Australia and Oceania

Domestic Case Law

RRT Case No. 1101038 Refugee Review Tribunal (2011)

Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting, Forced and early marriage, Harmful traditional practices

The applicant appealed a decision denying her a protection visa. The applicant demonstrated evidence that if she returned to Uganda, she would be forced to undergo FGM.  The applicant was a member of the Sabiny tribe, meaning her father’s family had the right under Ugandan law to take her away from her mother and compel her to obey traditional practices, including FGM. She further testified that if she returned to Uganda there would be a risk of abuse as she was a Christian, which was not accepted in her family village. Furthermore, when she was 12, her family found a potential husband for her, a witchdoctor who believed in Satan and professed sacrificing people to achieve a particular objective. She was therefore afraid that if she returned to Uganda, she would be forced to marry this individual, who believed that sacrificing people could bring him power and money. The tribunal found that the applicant was a person to whom Australia owed protection obligations.



RRT Case No. 0808751 Refugee Review Tribunal (2009)

Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting, Harmful traditional practices

The applicant sought a review of a decision to refuse her a protection visa under s65 of the Migration Act 1958. The application was refused because the applicant was allegedly not a person to whom Australia had protection obligations arising out of the Refugees Convention. The tribunal investigated the history of the victim and her claims of substantial risk of being forced to undergo FGM if she returned to Uganda. The evidence presented included the fact that the process is not illegal in Uganda, that her father is relatively high-ranking in a tribe that finds FGM extremely important, and that she has in the past been abducted in order to be forced to undergo the process. She changed schools and stayed with relatives, but those means of escape have not worked as eventually her father and his tribe were always able to find her. As such, the tribunal concluded that there was a risk of serious harm if the applicant were forced to return to Uganda. It also concluded that she does satisfy the s36(2)(a) of the Migration Act and was therefore a person to whom Australia has protection obligations.



The Queen v. Kilic High Court of Australia (2016)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

This domestic violence case involved an appeal against a sentencing decision. The defendant set fire to the victim when she was 12 weeks pregnant and caused serious injury. After the attack, she terminated her pregnancy due to the permanent nature of her injuries. The trial court sentenced him to 15 years imprisonment. On appeal by the defendant, the Court of Appeal decided that this was “manifestly excessive” compared to other cases of serious injury by fire and resentenced the defendant to 10 years and six months imprisonment. On appeal by the prosecution, the High Court of Australia held that the Court of Appeal had erred in decreasing the sentence and pointed out that there were not enough comparable cases of intentionally causing serious injury by fire and the few cases mentioned could not establish a sentencing pattern.



The State of New South Wales v. Amery High Court of Australia (2006)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

The policy and practice of the New South Wales Department of Education and Training restricted pay scales of temporary teachers to level 8, which excluded temporary staff from the highest level of pay. The applicants, 13 female temporary teachers, sued, arguing that only permanent staff had access to the highest pay rates and that there was a gender imbalance between permanent and temporary teachers. Of the 13 female teachers, 11 took temporary rather than permanent positions due to family responsibilities and two applied for permanent positions, but those two, due to family reasons, limited the areas in which they could work. The court considered that making over-award payments to only women would be discriminatory against men, whereas the second option of making over-award payments to those who had family commitments would be difficult to formulate and to apply in practice. As such, the court held that there was no indirect discrimination.



Secretary, Department of Health and Community Services (NT) v. JWB and SMB High Court of Australia (1992)

Forced sterilization

The court held that the applicants, as joint guardians of a 14-year-old child with a severe mental disability, were allowed to authorize the sterilization of the child without a court order, provided that (i) the circumstances were so compelling that the welfare of the child justified such an invasive procedure and (ii)  there was no possibility of the child acquiring the capacity to decide for herself. Generally, it was established that children with the maturity and intelligence to fully understand proposed treatment can make such a decision even though they have not reached the age of adulthood. Parents or guardians of children who do not have sufficient capacity or maturity or intelligence to decide, can make such a decision on behalf of their children, provided that the treatment is in the child’s best interest. However, the parental ability to consent to sterilization is limited to circumstances in which sterilization is required to treat some malfunction or disease. In relation to non-therapeutic purposes, a court order is required to authorize sterilization.



Munda v. Western Australia High Court of Australia (2013)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Femicide

This domestic violence case involved an appeal against a sentencing decision. The defendant was found guilty and sentenced to five years and seven months imprisonment for the manslaughter of his spouse after a history of domestic violence against his wife and other family members. The trial court considered the defendant's circumstances of disadvantage – that he was an Aboriginal man and grew up in an environment that normalized violence and alcohol abuse – as mitigating factors. In the first appeal, the prosecution successfully argued that the sentence was manifestly inadequate, and the Court of Appeal increased the sentence to seven years and nine months. The defendant then appealed to the High Court of Australia, arguing that there were insufficient grounds for the Court of Appeal to interfere with the original sentence and ignore the mitigating factors considered in the original judgment, in particular his social disadvantage. The High Court dismissed the appeal, finding that the first appellate court gave proper weight to the defendant’s social disadvantages and acted properly within its discretion in the resentencing.



J. v. The Queen High Court of Australia (2018)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

In 2015, the appellant was charged and convicted for committing five sexual offenses against his sister. The had purportedly occurred over  years,. Most of the charged offenses, sexual exploitation of a child and two rapes, occurred when the appellant was an adult, but prosecutors also charged him with an indecent assault committed when he was 11 or 12 years old and thus presumed to be incapable of the offense. To rebut this presumption, the prosecution offered evidence of the appellant’s earlier, uncharged acts of sexual violence against his sister beginning when he was five or six years old. In the first appeal, the Court of Criminal Appeal found that the prosecution’s rebuttal evidence was insufficient to overcome the doli incapax presumption for the indecent assault charge and the evidence was “too sparse” to sustain a conviction for the third count in the indictment. The court upheld the other three convictions. In this appeal, the High Court examined whether it was permissible for the prosecution to use evidence of the dismissed charges for “contextual” purposes related to the remaining three charges, each of which the appellant was convicted. In dismissing this appeal, the High Court found unanimously that the evidence was relevant because it illustrated the family background in which the appellant and his sister were raised and that it was admissible “relationship evidence.” The court found that without such contextual evidence, the sexual abuse claims could easily have been seen as implausible.



Australian Iron & Steel Pty. Ltd. v. Banovic High Court of Australia (1989)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

The case concerned a challenge to the employer’s retrenchment policy. The applicant alleged that the criterion was discriminatory as substantially higher proportion of men could comply than women. Although the retrenchment applied to both sexes, there were fewer women in positions of seniority who were immune from the retrenchment because the employer had a history of discriminating in its hiring decisions. As such, the court found indirect discrimination because the retrenchment policy unlawfully maintained discriminatory circumstances.



Ah-Chong v. The Queen Supreme Court of New Zealand (2015)

Sexual violence and rape

Appellant Ah-Chong was convicted of assault with intent to commit sexual violation by rape.  As a defense, Ah-Chong claimed that the victim consented to the sexual activity.  The trial judge gave the jury instructions that they had to be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant had no reasonable grounds to believe that consent existed.  The appellant argued that the jury instructions were wrong, claiming that there were two separate mens rea elements: one for the assault and one for intention to rape.  The Supreme Court previously held in L v R that only a reasonable belief of consent, even if mistaken, could provide a defense to the charge of sexual violation by rape.  The appellant argued that a mistaken belief of consent constitutes a defense to the charge of assault, even if the belief was unreasonable.  The Court rejected this jury instruction.  The trial judge correctly informed the jury that based on the complainant’s account of the event, there was no possibility of finding a mistaken belief in consent relating to the assault, but not the intention to rape.  The Court extended the analysis from L v. R, holding that the mental element for attempted rape was satisfied if there was a mistaken and unreasonable belief that consent was present.



S (CA338/2016) v. The Queen Court of Appeal of New Zealand (2017)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

Appellant (who was 38 years of age at the time of the offences) appealed a sentence of imprisonment for kidnapping, disfiguring with intent to injury and wounding with intent to injure the complainant (who was 17 years of age at the time of the offences).  The complainant and appellant began a relationship after the complainant left the care of Child, Youth and Family (Ministry for Vulnerable Children).  The appellant accused the complainant of sexually assaulting his daughter. As punishment for the sexual assault and a condition for continuing their relationship, he convinced the complainant to allow him to break her finger with a rock. He subsequently subjected the complainant to other physical abuse, after which she fled to a neighbor for help.  The appellant argued at the Court of Appeal that a High Court Judge had wrongly withheld the defense of consent on the charge of wounding with intent to injure.  The Court dismissed the appeal and concluded that it was possible to eliminate the defense of consent depending on the specific facts of the case.  In this case, the Court found it permissible to eliminate the defense of consent because of the power imbalance between the parties, the fact that the complainant acquiesced because of a threat to their relationship, the gravity of domestic violence, and the severity of the injury.



