Women and Justice: Location

Legislation

Decreto Legislativo 26 marzo 2001, n. 151 (Legislative Decree No. 151/2001) (2001)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

This legislative decree protects maternity and paternity, and prohibits discrimination on the basis of either. It regulates parental leave, leave for the illness of a child, rest, and the treatment of pregnant workers to protect their health. (Note: PDF is the consolidated text only. Follow the external link for the entire text of the decree.)



Codice Civil (2019)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Gender discrimination, Property and inheritance rights

The Italian Civil Code provides for succession and inheritance, each of which require equal treatment of male and female children (Book II, Title I). In cases in which the conduct of a spouse or co-habitant causes serious physical or mental harm to the other spouse or co-habitant, but the conduct does not constitute a criminal act, the court may issue a family order of protection. A judge may order the party concerned to stay away from the home, the spouse's place of work, the residences of extended family members, and the children's school (Book I, TItle IX, art. 342). The judge can also order the intervention of social services or a family mediation center.



Codice Penal (1930)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting, Sexual harassment, Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

The Italian Penal Code prohibits domestic violence (art. 572), female genital mutilation (art. 583), and harassment (art. 612). Punishable crimes against a person's freedom also include slavery and forced prostitution (art. 600), human trafficking (art. 601), and sexual violence (art. 609). Sexual acts coerced through violence, threats, or abuse of authority carry a prison sentence of five to 10 years. Aggravating factors in sexual violence cases include pregnancy, a victim under 14 years old, and use of a weapon. Sexual acts with a minor are not punishable when(1) the perpetrator is also a minor, (2) the minor is at least 13 years old, and (3) the age difference between the two is no more than three years (art. 609).



Costituzione della Repubblica Italiana (Constitution of the Republic of Italy) (1947)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

The Constitution provides for equality before the law without consideration of sex, race, religion, political affiliation, language, and social conditions (art. 3). It also recognizes the moral and legal equality of spouses (art. 29). Finally, it mandates equal employment opportunity for men and women (art. 37).

(English translation available through RefWorld.)



Código Penal (Penal Code) (2018)

Abortion and reproductive health rights, Domestic and intimate partner violence, Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting, Forced and early marriage, Gender-based violence in general, LGBTIQ, Sexual harassment, Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement, Trafficking in persons

Under section 142 (Crimes against people) of the Portuguese Penal Code, abortion is permitted if performed by a doctor and in the following scenarios: (1) risk of death or grave physical or mental harm to the mother; (2) the fetus is in risk of grave illness or malformation, up to the 24th week of pregnancy; (3) pregnancy was caused by rape or sexual assault, up to the 16th week of pregnancy; (4) by the mother’s choice, up to the 10th week of pregnancy. Article 118 provides that the statute of limitations on crimes of sexual violence and female genital mutilation against minors do not expire until the victim is at least 23 years old. Prostitution is not considered a crime in Portugal. However, the economic exploitation of prostitution by third parties is considered a crime under the Penal Code. A homicide that reveals “especial censurabilidade ou perversidade” (special censorship or perversity) is punishable with 12 – 25 years imprisonment. These special circumstances include a current or former spousal relationship between the perpetrator and victim, a sexual motive, and hate crimes including those based on sex, gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity. Article 144a bans female genital mutilation and imposes a prison sentence of two to 18 years. Articles 154b, 159, and 160 ban forced marriage, slavery, and human trafficking, respectively. Article 163 bans sexual coercion, which carries a sentence of one to eight years for coercing a significant sexual act. Article 164 punishes “violação”, which is forcible intercourse, with imprisonment for one to six years.



Código Civil (Civil Code) (2010)

Forced and early marriage, Gender discrimination, LGBTIQ

Section 1577 of the Portuguese Civil Code provides for the right of marriage, regardless of gender, to anyone over the age of 16, provided that whoever wishes to marry before the age of 18 must also present an authorization of their parents or legal guardians. The Civil Code also provides that marriage requires free will of both parties, and therefore any marriage that is performed without the will of both spouses is void.



Código do Trabalho (Lei n.º 7/2009) (2018)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination, Sexual harassment

Section 29 of the Portugese Labor Law ensures equal opportunity in labor and and prevents gender discrimination. The Code also guarantees maternity and paternity leave, bans harassment, establishes universal preschool for children until the age of five, and requires children to attend school.



Constituição da República Portugal (Constitution of the Portugese Republic) (1976)

Gender discrimination, LGBTIQ

The Portuguese Constitution in Section 9 provides that it is the duty of the State to promote equality among men and women.  Section 13 further provides that no one shall be privileged or discriminated against for birth, gender, race, language, place of origin, religion, political or ideological conditions, social or economic status, or sexual orientation.



Law on Employment and Work of Foreigners (2015)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination, LGBTIQ

Article 4(6) of the Law on Employment and Work of Foreigners provides that when employing a foreigner, the employer must not put the job seeker in less favourable position due to race, color of skin, gender, age, health condition, that is, disability, religious, political or other convictions, trade union membership, national or social background, family status, property status, sexual orientation, or due to other personal circumstances. (English translation available from the ILO through the external link.)



Law on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men (2012)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination, Sexual harassment

The Law on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men (the “LEOWM”) is specialized legislation that prohibits discrimination on grounds of sex and gender. Articles 3(3), 4, 5 and 7 expressly mention that prohibition of sex discrimination is an essential part of the law. The LEOWM further provides that “gender-based sexual harassment is any type of unwanted verbal, non-verbal or physical behaviour of sexual nature, aimed at or resulting in violation of the dignity of a person, especially when an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive atmosphere is created.” (English translation available from the ILO through the external link.)



Law on Prevention of and Protection from Discrimination (Official Gazette of the Republic of Macedonia nos. 50/2010, 44/2014, 150/2015, 31/2016 and 21/2018) (2010)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination, LGBTIQ, Sexual harassment

The Law on Prevention of and Protection from Discrimination (the “LPPD”), which entered into force in 2011, introduced the concepts of direct and indirect discrimination (Article 6), instruction to discriminate (Article 9) and harassment and sexual harassment (Article 7). The LPPD covers almost all grounds of discrimination as covered by EU law i.e. “ sex, race, colour, gender, belonging to a marginalized group, ethnic origin, language, nationality, social background, religion or religious beliefs, other types of beliefs, education, political affiliation, personal or social status, mental and physical impediment, age, family or marital status, property status, health condition or any other basis anticipated by a law or ratified international agreement." However,  the LPPD does not cover discrimination based on sexual orientation. Article 9 of the LPPD also covers sexual harassment, which states that “sexual harassment shall be unwanted behavior of sexual nature, manifested physically, verbally or in any other manner, aimed at or resulting in violation of the dignity of a person, especially when creating a hostile, intimidating, degrading or humiliating environment." Article 4 of the LPPD covers a wide scope on the prohibition on harrassments, which includes: (a) labour and labour relations; (b) education, science and sport; (c) social security, including the area of social protection, pension and disability insurance, health insurance and health protection; (d) judiciary and administration; (e) housing; (f) public information and media; (g) access to goods and services; (h) membership and activity in unions, political parties, citizens’ associations and foundations or other membership-based organizations; (i) culture, and (j) other areas determined by law. (English translation available from the ILO through the external link.)



Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia of 1991 (1991)

Gender discrimination

Article 9 of the Constitution provides that all citizens of the Republic of Macedonia are equal in their freedoms and rights, regardless of “sex, race, colour of skin, national and social origin, political and religious belief, property and social status”. Article 110 of the Constitution expressly prohibits discrimination among citizens on the ground of sex, race, religion or nation, social or political affiliation. (English translation available from the ILO through the external link.)



Swiss Civil Code (2013)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage

Art. 96: A person cannot remarry until the person proves that his or her previous marriage has been annulled or dissolved.

Art. 105: A person can annul a marriage if a spouse was already married when they wed.



Swiss Penal Code (2014)

Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting, Forced and early marriage, Harmful traditional practices, Sexual harassment, Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement, Trafficking in persons

Art. 124: A person who seriously injures a female’s genitals can be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison or fined.  A person may be punished for causing such injuries abroad if the person is not extradited.

Art. 181a: The statute provides that anyone who coerces someone to marry or register a same-sex partnership by the use of force or threats can be punished by sentence of custody of up to five years.  The statute applies even if the marriage occurred outside Switzerland if the person has not been extradited. 

Art. 187: A person can be punished by up to five years in custody or a fine for (1) committing a sexual act with a person under 16 years old, (2) inciting a child under 16 to commit a sexual act, or (3) involving a child under 16 in a sexual act.

Art. 190: A person can be sentenced to between 1 and 10 years in custody or a fine for using violence, threats, or psychological pressure to force a female to engage in a sexual act, or for making her incapable of resisting. 

Art. 195: A person can be sentenced to 10 years in custody or fined for (1) inducing or encouraging a minor to engage in prostitution for financial gain, (2) inducing a person into prostitution by taking advantage of their dependency, (3) restricting a prostitute’s freedom to act by controlling his or her work as a prostitute, or (4) making a person continue as a prostitute against his or her will.

Art. 198: A person may be fined for offending someone by performing a sexual act in the presence of another who is not expecting it or sexually harassing someone through physical acts or indecent language. 



Federal Act on Gender Equality (1996)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination, Sexual harassment

Article 1 of this act states that it is intended to promote equality between men and women.  Article 3 prohibits discrimination against employees based on sex.  Article 4 prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace.  Article 5 provides for relief, including injunctive relief and lost salary.  Article 10 protects against retaliation against complainants. 



Federal Constitution of the Swiss Confederation (1999)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

Art. 8 of the Constitution provides that all people are equal and no person may be discriminated against because of gender.  The Constitution also states that men and women have equal rights and the law shall ensure their equality.  Art. 35 provides for protection of fundamental rights even in private relationships.



On the Local Elections (No. 595-VIII) (2015)

Gender discrimination

The Local Election Act of Ukraine establishes quotas for female representation in the legislative bodies at local level elections, requiring that representation of persons of one sex in the electoral lists of candidates for members of local councils in multi-mandate constituencies should be at least 30% of the total number of candidates in the electoral roll.



On the Political Parties in Ukraine (No. 2365-III) (2001)

Gender discrimination

The Political Parties Act of Ukraine establishes quotas for female representation in the Ukrainian parliament, requiring that the size of the quota (i.e. the minimum level of representation of women and men in the electoral list of candidates from one political party) must be not less than 30% of the total number of candidates in the electoral list.



On Principles of Preventing and Combating Discrimination in Ukraine (No. 5207-VI) (2012)

Gender discrimination

The Anti-Discrimination Act of Ukraine (the “Act”) addresses discrimination in all areas of life, including public and political activities.  Under the Act, “discrimination” is defined to include situations where a person or group of persons suffer limitations in the recognition, implementation or use of rights and freedoms in any form due to reasons such as race, age, gender, etc.  The Act provides that all forms of discrimination are prohibited in Ukraine and all persons should have equal rights and freedoms as well as opportunities for their implementation and establishes civil, administrative and criminal liability for the violation of anti-discrimination legislation (including under the Act). The Act does not however provide for any specific penalties.



On the Amendments to the Criminal and Criminal Procedure Codes of Ukraine in order to implement the provisions of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (2017)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Forced and early marriage, Forced sterilization, Gender discrimination, Gender-based violence in general, International law, Sexual violence and rape

The Criminal and Criminal Procedural Codes of Ukraine were amended in December 2017 to adopt provisions of the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention) adopted in 2011.  As a result of these amendments, forced marriage (i.e. forcing a person to marry or to continue being in a forced marriage, or to enter into a cohabitation without official registration of marriage, or to continue such cohabitation) is punishable by restraint of liberty for up to three years or imprisonment for the same period and domestic violence (i.e. deliberate systematic violence against a spouse or ex-spouse or other person with whom the perpetrator is in family or intimate relationship, leading to physical or psychological suffering, disorder of health, disability, emotional dependence) is punishable with public works for up to 240 hours or detention for up to six months, or restraint of liberty for up to 5 years or imprisonment for up to two years.  In addition, the amendments:

  • introduce new corpus delicti, such as “illegal abortion or sterilization” (i.e. performed by a person without medical education or without consent of the victim) which is punishable by imprisonment for up to 3 years;
  • establish punishment for rape of a spouse or ex-spouse or other person with whom the perpetrator is in a family or intimate relationship (imprisonment for up to 10 years); and
  • increase punishment for sexual violence to up to 15 years, if such acts resulted in serious consequences.


