Women and Justice: Keywords

Domestic Case Law

Jiangsu Province v. Erming Wang People’s Procuratorate of Quning District Court (2014)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

The defendant Wang “bought” a woman with intellectual disabilities for RMB 10,000 to have a male heir. Wang chained her feet and hands and raped her several times. The imprisonment and rape lasted for two months until police rescued her. Quning District Court, Jiangsu Province found that defendant Wang trafficked the woman, imprisoned, and raped her. Therefore, according to Article 236 section 1 and Article 238 section 1 and Article 240 of Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China, Wang was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment.

Zimele Samson Magagula v. Rex Supreme Court of Swaziland (2012)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

Appellant appealed his conviction of rape of a 4 year-old girl on the ground that the victim was the sole witness and her young age made her unreliable. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, finding that the victim’s consistent testimony of the rape and corroborating evidence from a medical examination was sufficient to uphold the verdict.

Public Prosecutor v. Mohd Tamin Bin HJ Ahmad Intermediate Court of Brunei (1995)

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

The defendant pleaded not guilty to three charges consisting of (i) attempted rape, under section 376 of the Penal Code, (ii) causing harm, under section 323 of the Penal Code, and (iii) theft of personal property, under section 379 of the Penal Code. The court found the complainant credible, and her version of the events consistent with a note she wrote shortly after the incident and her evidence in court, despite minor discrepancies and details left out in the note. On the contrary, the court found the defendant’s version far-fetched and unacceptable. Corroborating evidence for the complainant included her distressed condition as observed by a witness immediately after the incident, her note, the injuries a doctor found on her and the discovery of her torn underwear on the road-side. The court found that the defendant made an effort to have sexual intercourse with the complainant against her will and without her consent. The court convicted the defendant of (i) attempted rape, with a sentence of six years imprisonment and four strokes, (ii) causing hurt, with a sentence of one month imprisonment and (iii) theft, with a sentence of three months imprisonment. The sentences were to run concurrently.

Public Prosecutor v. Zulkifli Bin Sabang Intermediate Court of Brunei (1993)

Statutory rape or defilement

The defendant pleaded not guilty to three charges of rape of a 12 year old female, under section 376 of the Penal Code. The complainant alleged that the defendant penetrated her on all three occasions. However, with regard to the first and second occasions, the complainant’s evidence was uncorroborated. As the court was not prepared to convict in the absence of evidence of penetration, the defendant was acquitted on both the first and second charges. The court accepted that there was some corroboration on the third charge, including a DNA report in connection with a pregnancy and an ‘admission’ by the defendant made to a witness who the court found truthful. The court believed the complainant that she did not consent to the sexual intercourse with the defendant, noting that because consent is not defense to a rape of an individual under the age of 14 years, the complainant’s consent was relevant only to the sentencing. The court held that the third charge was proven beyond reasonable doubt against the defendant and convicted him accordingly. The court imposed a sentence of nine years imprisonment with 14 strokes.

Mbuso Blue Khumalo v. Rex Supreme Court of Swaziland (2012)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Sexual violence and rape

Appellant was convicted of rape with aggravating factors and sentenced to 12 years imprisonment. The appellant appealed the conviction and sentence arguing that a rape was impossible in part because the victim was his girlfriend. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal and increased the sentence to 18 years imprisonment after considering the violent nature of the rape. The Supreme Court stated that a woman’s consent “must be real and given prior to the sexual intercourse” and the Court no longer recognized irrevocable consent, where consent is presumed merely because the victim is the girlfriend or wife of the perpetrator.

王传宝与瞿勤晨强奸案,安徽省天长市人民法院 (People’s Procuratorate of Tianchang City Anhui Province v. Wang Chuanbao, Qu Qinchen) People’s Court of Tianchang (2014)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

The defendants Wang Chuanbao and Qu Qinchen were charged of crime of rape for repeatedly raping the victim, and crime of coercive indecency for violently digging and touching the victim's genitals. The prosecutor alleges that according to Article 25 section 1, Article 236 section 1 and Article 237 section 1 of Criminal Law of PRC, Chuanbao and Qinchen raped and molested the victim “with violence or threats”, constituting the crime of rape and coercive indecency. Chuanbao argues that he did not have sex with the victim, and all the evidences are hearsay evidence, thus is not guilty. Qinchen argues that he did not commit the crime of coercive indecency because taking off the trousers of the victim is to have sex with the victim. After the victim refused to do so, Qinchen stopped raping her and has no mens rea to molest her. The court finds that the fact the Chuanbao and Qinchen raped the victim had also been proved by the testimony of Qinchen’s girlfriend, one of the witnesses, therefore is founded. The act of coercive indecency is regarded as absorbed by the act of rape and thus would not be convicted separately under this crime.


被告王传宝与瞿勤晨因多次强奸被害人王某并暴力扣摸王某的生殖器被控强奸罪和强制猥亵罪。检方称,根据中华人民共和国刑法第二十五条第一款、第二百三十六条第一款和第二百三十七条第一款,王传波与瞿勤晨使用暴力和威胁手段强奸并猥亵了王某,构成了强奸罪和强制猥亵罪。王传宝称,自己并没有和王某发生性关系,所有证据均系传来,自己并没有犯罪。 瞿勤晨称,自己并没有犯强制猥亵罪,因为脱下王某的裤子是为了与王某发生关系。在王某拒绝后,曲停止了强奸行为,并且没有猥亵王某的犯罪意图。法院认为,王传宝与瞿勤晨强奸王某的事实已被曲的女友证实,因此事实确凿。强制猥亵的行为应包含在强奸行为内,因此不应另外定罪。

李某强奸案,浙江省瑞安市人民法院 (People’s Procuratorate of Ruian City Zhejiang Province v. Li) Intermediate People’s Court of Wenzhou (2014)

Sexual violence and rape

The defendant was charged of crime of rape for raping the victim, Z. The defendant got to know Z. through wechat, a social app, three weeks before he asked her out for dinner. After Z. was drunk, the defendant took her to a hotel and had sex with her. The trial court found the defendant guilty. The defendant appealed, arguing that he and Z. were in a relationship and there was no evidence that Z. was drunk that night. He also claimed there was doubt about the examination of the sample collected from Z. and therefore it should not be used as evidence. Furthermore, the defendant claimed to have nephrosis making him unable to have an erection, so therefore he could not possibly rape Z. The appellate court found that the rape was proved by not only the sample, but also witness testimony, video recording, and a victim statement. There was no evidence showing that the defendant and Z. were in a relationship. Finally, according to an expert’s opinion, nephrosis would not have effect on sexual erection. Therefore, the conviction was affirmed.