Clayton v. Clayton Supreme Court of New Zealand (2016)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Property and inheritance rights

This case concerned the determination of what constitutes relationship property in a divorce proceeding and how trusts may affect this determination (e.g. if a sham trust is implemented to hide assets, therefore affecting a woman’s economic rights in a divorce).  The term “relationship property” is defined in the Property Relationships Act of 1976, the principles of which focus on the equality of spouses and that at the end of a relationship, any economic divisions should reflect equal contributions made by the couple during the relationship.  However, any property constituting “trust property” is not available for division under the PRA.  In this case, the parties had been married for 17 years with two daughters.  During the marriage, the respondent-husband had become a successful business owner and set up several discretionary trusts.  The trusts ostensibly related to the business he had established.  The appellant-wife had assisted with her husband’s business ventures and was the main childcare provider during their marriage.  The Court concluded that, in this case, the powers under a trust deed constituted “property” under the PRA.  In applying the two-stage approach of section 182, the Court concluded that one of the discretionary trusts settled during the Clayton’s marriage constituted a nuptial trust under §182 of the Family Proceedings Act 1980 because of its connection to the marriage.  The court found that the “nature of the assets is not determinative of whether the settlement is nuptial or not,” and that a settlement “made for business reasons” and containing business assets can be a nuptial settlement.  The New Zealand Women’s Law Journal described this as a “decision that provided a much-needed step towards a more equal recognition of the traditional economic disadvantages faced by women.”



Carne v Wride & Carne v Nicholas Supreme Court of the Northern Territory (2012)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

The appellant Barry Carne was formerly in a relationship with L.S., the victim and the mother of his four children.  One day Carne entered L.S.’s home without consent, destroyed property, and confronted L.S..  During the altercation he grabbed and twisted L.S.’s right hand and fingers, causing her to fall in pain.  As a result he was charged with aggravated assault, and a domestic violence order was issued against him.  The domestic violence order restrained him from contacting, approaching, intimidating or harassing the victim and from exposing their children to domestic violence.  While the domestic violence order was in force, Carne again went to L.S.’s house.  After L.S. did not answer, he attempted to hang himself outside the home, only to be saved by his son, who was 14 at the time.  Carne was charged with breaching the domestic violence order, and pleaded guilty.  The sentencing magistrate sentenced him to eight months’ imprisonment for the breach and two months for the aggravated assault, to be served concurrently.  Carne appealed the sentence, claiming that it was manifestly excessive, and argued that the magistrate took into account irrelevant matters, in particular his suicide attempt.  The court of appeal considered the definition of “domestic violence” and whether Carne’s attempted suicide in front of the children was an attempt to cause mental harm to L.S. and/or her children.  The court held that the sentencing magistrate had not received sufficient evidence from the prosecution demonstrating that Carne had attempted the suicide in order to cause mental harm to L.S. and/or her children and, accordingly, it was not open to the magistrate to make such a finding.  The magistrate was required to exclude any other reasonable hypothesis, permitted by the facts, regarding the attempted suicide before concluding that the intent was to cause mental harm.  As such, the sentence was reduced to one month’s imprisonment.



Hofer v. Anti-Discrimination Commissioner Supreme Court of the Northern Territory (2011)

Employment discrimination, Sexual harassment

In 2009, a female employee made a formal complaint regarding improper conduct in the workplace, including continuous inappropriate and derogatory comments, by a Northern Territory Police Force member to whom she was a personal assistant, Bert Hofer.  The complaint resulted in an investigation and Hofer’s demotion and transfer.  On April 13, 2010, the female employee further made a complaint to the Northern Territory Anti-Discrimination Commission of discrimination and sexual harassment in violation of the Anti-Discrimination Act (Northern Territory).  Pursuant to Section 66 of the Anti-Discrimination Act, the Commissioner must accept or reject a complaint not later than 60 days after receipt of the complaint.  The complaint was accepted on November 1, 2010, well beyond the 60-day timeframe.  Hofer argued that the decision to accept the complaint should be set aside due to the Commissioner’s failure to accept the complaint within the statutory timeframe.  Further, Hofer argued that the Commissioner failed to consider whether the complaint was frivolous or vexatious.  The Supreme Court of the Northern Territory held that the Commissioner did consider whether the complaint was vexatious, and determined that it was not.  The fact that the Commissioner failed to accept the complaint within of the 60-day timeframe did not invalidate the decision as such a finding would result in unacceptable injustice inflicted on victims due to government inaction.  Accordingly, Hofer’s application was dismissed and the Commissioner’s decision to accept the complaint was upheld.



The Queen v. D.A. Supreme Court of the Northern Territory (2017)

Sexual violence and rape

The complainant, a 32-year-old nurse, woke up to the sound of someone breaking into her house in the early hours.  She screamed and struggled for 20 minutes as the perpetrator attempted to have sexual intercourse with her, eventually succeeding.  The victim managed to call the police as the perpetrator was masturbating, which caused the perpetrator to flee the scene.  The accused, who was 16 years old at the time of the offense, pleaded not guilty to having sexual intercourse with the victim without the victim’s consent while knowing or being reckless as to the lack of consent.  DNA tests revealed a match between the DNA of the perpetrator and the sperm found in the victim.  The accused challenged the admissibility of the DNA test, arguing that he did not properly consent to the test.  The court held that the benefit the public would gain from admitting the DNA evidence outweighed any undesirability of admitting the evidence, such as encouraging improper police conduct.  Accordingly, the evidence was ruled admissible.



Regina v. Gua High Court of Solomon Islands (2012)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Gender discrimination, International law, Sexual violence and rape

Macberth Gua was charged with the rape of his estranged wife of ten years.  The victim had not filed any divorce proceedings and there was no formal separation.  The defendant dragged the victim into his vehicle under the threat of violence and drove her to a remote location where he forced himself on her.  The defendant’s defense relied upon the antiquated common law maxim that a husband could not be liable for involuntary sexual intercourse with his wife (the “marital rape exception”), as her agreement to wed constituted an irrevocable consent to marital relations.  Moreover, Section 136 of the Penal Code of the Solomon Islands provides an excessively narrow definition of rape: “Any person who has unlawful sexual intercourse with a woman or girl, without her consent, or with her consent if the consent is obtained by force or by means of threats or intimidation of any kind, or by fear of bodily harm, or by means of false representations as to the nature of the act, or in the case of a married woman, by impersonating her husband, is guilty of the felony termed rape.”  The question before the High Court was whether a husband could be held criminally liable for raping his wife.  The answer provided by the High Court was in the affirmative, which ruled that marriage is now regarded as a partnership of equals, and that this principle of equality has been reflected not only in international conventions to which the Solomon Islands is a party, but is also entrenched in the provisions of the Constitution.  In its rationale, the High Court noted that one of the international conventions to which the Solomon Islands is a party is CEDAW, which, in Article 15, calls on all State parties to accord women equality with men before the law and, in Article 16, calls for the same personal rights between husband and wife.  As for the Constitution, Sections 3 and 15 of the Constitution guarantee women equal rights and freedoms as men and afford them protection against all forms of discrimination, including discrimination on the ground of sex.  The High Court thus held that the rule exempting husbands from liability for rape on their wives is no longer applicable, that it is no longer supported by common law, and that it is offensive to modern standards and principles of equality found in international conventions and the Constitution.  Notwithstanding the foregoing, unfortunately in the sentencing decision following Regina v. Gua, the sentencing judge stated that “this is a case which has occurred as a result of domestic problems between a husband and his wife.  It is not an offence that has been committed to gratify one’s own sexual desires.  There is an underlying cause for the commission of the offence – the termination by the victim of her marriage to the accused.  Hence, the accused is not solely to be blamed for this incident.  The complainant must also share the blame.” 



Police v. Apelu Supreme Court of Samoa (2010)

Abortion and reproductive health rights, International law

A women inmate at Tafaigata Prison who was two months pregnant asked the defendant to abort the fetus using a duck speculum and uterine sound instrument while she was on weekend parole.  Upon returning to the prison and complaining of severe pain, the woman was rushed to the hospital, where she delivered a live, premature female infant.  The baby died of respiratory failure as a result of extreme prematurity and neonatal sepsis; the medical report stated that the instruments used by the defendant had infected the victim’s uterus and induced labor.  In 2004, she had been sentenced to two and one-half years for the same offense.  Although the charges were not prosecuted at the time, they were revisited in 2005 and a year was added to the defendant’s sentence.  The sentencing judge in the case considered the defendant’s record of recent convictions as aggravating factors.  While the maximum sentence for this offence is seven years, the court considered that it warranted a starting point of six and a half years.  The only mitigating factor in the defendant’s favor was her guilty plea, which avoided the necessity of a full trial, for which twelve months were deducted from her sentence.  The question before the Supreme Court was whether the Convention on the Rights of the Child and CEDAW ought to be considered in sentencing.  In the course of answering such question in the negative, the judge was clear in relying solely upon national legislation: “This country through its elected representatives namely Parliament has chosen to take a pro-life stand and have legislated against abortion except when it is necessary to preserve the life of the mother.  Parliament having enacted that law, the courts duty is beyond question, it is required to enforce the laws of the land.  The rightness, wrongness or morality of such a law is debated in the building next door, not in this one.”  The fact that Samoa continues to criminalize abortion after ratifying international conventions evinces clear legislative intent against domesticating CEDAW through specific legislation.



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.



