Women and Justice: Keywords

Domestic Case Law

In the Marriage of Pavey Family Court (1976)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage

Mr. and Mrs. Pavey were married in 1945 and lived in the same matrimonial house for more than thirty years. Mr. Pavey had provided Mrs. Pavey with housekeeping money for the matrimonial home, but ceased this practice after an incident in April 1974. As a result, Mrs. Pavey successfully applied to the Magistrates’ Court for a maintenance order against her husband. The marriage continued to deteriorate, and Mrs. Pavey applied to the Family Court of Australia for dissolution of the marriage in 1976, which the Court denied. Mrs. Pavey then appealed to the Full Court of the Family Court of Australia, which allowed the appeal. The Court found that the lower court had erred in finding that the marital relationship had not broken down such that dissolution was appropriate. Extending the reasoning in In the Marriage of Todd (No. 2), the Court held that there are several signs indicating a close marital relationship, such as “living under the same roof, sexual relations, mutual protection, nurturing and supporting a child of the marriage, and recognition both in public, and private of the relationship.” However, the Court also found that all the constituent elements need not be shown in establishing the existence of a matrimonial relationship due to the natural ebbs and flows of a marriage, and not every relationship is the same. Therefore, when determining whether separation has in fact occurred, it is more useful to compare and contrast the nature of the relationship before and after the separation. Thus, the Court found that the fact that Mr. Pavey had been ordered to make maintenance payments demonstrated that marriage had broken down, even though both spouses continued to live in the matrimonial home and perform certain chores for each other.



Kaunda v. Tukombo Girls Secondary School Industrial Relations Court of Malawi (2007)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

The applicant and her husband were both employed by the respondent as an accounts clerk and teacher, respectively. After the applicant’s husband resigned to join the Public Service, the respondent terminated the applicant’s employment contract noting that her employment was tied to her husband’s. The applicant challenged the dismissal alleging that it was invalid. The Industrial Relations Court of Malawi (the “Court”) found that the respondent discriminated against the applicant on the basis of her marital status. The Court reasoned that “the effect of the reason used by the respondent was to prevent the applicant from entering and sustaining an employment contract and pursuing a livelihood in her own right because she was married” (p. 2). In reaching its decision, the Court consulted § 5 of Malawi’s Employment Act and §§ 20, 24(1)(i), 24(2)(b) and 31 of Malawi’s Constitution. The Court held that the applicant’s termination was invalid because the reason for her termination “denied her right to engage in economic activity through employment” and “her right to fair labor practices” (p. 2). Therefore, the applicant’s termination was also prohibited under section 57(3)(a) of Malawi’s Employment Act. The Court awarded the applicant compensation for the unfair dismissal and discrimination.



Constitutionality of the Women's Right to a Life Without Violence Law Tribunal Supremo de Justicia - Sala Constitucional (Venezuela Supreme Court of Justice - Constitutional Chamber) (2007)

Gender-based violence in general

The Supreme Court declared the Organic Law on Women's Right to a Life Without Violence approved by the National Assembly on 25 November 2006 constitutional. The Court found that the Law develops the constitutional protection referred to in article 21.2 of the Constitution for the benefit of women, a traditionally vulnerable social group.



Memoranda

Child Marriage in Bangladesh: Occurrence and Links to Sexual Harrassment (2013)

Forced and early marriage, Gender discrimination

This memorandum examines the occurrence of child marriage in Bangladesh and explores its link with sexual harassment. Bangladesh has one of the highest occurrences of child marriage in the world. This high rate of marriage of girls below the age of 18 is due to a variety of causes, including patriarchal social mores, parental desire to safeguard girls against premarital sex and out-of-wedlock pregnancies (and the associated social stigma associated with these), and poverty, linked with the perception of girls as an economic burden. In addition to these more widely known causes of early marriage, the widespread prevalence of severe and public sexual harassment in Bangladesh is gaining attention as an important, albeit lesser-studied cause of child marriage.



Child Marriage in Bangladesh: Birth and Marriage Registration (2013)

Forced and early marriage, Gender discrimination

This memorandum discusses the link between child marriage and birth and marriage registration. Section I of this memorandum focuses on birth registration, including the importance of registration, government and civil society birth registration initiatives in Bangladesh and the factors that perpetuate low rates of birth registration and recommendations for overcoming them. Section II briefly introduces marriage registration, the unreliability of which also contributes to Bangladesh’s high rates of child marriage.



Child Marriage in Bangladesh: Impact of Discriminatory Personal Laws (2013)

Forced and early marriage

This Memorandum discusses the impact of personal laws on the treatment of child marriage within Bangladesh. Bangladesh’s antiquated personal laws relating to marriage fail to protect children,reinforce support for early marriage, and directly contradict statutory law in Bangladesh. Examining Bangladesh’s current legal framework highlights the problematic influence that discriminatory personal laws have on the fulfillment of national and international obligations concerning child marriage.



Child Marriage in Bangladesh: Causes, Consequences, and Legal Framework (2013)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Forced and early marriage, Gender discrimination

This memorandum discusses the context, causes, consequences, and legal framework of child marriage in Bangladesh



International Case Law

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.