李某因在张某醉酒时强奸张某而被控强奸罪。李某与张某在微信社交软件上认识,李某于三周后邀请张某一起吃晚饭。在张某喝醉后,李某将其带去一家酒店并与其发生了性关系。基层法院判决李某犯强奸罪。李某上诉称,自己和张某正在交往,并且没有任何证据证明张某当晚醉酒。 从张某生殖器取得的样本检测存疑,因此不能用作证据。另外,李某患有肾病并且不能勃起,因此不可能强奸张某。法院认为,强奸事实不仅由检测结果证实,也由证人证言、录像和被害人陈述证明,因此事实可信。没有证据证明李某和张某正在交往。并且,根据专家证词,肾病不影响勃起功能。因此,法院维持了李某强奸罪的原判。

Unknown v. Austria Asylum Court (2012)

Forced and early marriage, Gender discrimination, Gender-based violence in general, Harmful traditional practices

A female minor applicant whose home state was Afghanistan, together with her parents and four minor siblings, applied for international protection in Austria. The Federal Asylum Agency refused and the applicant appealed. The Asylum Court upheld the appeal and granted asylum. In particular, the Asylum Court noted that on return to Afghanistan, the applicant would, among other things, (1) receive no education, (2) be married to a man chosen by her father or grandfather, (3) not have the opportunity to lead an independent life in line with her beliefs, and (4) not have the opportunity to protect herself against violence and undesired restrictions.

Mkandla v. The State High Court of Zimbabwe (2002)

Sexual harassment, Sexual violence and rape

The appellant was convicted of two counts of rape for allegedly raping the complainant, a 12 year old female, on two separate occasions. He was sentenced to a total of 20 years imprisonment, with half suspended for five years on condition of good behavior. The trial judge and court both found the complainant credible. The court found that the conviction of rape on count two should stand due to circumstantial evidence, which indicated penetration; however, not on count one, which included all of the essential elements of attempted rape, but insufficient proof of penetration so as to constitute rape. The conviction on (i) count one was quashed and reduced to one of attempted rape and (ii) count two was confirmed. The sentences imposed by the trial court were set aside and substituted with seven years of imprisonment on count one and 10 years of imprisonment on count two. Of the total 17 years imprisonment, eight years was suspended for four years on condition that the appellant in that period does not commit any offence involving rape or an offence of a sexual nature and for which he is convicted and sentenced to imprisonment without the option of a fine.

Tirivanhu Ndoziva v. The State High Court of Zimbabwe (2011)

Sexual harassment, Sexual violence and rape

The appellant was convicted of two counts of rape for allegedly raping two girls, aged 4 and 8 years, respectively. He was sentenced to 10 years on each count, with five years suspended for five years on condition of good behavior. The appellant appealed against the convictions and the sentences. It was accepted that the two girls were sexually interfered with, which both confirmed through testimony. Both girls were (i) examined by a doctor, who observed attenuation of the hymen and a deep notch on both girls and (ii) able to identify the appellant as the perpetrator to the police. The court was satisfied with the identification, finding that the appellant was correctly convicted. The appellant argued that the sentence was too harsh. The court found that numerous factors were considered before sentencing. It held that the appellant did not use gratuitous violence, and was entitled to some leniency. The court ruled that the sentence imposed was unduly harsh and induced a sense of shock. The sentence was overturned and substituted for 10 years imprisonment, with two years suspended for five years on condition the appellant does not within this period commit any offence of a sexual nature for which he is sentenced to imprisonment without the option of a fine.

United States v. Sawyer, 733 F.3d 228 (7th Cir. 2013) Court of Appeals Seventh District (2013)

Trafficking in persons

Defendant Datqun Sawyer was convicted of sex trafficking in violation 18 U.S.C. § 1591(a). On appeal, Sawyer admitted to forcing at least seven teenage girls he knew to be minors to work as prostitutes for his benefit but challenged his conviction on grounds that the jury was improperly instructed. Sawyer argued that the jury should have been instructed to acquit if the Government did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he knew or intended his criminal conduct to affect interstate commerce. The Court held that the clause in 18 U.S.C. § 1591 requiring the defendant’s conduct to affect interstate commerce merely establishes the basis for Congress’s power to legislate and is not subject to any mens rea requirement. The Court explained it would be unreasonable for Congress to limit its enforcement ability to the “trifling number” of sex-traffickers who know or intend their conduct to impact interstate or international commerce as understood under Constitutional law. As such, the Court held that a conviction under 18 U.S.C. § 1591(a) does not require proof of the defendant’s knowledge of the implications of his conduct on interstate commerce.

Ndondo v. The State High Court of Zimbabwe (2002)

Sexual harassment

The appellant was convicted of indecent assault and rape for allegedly taking the complainant to his house, chasing her around during the night and raping her. He was sentenced to one year imprisonment with labor and eight years imprisonment with labor, respectively, to run concurrently, with two years suspended for five years on condition of good behavior. The appellant appealed against both the conviction and the sentence on both counts. The court found that the complainant had an opportunity to report the incident on many occasions but she deliberately chose not to use it, which casts doubt as to her credibility. The court found that the complainant was not a convincing witness and the trial court should not have accepted her evidence in order to convict the appellant. The court held that the state completely failed to prove rape beyond reasonable doubt. The conviction and sentence on both counts were set aside. The appeal against conviction and sentence were upheld.

Ally Hussein Katua v. The Republic Court of Appeal of Tanzania at Tanga (2010)

Sexual violence and rape

The appellant claimed that the charge of sexual exploitation was defective and that the evidence of the complainant Rehema Athumani should not have been believed and acted upon (allegedly because of a “history of mental illness and confusion”). The Court determined that although normally the element of lack of consent ought to be reflected in a charge of rape, but with the inclusion of section 130 (2) (e) of the Penal Code, consent is no longer relevant where the victim is under eighteen years of age and in this case, there was no dispute that the victim was aged 17 at the time of the crime (and therefore covered by the law). The Court noted that “Paragraph (d) above would particularly be important in highlighting the fact that the appellant being a traditional healer took advantage of his position and committed rape on PW1 as we shall demonstrate hereunder.” Furthermore, the Court recognised that an aggrieved party may appeal on a matter of law (not including severity of sentence) but not on a matter of fact, and “strictly speaking, in our reading and appreciation of the evidence on record there is no serious point of law involved in this appeal”, only matters of fact.