In the Marriage of Todd (No. 2) Family Court of Australia (1976)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage

Mr. Todd and Mrs. Todd were married in 1960 and had two children. On 23 November 1974, Mrs. Todd left the matrimonial home with the two children, but all three moved back in on 21 April 1975, where they continued to reside until the parents decided to divorce in 1976. The application for divorce under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) (the “Act”) initiated in the Family Law Division of the Supreme Court of New South Wales was transferred to the Family Court of Australia. On the question of divorce, one key issue was what constituted “separation” and “separated and apart” for a continuous period of not less than 12 months. The court held that this marriage had irretrievably broken down since 23 November 1974, and a continuous separation for 12 months the application for divorce had been satisfied. The Court held that “separation” was broader than mere physical separation and concerned the martial relationship itself. According to the Court, “Separation can only occur in the sense used by the Act where one or both of the spouses form the intention to sever or not to resume the marital relationship and act on that intention, or alternatively act as if the marital relationship has been severed.” In this case, the Court held although the spouses moved back in together in April 1975, they never restored the marital relationship.



Minister for Immigration and Citizenship v. SZMDS High Court of Australia (2010)

Gender-based violence in general, International law, LGBTIQ

The respondent, an allegedly homosexual citizen of Pakistan, arrived in Australia on a visitor visa in 2007 and applied for a protection visa. To be recognized as a refugee, the respondent had to show that he had a well-founded fear of being persecuted due to his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion. The respondent argued that, as a homosexual man, he belonged to a particular social group that was persecuted and subject to harm in Pakistan. The respondent’s protection visa application was initially denied, and the Refugee Review Tribunal (Tribunal) affirmed this decision. The Tribunal found that while homosexuals in Pakistan constitute a protected group, the respondent was not actually a homosexual because he safely make a three-week visit to Pakistan before traveling to Australia and failed to seek asylum on a recent visit to the UK.  On appeal, the Federal Court found that the Tribunal’s decision was based on illogical reasoning. The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship appealed the Federal Court’s decision to the High Court. In a majority decision, the High Court overturned the Federal Court’s decision, finding that the Tribunal’s reasons for not believing the respondent was actually a homosexual were sound.



Appellant S395/2002 v. Minister of Immigration and Citizenship High Court of Australia (2003)

Gender-based violence in general, International law, LGBTIQ

The appellants, both homosexual male citizens of Bangladesh, arrived in Australia and applied for protection visas. To be recognized as refugees, the appellants had to show that they had a well-founded fear of being persecuted due to their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. The appellants argued that they belonged to a “particular social group” that was subject to discrimination and harm in Bangladesh by virtue of their homosexuality. A delegate of the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship initially determined that because the appellants had conducted their relationship in a discreet manner in Bangladesh, they would suffer no serious harm if they returned to Bangladesh and continued to keep their relationship secret. For this reason, appellants were initially denied protection visas, and the Refugee Review Tribunal affirmed this decision. The appellant’s appealed to the Federal Court for judicial review and the primary judge dismissed the application, agreeing with the delegate’s reasoning about the discreetness of the appellants’ relationship. Appellants appealed to the Full Federal Court, which also dismissed their appeal. Appellants then appealed to the High Court, which granted them special leave to appeal. The High Court considered whether the Tribunal had erred in requiring or expecting the appellants to behave discreetly in order to avoid persecution. In a four-to-three decision, the High Court found that the Tribunal had erred because it improperly split the social group of homosexual men into two groups, discreet and non-discreet. The High Court held that the expectation that a person take reasonable steps to avoid persecutory harm, does not include the need to be discreet about sexuality, especially given that the appellants may have only been acting discreetly due to the persecution of openly homosexual men in Bangladesh. The case was referred back to the Tribunal for redetermination.



New South Wales v. Lepore High Court of Australia (2003)

Sexual violence and rape

This decision concerned three separate cases of assault: New South Wales v. Lepore, Samin v. Queensland, and Rich v. Queensland. Each case involved the abuse of students by public school teachers. The victims alleged that the educational authority was liable on the basis of a non-delegable duty of care. The Court found the argument unpersuasive and overly broad: “The proposition that, because a school authority's duty of care to a pupil is non-delegable, the authority is liable for any injury, accidental or intentional, inflicted at school upon a pupil by a teacher, is too broad.” The victims also sought damages from the government on an alternative theory of vicarious liability. The Court considered related decisions by the Supreme Court of Canada and the House of Lords where educational authorities were held vicariously liable for the conduct of their employees. The Court asserted that vicarious liability for the criminal conduct of an employee exists where the employee was acting as agent, servant, or representative of the employer when the incident occurred. The Court ordered a new trial in the case of Lepore, and dismissed the appeals of Samin and Rich.



Sok v. Minister for Immigration and Citizenship High Court of Australia (2008)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

Sok, a Cambodian citizen, married an Australian woman who acted as his visa sponsor. A permanent visa is conditioned on the determination that the visa applicant is the spouse of the sponsor and that the parties have a genuine relationship. A delegate of the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship declined to grant Sok a permanent visa because the delegate “was not satisfied that the appellant [Sok] was the spouse of the sponsor.” Sok applied for a review of the refusal, later alleging that he was the victim of domestic violence by his sponsor. The case raised two questions: (1) whether the review Tribunal must consider Sok’s claim of domestic violence even though the claim was not raised until the refusal of his application and (2) whether the Tribunal can “decide that it is not satisfied that the alleged victim . . . suffered relevant domestic violence” without a hearing. The High Court sided with the appellant, holding that the Tribunal must consider the claim. The Court further held that the Tribunal cannot make a determination regarding the claim of domestic violence without allowing the appellant an opportunity to be heard.



Banditt v. R High Court of Australia (2005)

Sexual violence and rape

The relevant offense occurred when the appellant broke into and entered the home of the complainant, who was asleep. The appellant had sexual intercourse with the complainant without her consent. The appellant was convicted in a jury trial. The appellant challenged his conviction based on an instruction provided by the trial judge to the jury concerning the meaning of “reckless.” The appellant claimed that the instruction was insufficient, arguing that recklessness “is satisfied by "a discrete mental state which is, 'Even if I knew, I would continue. It does not matter to me'." The High Court held that the jury instruction was proper as administered and dismissed the appeal.



RO v. R Supreme Court of New South Wales (Court of Criminal Appeal) (2013)

Sexual harassment, Sexual violence and rape

This case concerns the sentencing of a sexual offender. The offender was convicted of eight counts of sexual intercourse and indecent assault against a sixteen year old girl. The defendant appealed his sentence, arguing that the judge erred in his determination that the victim “suffered significant psychological damage as a result of the offense.” On appeal, the Court found that the lower court erred in making the finding of “substantial” harm. The Court further held that the victim’s “psychological damage was multifactorial and that in the absence of medical evidence which separated out the effects of these offences,” the lower court’s determination of substantial psychological harm resulting from the offenses was inappropriate.



Jeffries v. R Supreme Court of New South Wales (Court of Criminal Appeal) (2008)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

The appellant in this case was convicted of multiple domestic violence offenses and sentenced to prison. The appellant sought an appeal on the basis that the judge in the lower court “erred in failing to consider special circumstances in relation to the question of accumulation” and also imposed a “manifestly excessive” sentence. In light of the seriousness of the appellant’s offenses, as well as his history of domestic violence against the victim in the case, the Court ordered the appeal dismissed. When dismissing the appeal, the Court noted the appellant’s “pessimistic . . . prospects of rehabilitation,” as well as general goals of deterrence and community safety.



R v. Hamid Supreme Court of New South Wales (Court of Criminal Appeal) (2006)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

The Respondent in this case faced a prison term of two years and six months based on his convictions for 9 counts of serious domestic violence offenses. The Respondent was also ordered to refrain from any harassment or threatening conduct toward the victims (or those in domestic relationships with the victims) for ten years. In response to the sentencing of the Respondent, “the Crown submitted that the sentences imposed upon the Respondent were manifestly inadequate.” The Crown noted that “a number of individual sentences were themselves inadequate given the objective seriousness of the crimes involved.” The Court emphasized the importance of both specific and general deterrence for domestic violence offenses and noted “[r]ecognition of the harm done to the victim and the community as a result of crimes of domestic violence is important.” The Court ultimately held that “the sentences imposed upon the Respondent were manifestly inadequate” and resentenced the Respondent.



Gilroy v. Angelov Federal Court of Australia (2000)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination, Sexual harassment

Leoni Gilroy made allegations of sexual harassment against a co-worker, Branko Angelov, who is the respondent in this case. Gilroy sought damages against her employers, Craig and Toni Botting, the second respondents. Gilroy reported the sexual harassment to Mr. Botting, who told Gilroy that he didn’t believe Angelov would act in such a way. Nevertheless, Bottling agreed to keep Angelov away from her at work. Later, Mr. Botting terminated Gilroy’s employment, stating that Mrs. Botting believed that Mr. Botting and Gilroy were having an affair. The Court entered judgment in favor of Ms. Gilroy for $24,000 against the Bottlings, highlighting the emotional and financial difficulties experienced by Ms. Gilroy.



DW v. R Court of Criminal Appeal (New South Wales) (2014)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

Appellant in this case was convicted of various sexual offenses against his minor daughter, the complainant, including charges of possessing child pornography. During the course of the trial, a recording of a conversation between the appellant and complainant had been entered into evidence. The recording detailed a sexually inappropriate conversation between the parties. At the trial level, this piece of evidence was deemed “reasonably necessary for the complainant’s lawful interest in protecting herself” from abuse by the father and was therefore allowed in as evidence. Appellant asserted that the recording was entered in error. The Court held that even if the recording was in fact entered in error, there was “no substantial miscarriage of justice and the appellant has not lost a real chance of acquittal.” Therefore, the appeal was dismissed.