On Preventing and Combating Domestic Violence (No. 2229-VIII) (2017)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

The Domestic Violence Protection Act of Ukraine (the “Act”) introduces the concept of “domestic violence” which is defined to include action or inaction of physical, sexual, psychological or economic violence committed within a family or between relatives, or between former or current spouses or other persons who live (or lived) together as a family, irrespective of whether the person who committed domestic violence lives (or lived) together with the victim, as well as a threat of similar actions. The Act contains a series of governmental steps aimed at combatting domestic violence and improving the status of victims of domestic violence, which includes, without limitation, that the Ukrainian government maintain a unified state register of cases of domestic violence and sex-based violence and to establish a relevant call center, the adoption of immediate injunctions with respect to domestic violence offenders, provision of free of charge legal assistance to all victims in all cases of domestic violence, free medical, social and psychological help, and reimbursement of inflicted harm and damage to the victim’s physical and psychological health. The Act, through amendments to the Code of Administrative Offences Act, makes domestic violence or sex-based violence punishable by a fine in the amount of 20 non-taxable minimal wages or public works for the period from 30 to 40 hours or administrative detention for the period of up to seven days. If such actions are repeated within a year, the punishment is increased up to 40 non-taxable minimal wages, public works for the period of up to 60 hours or administrative detention for up to 15 days.



On Ensuring the Equal Rights and Opportunities for Women and Men (No. 2866-IV) (2005)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination, Gender-based violence in general, Sexual harassment

The Equal Opportunities Act of Ukraine (the “Act”) provides for the legal framework of men and women’s parity in all spheres of social life through providing legal support for equal rights and opportunities, removal of gender-based discrimination and prevention of misbalance between women’s and men’s opportunities in implementing the rights granted to each of them by the Constitution and other laws.  Pursuant to the Act, “equal rights” means absence of gender-based restrictions or privileges.  The Act provides that equal rights for men and women will be ensured in the election process, civil service, employment and career, social security, entrepreneurial activity and education, in each case, through the relevant government/regulatory bodies.  The Act prohibits gender-based violence (which is defined as “actions directed at persons through their sex, stereotyped widespread customs or traditions or actions that relate predominantly to persons of a determined sex and create physical, sexual, psychological or financial damage or suffering”) and sexual harassment (defined as "sexual actions of a verbal or physical nature, which may humiliate or insult the person who is dependent on the perpetrator due to work, official, financial or other reasons").  Violation of the Act can result in a limitation order being issued to temporarily restrict the rights of the offender and protect the rights of the victim, including prohibiting the victim on residing with the victim at their place of residence, approaching the victim up to a certain distance and limitations on telephone calls or other communication with the victim.



Domestic Case Law

[Undisclosed parties] v. Ministério Público Tribunal da Relação de Porto (2018)

Statutory rape or defilement

Appellant B (name omitted from the public record) challenged the district court’s (Tribunal da Comarca) ruling that convicted him of child sexual abuse for having sexual intercourse with underage victims F, E and K (names omitted from the public record).  Appellant B argued that the victims were not sexually inexperienced, and had intercourse with him out of their own free will, as the victims had sufficient means to reject him if they had so decided.  Under the Portuguese Penal Code, a person who, being over the age of 18, maintains sexual intercourse or relations with victims between the age of 14 and 16, taking advantage of their inexperience, is guilty of child sexual abuse (Sec. 173).  The appellate court (Tribunal da Relação) held that victims between the age of 14 and 16 are still considered inexperienced despite having prior sexual relations.  The appellate court upheld the district court’s conviction of Appellant B.



[Undisclosed Parties] v. Ministério Público Tribunal da Relação de Coimbra (Court of Appeal of Coimbra) (2018)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

Appellant A (name omitted from the public record) challenged the district court’s (Tribunal da Comarca) decision which convicted him of domestic violence, for having inflicted physical and psychological injuries on his spouse, who later filed for divorce.  As provided under the Portuguese Penal Code, the crime of domestic violence occurs whenever a person—repeatedly or not—inflicts physical or psychological harm to their spouse or former spouse (Sec. 152).  The Appellant argues that the occurrence of the crime of domestic violence requires repeated episodes of physical or psychological harm for the marital relation to be damaged by the injuries of the spouse.  In this case, the Appellant argued that there was only one episode of physical and psychological injury, and he therefore should be tried for the lesser crime of inflicting bodily injury.  The appellate court held that the crime of domestic violence is not characterized by repeated episodes of harm, but rather by the gravity of the harms inflicted.  The appeal was denied.



Sentenza 25498/2017 Corte di Cassazione: Sezione VI Penale (Supreme Court: VI Criminal Section) (2017)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

A man was charged with the crime of mistreatment in the family pursuant to article 572 of the Italian Criminal Code and sentenced by the Court of Appeal to one year and four months of imprisonment for mistreatment, aggravated injury and threats against the cohabiting partner. The accused appealed the ruling holding that the charges referred to episodes occurred after the cessation of the cohabitation between him and the victim. However, the Supreme Court maintained that the end of cohabitation is irrelevant to the evaluation of ill-treatment between the members of the couple when the personal relationship was based on mutual solidarity and assistance, and resulted in the birth of a child. In fact, the parental obligations towards a child, for which the couple needs to relate with cooperation and mutual respect, survive despite the cessation of the cohabitation. Therefore, the Italian Supreme Court dismissed the appeal because the presence of a child increases the importance of the stability and longevity of the parents’ relationship.



Sentenza N. 10959/2016 Corte de Cassazione: Sezioni Unite (Supreme Court: Joint Sections)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Femicide, Gender-based violence in general, International law, Sexual harassment, Sexual violence and rape, Stalking, Statutory rape or defilement

The Supreme Court, in deciding upon the applicability of certain procedural rules, confirmed the main international definitions of violence within gender relationships. Particularly, the local court dismissed the case against a man charged with the crimes of stalking and mistreatment in the family pursuant to articles 612-bis and 572 of the Italian Criminal Code, without giving any notice thereof to the person injured by the crime in accordance with Article 408 of the Italian Code of Criminal Procedure. In deciding the case, the injured person appealed the decision of the local court and requested the Italian Supreme Court to declare the dismissal of the case null and void. In deciding the procedural issue at hand, the Italian Supreme Court pointed out that the Italian criminal law has drawn the definitions of gender violence and violence against women mainly from international law provisions, which are directly enforced in the system pursuant to Article 117 of the Constitution. In this decision the Italian Supreme Court gave all the definitions of violence within gender relationships in consideration of international conventions and specifically European law, and concluded that such definitions, even if not directly included in domestic regulations, “are fully part of our national system through international law and are therefore enforceable.” According to this interpretation, the definitions of gender violence given by the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence are directly applicable in the Italian legal framework. On this basis, the Court ruled that notice of dismissal of the case must always be served on the person injured by crimes of stalking and mistreatment in the family pursuant to articles 612-bis and 572 of the Italian Criminal Code, as those provisions relate to the gender violence notion set forth under the international and EU provisions applicable in the Italian legal framework.



Sentenza n. 6575/2016 Corte di Cassazione: Sezione Lavoro (Supreme Court: Labor Section) (2016)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

An employer fired a woman after learning of her intention to start an assisted reproduction process. The local court and the court of appeal stated that such dismissal was substantially due to gender discrimination against the employee who wanted to start the assisted reproduction process. Such decisions were challenged by the employer who argued that the dismissal of the employee was not connected to any gender discrimination but rather to the absences for illness that would have affected the efficient management of the work. The Italian Supreme Court confirmed that the dismissal was null and void due to a gender discrimination, irrespective of the fact that the assisted reproduction process had been commenced or not and sentenced the employer re-hire the employee and to pay her the relevant salaries as if she had never been fired.



Sentenza n. 937/2017 La Corte d'Appello di Torino: Sezione Lavoro (Court of Appeal of Turin: Labor Section) (2017)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

The Court of Appeal of Turin upheld the lower court’s judgment deeming a clause of a collective agreement negotiated at the enterprise level to be discriminatory because it infringed on Articles 3 and 37 of the Constitution, Article 25, para 2bis, of Decree No. 198/2006 and Article 3 of Decree No. 151/2001. Under the relevant clause the “real presence at work” was as an eligibility criterion to receive an additional remuneration, it being understood that any family-related leave, including any compulsory maternity leave, parental leave. and/or leave for illness, could affect the employees’ level of performance in that respect. The Court maintained that even though the criterion was formally neutral, it resulted in an indirect pay discrimination since female workers usually take more family-related leave than male workers. Moreover, during the trial, the company failed to provide a permissible justification regarding the requirement of “real presence at work.” Therefore, the employer was ordered to (1) cease the discrimination by computing leave as actual time worked for the purposes of achieving the real presence requirement and becoming eligible for the  additional remuneration, (2) to pay the additional remuneration incentive to the plaintiffs, and (3) to enhance a plan to remove the discrimination by avoiding the inclusion of the above criterion in any future collective bargaining at the enterprise level. The latter was promoted by the intervention of the Regional Equality Adviser as a case of collective discrimination.



Ministério Público v. [Undisclosed Parties], 39/09.0TAFCR.C1 Tribunal da Relação de Coimbra (Court of Appeal of Coimbra) (2011)

Sexual harassment, Statutory rape or defilement

The defendant, a teacher, was charged with sexual harassment of children for multiple offenses against two of his students. On repeated occasions, the defendant inappropriately touched and made obscene gestures to the students, who were 11 and 12 years old. The Lower Court found the defendant guilty of the charges. The defendant appealed, arguing that he did not have sexual intent towards the students, and therefore did not satisfy all requisites of the crime of sexual harassment under section 171 of the Portuguese Penal Code. The Appellate Court affirmed the Lower Court’s decision, and held that the crime of sexual harassment of children under section 171 of the Penal Code requires only that the victim’s freedom and sexual self-determination is hindered by the defendant.



Ministério Público v. [Undisclosed Parties], 9/14.7GCTND.C1 Tribunal da Relação de Coimbra (Court of Appeal of Coimbra) (2016)

Sexual harassment, Statutory rape or defilement

The Public Prosecutor (Ministério Público) brought charges against the defendant, “A” (name omitted from public record), for sexual harassment against the victim, “D” (name omitted from public record) a minor girl. A had naked pictures of D and threatened to expose them using the internet unless D agreed to have sexual intercourse with him. The Lower Court held that D’s conduct did not meet the requirements of sexual harassment under section 163 of the Portuguese Penal Code, which requires a grave threat to the victim as an element of the crime. The Lower Court held that the threat to expose naked pictures of D is considered a grave threat under the Portuguese Penal Code. The Public Prosecutor appealed, and the Appellate Court reversed the decision, finding B guilty of sexual harassment.



Ministério Público v. [Undisclosed Parties], 43/13.4JAPRT.P1 Tribunal da Relação de Porto (Court of Appeal of Porto) (2016)

Sexual violence and rape

The Public Prosecutor (Ministério Público) brought charges against defendant, “B” (name omitted from public record), for the crime of rape for having anal sex with the victim, without the victim’s consent. The Lower Court found B guilty. B appealed, arguing that the victim facilitated the anal penetration, and therefore the court should find that the victim consented. The Appellate Court found that, although the victim facilitated penetration, the victim did so to preserve his integrity, which does not qualify as consent. The Appellate Court affirmed the Lower Court’s decision finding B guilty of rape under section 164 of the Penal Code.



Ministério Público v. [Undisclosed Parties], 1004/07.8TALMG.P1 Tribunal da Relação de Porto (Court of Appeal of Porto) (2013)

Statutory rape or defilement

The defendant, “B” (name omitted from public record), was sentenced in the Lower Court for statutory rape and qualified rape of the victim, a minor girl. The court found that the defendant had repeated sexual intercourse with the victim, who had initially consented to sexual intercourse but, over time, changed her mind and wanted to end her sexual relationship with B. B threatened to have sexual intercourse with the victim’s sister, and in order to prevent that, the victim continued her sexual relationship with B. On appeal, the Appellate Court partially overturned the decision to absolve B from the charges of qualified rape. The Appellate Court held that B did not threaten the victim personally, and therefore could not be charged with qualified rape under section 163 of the Penal Code. However, the Appellate Court further held that, under Section 174 of the Portuguese Penal Code, when an adult practices sexual acts with a minor aged from 14 to 16, it is considered statutory rape if the evidence suggests that the adult has taken advantage of the minor’s inexperience, and consent from the minor does not automatically rebut the presumption of inexperience. Therefore, the Lower Court’s decision was affirmed with respect to the sentencing of the defendant as guilty for statutory rape.