Marwa v. Republic Court of Appeal of Tanzania (2008)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

A secondary school teacher, convicted of raping a student and sentenced to thirty years imprisonment, appealed for the second time on the grounds that he had been framed. The Court found no justification for doubting the evidence of the witness, especially as the results from the medical examination corroborated her testimony. The Court also noted that his claim of being framed was insupportable, as there was no justification for the other witnesses to lie against him. Finally, the Court pointed out that the lack of an order for compensation offended the mandatory provisions of Section 13(1) of the Penal Code. The appeal was dismissed and the teacher ordered to pay shs. 500 000 in compensation to the student.

Achiula v. Republic Court of Appeal of Tanzania (2012)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

The appellant’s conviction of rape and subsequent sentence of thirty years imprisonment was upheld by the High Court. He had allegedly raped an underage girl on several occasions, manipulating her with monetary bribes and threats. The appellant appealed this decision, claiming that the voire dire examination of the underage victim had been insufficient to ensure that she understood the meaning and duty to tell the truth, and that her evidence was thus not credible. He also argued that because there was no proof to corroborate the age of the victim, the charge of rape was not established. The Court dismissed the appeal, finding that the victim had demonstrated sufficient intelligence and understanding to justify the reception of her evidence. The Court also dismissed the appellant’s citation of the lack of proof of the victim’s age, pointing out that the victim’s age had been accepted as a matter of course during the trial. Finally, the Court decided that there was sufficient evidence of penetration, pointing out that “True evidence of rape has to come from the victim, if an adult, that there was no penetration and no consent, and in case of any other woman where consent is irrelevant that there was penetration."

Tumwesigye Kasim v. Uganda Court of Appeals of Uganda (2009)

Sexual harassment, Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

This appeal was limited to sentencing only. Appellant was convicted of defilement of a six-year-old girl and was sentenced to 14 years imprisonment. Appellant was a teacher at the victim’s school. The school held a special program for students during school holidays. During this program, appellant took the victim into his office at school and had sexual intercourse with her. Despite his warning not to tell anyone, the victim told her brother, who told her parents. A medical examiner confirmed that she had been defiled. On appeal, appellant argued that the sentence of 14 years was too harsh. In support, he argued that he was the sole breadwinner for 11 dependents, including two lame dependents and four orphans. Appellant also argued that since the victim was a very young child, she had already gotten over the trauma of the defilement. The court upheld the sentence and ruled against appellant. The court found that, as a teacher, he had a duty to protect the victim, but instead chose to ravish her, disgracing himself, his profession, and society.

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.

State of Tamil Nadu vs. Ravi Supreme Court of India (2006)

Gender violence in conflict

The High Court reversed the trial court’s conviction of a man who had raped a four or five-year-old child. He had penetrated the vagina before two people stopped him. A physical exam showed her hymen was torn. A doctor also found a cut on the man’s penis consistent with an injury from forced sex. The Supreme Court reinstated the trial court’s conviction. This case is important because the Court stated that a rape conviction could be sustained solely on the basis of testimony of the victim. In addition, the Supreme Court stated that rape victims should not be treated like accomplices in a crime and that their testimony, instead, should be viewed as the testimony of an injured witness. The Supreme Court also stated that the testimony of a rape victim should receive “great weight.” In this case, however, the Supreme Court found that there was a great deal of corroborating evidence in addition to the testimony of the victim.

Mugasa Joseph v. Uganda Court of Appeal of Uganda (2010)

Sexual harassment, Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

This appeal was limited to sentencing only. Appellant was convicted of defilement of a baby girl and was sentenced to 17 years imprisonment. Appellant was a relative of the child and was known as a teacher of Christianity. Appellant requested a more lenient sentence of 10 years. The Court of Appeals ruled against Appellant and increased his sentence to 25 years, citing the policy consideration that, despite the fact that defilement can be punishable by death, individuals still continue to defile babies. Thus, the court used this case as an opportunity to send a message to society that “violating the rights of child females must stop.”

Vistos los autos: “Review of fact by an Appeal court in the cause of Anonymous” Supreme Court of Argentina

Sexual violence and rape

Anonymous had been continually sexually abused and raped by her father since 2001 at the age of twelve. An Argentinean trial court had sentenced the father to eighteen years in prison for abusing his daughter, but this decision was overturned by an Argentinean appellate court, believing the father was not clearly guilty and his punishment was, thus, incommensurate with the crime. The Supreme Court overturned the appellate court decision, stating that there was clear guilt on the father’s part, repeated cries for help by Anonymous, and that the appellate court showed a lack of regard for the facts and the suffering of Anonymous. The case was remanded for new sentencing.

Anónimo había sido continuamente abusada sexualmente y violada por su padre desde 2001 a la edad de doce años. Un tribunal de primera instancia argentino había condenado al padre a dieciocho años de prisión por abusar de su hija, pero esta decisión fue revocada por un tribunal de apelación argentino, creyendo que el padre no era evidentemente culpable y que su castigo era, por lo tanto, incompatible con el crimen. La Corte Suprema anuló la decisión de la corte de apelaciones, declarando que había una clara culpabilidad por parte del padre, repetidos gritos de ayuda por parte de Anonymous, y que la corte de apelaciones mostró una falta de respeto por los hechos y el sufrimiento de Anonymous. El caso fue remitido para nueva sentencia.

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. Arcand Court of Appeal of Alberta (2010)

Gender-based violence in general, Sexual violence and rape

The complainant was raped by the accused, a distant relative, while unconscious in her home. Prior to the incident, out of kindness, the complainant had taken the accused to her home and had offered to let him stay with her. Just before the assault, the two were sitting on a bed talking, drinking, and watching television. The complainant then passed out, and she awoke to find the accused having sexual intercourse with her. She pushed him off and brought suit against him for sexual assault. The trial judge found the accused guilty of sexual assault. Although there is a three-year minimum sentence for serious sexual assault, the judge took the recommendation of defense counsel and sentenced the accused to 90 days imprisonment, to be served intermittently, plus three years probation. The State appealed the sentence, arguing that it should have been in the three- to four-year range. In evaluating the appropriate application of the proportionality principle to sentences for sexual assault, the Court of Appeal reasoned that the Supreme Court had never endorsed the concept of a harmless rape or other major sexual assault. The court held that non-consensual sexual intercourse under any circumstances constituted a profound violation of a person’s dignity, equality, security of person and sexual autonomy, and that under the circumstances of the instant case, the offense should have been sentenced as a serious sexual assault. However, the court also ruled that, having regard to all relevant considerations, a downward departure from the three-year minimum sentence is justified. Finding that the original sentence was inadequate, the court granted the appeal and concluded that a fit and proper sentence would be two years imprisonment plus two years probation.