Montero v. R Court of Criminal Appeal (New South Wales) (2013)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

The complainant, age 15, was sexually assaulted while staying at the applicant’s home. The applicant was convicted of the sexual offense and appealed the conviction. The applicant argued that the judge inappropriately used the location of the offenses, the applicant’s home, as an aggravating factor. The Court held that the application of this sentencing factor was appropriate as it concerns the violation of a visitor’s “reasonable expectation of safety and security.” The Court held that the sentencing judge did not err in terms of the administration of the sentence.



Croome v. Tasmania High Court of Australia (1997)

Gender-based violence in general

The plaintiffs challenged sections of the Tasmanian Criminal Code criminalizing homosexual conduct. The plaintiffs alleged that the challenged sections violated provisions of the Human Rights (Sexual Conduct) Act of 1994. The case revolved around whether the plaintiffs brought the action prematurely (i.e., whether the plaintiffs had “sufficient interest” to bring the action before the Court). The Court held that the case was “not to be denied at the threshold” and that the plaintiff’s claim was neither “abstract nor hypothetical.” The fact “that the plaintiffs “faced possible criminal prosecution”’ sufficed as a “sufficient interest” in the case.



Republic v Arawaia Court of Appeal of Kiribati (2013)

Sexual violence and rape

Mr. Arawaia plead guilty to indecent assault and defilement involving the repeated rape of the 12 year old grand daughter of his wife. When the girl told her grandmother, Mr. Arawaia’s wife, of the rapes, Mr. Arawaia apologized. Later Mar. Arawaia wanted the victim to sleep with him, and the victim’s grandmother told her to do so. The victim was again raped by Mr. Arawaia. The High Court, in sentencing Mr. Arawaia, considered Mr. Arawaia’s early plea, the seriousness of the case, and also Mr. Arawaia’s apology to the girl. Ms. Beiatau, arguing for the Republic, appealed on the grounds that the sentence was manifestly inadequate. Ms. Beiatau argued that due to the rising prevalence of sexual offences in Kiribati, sentencing guidelines were needed. She further contended that the High Court erred in considering Mr. Arawaia’s apology to the girl a mitigating factor. Relying on Kimaere v The Republic, a Kiribati Court of Appeal decision from 2005, and sentencing standards set in New Zealand and Australia, the Kiribati Court of Appeal found that a five year prison sentence was an appropriate starting point in defilement cases. The Court noted that where multiple offenses are considered, it is more important to proportion the entire length of the sentence to the entirety of the defendants conduct, rather than worrying about adding together the sentences for each offense. Determining that Mr. Arawaia’s conduct justified a prison sentence of seven to eight years, the Court then discounted his sentence, for his early plea, to an increased total of five years. The Court found Mr. Arawaia’s apology to have been incorrectly considered a mitigating factor. The Court also held that the starting point for the indecent assault charges would have been two and a half years before discounting for mitigating factors



People of the Philippines v. Rodolfo de Jesus Y Mendoza Supreme Court of Philippines (2013)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

The appellant was found guilty of the crime of statutory rape of his daughter. On appeal, the appellant argued there was insufficient physical evidence of the rape. The Supreme Court noted that the results of the physical examination did not discount the possibility that the daughter was raped. The Supreme Court further noted that rape of a minor under 12 years of age is statutory rape. It explained that (a) in statutory rape, only the following two elements must be established: 1) carnal knowledge or sexual intercourse; and 2) that the woman is below 12 years of age and (b) both of those elements had been established.



People of the Philippines v. Bernabe Pareja Y Cruz Supreme Court of Philippines (2014)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

The appellant was convicted of two counts of statutory rape. The appellant sought to overturn the conviction on the ground that the victim’s testimony was riddled with inconsistencies. The Supreme Court set forth the recognized rule that the “assessment of the credibility of witnesses is a domain best left to the trial court judge… and when his findings have been affirmed by the Court of Appeals, these are generally binding and conclusive upon this Court.” While there are recognized exceptions to this rule, the Supreme Court found no substantial reason to overturn the identical conclusions of the trial and appellate courts on the witnesses’ credibility and affirmed.



People of the Philippines v. Antonio Mendoza Y Butones Supreme Court of Philippines (2005)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

The appellant was convicted of rape of his daughter. The Supreme Court affirmed the conviction, noting that the appellant failed to proffer a credible defense, instead merely denying the accusations. To the contrary, there is a recognized presumption of credibility when a daughter accuses her father. The conviction was upheld.



Teresita G. Narvasa v. Benjamin A. Sanchez, Jr. Supreme Court of Philippines (2010)

Sexual harassment

The respondent was found guilty of grave misconduct for sexually harassing his co-workers and was dismissed from Government service. The appeals court modified the ruling, finding him guilty of simple misconduct for which dismissal was not warranted. The Supreme Court reinstated the finding of grave misconduct, finding that the respondent’s actions were intentional, and since this was the third time he had been penalized for sexual harassment, dismissal was warranted.



Hercules P. Guzman v. National Labor Relations Commission, et al. Supreme Court of Philippines (2010)

Gender-based violence in general, Sexual harassment

The respondent, a law student, filed an administrative complaint for harassment against the petitioner, her professor, alleging that she was given a poor final grade because he wanted to go on a date with her. A school committee found that the petitioner improperly conducted school-related activities outside school premises, indicative of sexually motivated intentions, in violation of the respondent’s policy of providing its students with an environment free from sexual harassment. The NLRC affirmed, declaring a one year suspension from the University. The Supreme Court rejected the petitioner’s argument that his constitutional right to due process was violated, finding that in administrative proceedings, the essence of due process is simply an opportunity to be heard, to explain one’s side or to seek a reconsideration of the action or ruling complained of, and that the petitioner had been afforded that opportunity.



Yolanda Floralde, et al. v. Court of Appeals, et al. Supreme Court of Philippines (2000)

Employment discrimination, Sexual harassment

The respondent was found guilty of grave misconduct for sexually harassing his co-workers and was dismissed from Government service. He successfully appealed, arguing that the evidence was insufficient to support the ruling. The Supreme Court reinstated the ruling, citing the well-established rule that findings of fact of an administrative agency must be respected even if they are not overwhelming and even if the appellate court would weigh evidence differently.



AZAAR v. Minister for Immigration and Citizenship (2009)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

The appellant’s claims concerned domestic violence perpetrated by her husband and assertions of inadequate state protection from such violence. The appellant claimed that she did not receive, and would not receive, effective state protection in Vanuatu from such violence “because of systemic discrimination against women resulting from cultural norms and practices.” Prior to review by the Federal Court, a lower court held that “it was not satisfied that there was a real chance of her being denied protection by the authorities in Vanuatu should she require it” although there was evidence of domestic violence and potential future harm. The lower court noted that the victim had not actually sought the protection of authorities. The Federal Court subsequently determined that any suggestion that victims of domestic violence must actually seek the protection of the authorities as “a prerequisite for a finding of absence of adequate State protection” was erroneous. Therefore, victims of domestic violence do not have to actually go to the police in order to substantiate claims of inadequate protection where other evidence, such as cultural norms and practices, would otherwise substantiate the claims.



Hickie v. Hunt & Hunt Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (1998)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

Marea Hickie, a solicitor, claimed unlawful discrimination by her employer, the partnership of Hunt & Hunt, during and after her maternity leave. Shortly after returning from maternity leave, the firm decided not to renew Hickie's contract. At issue was a requirement that Hickie work full-time to maintain her position at the firm. Hickie claimed that the firm’s non-renewal constituted unlawful discrimination on the basis of sex, marital status, pregnancy, potential pregnancy and family responsibility. Upon review of the case, the Commission noted that such a requirement was “likely to disadvantage women” and therefore the firm’s non-renewal resulted from “an act of [indirect] discrimination.” The respondent firm was ordered to pay Hickie $95,000 in compensation.



People of the Philippines v. Anacito Dimanawa Supreme Court of Philippines (2010)

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

The appellant was convicted of statutory rape of his daughter. The appellant claimed the rape had not happened because the daughter was not home, and that she was not a credible witness. The Supreme Court agreed with the findings and conclusion of the trial and appeals courts that rape was committed by the appellant. The Supreme Court noted that the testimony of a child-victim is to be given full weight and credence. The Supreme Court noted that respect for elders is deeply rooted in Filipino children and recognized by law such that there is a presumption that the child testified truthfully. Moreover, the concurrence of the age of the victim and her relationship to the offender warranted upgrades to the sentencing penalty.



R v. Dawson Court of Appeal of New Zealand (2012)

Sexual violence and rape

The appellant was convicted of seven charges for raping two females. He was sentenced concurrently to 14 years imprisonment, with a minimum period of imprisonment of seven years, calculated as 12 years for each offense, plus an uplift of 12 months to reflect the separate rapes of two victims, plus other adjustments. The Solicitor-General appealed on the ground that the uplift to reflect separate rapes of two victims should have been higher than 12 months, and an end sentence of 16 to 18 years would have been correct. The court reasoned that this argument was essentially that a 14 year sentence was manifestly inadequate. Based on the facts, the court found that, while on the low end, this sentence did not meet this standard.