Ministério Público v. [Undisclosed Parties], 6/08.1ZRPRT.P1 Tribunal da Relação de Porto (Court of Appeal of Porto) (2014)

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

The Public Prosecutor (Ministério Público) filed charges of human trafficking and sexual exploitation of minors against the defendants, “B” and “C” (names omitted from public record). Evidence demonstrated that B and C would transport women and minors from Italy to Portugal and hold them against their will to work as prostitutes at adult entertainment facilities. The Lower Court found B and C guilty on charges of both human trafficking and sexual exploitation of minors, which constitute separate crimes under the Portuguese Penal Code. B appealed to the Appellate Court, arguing that she could not be sentenced twice for the same conduct. The Appellate Court affirmed the Lower Court’s decision, and held that the crimes of human trafficking and of sexual exploitation of minors violate different rights of the victims, which warrants the stacked sentences of both crimes as provided under Sections 160 and 175 of the Penal Code.



Ministério Público v. [Undisclosed Parties], 481/14.5JABRG.P1 Tribunal da Relação de Porto (Court of Appeal of Porto) (2017)

Statutory rape or defilement

The Public Prosecutor (Ministério Público) brought charges of child pornography against defendant, “B” (name omitted from public record), for committing the crime of child pornography. The Public Prosecutor argued that B. kept naked pictures of a 14-year-old girl. The Lower Court found B not guilty of child pornography, because B did not coerce the girl to send him the pictures, but instead had received the pictures from the girl out of her own free will. The Appellate Court reversed the decision, holding that the means by which the pictures were obtained were irrelevant, and maintaining that possession of naked pictures of a minor is sufficient for the crime of child pornography under section 176 of the Portuguese Penal Code. 



Ministério Público v. [Undisclosed Parties], 469/13.3PBAMD.L1-9 Tribunal da Relação de Lisboa (Lisbon Court of Appeal) (2015)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

The Public Prosecutor (Ministério Público) brought charges of domestic violence against defendant, “Mr. XXX” (name omitted from public record), for recurrently calling victim, “Ms. ZZZ” (name omitted from public record), a “filthy pig” or a “mental retard.” The Lower Court found that the actions by Mr. XXX did not qualify as domestic violence under section 152 of the Portuguese Penal Code which requires repeated acts of physical or emotional abuse towards a spouse or ex-spouse. The Appellate Court overturned the Lower Court’s decision, affirming that the evidence proved repeated abusive conduct by Mr. XXX, and found that the crime of domestic violence occurred despite the fact that Mr. XXX and Ms. ZZZ were not married, as they had lead a life together for a period of time.



Ministério Público v. [Undisclosed Parties], 108/14.5JALRA.E1.S1 Supremo Tribunal de Justiça (Supreme Court of Justice) (2016)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement, Trafficking in persons

One month after marrying the victim, “BB” (name omitted from public record), the defendant, “AA” (name omitted from public record) coerced BB to become a prostitute so she could help with their financial problems. After BB engaged in sexual relations as a prostitute, AA began to physically assault BB and to threaten to kill her children, alleging that was enjoying being a prostitute. Concurrently, AA’s 15-year old daughter “CC” (name omitted from public record) moved in with AA and BB, and shortly thereafter, AA engaged in non-consensual sexual activities with CC for approximately six months. AA had previously convictions for robbery, physical harassment and child pornography, among others. The Superior Court of Justice found AA guilty of the crimes of promoting prostitution under section 169 of the Portuguese Penal Code, domestic violence under section 152 of the Portuguese Penal Code, sexual abuse of a person incapable of resistance under sections 164 and 177 of the Portuguese Penal Code and illegal possession of weapon, and sentenced AA to 16 years of imprisonment.



Ministério Público v. [Undisclosed Parties], 570/14.6PFSXL.L1-3 Tribunal da Relação de Lisboa (Lisbon Court of Appeal) (2016)

Statutory rape or defilement

The Appellate Court reaffirmed the District Court’s decision which found defendants, “Mr. V” and “Ms. M” (both names omitted from public record), guilty of child sexual abuse pursuant to sections 171 and 177 of the Portuguese Penal Code and sentenced Mr. V and Ms. M to five years in prison. According to evidence (including photos and victim’s testimony) presented to the Appellate Court, Mr. V and Ms. M would play games with the victim, “L” (name omitted from public record), their five-year-old daughter, during which L had to touch and kiss part of Mr. V’s and Mrs. M’s bodies in exchange for candies or the ability to watch television. The Appellate Court held that, although the conduct in question occurred in an apparently playful environment, Mr. V and Ms. M incentivized L to behave with sexual connotation that could jeopardize her personal development. 



Ministério Público v. [Undisclosed Parties], 3/16.0PAPST.L1-9 Tribunal da Relação de Lisboa (Lisbon Court of Appeal) (2017)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

The Public Prosecutor (Ministério Público) brought charges against two spouses, as defendants, for domestic violence under section 152 of the Portuguese Penal Code. The Public Prosecutor alleged that in a particular episode, both spouses physically and verbally assaulted each other, and should therefore both be penalized for the crime of domestic violence. Both spouses had previously been convicted of charges of domestic violence. In this case, however, both the District Court (Tribunal da Comarca) and the Appellate Court found that although the Portuguese Penal Code does require physical or mental damages to a spouse or former spouse in order to be convicted of domestic violence, spouses cannot both be convicted of domestic violence if damages were caused reciprocally.



Ministério Público v. [Undisclosed Parties], 1184/14.6PIPRT.P2 Tribunal da Relação de Porto (Court of Appeal of Porto) (2017)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Stalking

The Public Prosecutor (Ministério Público) brought charges of domestic violence against the defendant, “B” (name omitted from public record), for stalking his former girlfriend, the victim, “C” (name omitted from public record), after their relationship ended. Evidence produced during trial showed that B repeatedly sought to reconnect with C over the course of five months after the end of their relationship, which caused great anxiety and distress to C. Under Section 152 of the Portuguese Penal Code, domestic violence occurs whenever a defendant inflicts physical or psychological harm to a romantic partner or former partner. The District Court (Tribunal da Comarca) found the B not guilty of domestic violence. The Public Prosecutor appealed, and the Appellate Court (Tribunal da Relação) affirmed the District Court’s decision, holding that, although C did suffer anxiety from the attempts at contact made by B, B’s conduct was never humiliating, provocative, offensive or threatening, and therefore did not qualify as a crime of domestic violence.



B. v. A., BGE 126 IV 124 Supreme Federal Court (2000)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Domestic and intimate partner violence, Sexual violence and rape

A. met B. in St. Gallen in 1993. A. had to leave Switzerland at the end of 1995. They married in April 1996 in Ghana. In August 1996, A. was able to return to Switzerland. After his return, the relationship gradually became more oppressive and menacing toward B., for example, by pressuring B. for sexual intercourse.  B. gave in to his demands when she could no longer stand the intimidation. B. separated from A. on March, 28, 1998, and on July 20, 1998, A. was prosecuted for threatening, assaulting, and coercing B. The district and appellate courts in the Canton of St. Gallen sentenced A. to prison and condemned him to heavy penalties, including both imprisonment and damages. A. appealed to the Federal Supreme Court, under the claim that he was the husband of B. and not a rapist who lacked entitlement to approach B. The Supreme Federal Court rejected A.’s appeal.



Public Prosecutor of Zurich Canton v. X., BGE 129 IV 81 Supreme Federal Court (2002)

Sexual violence and rape, Trafficking in persons

The defendant, X., procured women for the purpose of prostitution from a recruiter operating in Thailand.  She deliberately chose women from poor and disadvantaged backgrounds because of their greater vulnerability and their perceived inability to resist demands made by X. On February 14, 2000, the Zurich District Court convicted X on charges relating to the promotion of prostitution of others under Article 195(3) of the Penal Code (Switzerland), but found the defendant not guilty in relation to trafficking in persons, assault, and other prostitution related offenses.  Her conviction resulted in a sentence of two-and-a-half years of imprisonment and a fine of CHF 10,000. On January 24, 2001, the Zurich Court of Appeal, found X. guilty of multiple counts of trafficking in human beings (under Article 196 of the Criminal Code), promotion of prostitution (under Article 195(3) and (4) of the Criminal Code), and for offenses relating to bribery (Articles 288a and 305). X.’s prison sentence was increased to four and a half (4.5) years and the fine of CHF 10,000 was affirmed. X. appealed to the Supreme Federal Court for the annulment of the decision made by the Zurich Court of Appeal. The Supreme Federal Court confirmed the decision of the Zurich Court of Appeal, adding that any consent that may have been given by any of the trafficked women after they had been trafficked and were present in Switzerland would have been irrelevant.



Public Prosecutor of Canton Ticino v. A.A., 6S. 292/2004 Supreme Federal Court (2004)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Domestic and intimate partner violence, Sexual violence and rape

A.A. and B.A., while estranged spouses but not having applied for legal separation, were living in the same house in two separate apartments, with A.A. paying for the rental of both units. The decision to live in the same house was accepted by B.A., as it allowed them to continue helping each other with everyday tasks and to oversee the children’s education together. On June 7, 2003, B.A. alleged that the two engaged in intercourse without B.A.’s consent. On May 24, 2004, the Canton Ticino Public Prosecutor indicted A.A. before the Court of Riviera for alleged sexual violence against his wife, B.A. On July 2, 2004, the Canton Ticino Court of Appeal dismissed the indictment of the Public Prosecutor, as B.A. had withdrawn the allegation of sexual violence committed against her by her husband. The Public Prosecutor appealed the decision before the Supreme Federal Court. Under Swiss law, sexual violence against a spouse can only be prosecuted where the victim has made allegations. The Supreme Federal Court, on the basis of the evidence collected in the course of the proceeding, and as argued by the Public Prosecutor, stated that the fact that the spouses were living in two separate apartments was not material, as they were nevertheless maintaining a “communion of life” status, which could be inferred from their mutual assistance, meals together, continued feelings of affection, and occasional sexual intercourses. Therefore, on the basis of such evidence, the Supreme Federal Court stated that the decision of the Court of Appeal to dismiss the indictment of A.A. was legitimate and rejected the Public Prosecutor’s appeal.



X. v. Y., BGE 131 IV 167 Supreme Federal Court (2005)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Domestic and intimate partner violence, Sexual violence and rape

Y. was married to X. until 1993. After the divorce, he continued to live with his former wife until March 2001, when he moved into his own flat. The former spouses continued their sexual relationship until September 2, 2001, after which they finally separated. From September 21 to October 12, 2001, Y. sent X. a large number of messages demanding that she perform certain sexual acts and threatening her. X. finally consented to the sexual acts demanded - including sexual intercourse and filming a sex tape. X. was forced to film pornography and suffered sexual abuse for about two months. Initially, the Winterthur Court condemned Y. to sixteen (16) months in prison for sexual coercion and rape. On appeal, the prison sentence was reduced to four (4) months, but Y.’s culpability was firmly reiterated. Y. appealed to the Supreme Federal Court, claiming that the threats to X. were not as severe as the prosecution had claimed. This appeal was rejected by the Supreme Federal Court, and the sentence of four (4) months remained in place.



Public Prosecutor of Fribourg Canton v. B., BGE 132 IV 120 Supreme Federal Court (2006)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Sexual violence and rape

A. (born in 1970) and B. (born in 1969) became engaged in 1996, and, two years after the engagement, they began to have regular sexual relations. On September 3, 2002, whilst under the influence of alcohol, the two engaged in intercourse in A’s house without her consent, with B. filming the act. These sexual encounters continued until 2004, when the Fribourg Cantonal Police seized the tapes recorded. The Canton of Fribourg Supreme Court convicted B. of first and second degree sexual coercion and rape and sentenced him to imprisonment. In 2004, and, on appeal, in 2006, A. was sentenced with a fine for having produced and manufactured, as the protagonist, violent pornography (paragraphs 3 and 3a Art. 197 Criminal Code). The couple appealed to the Supreme Federal Court, invoking mitigating circumstances covered by article 63 Criminal Code, citing the fact that both individuals were drunk when recording the first two tapes. The Supreme Federal Court noted that A. was not a minor under the age of 16; however, she had been subjected to acts of violence that were unacceptable. B. forced her to undergo disproportionate torture and degrading and inhuman acts that contravened her human rights. Thus, B.’s heavy prison sentence was confirmed by the Supreme Federal Court. Additionally, the Supreme Federal Court judged that sexual coercion (Art. 189 Criminal Code) and rape (Art. 190 Criminal Code) may occur even if the sexual act was atypical and did not consist of the penis penetrating a woman’s genitalia.