State ex rel. Juvenile Dep't. v. Gohranson (In re Gohranson) Oregon Court of Appeals (1996)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Sexual violence and rape

Here, appellants, the State and the children, sought review of a judgment from the circuit court, which found in favor of respondents, a mother and father, in the State’s action to terminate their parental rights. The Court of Appeals of Oregon reversed and remanded with instructions to enter judgment terminating the parental rights of father and mother. With reference to ORS 419B.504, the Court of Appeals of Oregon terminated the father’s parental rights with regard to his own daughter, because he was convicted for sexually abusing the mother’s daughter from previous marriage and had sexually abused his own daughter. In addition, integration of the children into his home was unlikely in the foreseeable future. In keeping with ORS 419B.504, the Court of Appeals of Oregon terminated the mother’s parental rights, because the children were subjected to severe sexual abuse while in her care, but she had neither recognized the signs of sexual abuse nor protected them. Furthermore, the evidence also demonstrated that mother would not be able to adjust her behavior to protect the children in the future, most importantly because she continuously denied the possibility that father subjected the children to sexual abuse.

CDB v. DJE Wyoming Supreme Court (2005)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

After pleading guilty, appellant-father was convicted of several counts of sexually abusing his daughter. Appellee-mother filed a petition to terminate father’s parental rights to the daughter, and the District Court terminated his parental rights pursuant to Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 14-2-309(a)(iii) and (a)(iv). The Supreme Court of Wyoming upheld the decision. In terminating appellant-father’s parental rights, the Supreme Court held that the fact of incarceration, by itself, is not per se evidence of unfitness. However, incarceration is a reality that severely impacts the parent-child relationship and, therefore, cannot be ignored. The length of appellant’s incarceration of 47 years makes it extremely improbable that appellant would ever be able to care for the ongoing physical, mental or emotional needs of the daughter. Most importantly, appellant was convicted on several counts of sexually abusing his daughter, and there can be nothing that makes a parent more intrinsically unfit than abusing his child.

Davis v. Johnson United Kingdom House of Lords (1978)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Sexual violence and rape

The House of Lords ruled that in domestic violence cases, no distinction should be made between married and unmarried couples and that the Domestic Violence and Matrimonial Proceedings Act 1976 s.1 gave jurisdiction to all county courts to grant an injunction and exclude a violent person from the home, whether married or not, irrespective of any property right vested in the person excluded. However, this exclusion should only be temporary until other arrangements have been made. Such an injunction can be permanent, but will in most cases be temporary.

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.

Ex parte Alabama Department of Youth Services Supreme Court of Alabama (2003)

Custodial violence, Sexual harassment, Sexual violence and rape

Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2, female minor children in the custody of Alabama’s Department of Youth Service (“DYS”), brought an action against DYS and its executive director, alleging federal claims of sexual harassment and abuse under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. § 1681, et seq. (“Title IX”) and 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and state claims of intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent hiring and supervision of DYS employees, and intentional misrepresentation. Defendants’ filed a motion to dismiss the claims based on various arguments for immunity, which the trial court denied. Defendants filed a petition for writ of mandamus directing the Circuit Court to dismiss the complaint. In ruling on Defendants’ petition, the Supreme Court considered each claim for immunity. First, DYS claimed it was immune from liability under the Eleventh Amendment. The Court, however, held that, because Congress enacted Title IX not only pursuant to its Article I powers, but also pursuant to its Fourteenth Amendment, § 5, power, Congress successfully abrogated the Eleventh Amendment immunity of the states from suits in federal and state courts for violations of Title IX. Second, the executive director argued he was entitled to federal qualified immunity from the § 1983 claim, since he was a government official. The Court disagreed, citing law holding that there is no state interest in protecting government officials accused of sexually molesting a child. Because the plaintiffs alleged that the executive director failed to protect them from harm even after he received notice of the sexual harassment and abuse, he did not have a clear legal right to dismissal of plaintiffs’ § 1983 claim on the ground of federal qualified immunity. Third, the Court found that, based on the sovereign immunity provision of the Alabama constitution, dismissal of plaintiffs’ state-law claims against the executive director in his official capacity was proper. However, the Court found that the doctrine of state-agent immunity did not warrant dismissal of plaintiffs’ state law claims against the executive director in his individual capacity.

Williams v. State Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals (1986)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Sexual violence and rape

A jury found Mr. Williams guilty of burglary and sodomy in the first degree. On appeal, Mr. Williams argued, among other things, that Alabama’s forcible sodomy statute was unconstitutional because it excluded a married person from liability. In other words, under the statute, a married person could not be convicted of forcibly sodomizing his or her spouse in Alabama. The appellate court held that the statute, on its face, discriminates between married and unmarried persons, and thus looked to see whether there was, “as a minimum, some ground of difference that rationally explains the different treatment accorded married and unmarried persons under the statute.” The court considered several traditional rationales for the marital exception. First, the court considered the implied consent theory – i.e., when a women makes her marriage vows, she impliedly consents to sexual intercourse with her husband during the marriage. The court rejected this rationale, finding that a “married person has the same right to control his or her body as does an unmarried person.” Because “any implied consent notion would give one spouse control over the other spouse’s bodily integrity,” it was not a rationale basis for the marital exemption. Second, the court rejected the proposed justification for the marital exemption that it protected against governmental invasion into marital privacy. The court found that marital privacy was not designed as a shield to protect against violent sexual assaults. Third, the court found untenable the argument that elimination of the marital exemption for forcible sodomy would disrupt marriages because it would discourage reconciliation: “When a marriage relationship has deteriorated to the point of forcible and unwanted sexual contact, reconciliation seems highly unlikely. Fourth, the court found problems with proof did not provide a rationale basis for the marital exemption because the evidentiary problems concerning one spouse’s lack of consent to an act of sodomy would be no more difficult than proving lack of consent by a victim involved in a non-marital relationship. Fifth, and finally, the court rejected the argument that the assault statutes provided alternative remedies available to a victim of forcible sodomy by a spouse, finding the vast differences in punishment disproved the alternative remedy theory. The court concluded that there can be no justification for forcible sodomy upon one’s spouse, and a rule that protected unmarried persons from forcible sodomy but not married persons could not withstand constitutional scrutiny. Therefore, the court severed and removed from the statute the marital exemption for the offense of forcible sodomy.