VSAI v. Minister for Immigration & Multicultural & Indigenous Affairs Federal Court of Australia (2004)

Sexual harassment, Sexual violence and rape

A citizen of Eritrea sought protection on the basis that she feared persecution in Eritrea, where she would either be (i) conscripted into, and subject to rape and abuse by, the army or (ii) prosecuted for failure to report for conscription. Although she presented evidence that rape, sexual abuse and impregnation by military officers was committed against draftees, including at the camp to which she would be assigned, as well as evidence showing incidents of parents killed whilst resisting the drafting of their daughters, a delegate of the Refugee Review Tribunal denied the application. The court found that the Tribunal misdirected itself by not asking whether rape, sexual abuse and impregnation by military officers was deliberate or pre-meditated conduct, exposure to which the applicant could not be expected to tolerate. The court set aside the Tribunal’s decision and the matter referred back to the Tribunal.



Solicitor-General v. Ahmed Court of Appeal of New Zealand (2009)

Sexual violence and rape

The respondent was convicted of sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection (forcible oral sex) and as accessory to rape, and sentenced to four years imprisonment, calculated as 18 months for assisting to carry out the rape, four years for the unlawful sexual connection, plus some downward adjustments. The Solicitor-General argued that the court should have considered the rape as the primary offense and therefore started with a base of 8 years minimum period of imprisonment. The court found that the sentencing approach adopted by the Judge understated the seriousness of the respondent’s role in the overall offending and that seven years imprisonment was the appropriate sentence.



SZAIX v. Minister for Immigration & Multicultural & Indigenous Affairs and Refugee Review Tribunal Federal Court of Australia (2006)

Sexual harassment, Sexual violence and rape

A citizen of Indonesia sought protection on the basis that she feared persecution on the grounds of race, religion and membership of a particular social group, alleged to be either Indonesian women or Chinese Christian women in Indonesia. The appellant was raped in Indonesia. The Refugee Review Tribunal concluded that perpetrators of sexual assault in Indonesia do not engage in rape as a means of persecuting ethnic Chinese women (or women) as a particular social group. The court found that the Tribunal did not fully consider the applicant’s arguments that she feared persecution from local authorities for reporting the rape and the applicant was granted leave to amend her application to raise that ground and any other new grounds.



Trina Williams v. Pacific Plastic Recyclers Limited Human Rights Review Tribunal (2004)

Sexual harassment

The plaintiff alleged that she was a victim of sexual harassment by an employee of the defendant. She received a settlement from the employee. In exchange, she agreed not to pursue her claim against him, and not to call him as a witness. At issue was whether the company could be held separately liable, and if it was liable, whether the plaintiff had released her claims against the company in her settlement with the employee. The Tribunal found that the company had individual liability due to the fact that it lacked a demonstrated harassment policy and thus did not take reasonably practicable steps to prevent the harassment. It held, however, that the settlement already reached was sufficient compensation for the harassment that she suffered. As to any other remedies, as such remedies were not provided in the settlement, the Tribunal could not determine whether the company had been released with respect to such remedies.



Phillips v. The Queen High Court of Australia (2006)

Gender-based violence in general, Sexual violence and rape

This appeal was based on the contention that there had been a wrong decision on a question of law concerning the admissibility of evidence in a sexual assault case. The appellant, Phillips, was convicted on several counts of rape and unlawful carnal knowledge and on one count of assault with intent to commit rape. The counts involved multiple teenage victims. Similarities existed across the victim’s stories and evidence was admitted concerning each victim. The Criminal Code stated that "an indictment must charge 1 offence only and not 2 or more offences," also stating that “Charges for more than 1 indictable offence may be joined in the same indictment against the same person if those charges are founded on the same facts or are, or form part of, a series of offences of the same or similar character or a series of offences committed in the prosecution of a single purpose." The appellant contended that the offenses did not reflect “offences of the same or similar character,” arguing that trial of the eight charges at once had been unduly prejudicial to his case. The High Court held that “prejudice to the fair trial of the appellant was substantial” and made a formal order for retrial.



Kumar v. Minister for Immigration & Multicultural Affairs Federal Court of Australia (2002)

Sexual harassment, Sexual violence and rape

A married couple, both of Indian ethnic origin and citizens of Fiji, sought protection for fear of persecution on the grounds that the wife was abducted and raped because of her Indian ethic origins and because of her husband’s local political activity. The Refugee Review Tribunal did not accept that the wife was raped for reasons of her Indian ethnic origins, nor her husband’s support for the FLP. The court affirmed.



R v. S High Court of New Zealand (2012)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Forced and early marriage, Sexual violence and rape

S was convicted for repeated violent rape within an arranged marriage over the course of 13 months. The court imposed a sentence of 13 years, six months imprisonment for the rape, with concurrent sentences for the lesser offenses, calculated as a 15 year base due to the violent nature of the acts and the vulnerability of the victim, with a downward adjustment for the respondent’s lack of prior convictions. The court declined to impose a minimum period of imprisonment, explaining that a minimum period of imprisonment is only warranted if the sentence imposed would be insufficient to hold one accountable, to denounce their conduct, or to protect others.



PGA v. The Queen High Court of Australia (2012)

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

This case concerns charges of assault and rape brought against a husband, the appellant, for the rape of his wife in 1963. In an appeal to the High Court, the appellant sought immunity for the rape of his wife, arguing that marital rape was not illegal at the time the events took place. The appellant argued that his wife gave irrevocable consent to sexual intercourse upon their marriage in 1962 pursuant to the era’s common law. The Court considered existing laws and writings from the time period in question, questioning whether the aforementioned immunity ever actually existed and ultimately deciding that “if it did, it had ceased to do so sometime before 1963.” On the basis of this analysis, the Court dismissed the appeal.



SVFB v. Minister for Immigration & Multicultural & Indigenous Affairs Federal Court of Australia (2004)

Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting, Gender-based violence in general, Harmful traditional practices, Sexual harassment, Sexual violence and rape

A citizen of Nigeria sought protection for fear that she would be subject to female genital mutilation. The Refugee Review Tribunal found that female genital mutilation constitutes serious harm amounting to persecution, but that on the facts, there was no real risk that the applicant would be subjected to female genital mutilation.



Gaylene Jessica Helen Main v. Kim Richards Topless Human Rights Review Tribunal (2004)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

The plaintiff was a milker employed by a dairy farm. The plaintiff complained that she was not considered for promotion or training opportunities because she was female. The plaintiff also alleged sexual harassment, in the form of unwelcome comments and jokes. The court found that the plaintiff did not establish that she had been a victim of unlawful discrimination on the ground of her sex. The court was satisfied that the plaintiff had made out her claim for sexual harassment and that the employer was vicariously liable for the acts of the employees because it had failed to take any adequate steps to prevent sexual harassment in the work place.



NSW Registrar of Births, Deaths, and Marriages v. Norrie High Court of Australia (2014)

Gender discrimination

After undergoing a sex affirmation procedure, Norrie registered as “non-specific” with the NSW Registrar. After initially approving this registration, the NSW informed Norrie that the registration was invalid. The Administrative Decisions Tribunal of New South Wales agreed with this determination, and the Tribunal’s appeal panel dismissed Norrie’s appeal. At this point, Norrie appealed to the Court of Appeal of New South Wales, which remitted the matter to the Tribunal for determination of Norrie’s sex classification. The Registrar appealed to the High Court. The issue on appeal to the High Court was whether the NSW Registrar was in fact confined to registrations of “male” or “female,” which would preclude Norrie’s registration as “non-specific.” The High Court noted that the Transgender (Anti-Discrimination and Other Acts Amendment) Act of 1996, which amended the Births, Deaths, and Marriages Registration Act of 1995, recognized “ambiguities.” Furthermore, the Court pointed to its holding in AB v. Western Australia, where it stated that "the sex of a person is not ... in every case unequivocally male or female." On this basis, the High Court held that individuals do not have to affirmatively select “male” or “female” following a sex affirmation procedure, and may instead register as “non-specific” with the NSW Registrar.



VWFG v. Minister for Immigration & Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs Federal Court of Australia (2005)

Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting, Forced and early marriage, Gender-based violence in general, Harmful traditional practices

A citizen of Ghana sought protection for fear that she would be subject to arranged marriage and female genital mutilation. The Refugee Review Tribunal found the applicant to be not credible, in part because she could not identify the ethnic group that the proposed husband came from. The court found these factual conclusions satisfactory and affirmed.



State v. Airline Limited Court of Appeal of New Zealand (2010)

Employment discrimination, Sexual violence and rape

A commercial airline pilot was dismissed after making an unscheduled overnight stop and having sexual relations with a cabin crew member. The pilot appealed to the Employment Court. The Employment Court declined to suppress the pilot’s name from the public record. The court held that the Employment Court was not wrong to find that the public’s right to know outweighed the pilot’s reputational interests, and dismissed the appeal.



Richardson v. Oracle Corporation Australia Pty Ltd Federal Court of Australia (2014)

Gender discrimination, Sexual harassment

Rebecca Richardson brought a sexual harassment suit against a former co-worker, Randol Tucker. Before Richardson left the company, Richardson and Tucker were colleagues at Oracle Corporation Australia. At trial, Ms. Richardson prevailed and was awarded $18,000 in damages for which Oracle Corporation Australia was vicariously liable. Ms. Richardson appealed, arguing that the award was inadequate. The High Court highlighted the difficulty in formulating awards of general damages in sex discrimination cases, but acknowledged that harassment can cause severe physical and mental strain. The Court noted that more significant awards were granted to the victims of workplace bullying than the victims of sexual harassment despite “comparable” damage caused by both types of conduct. Based on the distress Richardson experienced because of Tucker’s conduct, the Federal Court found that the $18,000 award was inadequate and substituted an award of $100,000 to compensate Ms. Richardson for psychological injury caused by the sexual harassment.