X. v. A., 6B_962/2010 Federal Court (2011)

Gender-based violence in general, Sexual violence and rape

A. was a drug-addicted prostitute working in the Sihlquai area in Zurich who agreed to perform certain sexual acts with client X. for a remuneration of Fr. 50. X. took A. to a rented room outside of the city of Zurich where X. beat A. with a whip and forced her to perform violent and humiliating sexual acts. A. claimed not to have agreed to perform these acts with X., while X. countered that they were part of the agreed transaction. X. was sentenced by the Baden District Court to imprisonment for sexually abusing A. X. appealed the verdict and the Canton Aargau Supreme Federal Court dismissed the appeal, finding the preconditions of sexual assault fulfilled. The Supreme Federal Court determined that, even if A. voluntarily agreed to perform certain sexual acts with X., she did not consent to the violent acts and she could not express her refusal in any other manner than verbally and through limited physical resistance. The Supreme Federal Court also found that the client X. could not expect the victim A. to agree to such violent sexual practices, even for remuneration.



Application by Tuğba Arslan Constitutional Court (2014)

Gender discrimination

A judge removed Tuğba Arslan, a member of the Ankara Bar Association, from a hearing because Arslan was wearing a headscarf while representing a party. The judge postponed the hearing and ordered alternate counsel in Arslan’s place. Turkish Bar Association rules prohibit attorneys from wearing headscarves during hearings. Arslan appealed to the Constitutional Court, claiming that because no legislation prohibited headscarves during hearings, her rights to freedom of religion and equal treatment had been violated. The Court agreed, holding that women may wear headscarves in accordance with Islam and the practice is common in Islamic society; therefore, the Arslan’s religious right was violated. Further, the Court stated that some limitations could be placed on rights but that such limitations, among other requirements, must be prescribed by law. Moreover, the Court reasoned that Arslan’s removal violated the non-discrimination principle, since on the one hand, women attorneys who do not wear headscarves are permitted to attend hearings while Arslan, on the other hand, is not.



Application by Gülsim Genç Constitutional Court (2013)

Gender discrimination, International law

Gülsim Genç petitioned the court of first instance to allow her to use her maiden name only, which the Turkish Civil Code prohibits. The court had previously filed an unsuccessful application to the Constitutional Court to annul this provision and, therefore, dismissed Genç’s petition accordingly. Genç appealed to the court of appeals, which affirmed the court of first instance’s dismissal. Genç then filed an application to the Court. The Court referred to Article 17 of Turkish Constitution, which reads as follows: “every person has the right to preserve and improve one’s existence, both materially and spiritually.” Genç asserted that her surname formed part of this spiritual existence. The Court acknowledged that rights and freedoms may be limited under certain conditions, and when a limitation is placed on those rights, the Court should assess whether such limitation is permitted by law. Under Turkish law, if a contradiction exists between Turkish codes and international agreements on fundamental rights and freedoms, such international agreement shall prevail and apply to the case at hand. The European Court of Human Rights’ rulings indicate that forbidding women to use their maiden name violates the European Convention of Human Rights’ non-discrimination article. The Court remanded the case to the court of first instance for proceedings consistent with the Convention to the extent that the Turkish code violates the Convention. The Court repeatedly referenced the application by Sevim Akat Eşki, which is an indication that similar future rulings may result.



Application by Sevim Akat Eşki Constitutional Court (2013)

Gender discrimination, International law

The applicant petitioned the court of first instance to allow her to use her maiden name only, which the Turkish Civil Code prohibits. The court had previously filed an unsuccessful application to the Constitutional Court to annul this provision and, therefore, dismissed Eşki’s petition accordingly. Eşki then filed an individual application to the Court asserting discrimination and other violations. The Court referred to Article 17 of Turkish Constitution, which reads as follows: “every person has the right to preserve and improve one’s existence, both materially and spiritually.” Eşki asserted that her surname formed part of this spiritual existence. The Court acknowledged that rights and freedoms may be limited under certain conditions, and when a limitation is placed on those rights, the Court should assess whether such limitation is permitted by law. Under Turkish law, if a contradiction exists between Turkish codes and international agreements on fundamental rights and freedoms, such international agreement shall prevail and apply to the case at hand. The European Court of Human Rights’ rulings indicate that forbidding women to use their maiden name violates the European Convention of Human Rights’ non-discrimination article. The Court remanded the case to the court of first instance for proceedings consistent with the Convention to the extent that the Turkish code violates the Convention.



Applications by Various Courts of First Instance to Annul a Certain Civil Law Constitutional Court (2011)

Gender discrimination

The Turkish Civil Code permits a married woman to use her maiden name only if the maiden name is used in conjunction with her husband’s surname. Three applicants, each in separate petitions to courts of first instance, sought to use their maiden names only. The courts of first instance applied to the Constitutional Court, which denied the request because the legislature did not abuse its discretion in determining that the husband’s surname should be the family surname, and this did not violate the Constitution’s equality principle. The Court reasoned that surnames are important for identifying not only the individual, but also the family and ancestry. Consequently, the law requiring women to take their husbands’ surnames benefits public welfare and order. The Court also reasoned that having (the husband’s) surname is a personal right that cannot be renounced or alienated. Moreover, the fact that the surname is an individual right does not mean that the legislature cannot act to ensure public welfare and order. The Constitution states that the family is the foundation of the Turkish society and requires the State to promulgate necessary regulations to preserve the family.



Application by Court of First Instance Court to Annul a Certain Criminal Provision Constitutional Court (2016)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

The Turkish Criminal Code, Article 103, Number 5237, provides sentencing for child sexual abuse without graduating the sentence in proportion to the child’s age. The Bafra High Criminal Court applied to the Constitutional Court to annul this provision, and the Court annulled the following two provisions: (1) child sexual abuse carries a sentence between eight and fifteen years; (2) child sexual molestation carries a sentence between three and eight years. The Court reasoned that the legislature may consider the country’s moral values and social and cultural structure in determining the punishment, and while heavier sentences for crimes against younger children who are more vulnerable to sexual assault would be reasonable, the Court opined that in some cases the crime and the punishment might not be proportional, which would violate the “state of law” principle. Therefore, the Court annulled the sentencing guidelines, effective six months following publication in the Official Gazette.



Application by Court of First Instance to Annul a Certain Civil Law Constitutional Court (2016)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Property and inheritance rights

During a divorce proceeding, a matter arose regarding contribution and participation receivables, particularly the application of the Turkish Civil Code, Number 4721, Article 219, Sub-Article 2, Sub-Paragraph 5, dated November 22, 2001, which provides that the income from a personal asset is such spouse’s acquired asset. The court of first instance held that this provision violated the Constitution, Articles 2 and 35, because it unreasonably interfered with property rights and would, therefore, prevent civil marriages. The Constitutional Court, considered the Constitution, Article 35, which simply states that property rights are universal, and this right shall only be limited if public welfare requires. The Court also considered Article 13, which states that fundamental rights and freedoms may be limited only by statute, so long as the core of such rights, as well as other relevant constitutional provisions, are not affected. The Court also noted that Article 41 establishes the state’s positive obligation to promulgate regulations to protect and preserve the institution of the family. The Court held that, while the law in question limits property rights, this limitation does not affect the core of the right and is based on justifiable purposes, and the law in question does not violate the Constitution. The justifiable purpose is protecting families, and especially women, by requiring income from a personal asset to be mutually distributed, thereby promoting public welfare.



Application by Court of First Instance to Annul the Surname Act in Part Constitutional Court (2012)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Gender discrimination

In 2001, a mother divorced her husband, who was her child’s father, and the court of first instance granted custody to the mother, who then filed a lawsuit to change the child’s name and surname because both names were causing the child problems in his social environment—his friends were making fun of him. The Surname Act provides that the husband, as the leader of the marriage union, shall choose the child’s surname, even after divorce. The court of first instance held that this provision violated the Constitution’s equality principle and requested that the Constitutional Court annul the provision.  The Constitutional Court unanimously agreed, holding that the Constitution, Article 41, establishes the equality between husband and wife; moreover, the right to choose a surname for the child was an element of custody. The Court noted that the Turkish Civil Code, Number 4721, had introduced material changes in husband–wife equality, and more importantly, articles that did not comply with the equality principle had been excluded from the law, such as the husband being the leader of the marriage union. The Court referenced the European Court of Human Rights, which held that any differing treatment based on gender, except for valid reasons, breaches the non-discrimination principle. According to the Constitutional Court, the wife and the husband were in the same position regarding their rights and obligations, both during marriage and in divorce; therefore, granting the right to choose the child’s surname exclusively to the father would have violated the Constitution’s equality principle.



NJA 2007 s. 547 Högsta domstolen (Supreme Court) (2007)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

The defendant was charged with multiple counts of assault and unlawful threats under the combined classification of aggravated violation of a woman’s integrity (Sw. grov kvinnofridskränkning). In the Court of Appeal, the defendant requested that the court allow evidence regarding the victim’s character.  The prosecutor and the victim objected, arguing that the evidence was meant only to tarnish the woman’s reputation and had no legal relevance to the present case.  As his proffer, the defendant claimed that the witnesses would testify that the woman was a pathological liar and that she committed fraud and extortion by threatening to report a relative for molestation if he did not pay her. The Court of Appeal excluded portions of the proffered evidence and the defendant appealed that decision. On review, the Supreme Court held that because the prosecution relied primarily on the victim’s testimony, her credibility was a key factor in the case.  As such, it determined that the Court of Appeal denied the defendant a fair trial by excluding the proffered character evidence. The Supreme Court reversed the conviction and remanded the case.



RH 2006:29 Hovrätten för Västra Sverige (Court of Appeal for Western Sweden) (2006)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

The defendant had been released on probation after having been convicted of aggravated violation of a woman’s integrity (Sw. grov kvinnofridskränkning) against a woman with whom he had a relationship. While on probation, the defendant assaulted the woman in her residence by striking her in the face and throwing her to the ground. The defendant had also left a message on the woman’s voicemail, threatening to kill her. The Court of Appeal for Western Sweden found that the defendant was guilty of assault and unlawful threat. The question before the court then became whether the crimes should be reclassified as aggravated violation of a woman’s integrity. The court held that because the defendant had previously been convicted of aggravated violation of a woman’s integrity, and the assault had been committed six months after the defendant was released on probation, the assault and the unlawful threat were to be viewed as continued and repeated violations of the woman’s integrity, and thus reclassified as aggravated violation of a woman’s integrity.



RH 2006:29 Hovrätten för Västra Sverige (Court of Appeal for Western Sweden) (2006)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

The defendant had been released on probation after having been convicted of aggravated violation of a woman’s integrity (Sw. grov kvinnofridskränkning) against a woman with whom he had a relationship. While on probation, the defendant assaulted the woman in her residence by striking her in the face and throwing her to the ground. The defendant had also left a message on the woman’s voicemail, threatening to kill her. The Court of Appeal for Western Sweden found that the defendant was guilty of assault and unlawful threat. The question before the court then became whether the crimes should be reclassified as aggravated violation of a woman’s integrity. The court held that because the defendant had previously been convicted of aggravated violation of a woman’s integrity, and the assault had been committed six months after the defendant was released on probation, the assault and the unlawful threat were to be viewed as continued and repeated violations of the woman’s integrity, and thus reclassified as aggravated violation of a woman’s integrity.



NJA 2016 s. 819 Högsta domstolen (Supreme Court) (2016)

Sexual violence and rape

Two men were traveling in a car with a sleeping woman.  While the woman was still asleep, and under the influence of narcotics, the defendants raped her.  Both were convicted of rape.  One of the defendants appealed his conviction to the Supreme Court, which found that, because the defendant raped the woman and subsequently helped his co-defendant move the woman from the front to the back seat of the car for the purpose of raping her, he was properly convicted.  Swedish law classifies multiple acts of rape from multiple persons as aggravated rape.  Here, the defendants committed some of the acts together and the individual acts in succession, so the acts were viewed as aggravated rape.



NJA 2013 s. 548 Högsta domstolen (Supreme Court) (2013)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Sexual violence and rape

The defendant suspected that his then-wife was unfaithful.  In order to determine if his suspicion was correct, defendant forced his wife onto a bed, pulled her legs apart, and inserted two fingers into her vagina. During this ordeal, the defendant had also threatened her.  Despite the defendant’s alleged purpose, the Supreme Court found that his actions were sexual in nature and that they constituted rape.  Although sexual assault may be viewed as less severe if the victim wakes up and objects, that concept did not apply. Here, the defendant used actual and threatened violence in a manner that was humiliating to the victim and, as a result, the Supreme Court held that the crime was not to be classified as “less severe” (Sw. mindre grovt), but as a rape of the “normal” degree (Sw. av normalgraden).