RH 1991:120 The Court of Appeal for Western Sweden (1991)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Sexual violence and rape

["A person who, otherwise than as provided in Section 1 first paragraph (Author's note: rape), induces another person by unlawful coercion to undertake or endure a sexual act, shall be sentenced for sexual coercion to imprisonment for at most two years. (…)" Chapter 6, Section 2 of the Swedish Penal Code.] A woman was repeatedly forced, without the use of physical violence, to have sexual intercourse with her husband. In one instance the man tried to pull off the woman's pants after she had said that she did not want to have sexual intercourse with him. He then threatened her by saying he would forcibly open up her legs if she continued to refuse and twisted the woman's ankle, causing her substantial pain, as he attempted to keep her on the bed. The woman managed to run away from the bedroom and hold on to the door handle, thus making her husband unable to reach her. Instead, the man masturbated in front of the woman and then calmed down. The District Court found that in order to achieve sexual intercourse with the woman, the husband had used violence and threats. The woman had suffered pain, an injury to one foot, and probably also some bruising to her legs. The District Court found that the violence and the threats used could not be considered graver than those comparable to the coercion requirements in Chapter 6, Section 2 of the Swedish Penal Code and sentenced the husband to imprisonment for attempted sexual coercion. The Court of Appeal for Western Sweden upheld the District Court's ruling.

S.P. and G.M. v. State Bacau Court of Appeal (1995)


The accused raped the victim at the exit of a bar and then decided to take her to their common domicile and continue raping her. On the road, when the victim threatened to report their acts to the police, they decided to murder her. To this end the accused chained the victim and drowned her after hitting her in the head with a rock. The accused were convicted, in first instance, of qualified murder, felony murder, rape, and unlawful personal sequester. Following the appeal of the accused, the Bacau Court of Appeal found that the death of the victim was not the result of the rape and that the accused should have been convicted for murder and qualified murder with the application of the legal provisions regarding aggravating circumstances resulting from committing the crime by two or more persons. (full text decision on file with the Avon Global Center)

Commonwealth v. Kerrigan Superior Court of Pennsylvania (2007)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

Daniel Kerrigan sexually abused A.R., the 7-year-old daughter of his live-in girlfriend, for 3 years.  The abuse was discovered when A.R. was diagnosed with genital warts when she was 10 years old.  The court held that the transmission of HPV and genital warts satisfies the serious bodily injury requirement of the crimes of Rape of Child (Serious Bodily Injury) and Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse with a Child (Serious Bodily Injury) because HPV is a permanent disease, can lead to cervical cancer, and may be transmitted to A.R.’s future sexual partners or children.

People v. Chipikili Subordinate Court of the First Class for the Lusaka District (2010)

Sexual harassment, Sexual violence and rape

The accused, a teacher, was accused of sexually assaulting a nine-year-old girl while administering an examination to her. The girl testified that she had reported to the school where she was to be enrolled for aptitude tests. She was taken to a classroom where she found herself alone with the teacher. She said that while she was writing the exam, the teacher hugged her from behind and began fondling her breasts. She moved to another seat and finished the exam. He then lifted her up and told her that she was going to help him, but she pushed him away and ran to the principal's office. The teacher denied the charges, arguing that the girl was a slow learner and was mentally disturbed. When he took the stand at the trial, however, he frequently contradicted himself. On the one hand, he stated that people outside would have seen what happened through the windows and that there were other pupils in the class at the time. On the other hand, he said that the alleged assault could have happened so quickly that nobody would see and noted that the schools closed in December, which meant that no other pupils were in class in January when the girl took the exam. Weighing the evidence and taking into account the contradictory testimony of the accused, the Resident Magistrate found that the prosecution had proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt. She therefore convicted the teacher of indecently assaulting the young girl.

Egglestone v. The State (2008)

Sexual violence and rape

A high school teenage girl from an impoverished neighborhood consented to undergo job training as a receptionist at the appellant's escort agency. She alleged that during her training, the appellant held her against her will, and raped and sexually assaulted her. The appellant argued that his conviction should be overturned because the victim had consented.  The court dismissed the kidnapping charges, but upheld the rape and sexual assault charges. The court acknowledged that although the victim consented to parts of the training (i.e. wearing lingerie and taking up residence at the employer's compound), she did not consent to sexual intercourse with the appellant.  The court also noted that because of the appellant's age (twice that of the victim) and his promise of employment, he exercised a dominant position over the victim that made it difficult for her to refuse his advances.

State of Andhra Pradesh v. Gangula Satya Murthy Supreme Court of India (1996)

Sexual violence and rape

The Supreme Court of India found that the High Court had insufficient reason to overturn a rape conviction, holding that rape cases should be tried with the "utmost sensitivity" and the court must look at the "totality of the background" of the case.

Sudesh Jhaku v. K.C.J. High Court of India (1998)

Gender-based violence in general

The Court held that extreme caution must be taken during the questioning of child witnesses: questions must not be long, complex, or confusing, breaks may be taken during the questioning if necessary, a screen may be used to block the child's view of the courtroom, and "a social worker or other friendly but ‘neutral' adult" may be present or even allowed to sit next to the child. Moreover, such questioning must be in camera.

Madan Gopal Kakkad v. Naval Dubey Supreme Court of India (1992)

Statutory rape or defilement

A man attempted to have vaginal sex with an eight year-old girl, but did not break her hymen. The Court held that even the slightest penetration meets the definition for rape.