Minister for Immigration & Multicultural Affairs v. Ndege Federal Court of Australia (1999)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Sexual violence and rape

A citizen of Tanzania sought protection on the basis that she feared persecution as a married woman in Tanzania. The applicant had been raped by her husband and argued that Tanzanian authorities were unwilling or unable to protect female citizens. The Refugee Review Tribunal denied the application because there was no evidence that the husband’s violence was related to any protected status. The court affirmed, but nevertheless remitted to the Tribunal to consider whether the husband’s violence against the applicant had been motived by a Convention related reason, such as race, religion, nationality, political opinion or of her membership in a particular social group.



Ng Shiu v. Mohammed Naseeb Human Rights Review Tribunal (2004)

Sexual harassment

The plaintiff and the defendant were both taxi drivers. The plaintiff claimed the defendant harassed her with phone calls and unwanted and offensive touching. The court was not satisfied that the events that took place gave rise to any tenable claim of sexual harassment. The court found that for a short period at and about the time that the defendant was making contact with the plaintiff, she did suffer from a level of anxiety while at work, which was sufficient to constitute a ‘detrimental effect’ to her employment under the Human Rights Act.



LM v. The Queen Supreme Court of New Zealand (2014)

Sexual violence and rape

Section 144 of the Crimes Act 1961 “provides for the prosecution of New Zealanders for conduct which, if it had occurred in New Zealand, would be contrary to specified provisions of the Crimes Act involving sexual offending against children and young people.” The appellant, a New Zealander, was found guilty of a sex crime against a child. The crime was committed in Russia and the other offender in the case was a Russian man. At issue on appeal was whether the aforementioned law allowed for “the prosecution of a New Zealander (being LM) on the basis of party liability for “offending” where the principal “offender” is not a New Zealander.” The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that the appellant was in fact liable as a principal and noting that a miscarriage of justice had not occurred. Furthermore, the Court stated that a “wrong decision” regarding party liability “does not warrant the allowing of the appeal.”



Weheliye v. Minister for Immigration & Multicultural Affairs Federal Court of Australia (2001)

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

A citizen of Somalia sought a protection order on the basis that she feared persecution due to her status as young, a Somali and a woman. The application asserted that she had been sentenced to death by stoning for adultery in Somalia. The Refugee Review Tribunal denied the application, finding the applicant not credible and holding that neither married nor divorced Somalia women constituted a protected group. The court held that the Tribunal erred because it did not examine whether the law against adultery was applied and administered in Somalia in a discriminatory manner.



Angelica Rangi Ngapera v. Gerry Reddick Human Rights Review Tribunal (2004)

Employment discrimination, Sexual harassment

The plaintiff worked at a motel. She alleged that her manager made offensive comments to her and spread rumors about her in the community. The court found that the plaintiff suffered a detriment in the course of her employment under the Human Rights Act.



EN v. KIC Human Rights Review Tribunal (2010)

Sexual harassment

The plaintiff was employed at a bakery. After working there for several years, the bakery was acquired by new owners, including the defendant. The plaintiff claimed that the defendant made unwanted comments and physical overtures in the workplace, eventually causing the plaintiff to leave the job. The plaintiff claimed that the harassment caused humiliation, injury to feelings, and loss of dignity. The Tribunal found that the plaintiff was the victim of unlawful sexual harassment under the Human Rights Act and awarded damages. The Tribunal also ordered the defendant to attend a training session on sexual harassment in the workplace. The Tribunal noted that the case “demonstrates the dangers of running a business without any understanding of the provisions of the HRA relating to sexual harassment, and with no insight whatsoever that some behaviours can be unwelcome to others no matter how innocent they may be thought by the perpetrator to be.”



SYLB v. Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs Federal Court of Australia (2005)

Sexual violence and rape

A married couple, citizens of Yugoslavia and ethnic Albanians, sought protection on the basis that the wife feared persecution in Kosovo. The wife was raped by a Serbian soldier. The Refugee Review Tribunal concluded that the applicants each had a well-founded fear of persecution in Kosovo at the time they fled, but that those conditions no longer existed. The court concluded that the Tribunal misunderstood the legal test to be applied for the purpose of determining whether the female applicant was unwilling, due to a well-founded fear of persecution, to avail herself of the protection of her country.



Jesus C. Garcia v. The Honorable Ray Alan T. Drilon, et al. Supreme Court of Philippines (2013)

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

The plaintiff successfully sought a Temporary Protection Order against her husband under Republic Act No. 9626 Against Women and Their Children. The husband appealed, claiming the Act to be unconstitutional and the order therefore invalid because the Act favored women over men as victims of violence and abuse to whom the State extends its protection. The Supreme Court held that the Act was valid, highlighting the unequal power relationship between women and men; that women are more likely than men to be victims of violence; and the widespread gender bias and prejudice against women, which all make for real differences justifying the law.



DML v. Montgomery Human Rights Review Tribunal (2014)

Sexual harassment

The plaintiff was a sex worker providing commercial sexual services at a brothel. She alleged her manager had violated the Human Rights Act 1993 by subjecting her to repeated unwelcome and offensive sexual conduct detrimental to her employment. The Tribunal found for the plaintiff, and further found that the owner of the brothel was vicariously liable for the employee’s actions.



SZEGN v. Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs Federal Court of Australia (2006)

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

A citizen of Fiji sought an extension of time to appeal a decision by a Federal Court Magistrate who affirmed a decision by the Refugee Review Tribunal to deny a protection visa. She alleged that she had a well-founded fear of persecution if returned to Fiji as a person who had been subjected to domestic violence by her former husband and as a member of the social group of “women at risk in Fiji.” The Tribunal found that while women had historically been at risk in Fiji, recent police forms and judgments suggested that she no longer had a reasonable fear of persecution. On appeal, she alleged that the Tribunal failed to provide her with a copy of certain country information as required by Australian law. The court found that the Tribunal was prepared to accept that the applicant was a member of a protected social group but did not accept that there was a lack of state protection. The court further found that the Tribunal adequately laid out the bases for its decision and that it did not rely on the material not provided to the applicant.



People of the Philippines v. Edgar Jumawan Supreme Court of Philippines (2014)

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

The appellant was convicted on two counts of marital rape. On appeal, the appellant argued that marital rape was not the equivalent of non-marital rape. This was the first documented case on marital rape to reach the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court rejected the appellant’s argument as essentially an attempt to revive old and now rejected standards that a husband could not be convicted of marital rape because of the “implied consent” of his wife. It found that under modern jurisprudence, the appellant’s argument would deny spouses equal protection under the constitution and that the elements and quantum of proof that support a moral certainty of guilt in rape cases should apply uniformly regardless of the legal relationship between the accused and his accuser.



Terranova Homes & Care Ltd v Service and Food Workers Union Nga Ringa Tota Inc Court of Appeal of New Zealand (2014)

Gender discrimination

The work of caring for the elderly is “predominately performed by women.” Caregivers employed by Terranova alleged that both male and female caregivers were being paid less “than would be the case if caregiving of the aged were not work predominantly performed by women.” Terranova appealed the judgment of the Employment Court. On appeal, Terranova argued that the Act referred specifically to equal pay, rather than pay equity. The Court of Appeal rejected their argument, stating that “Pay equity is about equal pay. It is equal pay for work of equal value.” The Court relied on 3(1)(b) of the Equal Pay Act which “requires that equal pay for women for work predominantly or exclusively performed by women, is to be determined by reference to what men would be paid to do the same work abstracting from skills, responsibility, conditions and degrees of effort as well as from any systemic undervaluation of the work derived from current or historical or structural gender discrimination.” Terranova’s appeal was dismissed.



R v. AM Court of Appeal of New Zealand (2010)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

The appellant was convicted on charges for sexual offenses (including rape) against his three granddaughters. He was sentenced to a total of 15 years imprisonment for the lead offence of rape, with no minimum period of imprisonment. The Solicitor-General appealed on the ground that a minimum sentence of half the nominal sentence should have been imposed as a matter of law. The Court decided to update the sentencing guidelines for sexual offenses. It established (i) that the entire circumstances of the offense must be taken into account during sentencing and (ii) the following factors: planning and premediation, violence, detention and home invasion, vulnerability of the victim, harm to the victim, multiple offenders, scale of offending, breach of trust, hate crime, degree of violation, mistaken belief in consent, prior consensual activity and the views of the victim. It also established the following incarceration periods for the crime of rape: (i) Rape Band I consist of 6-8 years for offenses that do not trigger these factors because the encounters and degree of violation are brief; (ii) Rape Band 2 consist of 7-13 years for moderate levels of premediation and violence, involving two or three factors increasing culpability; (iii) Rape Band 3 consist of 12-18 years for serious culpability factors; and (iv) Rape Band 4 consist of 16-20 years for the most serious offenses, which will likely consist of multiple offenses. For non-rape, “unlawful sexual connection” (“USC”) cases, the following incarceration periods were established: (i) USC Band 1 consist of 2-5 years; (ii) USC Band 2 consist of 4-10 years; and (iii) USC Band 3 consist of 9-18 years, following the general guidelines of culpability defined above. Applying these standards to the case, the court held that a minimum period of imprisonment of seven and a half years (50 percent) should be imposed. The case is notable because the Court for the first time endeavored to give integrated sentencing guidelines for sexual offenses and – as part of this exercise – reviewed and updated its previous approach to rape offenses.