NJA 2015 s. 1024 Högsta domstolen (Supreme Court) (2015)

Sexual violence and rape

Defendant, an 18-year-old man, was convicted of rape and sentenced to one year in prison. The question for the Supreme Court was whether the jail sentence was too long, given the defendant’s age. The Supreme Court noted that that the punishment for rape of the “normal degree” (Sw. normalgraden) is between two and four years’ imprisonment.  Normally, courts reduce jail sentences by fifty percent when the defendant is 18 years old.  However, for long jail sentences, the courts have discretion to further reduce the punishment.  The court also recognized that punishments other than jail sentences also may be considered. Given the crime, the court determined that community service was inappropriate, but reduced the defendant’s sentence to probation and three months’ imprisonment.  Though rape is a serious offense, the Supreme Court adhered to the principle that imprisoning young individuals should be avoided, to the extent possible.



RH 2010:6 Svea hovrätt (Svea Court of Appeal) (2010)

Sexual violence and rape

The defendant was charge with sex crimes, including: (1) rape of woman A, (2) sexual coercion and rape of woman B, and (3) sexual coercion and attempted rape of woman C.  It was alleged that the defendant assaulted all three women while he was highly intoxicated.  The district court convicted the defendant on all charges, but the Court of Appeal reversed the convictions on the charges related to women B and C.  Regarding woman A, however, the Court of Appeal affirmed defendant’s conviction because, at the time of the rape, woman A was in a helpless condition and asleep from intoxication.  Although the defendant argued that he should not be held liable because he was intoxicated, the court rejected his defense.  The Court of Appeal recognized that the law classifies rape as less severe if there is no penetration, or that the penetration was brief and interrupted after the victim wakes up and objects to having intercourse, no such mitigating circumstances were present. Consequently, the defendant was convicted of rape of the “normal” degree (Sw. av normalgraden).



NJA 2017 s. 316 Högsta domstolen (Supreme Court) (2017)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

K.K. had sexual intercourse with a 14-year-old child. The issue before the court was whether KK had reasonable reason to believe that the child was under the age of 15 and, thus, whether the sexual act constituted rape against a child.  The child (Sw. målsäganden) initially lied about her age to K.K. but, according to her own testimony, she revealed her true age to KK before they had sex.  The Supreme Court concluded that the child’s age was unclear and, in any event, that her testimony was not trustworthy because the defendant’s attorney was not present when she was initially questioned and she was not subject to cross examination. As a result, the Supreme Court held that evidence was insufficient to support a conviction.



RH 2004:48 Svea hovrätt (Svea Court of Appeal) (2004)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Domestic and intimate partner violence

During a four-month period, A.H. made several unlawful threats (Sw. olaga hot) toward his ex-wife. The question in the Court of Appeal was whether the unlawful threats constituted repeated violations of the ex-wife’s integrity and whether the threats were meant to seriously harm her self-esteem. The Court of Appeal acknowledged that the parties were going through a divorce, where both parties expressed hurtful words to one another.  As such, the Court of Appeal held that the unlawful threats did not constitute a violation of a woman’s integrity (Sw. kvinnofridskränkning).



RH 2003:11 Hovrätten för Västra Sverige (Court of Appeal for Western Sweden) (2003)

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

L-G.T. assaulted his girlfriend, S.S., two times during the time they lived together. The District Court found that the acts were meant to cause a serious violation of S.S.’s integrity. The Court of Appeal held that the number of acts must be more than two in order to constitute a repeated violation of the integrity, but that if the acts of violence were severe, the number of repeated acts necessary for conviction may be reduced.  Because the court found that the assaults at issue in this case were not severe, the court did not find the defendant guilty of violating his girlfriend’s integrity (Sw. grov fridskränkning).



RH 2016:29 Svea hovrätt (Svea Court of Appeal) (2016)

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

During the course of a three month-long relationship, M.H. assaulted A.I. four times. The question in the Court of Appeal was whether M.H. and A.I. lived together under circumstances that could be considered equal to a marriage and, if so, whether the repeated assaults should be classified a violation of a woman’s integrity (Sw. kvinnofridskränkning). The Court of Appeal held that they did not.  Because the couple did not share a household, the crime could not be considered as violation of a woman’s integrity. The Court of Appeal then assessed whether the couple were “closely related persons” (Sw. närstående), which would allow the assaults to be classified as aggravated violation of the integrity (Sw. grov fridskränkning). However, the Court of Appeal held that the relationship was too short for M.H and A.I. to be viewed as closely related persons and refused to convict M.H. of aggravated violation of the integrity.



NJA 1999 s. 102 Högsta domstolen (Supreme Court) (1999)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

B.B. was tried for repeatedly assaulted his girlfriend, L.L., in their home. The question the Supreme Court considered was whether previous assault convictions could be used to convict B.B. of a related crime – violation of L.L.’s integrity (Sw. kvinnofridskränkning).  The elements of violating of a woman’s integrity are as follows: (i) the defendant and the alleged victim are, or had been, in a relationship equivalent to a marriage, and (ii) that the acts constitute repeated violations of the woman’s integrity and have been intended to seriously harm her self-esteem. The Supreme Court noted that B.B. had been assaulting L.L. on an on-going basis and that B.B. had already been convicted for some of the assaults. Although the Supreme Court confirmed that all assaults generally could be taken into consideration – even the assaults for which B.B. had already been convicted – because some of B.B.’s assault convictions predated the law against violating a woman’s integrity, the law could not be retroactively applied to consider B.B.’s assault convictions.



NJA 2008 s. 1010 Högsta domstolen (Supreme Court) (2008)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

T.H. was accused of assault and unlawfully threatening (Sw. olaga hot) his girlfriend, L.K. The alleged assault consisted of dragging her by the hair and pressing a knife against her throat, while threatening to kill her. T.H. also allegedly threatened to bomb L.K.’s apartment, and he told her that he would kill her if she called the police. The Supreme Court held that although the elements were present to establish an assault and the making of an unlawful threat, the defendant was not necessarily guilty of both crimes. According to the court, if an act is considered closely connected, and also subordinate, to another act, the defendant may be convicted of only one of the acts. The Supreme Court held that the threat was the more serious crime and that the assault could possibly elevate the unlawful threat to an “aggravated” threat, but the Supreme Court declined to do so in this case. Instead, the court convicted T.H. only of making an unlawful threat. Two Supreme Court judges dissented, arguing that the threat should have been classified as aggravated.



NJA 2005 s. 712 Högsta domstolen (Supreme Court) (2005)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Sexual violence and rape

L.G. was accused of violation of a woman’s integrity (Sw. kvinnofridskränkning), assault (Sw. misshandel) and rape of his wife, C.G.  Because the couple’s three children were present when the alleged abuse occurred, L.G. was also charged with violation of their integrity.  The Supreme Court found that C.G.’s statements were more credible than L.G.’s, partly because the couple’s three children concurred with C.G.’s version of events.  Accordingly, due to L.G.’s repeated violation of C.G.’s integrity, the Supreme Court found L.G. guilty of violating C.G.’s integrity.  Regarding the rape charge, however, the Supreme Court did not find sufficient evidence to convict L.G.  Aside from C.G.’s testimony – which left doubt as to the time of the alleged rape – there was no evidence to substantiate the rape charge.  Therefore, the Supreme Court held that the prosecution failed to prove the rape charge beyond a reasonable doubt.  Nonetheless, because the court determined that L.G. had assaulting C.G. and their children, the court sentenced L.G. to two years and six months imprisonment.



AP 2537/09 – Dalibor Perić Ustavni Sud Bosne i Hercegovine (Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina) (2009)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Domestic and intimate partner violence

In 2004, the common-law marriage between Dalibor Perić (“Perić”) and his wife was terminated.  Perić’s ex-wife was granted custody of their two-year-old son, and Perić was ordered to pay BAM 100 per month in child support.  Over the next three years, Perić never paid child support, he verbally abused and physically assaulted his ex-wife and her parents resulting in two domestic violence charges.  In addition, he beat the child on several occasions.  In 2007, the mother of the child filed a motion to terminate Perić’s parental rights.  Two years later, the Basic Court in Bijeljina stripped Perić of his parental rights pursuant to Article 106 of the Family Law of the Republika Srpska.  The County Court of Bijelina dismissed Perić’s appeal and upheld the lower court’s ruling.  Perić then appealed to the Constitutional Court of BiH, arguing the ruling of the County Court violated his right to a fair trial and right to private and family life.  Because no draft decision received a majority vote, the Constitutional Court of BiH dismissed Perić’s appeal.

Decision available in English here.



AP 2900/90 Tereza Usar Ustavni Sud Bosne i Hercegovine (Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina) (2012)

International law, Property and inheritance rights

In 2007, Tereza Usar petitioned the Municipal Court in Mostar to recognize a common law marriage so that she could exercise her right to a family pension.  Usar had lived in a common-law marriage with Ivan Usar from July 1992 until September 1993 when he, a member of the Croatian Defence Council, was killed during the Bosnian War.  In the suit, Usar named as defendants the minor child she had with Ivan Usar and his legal heirs, his children from a previous marriage.  The Municipal Court dismissed Usar’s claim, finding her petition constituted a request to establish facts and not to enforce a right or legal relation because common-law marriage is not regulated by law, but is a factual situation of a union of a man and a woman.  The Cantonal Court in Mostar and the Supreme Court of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (“FBiH”) upheld the lower court’s dismissal.  In 2012, the Constitutional Court of BiH quashed the judgment of the Cantonal Court in Mostar, finding the Cantonal Court violated Usar’s right to a fair trial under Article II(3)(e) of the Constitution of BiH and Article 6(1) of the European Convention on Human Rights.  The appellate court found the lower court had arbitrarily applied the law in determining that common-law marriage is a factual and not a legal relation.  The Cantonal Court’s decision directly conflicted with Articles 213, 230-234, 263, and 380 of the Family Law of the FBiH, which prescribe the manner for the maintenance of common-law partners and children from common-law marriages, their property relations, and the procedure for obtaining protection against domestic violence.  That is, according to the Constitutional Court of BiH, the legislature of the FBiH did not make any distinction between marriage and common-law marriage with respect to legal relations.  Thus, “a life in common-law marriage implies certain rights and obligations, and hence, the existence of a legal relation between the persons who live or who had lived in a common-law marriage.”

Decision available in English here.



Prosecutor's Office v. A.P. Ustavni Sud Bosne i Hercegovine (Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina) (2004)

International law, Sexual violence and rape, Trafficking in persons

In 2002, the Basic Court in Doboj convicted A.P. of Trafficking of Minors for the Purpose of Prostitution under Article 188 of the Criminal Code of the Republika Srpska.  The Court sentenced A.P. to two years’ imprisonment and prohibited him from operating a catering business for five years.  A.P. appealed his conviction to the Supreme Court of the Republika Srpska and then to the Constitutional Court of BiH.  He argued his right to a fair trial under the Constitution of BiH and the European Convention on Human Rights had been violated because he did not have an opportunity to cross-examine the victims at his trial.  Instead, the statements of the victims were read aloud in court.  The Constitutional Court of BiH found that, despite A.P. not having an opportunity to cross-examine the victims, his right to a fair trial had not been violated.  First, the victims were not present at A.P’s trial because they are foreign nationals who no longer resided in the Republika Srpska.  Second, the victims gave their testimony in person during preliminary criminal proceedings, and A.P. was allowed to refute the statements at his trial.  Third, the judgment of the Basic Court was not based solely on the victims’ statements, but also on the testimony of a third witness – who had paid to have sex with one of the victims at A.P.’s establishment – and material evidence.  

Decision available in English here.



Prosecutor's Office v. Nermin Ćupina Ustavni Sud Bosne i Hercegovine (Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina) (2006)

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

In 2002, Nermin Ćupina (“Ćupina”) recruited two underage girls and one woman and forced them, through threats of violence to them and their family members, to provide sexual services for money.  Each day, the victims were forced to earn KM 400 through prostitution, all of which Ćupina kept.  The Court of BiH sentenced Ćupina to 12 years’ imprisonment, which it added to Ćupina’s four-year prison sentence from the Cantonal Court in Mostar, resulting in a single sentence of 14 years’ imprisonment after credit for time served.  In addition, in accordance with Article 110 of the Criminal Code of BiH, the Court of BiH confiscated the material gain Ćupina acquired through his criminal enterprise.  The court, relying on the findings of an expert, established that Ćupina made at least BAM 100,000 in 2002 by prostituting the victims.  The court also concluded that because neither Ćupina nor his wife had regular income during 2002, the construction of an apartment valued at BAM 61,481.55 was financed entirely from Ćupina’s criminal enterprise.  The Court of BiH confiscated the apartment and ordered Ćupina to pay the remainder of the estimated material gain, BAM 38,518.45.

Decision available in English here.  