International Case Law

Case of the “Las dos Erres” Massacre v. Guatemala Inter-American Court of Human Rights (2009)

Gender violence in conflict

Between December 6 and 8, 1982 a specialized group of the Guatemalan armed forces executed 251 members of the “Las Dos Erres” community. Among those killed were women and children. Women and girls, in particular, were raped and subjected to forced abortion. Soldiers beat pregnant women, at times jumping on their stomachs causing miscarriage. The case was brought before the Inter-American Court following the State’s inability or unwillingness to seek justice on behalf of the victims and their next of kin. The case against the State alleged violations of Article 1(1): the obligation to respect the rights enshrined in the American Convention on Human Rights; Article 8: the right to a fair trial; and Article 25: the right to judicial protection and enforcement. The Court held that the investigation carried out by the Guatemalan State was insufficient and that the State has a positive obligation to diligently investigate the facts of a given case. With regard to women’s rights, the Court found that the Convention of Belém do Pará, which requires that states diligently investigate and punish acts of violence against women, applied to the present case even though the Convention was not in effect at the time of the massacre. The Court found that the act of raping women during the conflict was a state practice “directed to destroying the dignity of women at a cultural, social, family and individual level” (Case of the “Las dos Erres” Massacre ¶139). The State’s failure to investigate and punish the crimes committed was held to be a violation of the American Convention and the Convention of Belém do Pará and the Court ordered the State to provide various forms of reparation including: restitution, rehabilitation and guarantees of non-repetition. In addition the Court ordered the State to “locate, prosecute, and punish the masterminds and perpetrators” (Case of the “Las dos Erres” Massacre ¶229), prohibited amnesty and mandated that alleged acts of torture and violence against girls and women, in particular, be investigated.

Entre el 6 y el 8 de diciembre de 1982, un grupo especializado de las fuerzas armadas guatemaltecas ejecutó a 251 miembros de la comunidad conocida como "Las Dos Erres." Entre los muertos había mujeres y niños. Las mujeres y las niñas, en particular, fueron violadas y sometidas a abortos forzados cuando los soldados golpearon a las mujeres embarazadas, a veces saltando sobre sus estómagos, causando así abortos involuntarios. El caso se presentó ante la Corte Interamericana tras la incapacidad o falta de voluntad del Estado en reclamar justicia en nombre de las víctimas y sus familiares. El caso contra el Estado alegó violaciones al artículo 1 (1): la obligación de respetar los derechos consagrados en la Convención Americana sobre Derechos Humanos; Artículo 8: el derecho a un juicio justo; y Artículo 25: el derecho a la protección judicial y la ejecución. La Corte determinó que la investigación realizada por el gobierno guatemalteco había sido insuficiente y que el Estado tiene la obligación de investigar diligentemente los hechos de cada caso. Con respecto a los derechos de las mujeres, la Corte determinó que la Convención de Belém do Pará, que exige que los estados investiguen y castiguen con diligencia los actos de violencia contra las mujeres, se aplicaban al presente caso, aunque la Convención no estuviera vigente en el momento de la masacre. El Tribunal determinó que el acto de violar a las mujeres en épocas de conflicto era una práctica estatal "dirigida a destruir la dignidad de las mujeres a nivel cultural, social, familiar e individual" (Caso de la Masacre de "Las dos Erres", párrafo 139). El hecho de que el Estado no investigara y sancionara los delitos cometidos era una violación de la Convención Americana. La Convención de Belém do Pará y la Corte le ordenaron al Estado proporcionar diversas formas de reparación, entre ellas: restitución, rehabilitación, y garantías de no repetición. Además, la Corte le ordenó al gobierno "localizar, procesar y sancionar a los autores intelectuales y perpetradores" (Caso de la Masacre de "Las dos Erres", párrafo 229), y le prohibió la amnistía, ordenando que los presuntos actos de tortura y violencia contra niñas y mujeres fueran investigados con particularidad. 

Prosecutor v. Akayesu International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (1998)

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

Mr. Jean Paul Akayesu served as the mayor of the Taba commune and was responsible for maintaining law and public order in Taba during the tragic events which took place in Rwanda in 1994. The court held that Mr. Akayesu had knowledge of the killing of thousands of Tutsis in Taba, but did not attempt to prevent such acts even though he had the duty to do so. Moreover, Mr. Akayesu was involved and even took an active role in some instances. In addition, the court held that Mr. Akayesu had knowledge of sexual assaults of civilians who sought refuge at the bureau communal by armed local militia but did not attempt to prevent such acts even though he had the duty to do so. The court found that Mr. Akayesu was guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity. On appeal, the Appeal Chambers dismissed Mr. Akayesu claims and upheld the judgment of the court a quo. This case is important because it established for the first time that sexual violence constitutes a crime against humanity and a tool of genocide by a government official. It is also worth noting that the court’s broad definitions of rape and sexual violence were the first of their kind in international law.

Sudan Human Rights Organisation & Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE) v. Sudan African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (2009)

Sexual violence and rape

In 2003 an armed group known as the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army issued a political declaration and clashed with respondent State’s armed forces. The Respondent State engaged in a succession of human rights violations against suspected insurgents, including the rape of women and girls. The respondent state denied several of the allegations, argued that local remedies were not exhausted, and submitted that the claims had already been settled by other international mechanisms. The Commission noted that “cases of sexual and gender based violence against women and girls in and outside IDP camps have been a common feature of the Darfur conflict. The right to liberty and security of the person, for women and girls, and other victims of the Darfur conflict has remained an illusion.” The Commission held that the respondent State violated Articles 1, 4, 5, 6, 7(1), 12(1) and (2), 14, 16, 18(1) and 22 of the African Charter. The Commission recommended that the State take all necessary and urgent measures to ensure protection of victims of human rights violations in the Darfur region, including: conducting effective official investigations into abuses committed by members of military forces, undertake major reforms of its legislative and judicial framework, take steps to prosecute those responsible for human rights violations, and take measures to ensure that victims of human rights abuses are given effective remedies.

Aydin v. Turkey European Court of Human Rights (1997)

Custodial violence

The applicant was allegedly tortured and raped while in the custody of the State security forces although according to the Government reports, she and the other members of her family were never detained. They filed a complaint to the Public Prosecutor who sent them to the State hospital for a medical examination, resulting in a perfunctory report not focusing on whether the applicant had in fact been raped. The Public Prosecutor thereupon reported to the Principal State Counsel that there was no evidence to support the applicant's complaints but the investigation was continuing. The Court found violations of Article 3 ad 16 of the ECHR. The court noted that the rape of a 17-year-old detainee who had also been subjected to other forms of physical and mental sufferings by an official of the State is an especially grave and abhorrent form of ill-treatment and amounted to torture. The failure of the authorities to conduct an effective investigation into the applicant’s alleged suffering while in detention resulted in her being denied access to a court to seek compensation. The Court dismissed the intimidation and harassment claim due to lack of sufficient evidence.