Ayoub v. AMP Bank Limited Court of Appeal of Australia (2011)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination, Sexual harassment

Ms. Ayoub claimed harassment and discrimination following a performance appraisal after which her position was made redundant. She also sought worker’s compensation for anxiety/distress caused by the alleged conduct. An arbitrator found for Ms. Ayoub on the basis that the company had failed to consult her on the redundancy decision and mishandled the performance appraisal and these actions caused her mental injuries. A court overturned the arbitrator, finding that first, while it would be unreasonable for an employer to inform a worker of her redundancy in a callous way, the redundancy decision was unrelated to Ms. Ayoub’s performance, and second, Ms. Ayoub’s position was such that she did not legally have to be consulted ahead of time. The Court of Appeals affirmed the Acting Deputy President’s decision, finding no error of law.



Coates v. Bowden High Court of New Zealand (2007)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

Appellant F, the mother of three children, who was residing in New Zealand, sought a decision from a higher court concerning a previous custody decision that granted N, the father residing in Australia, custody rights. F contended that N had been physically abusive in the past toward the children, and that they were at risk of physical and psychological harm if in his custody. The High Court concluded that the children should be in New Zealand residing with their mother.



Easton v. Broadcasting Commission High Court of New Zealand (2008)

Gender discrimination

Plaintiff sought to challenge what he saw as state-sponsored and supported gender bias against men. He alleged that the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act of 1990 is discriminatory because it specifically requires that a range of broadcasts be available to provide for the interests of women while failing to include men, and that in doing so, the Act implicitly discriminates against men. The High Court dismissed the case based on the defendant agencies’ lack of standing to defend the claim, and therefore lack of jurisdiction by the High Court to hear the case.


Talleys Fisheries Ltd. v. Lewis High Court of New Zealand (2007)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

This case concerns the application of §§22(1)(b) and 21(1)(a) of the Human Rights Act of 1993 (‘the Act’). It was first heard before the Human Rights Review Tribunal. The plaintiff, Ms. Lewis, claimed that the defendant, Talleys Fisheries, had engaged in employment discrimination on the basis of gender, alleging that they offered her less favorable terms than her male counterparts who had substantially similar capabilities for substantially similar work. At the defendant’s fish processing plant, there was a noticeable divide between the roles for which male employees were hired and those for which female employees were hired. The roles of male employees included that of filleter, which was more difficult and had a higher rate of pay. Female employees were rarely hired for this role, despite being qualified for it. The Tribunal held that this disparity amounted to gender discrimination. Expert witness for the defendant testified that such gender disparity among roles in fish processing plants was standard industry custom, and, therefore, that the defendant had not engaged in gender-based employment discrimination. The Tribunal rejected both the factual finding of the existence of industry custom, as well as the conclusion that industry custom would be dispositive in this case. It held that mere existence of an industry custom of gender-based hiring practices would not justify gender-based employment discrimination. On appeal, the High Court of New Zealand affirmed.



Susan Couch v. Attorney-General (2008)

Gender-based violence in general

The plaintiff, Ms. Couch, was seriously injured when William Bell robbed her place of employment. William Bell was a parolee under the supervision of the Probation Service. Ms. Couch claimed that the Probation Service failed to exercise reasonable care in the supervision of William Bell, leading to her injuries. The Court of Appeals dismissed her claim on the basis that the Probation Service owed no duty of care to her. The Supreme Court unanimously reversed, holding that the Probation Service owes a duty of care to victims of criminal assault by parolees under its supervision. In doing so, the Supreme Court expressly rejected a so-called “sufficient proximity” rule, stating that the Probation Service owes a duty of care only to plaintiffs who are members of an identifiable class that is at particular risk of harm by parolees. The Supreme Court also held that the Probation Service is not vicariously liable for the actions of its parolees.


M v. M High Court of New Zealand (2005)

Sexual violence and rape, Domestic and intimate partner violence

This case concerns the Domestic Violence Act of 1995. Appellant sent emails, faxes, and oral communications to politicians and others, claiming that the respondent, her brother, raped her when she was 11. In Family Court, the judge concluded that the allegation of rape was unfounded and that appellant’s purpose for the communications was to shame the respondent and ruin his reputation, amounting to harassment or psychological abuse. The judge issued a protection order pursuant to the Domestic Violence Act of 1995, prohibiting appellant from further communications alleging the rape. On appeal, it was contended that, 1) the family court judge wrongly found that appellant’s behavior constituted psychological abuse or harassment, and 2) that the special conditions imposed in the protection order were unduly broad, infringing upon the appellant’s freedom of expression under the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act (NZBORA). The High Court rejected the first ground of appeal. As to the second, the High Court read the Domestic Violence Act narrowly, saying that the legislature could not have intended to pass a bill that would conflict with the NZBORA. The High Court would modify the Family Court Judge’s protection order only to qualify that appellant is not precluded from discussing the matter with other family members, attorneys, or law enforcement, thereby preserving her rights under NZBORA. The High Court also approved a Constitutional Court holding that the right of freedom of expression extends to a woman’s right to use her own name in connection with her status as a victim of sexual abuse.


Taleo v. Taleo Senior Magistrate Court (1996)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

The Court examined whether or not the Magistrate's grant of a restraining order was unconstitutional. A victim of mestic violence moved out of the house after the incident and attempted to obtain a restraining order. The Court found that no rule gave the Magistrate jurisdiction to grant such orders, but, absent parliamentary intervention, the Magistrate can grant these orders even if they violate the constitution.


State v. Yali (1) National Court of Justice (2006)

Sexual violence and rape

A 41 year-old assailant raped his 17 year-old sister-in-law. The court established the sentencing guidelines for rape cases, holding that the starting sentence should be 10 years and the maximum sentence should be 15 years, unless aggravating circumstances allow a longer sentence, which includes life imprisonment. The defendant in this case received a 12 year sentence.



State v. Yali (2) National Court of Justice (2005)

Sexual violence and rape

In a case of rape, the court examined whether or not the element of lack of consent was present in order to establish the elements of the rape charge. The court considered the following factors: the testimony of the parties, the use of force or threat of force, any evidence of consent, the circumstances and behavior of the parties surrounding the incident, time before the victim lodged a complaint, and the medical evidence.



Regina v. Iroi High Court of Solomon Islands (2004)

Sexual violence and rape

A victim was forced into a drain and sexually assaulted by assailant. The court relied on the Penal Code and case law for the law establishing that force is not a necessary element of rape, but it can be evidence of lack of consent. Rape is "unlawful sexual intercourse with a woman or girl, without her consent, or with consent if that consent is obtained by force or threats or intimidation of any kind." The defendant was found guilty.



Queen v. Katuke Court of Appeal of Cook Islands (2007)

Sexual violence and rape

Here, aggravating factors in sentencing in a rape case were present when the victim was a member of the perpetrator's household.



Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs v. Khawar High Court of Australia (2002)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

A Pakistani citizen and her children applied for protection visas in Australia. The issue was whether Pakistan failed to provide protection against domestic violence and if this failure can be considered persecution (allowing refugee status). The Court found that the woman could be considered a part of a persecuted "social group" because women are a "distinct and recognizable group" and that failure to protect can be persecution if there is 1) "criminal conduct of private citizens" and 2) "condonation [sic] of such conduct by the state or its agents, in circumstances where the state has a duty to protect against such harm."



Legislation

The Marriage Act of 1961 (2017)

Forced and early marriage, Gender discrimination

Section 11 sets the marriage age at 18. Section 12 allows authorization of marriage of persons under 18 but above 16 years of age in exceptional circumstances, after obtaining authorization from a Judge or Magistrate. Furthermore, section 13 provides that a marriage of a minor is not to be solemnized without consent of parents and other administrative steps.



Family Law Act of 1975 (2018)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Domestic and intimate partner violence

Section 4AB defines family violence, covering within its scope violent, threatening or other behavior by a person that coerces or controls a member of the family or causes that member to be fearful. Further, 4AB(2) sets out a list of behaviors that may constitute family violence, including assault, stalking, repeated derogatory taunts, intentionally damaging or destroying property, and unreasonably withholding financial support. The Act provides for divorce and nullity of marriage if the marriage has broken down irreparably. Furthermore, section 65AA deals with parental orders. The court must, pursuant to section 60CG, facilitate the child’s best interest but also to the extent possible ensure that any parental order is consistent with any family violence order and does not expose a person to an unacceptable risk of family violence.



Criminal Code Act of 1995 (2018)

Forced and early marriage, Trafficking in persons

Division 270 of the Criminal Code Act prohibits slavery and slavery-like offenses. Section 170.1A defines these offenses and related terms including coercion, forced labor, and forced marriage. Section 270.2 specifies that slavery offenses are unlawful, whether committed inside or outside of Australia. Section 270.4 criminalizes servitude offenses, 270.6A criminalizes forced labor offenses, section 270.7B criminalizes forced marriage offenses, section 270.8 criminalizes slavery-like offenses, 271.2 criminalizes trafficking in persons, 271.4 criminalizes trafficking in children, and 271.5 criminalizes domestic trafficking in persons. Section 270.11 clarifies that for all above offenses it is not a defense that a person consented to or acquiesced to prohibited conduct.