Prosecutor's Office v. Tasim Kučević Sudom Bosne i Hercegovine (Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina) (2009)

Sexual violence and rape, Trafficking in persons

Between May 2003 and June 2005, Tasim Kučević (“Kučević”) and his common law wife, Meliha Pjević (“Pjević”), procured and exploited at least six women by forcing them to dance and serve cocktails at their hotel and provide sexual services to customers.  Through advertisements for dancing positions in Spain and Serbia, the couple enticed four women from Russia and Ukraine to come to Serbia; the victims were then trafficked to BiH.  By taking advantage of a Bosnian woman’s drug addiction and a Romanian woman’s illegal immigrant status in BiH, Kučević and Pjević forced two other women into prostitution at the same hotel.  Eight of Kučević’s acquaintances supervised the women, guarded the hotel, and ran the prostitution business.  In 2007, the Court of BiH convicted Kučević and Pjević of Organized Crime in conjunction with Pandering.  In 2009, a panel of the Appellate Division convicted Kučević and Pjević of Organized Crime in relation to Trafficking in Persons in violation of Articles 250(3) and 186(1) of the Criminal Code of BiH.   The panel, taking into consideration extenuating and aggravating factors, sentenced Kučević and Pjević to 12 and six years’ imprisonment, respectively.  The two were also forced to forfeit the material gain from their criminal enterprise, BAM 286,440.  Lastly, the eight men who assisted Kučević and Pjević in trafficking and exploiting the women were convicted of the same charges and sentenced to between three months’ and four years’ imprisonment.

Second instance verdict available in English here.



Prosecutor's Office v. Čedo Markelić Ustavni Sud Bosne i Hercegovine (Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina) (2015)

Statutory rape or defilement, Trafficking in persons

Between 2006 and 2007, Čedo Markelić recruited two minors for the purpose of sexual exploitation.  Markelić promised the girls he would give them money and help them with school-related problems if they provided sexual services to him and his acquaintances.  In May 2010, the Court of BiH found Markelić guilty of Trafficking in Persons (minors) in violation of Article 186(2) of the CC BiH and sentenced him to six years’ imprisonment.  The trial court, in determining whether Markelić had exploited the victims, took into consideration not only the girls’ age at the time of the crimes (15 and 16 years old), but also that, due to the victims’ “insufficient emotional development,” they did not have the capacity to consent to sexual acts.  Furthermore, the court held that under Article 186(4) of the CC BiH, whether a victim of human trafficking “consents” to the exploitation is irrelevant, particularly if the victim is a minor.  On appeal, Markelić argued that one of the three elements of human trafficking – the act of perpetration – was lacking in his case.  Specifically, he argued Article 186(1) of the CC of BiH requires that a human trafficking recruiter must have effective contact with a third person who controls the victim, and that third person must give his or her consent to the exploitation of the victim.  The Constitutional Court of BiH dismissed Markelić’s appeal, holding the Court of BiH correctly found all constituent elements of human trafficking under Article 186(2) were present.  The Constitutional Court of BiH found Markelić had committed the offense of human trafficking by recruiting the minors for the purpose of sexual exploitation; contact with a third party who controlled the victims was not required under the CC BiH.

Decision available in English here.



Prosecutor's Office v. Mario Ćosić Sudom Bosne i Hercegovine (Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina) (2016)

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

From mid-2007 until September 2012, Mario Ćosić and four acquaintances enticed at least six women to travel to BiH to work at a restaurant Ćosić operated.  Ćosić himself would often travel to Serbia to recruit women.  Once in BiH, the women – nationals of Moldova, Serbia, Ukraine, and Russia – were forced to provide sexual services for money at the restaurant.  In addition, a seventeen-year-old waitress employed by Ćosić provided sexual services for guests in exchange for money, half of which Ćosić kept.  Ćosić was charged with International Enticement to Prostitution under Article 187(1) of the Criminal Code of BiH and Enticing a Juvenile into Prostitution under Article 210(4) of the Criminal Code of the Federation of BiH.  In December 2016, Ćosić, facing up to 40 years in prison, entered a plea agreement to the above charges, under which he will serve 20 months in prison.  One of Ćosić’s coconspirators, Miroslav Čosić, similarly pleaded guilty to International Enticement to Prostitution in exchange for a six-month prison sentence.



Prosecutor's Office v. Radovan Stanković Sudom Bosne i Hercegovine (Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina) (2007)

Gender violence in conflict, International law, Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement, Trafficking in persons

In the summer of 1992, during an assault on the non-Serb civilian population of Foča in the early months of the Bosnian War, Radovan Stanković, a member of the Republika Srpska Army, established a small detention center for women at an apartment known as “The Brothel.”  He and others brought at least nine non-Serb females, most of whom were minors, to the apartment and detained them there.  Between August and November 1992, Stanković repeatedly raped one woman and her underage sister and incited other soldiers who visited the apartment to rape the detainees.  In addition, Stanković forced the victims to perform physical labor, including cooking for the soldiers, washing the soldiers’ uniforms, and bathing the soldiers.  In 2002, Stanković was arrested by the NATO peacekeeping force, KFOR, and transferred to the ICTY.  The ICTY referred Stanković’s case to the Court of BiH in 2005.  One year later, the Court of BiH convicted Stanković of Crimes against Humanity (enslavement, imprisonment, torture, and rape) under Article 172(1) of the Criminal Code of BiH and sentenced him to sixteen years imprisonment.  In 2007, a panel of the Appeals Division increased the prison term to twenty years.  Stanković appealed his sentence, which the ICTY and The Hague Court of Appeal upheld.  This case is notable because it was the first time the ICTY referred a case to a court of national jurisdiction.

Second instance verdict available in English here.



Prosecutor's Office v. Gojko Janković Sudom Bosne i Hercegovine (Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina) (2007)

Gender violence in conflict, International law, Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement, Trafficking in persons

Between April 1992 and November 1993, during the Bosnian War, Gojko Janković, a paramilitary leader within the Srpska Republika Army, participated in a widespread and systematic attack on the non-Serb civilian population of Foča.  Janković’s unit methodically captured civilians, detained them separately according to gender, and killed dozens of men.  During this time, Janković raped at least five girls and women; the soldiers under his command raped scores more.  In addition, Janković and a co-perpetrator kept two teenage girls in sexual slavery at a nearby house for over one year.  In 2005, Janković voluntarily surrendered and was transferred to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (“ICTY”).  Shortly thereafter, the Referral Branch of the ICTY referred Janković’s case to the Court of BiH.  In 2007, the Court of BiH found Janković guilty of Crimes against Humanity under Article 172(1) of the Criminal Code of BiH and sentenced him to 34 years imprisonment.  In 2010, Janković appealed his conviction to the ICTY, arguing the Court of BiH convicted him under a law, the Criminal Code of BiH, which did not exist at the time his crimes were committed.  The ICTY denied his appeal.

Second instance verdict available in English here.



Prosecutor's Office v. Radmilo Vuković Sudom Bosne i Hercegovine (Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina) (2008)

Gender violence in conflict, Sexual violence and rape

In 2007, the Court of BiH found Radmilo Vuković, a member of the Republika Srpska Army, guilty of War Crimes against Civilians under Article 173(1) of the Criminal Code of BiH for raping a Bosnian woman at least six times between June and August 1992, the early months of the Bosnian War.  In 2008, a panel of the Appellate Division acquitted Vuković of these charges, finding the testimonies of the claimant and her sister to be inconsistent and thus not credible.  First, the Court noted factual inconsistencies between the testimony of the claimant and her sister (e.g., the date of the first assault, whether the claimant told her mother of the assault).  Second, the Court found the testimonies of the claimant and her sister were inconsistent with prior statements they had given in 1994 and 2001.  Third, the Court noted that two defense witnesses testified that Vuković and the claimant were cohabiting partners engaged in an extramarital affair before the Bosnian War (however, the claimant denied any relationship).  Lastly, the Court questioned why the claimant did not obtain an abortion to terminate the pregnancy resulting from the alleged rape once she was in safe territory.  This case is notable because of the demanding standard set by the court regarding the testimony of rape victims: “The testimony of the injured party must not raise any suspicion as to its exactness and truthfulness, credibility and integrity of the witness exactly because the act of rape, as a rule, is never attended by a witness who might decisively support the testimony of the injured party.”  This case is also notable because the Court considered the claimant’s decision to not have an abortion to be evidence that a rape had not occurred.

Second instance verdict available in English here.



Prosecutor's Office v. Predrag Kujundžić Sudom Bosne i Hercegovine (Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina) (2010)

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

From the spring of 1992 to the autumn of 1993, during the Bosnian War, Predrag Kujundžić, a commander in the local military and later police force, led several attacks against non-Serb civilians in Doboj.  During that time, he incited, aided, and abetted the murder, rape, imprisonment, and persecution of non-Serb civilians.  In addition, from June to December 1992, Kujundžić forced a Muslim minor into sexual slavery by use of force and threats to kill the victim’s mother and younger sister.  Kujundžić repeatedly raped the victim, forced her to have sexual intercourse with soldiers, and controlled every aspect of her life.  In 2009, the Court of BiH found Kujundžić guilty of Crimes against Humanity under Article 172(1) of the Criminal Code of BiH.  The Court found several aggravating circumstances present in Kujundžić’s case, including Kujundžić’s status as a commander, the motives for the attack, the large number of victims, and the fact that the victim of rape and sexual slavery was a minor.  The Court accordingly sentenced Kujundžić to 22 years imprisonment.  A panel of the Appellate Division later reduced his prison sentence to 17 years.

Second instance verdict available in English here.



Prosecutor’s Office v. Ćerim Novalić Sudom Bosne i Hercegovine (Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina) (2011)

Gender violence in conflict, Sexual violence and rape

In September 1992, during the Bosnian War, the Army of BiH attacked Serb houses in the village of Džepi.  During this assault, Ćerim Novalić and an unidentified soldier entered a home to see if the couple was hiding Serbs.  While the unidentified soldiers interrogated the husband about his neighbors of Serb ethnicity, Novalić forced the wife into an upstairs room and raped her.  In 2010, the Court of BiH found Novalić guilty of a War Crime against a Civilian under Article 173(1) of the CC BiH and sentenced him to seven years imprisonment.  The following year, a panel of the Appellate Division of the Court of BiH revised Novalić’s conviction, finding him guilty under Article 142(1) of the Criminal Code of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the law in effect at the time of Novalić’s crime.  The Appellate Panel considered the “extremely humiliating manner” in which Novalić raped the victim – her underage children and mother-in-law were in an adjacent room and her husband was downstairs – and increased his sentence to eight years and six months imprisonment.  This is the upper-end of the typical prison sentence mandated by the Court of BiH for one count of rape during the Bosnian War.

Second revised verdict available in English here.



Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Slavko Lalović Sudom Bosne i Hercegovine (Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina) (2012)

Gender violence in conflict, Sexual violence and rape

In August 1992, during the Bosnian War, Slavko Lalović served as a security guard at an elementary school turned into a prison for unlawfully detained civilians in Kalinovik.  While on duty, Lalović allowed two soldiers from the Republika Srpska Army to enter the makeshift prison and rape a detained woman.  Lalović also treated detainees inhumanely on several occasions.  In 2011, the Court of BiH found Lalović guilty of War Crimes against Civilians under Article 173(1) of the Criminal Code of BiH.  The following year, a panel of the Appellate Division revised Lalović’s sentence, convicting him under the law in effect at the time the crimes were committed, Article 142(1) of the Criminal Code of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.  Lalović’s five-year prison sentence remained unchanged.  Notably, this is one of the few instances in which a person in a position of authority was found guilty by the Court of BiH of aiding and abetting a rape as a war crime during the Bosnian war.  

Second instance verdict available in English here.



Prosecutor’s Office v. Veselin Vlahović Sudom Bosne i Hercegovine (Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina) (2014)

Gender violence in conflict, Sexual violence and rape

Between 1992 and 1995 during the Bosnian War, Veselin Vlahović a member of the Serbian paramilitary forces, committed various crimes against humanity against the civilian non-Serb population of Sarajevo, including murder, rape, physical and mental abuse, robbery, and enforced disappearance.  His crimes were so horrific that he was known by victims as the “Monster of Grbavica.”  In 2010, Vlahović was arrested in Spain and extradited to BiH.  In 2013, the Court of BiH found Vlahović guilty of sixty different crimes against humanity, including 35 murders and 11 rapes, as well as torture, imprisonment, and looting.  He was sentenced to forty-five years imprisonment.  In 2014, the Court of BiH acquitted Vlahović of one of the 60 counts of the indictment and reduced his prison sentence to 42 years.  Notably, Vlahović’s original prison sentence of 45 years was the maximum possible penalty and is the longest sentence handed down by the Bosnian war crimes court.

Second instance verdict available in English here.



Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Bogdanović Sudom Bosne i Hercegovine (Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina) (2015)

Gender violence in conflict, Sexual violence and rape

In May 1993, during the Bosnian War, Velibor Bogdanović, a member of the Croatian Defence Council, and five unidentified soldiers ransacked the home of a couple in Mostar.  The group stole jewelry from the home and took the husband to the local prison where he was unlawfully detained for 30 days.  In addition, Bogdanović raped the wife.  In 2011, the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina (“BiH”) found Bogdanović guilty of War Crimes against Civilians under Article 173(1), as read together with Article 180(1) and Article 29, of the Criminal Code of Bosnia and Herzegovina (“CC BiH”).  In July 2015, the Constitutional Court of BiH overturned Bogdanović’s conviction, finding that it had been based on an inapplicable law.  And in September 2015, the Appellate Division of the Court of BiH revised Bogdanović’s sentence, finding him guilty of the criminal offense of War Crimes against Civilians under Article 142(1) of the Criminal Code of the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia.  The Court imposed the minimum sentence on Bogdanović – five years imprisonment – reasoning that the accused was a married father, that he had been 22-years-old at the time that he committed the crime, that he had committed no criminal offense since the war, and that he had apologized to the victim after the war and offered her assistance.

Revised second instance verdict in English available here.



Resolution U.No. 137/2013 Constitutional Court (2014)

Abortion and reproductive health rights, Gender discrimination, International law

A legal scholar and four non-governmental organizations filed an initiative with the Constitutional Court of Macedonia for the commencement of a procedure to review the constitutionality of the Law on Termination of Pregnancy ((“Official Gazette of the Republic of Macedonia”, nos.87/2013, 164/2013 and 144/2014”) (the “LTP”) and its compatibility with international law, on the basis that the LTP created “a possibility of state interference into the right of choice and free decision-making of the women (which was contrary to Article 41 paragraph 1 and Article 118 of the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia)”. Further, the applicants stated that the LTP contravenes Articles 11 paragraph 1, Article 39 paragraph 2 and Article 41 paragraph 1 of the Constitution, which provides that female citizens had sovereignty over themselves, their life, physical integrity and health. The applicants pointed out, inter alia, that the requirement to submit a written request, mandatory counselling, and waiting period were incompatible with the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of choice regarding childbirth. In addition, given that those provisions in the LTP did not exist for any other medical intervention, they represented a discrimination against women. All but one of the judges stated that they do not consider the LTP to be problematic and fully rejected the initiative. 



Decision U.No. 104/2016 Constitutional Court (2016)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

A 65-year-old woman working in a state institution requested to continue her employment for two more years was denied on the basis that, according to Paragraphs 2 and 4 of Article 104 of the Labour Law of Macedonia (the “Contested Provisions”), the age limit to which women can work is 65 years of age, while this limit for men is 67 years of age. The Union-National Council for Gender Equality and the Macedonian Women’s Lobby initiated proceedings in the Constitutional Court of Macedonia (the “Court”) challenging the constitutionality of the Contested Provisions on grounds that they contravene Articles 9 and 32 of the Constitution. The Court held that the Contested Provisions are not in accordance with the established constitutional principle of equality of citizens on grounds of sex per Article 9 of the Constitution, on the basis that the Contest Provisions impose termination of employment of female employees under different conditions than male employees. The Contested Provisions are thereby repealed.



Nese Aslanbay Akbiyik Basvurusu, Case Application Number: 2014/5836 Constitutional Court of Turkey (2015)

Gender discrimination

The petitioner filed a claim to the Turkish Constitutional Court stating that trial and appellate courts’ refusal to allow her use her pre-marriage surname after marriage violated her right to protection of her private life and discriminated against her based on her gender. Article 187 of the Turkish Civil Code requires married women to use their husband’s surname after marriage, which created complications in the petitioner’s professional life since she was known by her pre-marriage name. On appeal, the Constitutional Court applied both Turkish law and international law to find that a person’s right to a name, including their surname, is an inalienable right. The Court looked to precedent from the European Court of Human Rights in finding that protection of a person’s name including person’s surname is covered by Article 8 (respect for private and family life). The Court also found that the protections afforded by Article 17 of the Turkish Constitution overlapped with the protections in Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Consequently, the Court concluded that, since the right to one’s name is protected in the Turkish Constitution and within the scope of international agreements to which Turkey is a party—including the European Convention of Human Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights—men and women are entitled to equal rights to use their pre-marriage last name.



Case No. 128/2011 Denmark Supreme Court (2012)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

The defendant was found guilty of acts of violence toward his sons, which included physical abuse and constituted a continued offense because the violence involved a number of uniform and continuous acts over a period of ten (10) years. Additionally, he was found guilty of threatening his wife with abuse and death. Prior to these offenses, the defendant had no criminal record. Initially, the High Court found the defendant guilty of acts of violence and abuse against his children and wife and sentenced to one year and three months of imprisonment. Subsequently, the Supreme Court reversed the High Court’s determinations that the defendant did not commit any abuse and the acts of violence did not constitute a continued offense as well as increased the length of the defendant’s imprisonment from ten (10) months to one year and three months.



Mrs. X v. Italy Civil Court (2013)

Gender-based violence in general, Trafficking in persons

The applicant, a Nigerian born woman, is granted refugee status based on the absence of protection for violence against women generally in Nigeria, as well as her specific experience with gender-based violence. In 2010, applicant was, without her consent, taken to Libya where she was subject to forced prostitution and violent attacks which included removal of applicant’s nails and hair. Applicant was then transferred to Italy where she was applied to the Territorial Commission for international protection. Her application was denied and she appealed to the Tribunale di Cagliari to overturn the Territorial Commission’s decision. The Tribunale di Cagliari found that the applicant’s subjective credibility should have been considered, along with the objective facts available regarding the dire situation for women in Nigeria, and that the Territorial Commission’s findings were invalid because her application for international protection was not translated to a language that she was able to understand.



Case No. 48/2010 Denmark Supreme Court (2012)

Employment discrimination

The plaintiff was employed as a social and health care assistant, but was dismissed from her job after approximately one month due to excessive sickness absence. At the time she was dismissed, the employee was pregnant and submitted a claim to her former employee requesting compensation corresponding to six months’ pay because her dismissal violated the Danish Act on Equal Treatment of Men and Women. The Supreme Court agreed and held that the former employee should be awarded her six months’ pay and further found that the right not to be dismissed due to pregnancy-related absence covers situations where an employer was neither aware nor should have been aware of the pregnancy at the time of the dismissal.



U1993.941/2V Western High Court (1993)

Sexual violence and rape

The defendant was found guilty of rape and sentenced to four months imprisonment. The defendant had intercourse with a physically and mentally disabled woman who was the sister of the woman with whom he cohabited. The victim had limited power in her arms and legs and difficulties moving and walking. She was also mentally handicapped. At trial, the woman testified that she tried to push the defendant away from her although she did not scream. The Court upheld the lower court’s acquittal of the defendant of aggravated rape because the intercourse did not occur under threat of violence. However, the Court found the defendant guilty of having forced intercourse with a disabled woman (Penal Code § 218) because her condition rendered her unable to resist the defendant and the defendant was aware of this because of his prior acquaintance with her. The Court awarded the woman 15,000 DKK as compensation.



U1987.960V Western High Court (1987)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

The defendant was found not guilty of brutal violence by the Municipal Court, but was sentenced to sixty days of conditional imprisonment. The defendant was accused of abuse when he knocked his wife over, tore at her clothes, hit her, pulled her hair, bit her, and tried to take photographs of her naked. The Municipal Court awarded her compensation of 4,000 DKK. Subsequently, the defendant appealed to the Western High Court for reduced liability for compensation. A majority of the court found that the wife was not entitled to compensation for two reasons: 1) the defendant was only sentenced to conditional imprisonment; 2) the defendant was found not guilty of brutal violence by the Municipal Court. A dissenting judge advocated awarding compensation because of the circumstances of the abuse and also because the defendant was found guilty of committing ordinary violence. Ultimately, the High Court denied compensation to the wife.



U1988.79V Western High Court (1988)

Statutory rape or defilement

The defendant was acquitted of having sexual intercourse with a woman placed in his care, contrary to Penal Code § 219 which provides that any person who is employed in or in charge of any children’s or young person’s home or institution for the mentally deficient, among others, and who has sexual intercourse with any person who is an inmate of the same institution, shall be liable to imprisonment for any term not exceeding four years. The defendant, a thirty-year old man, was approved by the municipality to have children and adolescents in his care at his home. The victim was a twenty-four year old woman who was placed in his care for her drug abuse. The Municipal Court and the High Court found that Penal Code § 219 was intended to protect individuals under state care from disregard of special duties or abuses of power by employees and superintendents of the mentioned institutions. According to the travaux preparatories, Penal Code § 219 applies to both public and private foster homes as well as institutions and therefore, would apply in this case. However, the court found that the protection from sexual relations in relation to arrangements for private care is provided for by different provisions of the Penal Code, not the travaux preparatories of § 219. Consistent with this finding, the High Court found the defendant not guilty because the provision in § 219 only applies with certainty to those under institutional care, not private care.



The Judgment of the Constitutional Court of Turkey: Head-scarf Ban Constitutional Court of Turkey (2014)

Gender discrimination

The phrase “bare-headed” in Article 20 of the Code of Conduct, which entered into force on 26 January 1971 by the decision of the Union of Turkish Bar Associations, abolished on 5 November 2012 with the decision of the Council of State, number 2012/5257. After that, Tu?ba Arslan, who is a lawyer admitted to the Ankara Bar Association, started to attend to hearings while her headscarf is on. On 4 December 2012, Ankara 11st Family Court’s judge stated that Tu?ba Arslan cannot perform her profession while her headscarf is on and adjourned the hearing on the grounds that headscarf is a strong religious and political symbol of anti-secularism. On that occasion Tu?ba Arslan applied to the Constitutional Court of Turkey individually. In its judgment of 25 June 2014 the Constitutional Court examining the case found that the acts of the public power that impose restriction on the location and style of the right to wear a headscarf as a religious belief constitute a violation of freedom of thought and faith. In addition, the Constitutional Court observed that wearing a headscarf is neither constitute an impediment to the use of the rights and freedoms of others nor trigger a social conflict or tension, therefore Tu?ba Arslan decreased at a disadvantage compared to those not wearing headscarf and that constitute a violation of prohibition of discrimination.



Wijesundera v. Heathrow 3PL Logistics Ltd [2014] I.C.R. 523 Employment Appeal Tribunal (2014)

Gender discrimination

The claimant, a Sri Lankan national, was working in England with a valid work permit when she was made redundant. The claimant claimed that she had been subjected to sex discrimination and harassment on numerous occasions. She also claimed that her dismissal was a further act of sex discrimination. In this case it was held that a worker knowingly employed under an illegal employment contract could bring a sex discrimination claim as the claim was not so inextricably bound up with her employment as to be defeated by a defence of illegality.



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

Sexual violence and rape

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



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

Sexual violence and rape

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



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

Sexual violence and rape

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



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

Sexual violence and rape

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



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

Sexual harassment

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



Stack v. Dowden [2007] UKHL 17 House of Lords (2007)

Property and inheritance rights

The parties began a relationship and the defendant bought a house in her sole name in which the parties lived together as man and wife and had four children. The defendant, who throughout their time together earned more money than the claimant, and sometimes almost twice as much, made all the payments due under the mortgage and paid the household bills. The parties then separated and the claimant left the property while the defendant remained there with the children. The claimant successfully applied to the judge for, inter alia, an order for sale of the property and an equal division of the proceeds. In this case it was held that where a domestic property is conveyed into the joint names of cohabitants without any declaration of trust there is an assumption that interest is equal. To prove interest is not equal, it must be proved that the parties held a common intention that their beneficial interests be different from their legal interests; to discern the parties' common intention the court should look at the parties' whole course of conduct in relation to the property, including more stereotypically feminine input such as redecoration, contributions to household expenses, etc and not just the initial contributions to purchase price, thus allowing some women more opportunity to claim an interest in their family home.



Hayward v. Cammell Laird Shipbuilders Ltd [1988] A.C. 894 17 House of Lords (1988)

Gender discrimination

The applicant, a woman, was employed at a shipyard canteen as a cook and was classified as unskilled for the purposes of pay. She claimed that she was doing work of equal value to male comparators who were shipyard workers paid at the higher rate for skilled tradesmen in the yard. The industrial tribunal, at a further hearing, rejected the applicant's contention that, in considering whether her contract of employment should be modified, it was sufficient to compare her basic pay and overtime rates with that of the male comparators and held that without a comparison of all terms and conditions of employment she was not entitled to a declaration that she should receive a higher rate of pay. The Employment Appeal Tribunal dismissed the applicant's appeal and, on her appeal, the Court of Appeal upheld that decision. The Court of Appeal dismissed the applicant's appeal. When deciding whether a woman’s contract is equal to a man’s it is sufficient for certain terms to be less advantageous for the woman for the contract to be unfair. It is not necessary for the overall woman’s contract to be less advantageous than the overall man’s contract.