Salmanoglu and Polattas v. Turkey European Court of Human Rights (2009)

Custodial violence

The applicants, 16 and 19 years old at the time, were arrested in the context of a police operation against the PKK (the Workers' Party of Kurdistan). Both girls claimed that, during their police custody, they were blindfolded and beaten. N also alleged that she was sexually harassed and, forced to stand for a long time, was deprived of food, water and sleep. P further alleged that she was anal raped. The applicants were examined during their police custody by three doctors who all noted that there was no sign of physical violence to their bodies. Both applicants also had a "virginity test"; the examinations recorded that the girls were still virgins. A month later, P was given a rectal examination; the doctor noted no sign of intercourse. Following complaints made by the two applicants, an investigation was launched by the prosecution authorities, followed by criminal proceedings against the police officers who had questioned the applicants during their police custody. During the first hearing of the case, the girls further submitted that, when brought before the public prosecutor and judge with a view to their being remanded in custody, they had not made statements about their ill-treatment as they were scared. In particular, they both contended that, during certain medical examinations and when they had made statements to the prosecution, the presence of police officers had intimidated them. The accused police officers denied both ill treatment and presence during their medical examinations or the taking down of their statements. The applicants were subsequently both diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. P was further declared as having a major depressive disorder. The applicants subsequently underwent psychotherapy. The domestic courts ultimately acquitted the police officers on the ground that there was insufficient evidence against them. Subsequently, that judgment was quashed; however, the criminal proceedings against the police officers were terminated as the prosecution had become time-barred. In the meantime, the applicants were convicted of membership of an illegal organization and of throwing alcohol. They were sentenced to terms of imprisonment amounting to more than 12 and 18 years, respectively. The ECtHR took consideration of the circumstances of the case as a whole, and in particular the virginity tests carried out without any medical or legal necessity as well as the post-traumatic stress and depressive disorders suffered, and was persuaded that the applicants had been subjected to severe ill-treatment during their detention in police custody, in violation of Article 3. The Court further concluded that the Turkish authorities had not effectively investigated the applicants' allegations of ill-treatment after seven years, in further violation of Article 3. The Court awarded the applicants non-pecuniary damages and costs and expenses.

C.T. v. Sweden CAT Committee (2006)

Sexual violence and rape

C. T., a Hutu citizen of Rwanda and a member of the PDR-Ubuyanja party, was arrested for her political affiliations and incarcerated in a Kigali prison. While incarcerated, she was repeatedly raped, under the threat of execution if she did not comply, and become pregnant. C. T. escaped to Sweden and requested asylum for herself and her son; her request was denied by the Migration Board for lack of credibility. She filed a complaint with the Committee Against Torture, arguing that her forced return to Rwanda would subject her to further human rights violations and possibly result in her death. The Committee Against Torture held that C. T.’s removal to Rwanda would constitute a violation of article 3 of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), which obligates state parties not to expel or return a person to another state where there are substantial grounds for believing that he or she would be in danger of being subjected to torture. Addressing the issue of C. T.’s credibility, the Committee invoked its prior holding that victims of torture cannot be held to a standard of complete accuracy when recalling the facts of their experience, and held that domestic authorities erred in ignoring medical reports appended to the complaint which substantiated C. T.’s claims of rape and torture. The Committee concluded that given the continued state of ethnic tension in Rwanda and C. T.’s past victimization, return to Rwanda presented a foreseeable, real, and personal risk of danger for C. T. and her son.

NJA 2008 s. 482 II Supreme Court of Sweden (2008)

Sexual violence and rape

["A person who, otherwise than as provided in Section 1 first paragraph, induces another person by unlawful coercion to undertake or endure a sexual act, shall be sentenced for sexual coercion to imprisonment for at most two years. / This shall also apply to a person who carries out a sexual act other than provided for in Section 1 second paragraph with a person, under the conditions otherwise specified in that paragraph./ If a crime provided for in the first or second paragraph is considered gross, a sentence to imprisonment for at least six months and at most six years shall be imposed for gross sexual coercion. In assessing whether the crime is gross, special consideration shall be given to whether more than one person assaulted the victim or in any other way took part in the assault or whether the perpetrator otherwise exhibited particular ruthlessness or brutality. (…)" Chapter 6, Section 1 of the Swedish Penal Code.]  [A person who, by violence or threat involving or appearing to the threatened person as imminent danger, forces the latter to have sexual intercourse or to engage in a comparable sexual act, shall be sentenced for rape to imprisonment for at least two and at most six years. (…)" Chapter 6, Section 2 of the Swedish Penal Code.]  In this case, the Supreme Court held that sexual coercion had occurred when a man masturbated to another person that was asleep. The victim was at the time 17 years old and had provisionary employment at the perpetrator's company. The incident took place in a hotel room during a trip arranged by the company. The Supreme Court found that the victim was, at the time of the crime, in such helpless condition as referred to in Chapter 6, Section 1 Swedish Penal Code but that the sexual act was not comparable to sexual intercourse. The circumstance that the victim was 17 years old and worked for the perpetrator was not considered to make the offense gross. The Supreme Court therefore found the accused guilty of sexual coercion. [Decision on file with Avon Global Center]

V.L. v. Switzerland CAT Committee (2006)

