, which made slavery illegal in 2003, Hadijatou brought her case before the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice under Article 9(4) of the Supplementary Protocol A/SP.1/01/05. The court ruled that Hadijatou had been a slave under the definition in Article 1 (I) of the Slavery Convention of 1926 and that in failing to convict Hadijatou’s former master, Niger had not upheld its legal responsibility to protect her from slavery under international law. This case was the first ECOWAS ruling on slavery and only the second conviction made under Niger’s 2003 anti-slavery law. The case gained a high level of publicity, setting the precedent for women to fight back against the traditional slavery practices common to Niger and other ECOWAS nations. As of 2009, there had been approximately 30 more cases upholding the prohibition of slavery in Niger.



J. v. Peru, Report No. 76/11, Case 11,769A Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (2011)

Custodial violence

In April 1992, the Petitioner, Mónica Feria Tinta, was arrested during a raid by DINCOTE, the counter-terrorism branch of the Peruvian police. The police believed that Ms. Tinta was a member of the Sendero Luminoso, a communist militant group in Peru. During the raid, Ms. Tinta was blindfolded, beaten and raped by some of the police officers. When Ms. Tinta protested the sexual violence, the officers beat and kicked her. After the raid, the officers took Ms. Tinta to a DINCOTE facility, where she was detained for more than a year in cells infested with roaches and rats. While detained, DINCOTE officers deprived Ms. Tinta of access to her attorney, forced her to urinate in a can in the presence of two male officers, and doused her with cold water if she resisted their orders. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (the “IACHR”) found that the Peru violated Ms. Tinta’s rights by failing to conduct a serious investigation of her claims, even though her claims “fit a pattern known to have existed at that time” and involved violence (¶ 207). According to the IACHR, Peru had a duty to investigate Ms. Tinta’s claims of rape, including ordering medical tests and examinations, to either corroborate or disprove Ms. Tinta’s claims. The IACHR concluded that Peru, inter alia, violated the rights recognized in articles 5(1), 5(2) and 11 of the American Convention on Human Rights (the “American Convention”), as well as Article 1 and 6 of the Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture. Noting its well-established precedent that “rape committed by members of the security forces of a state against the civilian population constitutes, in any situation, a serious violation of the human rights protected by Articles 5 and 11 of the American Convention,” the IACHR established that rape is particularly reprehensible when it perpetrated by a state agent against a detainee, because of the victim’s vulnerability and the agent’s abuse of power (¶ 188). In addition, noting that various reports had shown a pattern of rape and sexual abuse against women by members of Peru’s security forces, the IACHR found that such sexual violence was part of a “broader context of discrimination against women” (¶ 65).



Memoranda

Child Testimony: Admissibility, Reliability and Procedures (2014)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Gender-based violence in general, Sexual violence and rape

This memorandum discusses the strategies courts employ around the world to treat child victims and witnesses and their evidence when giving testimony. International and regional human rights standards have highlighted good practices in the treatment of vulnerable young child witnesses, centering on the foundational principle of the best interests of the child. In turn, domestic courts and legislatures worldwide have created and employed a broad range of judicial approaches to the admissibility of child witness testimony; the reliability of child witness evidence, and the procedures that should be employed to facilitate child witness testimony.



Closed-circuit Television in Cases Involving Child Testimony (2014)

Gender-based violence in general, Sexual violence and rape

This memorandum discusses the use of closed-circuit television (CCTV) in courtrooms for cases where there will be child testimony. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes recommends that children be allowed to give testimony through CCTV or another mechanism in order to prevent the child witness from being traumatized. Unfortunately, given the funding requirements, few countries have the facilities to use CCTV. Yet, a number of countries have statutes allowing for alternative mechanisms to prevent child victims from seeing the defendant while giving testimony. Some laws providing for the use of CCTV have been challenged, but courts have upheld the laws in nearly every situation.



Assessing the Impact of Mandatory Minimum Sentences on Sexual Offences in Tanzania (2013)

Gender-based violence in general, Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

With the goal of assessing the impact of mandatory minimum sentences for sexual offences in Tanzania, this memorandum provides a comparative study with a small sample of jurisdictions – including Canada, Kenya, Lesotho, Zambia, South Africa and Tanzania - to showcase how different countries have utilized mandatory minimum sentences to address sexual offences. It also explores whether imposing mandatory minimums has resulted in a reduction of the commission of the sexual offences they target.



Domestication of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child and the role of national courts (2013)

Gender-based violence in general, Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

This memorandum describes several success stories from countries that have domesticated the Convention on the Rights of the Child into their national laws and also examines the role of the courts. In particular, this memorandum focuses on how Lithuania, Bangladesh and South Africa have implemented their laws and/or the role that the courts have played in preventing child abuse and exploitation.



Reports

Sexual Violence by Educators in South African Schools: Gaps in Accountability (2014)

Gender-based violence in general, Sexual harassment, Sexual violence and rape

The Centre for Applied Legal Studies at the University of Witwatersrand and Avon Global Center for Women and Justice at Cornell Law School released a joint report on sexual violence committed by educators against students in South African schools.