Criminal Code of the Northern Territory of Australia (2019)

Sexual violence and rape

In the Northern Territory a person is guilty of a crime if he/she has sexual intercourse with another person without the other person’s consent and knows about, or is reckless as to, the lack of consent.  Consent is defined as “free and voluntary agreement.”  Circumstances in which a person does not consent to sexual intercourse include circumstances where: force is used; the victim fears force or harm to themselves or someone else; the victim is unconscious or not capable of free agreement; or the victim is unable to understand the sexual nature of the act.  In addition, consent is no longer assumed where the victim is married to the accused.  The prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused knew that the victim was not consenting or was reckless as to whether the victim was consenting.  Recklessness includes not giving any thought to whether the person is consenting to sexual penetration.  A defendant is not guilty of the offence if he or she mistakenly believed that consent had been given.



Domestic and Family Violence Act (Northern Territory) (2017)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

The Domestic and Family Violence Act 2007 (NT) empowers the Magistrates’ Court to issue orders for the protection for victims of domestic violence.  A domestic violence order may impose restrictions on the ability of the person whom the order is against to contact, use violence against, damage the property of, threaten, stalk or harass the victim.  A domestic violence order may be issued to victims including: a spouse or former spouse of the perpetrator of the violence; a person who is or has been living with the perpetrator; a relative or former relative of the perpetrator; and a person who has or has had an intimate personal relationship with the perpetrator.  The domestic violence order may be sought by the victim (if over 15 years old), his/her legal representative, a police or child protection officer, or a court.  Knowingly breaching a domestic violence order is a criminal offence, punishable by up to 400 penalty units ($62,000 as of August 2018) or imprisonment for two years.  The domestic violence order remains in force for the period stated, but may be revoked earlier by the victim’s consent or a court order.



Anti-Discrimination Act of 1992 (Northern Territory) (2018)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination, LGBTIQ, Sexual harassment

The Anti-Discrimination Act prohibits discrimination in certain settings on the grounds of any designated attribute, including sex, sexuality, marital status, pregnancy, parenthood, and breastfeeding.  Unlike in other Australian jurisdictions, “gender identity” and “sex characteristics” are not included as designated attributes in the Northern Territory.  The settings in which discrimination based on a designated attribute is prohibited include: education, work, accommodation, provision of goods, services and facilities, clubs, and superannuation.  Discrimination includes any distinction, restriction, or preference made based on a designated attribute that has the effect of nullifying or impairing equality of opportunity, and harassment based on a designated attribute.  Certain exceptions from the prohibition of discrimination exist, including: certain religious circumstances; provision of rights or privileges connected to childbirth; and discrimination aimed at reducing disadvantage.  Alleged victims of prohibited discrimination can lodge a complaint against the discriminating person or entity, which will trigger a conciliation.  If the matter is not resolved through conciliation, the Northern Territory Anti-Discrimination Commissioner may assess the complaint.  If the Commissioner finds that the complaint is substantiated, the Northern Territory Civil and Administrative Tribunal can order that the discriminator pay compensation to the victim, discontinue the discriminating behavior, or do any other act specified by the Tribunal.  



Termination of Pregnancy Law Reform Act of 2017 (Northern Territory) (2017)

Abortion and reproductive health rights

The Termination of Pregnancy Law Reform Act 2017 (NT) reforms the laws in the Northern Territory relating to terminations of pregnancy by improving access to abortion and abortion drugs, and prohibiting harassing conduct targeted at persons seeking abortion.  From July 1 2017, termination was made available in the Northern Territory up to 14 weeks into a pregnancy if a medical practitioner considers the termination to be appropriate having regard to: all relevant medical circumstances; the woman’s current and future physical, psychological and social circumstances; and professional standards and guidelines.  For women who are more than 14 weeks but fewer than 23 weeks into the pregnancy, an abortion is permitted if two medical practitioners agree that the termination is appropriate having regard to the same factors.  Only terminations necessary to preserve the life of the pregnant woman are permitted 23 weeks or more into the pregnancy.  The Act makes it an offense to engage in harassing conduct in termination facilities or any area that is within 150m of such facilities.  The maximum penalty for such an offense is 100 penalty units ($15,500 as of August 2018) or 12 months’ imprisonment.



International Case Law

C. v. Australia Human Rights Committee (ICCPR) (2018)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, International law, LGBTIQ

C. was a citizen of Australia and the United Kingdom who lived with A. as a couple in the State of Victoria and then Queensland.  They agreed to have a baby and that C. would be the birth mother.  They traveled to Canada and got married and then separated shortly after the marriage.  C. is the sole caregiver of the baby and no longer knows of the whereabouts of A.  C. wanted to formally dissolve her Canadian legal marriage so that she could remarry or enter a civil partnership in the future.  She also wanted to ensure she was not held responsible for A.’s debts.  Finally, when traveling abroad, she did not want A. to be deemed her legal spouse in certain countries where the marriage might be recognized and A deemed next of kin.  In Queensland, in order to obtain a file a divorce application to dissolve a marriage, a marital relationship must be legally recognized as a marriage.  Section 5(1) of the Marriage Act of 1961, which provided the relevant definition of marriage, define this term to mean “the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.”  Further, Section 88EA of the Act provided that, “a union solemnized in a foreign country between: (a) a man and another man, or 9b) a woman and another woman, must not be recognized as a marriage in Australia.”  C. did not file for divorce in Australia because of the laws, nor did she apply in Canada or the United Kingdom because both had residency requirements for divorce.  C. filed her claim with the Committee claiming that the denial under Australian law of access to divorce proceedings for same-sex couples who have validly married abroad and the consequential denial of court-based relief in the form of a court order amounts to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, contrary to article 1491), ready together with article 291) (equal access to courts and tribunals), and article 26 (equality before the law) of the Covenant.  The Committee determined that C. was precluded from accessing divorce proceedings in Australia because her same-sex marriage was not recognized under sections 5(1) and 88EA of the Marriage Act of Australia, whereas couples in specific opposite-sex marriages not recognized in Australia, such as polygamous couples, do have access to divorce.  This was found to constitute differential treatment.  Australia stated they made a reasonable exception for polygamous marriages to enable parties to such marriages access to the assistance, relief and help provided by the family law courts in relation to (but not limited to) children’s matters, property matters, maintenance matters or divorce.  The Committee determined that Australia did not explain why this stated reason does not apply equally to unrecognized foreign same-sex marriages.  In the absence of more convincing explanations from Australia, the Committee found that the differentiation of treatment based on sexual orientation to which C. was subjected regarding access to divorce proceedings was not based on reasonable and objective criteria and therefore constitutes discrimination under article 26 of the Covenant.  Under article 2(3) of the Covenant, the Committee stated that Australia was under an obligation to provide C. with an effective remedy by providing full reparation for the discrimination suffered through lack of access to divorce proceedings.  Australia also was obligated to take steps to prevent similar violations in the future and to review its laws in accordance with the Committee’s views, and to provide the Committee information about the measures taken to give effect to the Committee’s views within 180 days.



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.



R.P.B. v. The Philippines CEDAW Committee (2014)

Gender discrimination, Sexual violence and rape

R.P.B., a Filipina national born in 1989 who is both deaf and mute, was raped by her 19-year-old neighbor in 2006. The case remained at the trial court level for five years before the Regional Trial Court of Pasig City acquitted the defendant in 2011. Similar to a previous case from the Philippines heard by the CEDAW Committee in 2008, Karen Tayag Vetrido v. The Philippines, the Court again declined to apply Filipino Supreme Court precedent. Instead, the Court relied on gender-based myths and stereotypes about rape and rape victims, finding that the victim should have used every opportunity to escape or resist her attacker. In addition, State authorities did not provide any interpretation for R.P.B. In her complaint to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, R.P.B. argued that the Court’s actions violated article 1, and article 2(c), (d), and (f) of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. In addition to relying on gender based myths and stereotypes, R.P.B. also argued that the Court failed to provided her with accessibility, on an equal basis with other victims, to the court, as a woman who is also deaf and mute. The Committee held that the provision of sign language interpretation was essential to ensure R.P.B’s full and equal participation in the proceedings, in compliance with article 2(c) and 2(d) of the Convention. Further, the Committee held that the State party erred in relying on gender-based stereotyping, which resulted in sex and gender-based discrimination and disregard for the individual circumstances of the case, such as R.P.B’s disability and age. The Committee recommended that the State provide R.P.B. with the appropriate compensation and free-of-charge counseling, review the existing law and remove any requirement that sexual assault be committed by force or violence, guarantee the free and adequate assistance of interpreters, ensure that all criminal proceedings involving rape and other sexual offences are conducted in an impartial and fair manner, free from prejudices or stereotypical notions regarding the victim’s gender, age and disability, and provide adequate and regular training on the Convention, the Optional Protocol and the Committee’s general recommendations.



Bullock v. Department of Corrections Human Rights Review Tribunal (2008)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination, Harmful traditional practices

Ms. Bullock, the plantiff, was made to sit in a row behind the male employees and was not given a speaking role in a company event. The plantiff believed the her employer was participating in gender discrimination and attempting to justify this as a company policy that followed traditional Mauri customs. The tribunal ruled that Ms. Bullock's employer was in fact practicing gender discrimination according to the Human Rights Act of 1993.



Dranichnikov v. Australia Human Rights Committee (2004)

Gender discrimination

HRC held sex discrimination claim inadmissible for non-exhaustion of domestic remedies because of High Court judgment in petitioner's favor.