Sexual violence and rape

V.L. and her husband left Belarus for Switzerland after V.L.’s husband criticized the president of Belarus in a public newspaper. They first applied for asylum to the Swiss Federal Office for Refugees (BFF), which rejected the application and ordered V.L. and her husband to leave the country. Afterwards, V.L. revealed to her husband that she was the victim of several episodes of sexual abuse conducted by the Miliz, Belarus’ police force, who were seeking information about her husband’s whereabouts. Her husband reacted with violent insults and forbid V.L. from recounting the instances of sexual abuse to the Swiss authorities. When the Swiss Asylum Review Board (ARK) requested further information about V.L.’s reasons for seeking asylum, V.L. stated that she was raped once by three police officers, and again by these same officers after she had reported the incident to the head of the Miliz. When asked why she did not include the sexual abuse in her first application to the BFF, V.L. admitted that it was because of her husband’s psychological pressure not to report the rapes. The ARK considered V.L.’s rape claims implausible because she did not at least mention them in her first application for asylum, expressing suspicion about V.L.’s “sudden ability … to provide details about the alleged rape.” When V.L. submitted supporting medical reports to the ARK, the ARK replied that her case was closed and ordered her to return to Belarus. The Committee took note of several official documents illustrating the high incidence of violence against women in Belarus, including the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus, the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, and the Ministry of Interior’s report of a 17% increase in reports of rape from the year prior to V.L.’s complaint. The Committee concluded that V.L.’s delay in reporting the sexual abuse was due to the reasonable fear of her husband’s shaming and rejection that can be common among female rape victims. In light of her past experiences with the Miliz and the Committee’s substantial doubt that the authorities in Belarus would take necessary measures to protect V.L. from further harm should be return, the Committee held that V.L.’s forced return to Belarus would violate Switzerland’s obligations under article 3 not to expel or return a person to another state where there are substantial grounds for believing that he or she would be in danger of being subjected to torture or inhuman treatment.

Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum v. Zimbabwe African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (2006)

Sexual violence and rape

Violence erupted in Zimbabwe between the constitutional referendum of 2000 and the parliamentary elections. Supporters of ZANU (PF) engaged in various human rights violations including the rape of women and girls. The respondent state claimed that it could not be held accountable because those committing the crimes were non-state actors and the actions were not encouraged by any government policy. The Commission determined that "[a] state can be held complicit where it fails systematically to provide protection of violations from private actors who deprive any person of his/her human rights." However, the Commission found that the complainant had the burden of "establishing that the state condones a pattern of abuse through pervasive non-action." Here, the Commission found that Zimbabwe violated the victims' rights to judicial protection and to have their case heard under articles 1 and 7(1), respectively, of the African Charter. It explained that the the state had adopted Clemency Order 1 of 2000 (which permits those who have committed politically motivated crimes to be exonerated, with the exception of murder, rape, and other similar crimes) and that Zimbabwe did not "demonstrate due diligence" in providing justice for the victims of the violent crimes. The Commission requested that Zimbabwe investigate the reported crimes, bring those who committed the crimes to justice, and provide victims with adequate compensation. This case is important because it establishes that a state can be held accountable for the human rights violations of private actors. Under this case, if the state does not address mass rape with "due diligence," then the state itself can be held accountable.

Malawi African Association and Others v. Mauritania African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (2000)

Sexual violence and rape

Between 1986 and 1992 violence escalated between the northern Mauritanian population and the southern black ethnic groups. The Northern Mauritanian population's military raided the south, detained hundreds of individuals, imposed curfews, and inflicted various forms of violence and intimidation. The complaint notes that men from the southern black ethnic groups were subjected to forms of torture and humiliation (such as the "jaguar" where a "victim's wrists are tied to his feet . . . [,] then [he] is suspended from a bar and kept upside down, sometimes over a fire, and is beaten on the soles of his feet") while the women were "simply raped." The Commission determined that the mass rape and other forms of violence violated the African Charter, in particular Article 6. Article 6 states that "every individual shall have the right to liberty and to the security of his person. No one may be deprived of his freedom except for reasons and conditions previously laid down by law." The Commission requested that the respondent state compensate the victims of the violations and carry out an assessment of the "deep-rooted causes" of the "degrading practices" (it did not specify whether it considered these practices to include rape).


Child Sex Abuse Within the Family in Sub-Saharan Africa: Challenges and Change in Current Legal and Mental Health Responses (2014)

Sexual violence and rape

By Cynthia Grant Bowman & Elizabeth Brundige. 47 CORNELL INT’L L.J. 233 (2014). Copyright 2014 by the Cornell International Law Journal.


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.

"They are Destroying Our Futures" Sexual Violence Against Girls in Zambia's Schools (2012)

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

A report by the Avon Global Center for Women and Justice at Cornell Law School, Women and Law in Southern Africa-Zambia, and the Cornell Law School International Human Rights Clinic examining the problem of sexual violence against girls in school in Zambia.

They Took Me and Told Me Nothing (2010)

Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting, Harmful traditional practices

Human Rights Watch report on female genital mutilation in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Evaluation: Strengthening of Prosecution of SGBV Offences through support to the Sexual and Gender Based Violence Crimes Unit (SGBV CU) in Liberia (2010)

Gender-based violence in general, Sexual violence and rape

UNFPA Report presenting the findings, analysis and recommendations from the Evaluation of the SGBV Crimes Unit, which has as its purpose to prosecute perpetrators of gender and sexual based violence, particularly rape, in Liberia (November 2010).

Nowhere to Turn: Failure to Protect, Support & Assure Justice for Darfuri Women (2009)

Gender discrimination, Sexual violence and rape

By Physicians for Human Rights with Harvard Humanitarian Initiative.

After the guns fall silent: Sexual and gender-based violence in Timor-Leste (2009)

Gender violence in conflict

Report by Timor-Leste Armed Violence Assessment, examining the scale and magnitude of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) directed against women and girls in Timor-Leste (November, 2009).

Hidden in the Mealie Meal (2007)

Gender discrimination, Gender-based violence in general, Property and inheritance rights, Sexual violence and rape

Human Rights Watch Report on the Zambian government's failure to meet its international obligations to combat violence and discrimination against women. The report documents abuses that obstruct women's ability to start and adhere to HIV treatment regimens, including violence against women and insecure property rights (2007).

Elected to Rape: Sexual Terror in Mugabe's Zimbabwe (2009)

Sexual violence and rape

AIDS-Free World, December 2009.

You Dress According to Their Rules (2010)

Gender discrimination, Harmful traditional practices, Sexual harassment

Report by Human Rights Watch documenting acts of violence, harassment, and threats against women in Chechnya to intimidate them into wearing a headscarf or dressing more "modestly."

Afraid and Forgotten: Lawlessness, Rape, and Impunity in Western Côte d'Ivoire (2010)

Sexual violence and rape

Human Rights Watch Report documenting the often brutal physical and sexual violence in the western administrative regions of Moyen Cavally and Dix-Huit Montagnes in the Cote d'Ivoire (2010).

"Now, The World Is Without Me": An Investigation of Sexual Violence in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (2010)

Sexual violence and rape

A Report by the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative With Support from Oxfam America, April 2010