R v. Tyrrell [1894] 1 Q.B. 710 Crown Case Reserved (1984)

Trafficking in persons

The defendant was tried and convicted at the Central Criminal Court on an indictment charging her, in the first count, with having unlawfully aided and abetted, counselled, and procured the commission by one Thomas Ford of the misdemeanour of having unlawful carnal knowledge of her whilst she was between the ages of thirteen and sixteen, against the form of the statute, and, in the second count, with having falsely, wickedly, and unlawfully solicited and incited Thomas Ford to commit the same offence. In this case it was held that one cannot be found guilty of aiding and abetting a law that is solely in place to protect them. A girl between the ages of 13 and 16 aided and abetted a man over 16 to have intercourse with her, however she was found not guilty of aiding and abetting by law because this law was in place to protect her and her peers.



Macarthys Ltd v. Smith [1980] 3 W.L.R. 929 Court of Appeal [United Kingdom and Northern Ireland] (1980)

Gender discrimination

Mr. M., the manager of the stockroom in one of the warehouses of the employers left his employment. After four months of the post remaining vacant the employee, Mrs. Smith, was appointed as the manageress of the stockroom. Her duties differed slightly from Mr. M's duties. She was paid about £10 less than he was. She argued that this breached the UK’s Equal Pay Act 1970. The Court of Appeal held that that Act does not allow comparisons with former colleagues; however, the ECJ held that EU law allows such comparison, reversing that Court of Appeal’s judgment. The ECJ decided that article 119 of the Treaty was directly applicable in the national courts of each country. It was submitted that under article 119 of the Treaty there was no requirement that the man and the woman should be employed contemporaneously at the same time and that, under that article, the woman was entitled to equal pay even though the man had left before she joined and the woman had taken his job afterwards.



Unknown v. Austria Asylum Court (2012)

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

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



Unknown v. Austria Asylum Court (2011)

Gender discrimination, LGBTIQ

The applicant travelled to Austria and underwent gender reassignment operations, was treated with hormones, and then lived as a woman in Austria. When the applicant attempted to extend her Egyptian passport at the embassy or to have it changed to female, she was informed that she must travel to Egypt to do so. Fearing persecution in Egypt, the applicant applied for asylum. The Asylum Court eventually granted the application, finding that transsexuality is not accepted in Egypt, that the applicant would be subject to attacks on her person without police or official protection, and that there was no legal option in Egypt for the applicant to change her documents and live officially with a different gender.



T.M. et. al. v. Miroslava T. T. et. al. Austria Supreme Court (2009)

Sexual violence and rape, Trafficking in persons

The defendants were held guilty of violating several provisions of the Austrian Criminal Code after the lower court found that they acted as a criminal organization to recruit victims by means of extortion, massive violence, penalties for not performing sex work and threats and arranged for the victims’ transfer and accommodation in brothels in Austria. After an appeal on procedural grounds, the Austrian Supreme Court upheld the convictions.



Maria N. et. al. v. Ferenc D. Austria Supreme Court (2011)

Sexual violence and rape, Trafficking in persons

The defendant was convicted of trafficking in persons for the purpose of prostitution after the lower court found that he lured the victims from Hungary into Austria under the false pretext that they could work as cleaners in an Austrian Hotel and then threatened them with injury or death to force them to work as prostitutes. The Austrian Supreme Court upheld the conviction on appeal.



Detention Action v. Secretary of State for the Home Department (SSHD) High Court of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland (2014)

Sexual violence and rape, Trafficking in persons

DFT, or Detained Fast Track, involves the placement of asylum seekers in detention while the outcome of their claim is determined. The claimants identified numerous issues in the DFT system with respect to female asylum-seekers and asserted that “the [DFT] system as operated created an unacceptable risk of unfairness for asylum seekers” and especially for vulnerable populations. These populations include pregnant women and trafficked women, who may find the detention period traumatic and who are likely to present complex cases. The Court held “that the DFT as operated carries with it too high a risk of unfair determinations for those that may be vulnerable applicants,” but emphasized that detention periods in and of themselves are not unlawful.



KKO 2013:96 Supreme Court of Finland (2013)

Sexual violence and rape

The issue here was related to the evaluation of evidence and the question whether the sexual intercourse in question was coerced. In this case, A and X had engaged in sexual intercourse which, according to A’s testimony, she was coerced into following physical approaches and violence by X, the male defendant. A had asked X to stop the approaches and attempted to resist him both physically and verbally. X had not complied but instead continued to engage in sexual conduct. A contended that due to the distress and fear caused by the events and the fact that she was physically significantly smaller than X she was no longer able to resist X’s approaches. A stated that the only thing she could think about at that point was that she did not want to get a sexually transmitted disease from X and, therefore, handed X a condom for him to use. After this, A and X had sexual intercourse. X contended that the intercourse was consensual. X further claimed that he could not have understood, in particular after A had given him a condom, that he was coercing A to have sexual intercourse. In its evaluation of the evidence, the Supreme Court stated that it held A’s description of the events reliable as her account was supported by the facts presented to the Court and since X’s description of the events had changed during the process, thereby reducing his credibility. X had, however, further claimed that even if the description of events given by A was accurate, the elements of the crime of coercion into sexual intercourse were not present in the case. As set forth in Section 3 of Chapter 20 of the Finnish Criminal Code (39/1889, as amended) (the “Criminal Code”), the crime of coercion into sexual intercourse is a rape that, in view of the slight degree of violence or threat of violence and the other particulars of the offence is deemed, when assessed as a whole, to have been committed under mitigating circumstances. The elements of rape under the Criminal Code include the requirement that a person forces another person into sexual intercourse by the use or threat of violence, and the Court affirmed that a breach of the victim’s right of self-determination is central to this requirement. The Court held that A had resisted X’s actions but had been coerced into sexual intercourse by X through the use of violence and the resulting fear and helplessness that A experienced. The Court further held that the fact that a victim ceases to resist, physically or verbally, an offender’s approaches cannot be interpreted as inferred consent to sexual intercourse by the victim. More specifically, the Court stated that even if the offender assumed that the victim had changed her mind, this does not remove intent on the part of the offender absent such change of mind being clearly expressed by the victim. The Court held that A’s handing over the condom, under the circumstances that this event took place, did not constitute such expression of a change of mind. Therefore, the Supreme Court held that there was sufficient evidence to prove X guilty of coercion into sexual intercourse. X was sentenced to 10 months of probation and to pay damages to A.



KHO 2013:46 Supreme Administrative Court (2013)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

The issue here was whether the concept of presumption of discrimination, as set forth in the Finnish Equality Act (609/1986, as amended) (the “Equality Act”), applied in the case where a less-merited male applicant had been appointed over two female applicants, and whether there was a justifiable reason for discrimination. In the case, the Regional Council of Lapland, a politically steered joint municipal board, had appointed V, a male applicant, as its director of development. Two female applicants, E and H, had disputed the council’s decision to appoint V on the basis that the appointment was based on V’s political affiliations and also because the decision breached the Equality Act. The Supreme Administrative Court considered (i) whether the threshold for presumed discrimination had been exceeded and, if this were the case, (ii) if there were grounds for the rebuttal of the presumption. The Court found that both E and H had been adequately qualified for the position and had more merits relevant to the position than V. On this basis, the Court held that E and H had sufficiently shown that they had not been appointed because of their gender and that, as a result, a presumption of discrimination, as set forth in Section 8 of the Equality Act, had arisen. Under the Equality Act, to rebut a presumption of discrimination an employer must show that its actions are attributable to a justifiable reason not connected to gender or that the actions were based on weighty and acceptable grounds related to the nature of the job or the task. The Regional Council of Lapland claimed that, in this case, the justifiable reason not connected to gender was V’s having more socio-political experience. The Court, however, held that socio-political experience was not specifically mentioned in the pre-established selection criteria for the position and was, therefore, part of the general merit assessment of the applicants. As discussed, the Court had found that, based on this assessment, both E and H had more merits relevant to the position than V. Therefore, the Court held that V’s socio-political experience was not a justifiable reason for his appointment. For these reasons, the Supreme Administrative Court agreed with the earlier holding of the Administrative Court of Rovaniemi that the decision of the Regional Council of Lapland to appoint V as its director of development was made in breach of the Equality Act and, therefore, ordered the decision to be annulled.



KKO 2010:74 Supreme Court of Finland (2010)

Gender discrimination

The issue here was whether the crime of discrimination, as set forth in Section 9 (currently Section 11) of Chapter 11 of the Finnish Criminal Code (39/1889, as amended) (the “Criminal Code”), could be committed in connection with the practice of religion by way of a refusal to participate in public worship with a female priest. In the case, A, a male priest and a member of a traditionalist evangelist association that was against women serving as pastors, was invited by B, the chairman of the local chapter of this association, to preach at a parish church. C, a female priest, had been scheduled to participate in the worship by assisting in the communion. Prior to the commencement of the worship, A and B had announced to C that, because of their conviction, C could not join A in the worship, after which C had left the church. In its ruling, the Supreme Court noted that Section 11 of the Finnish Constitution (731/1999, as amended) sets forth that everyone has the right to freedom of religion and conscience. The Court, however, clarified that this right is not absolute and that one cannot plead this right to justify actions that violate human dignity or other basic human rights or that are against the principles of the Finnish legal system. The Court further noted that, under the Finnish fundamental rights system, the prevention of discrimination can justify limiting the rights of the autonomous authority of religious organizations and their right to determine the methods of practicing religion. The same reason, prevention of discrimination, is also a justifiable reason to limit the rights of an individual in connection with the practice of religion. On this basis, the Court held that the elements of the crime of discrimination are generally applicable and do not exclude discrimination based on gender or discrimination that takes place within a parish in connection with the practice of religion. The Court also found that the elements of the crime, including a person having, without a justified reason, in the arrangement of a public function placed someone in a clearly unequal or otherwise essentially inferior position owing to his or her gender, were present in the case. Therefore, A was sentenced to pay 20 days-fine. While it found B also guilty, due to B’s level of guilt being determined to be lower than that of A as well as because of certain mitigating circumstances, the Court decided to waive the punishment of B.



HelHo 2009:10 Court of Appeal of Helsinki (2009)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

The issue here was whether a representative of an employer can be guilty of work discrimination, as set forth in Section 3 of Chapter 47 of the Finnish Criminal Code (39/1889, as amended) (the “Criminal Code”), by temporarily laying off an employee on the employee’s return from family leaves, and whether a justifiable cause for such discrimination existed in the case. In the case, B, who had been working at a company since 1998, had been on a two-year maternity leave between 2004 and 2006 and on a subsequent nursing leave after the maternity leave ended. During these family leaves, the company had, initially temporarily and subsequently on a permanent basis, employed C to carry out tasks that B had been responsible for before the family leaves. Upon her return to work in early 2007, B was temporarily laid off by A, the CEO of the company. A claimed that the work that C had been tasked with doing had changed while B was on the family leaves and that B could therefore not return to her old position. A further stated that the company was not able to offer B another position due to the company’s financial difficulties, and more specifically, that the company was not able to simultaneously employ both B and C. According to the Criminal Code, an employer, or a representative of the employer, that during employment without an important and justifiable reason puts an employee in an inferior position because of the employee’s gender, is guilty of criminal work discrimination. The Court of Appeal held that B had under the Finnish Employment Act (55/2011, as amended) the right to return to her old position after her family leaves ended or, if this was not possible, be offered other work in accordance with her employment contract. The Court further held, in accordance with A’s own statement, that the company could have trained B for the new type of work within only a brief period of time and, therefore, that laying off B and continuing to employ B’s substitute C (that had been made a permanent employee just before B’s return) was based on B’s gender and her family leaves. Due to these reasons, and despite the company’s financial difficulties, the Court held that there was no justifiable reason for the discrimination and, therefore, found A guilty of criminal employment discrimination. A was sentenced to pay 30 days-fine and damages to B of 1,200 Euros.



Sentencia Numero 740/06 High Court of the Basque Country Contentious-Administrative Chamber (2004)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

During a staff selection process for the Basque Health Service, in particular for the substitution of the chief of psychiatry services in the Santiago de Vitoria Hospital for a period of six (6) months, Mrs. Elena who had had a baby fifteen (15) days before the above mentioned selection process, was obliged by the Basque Health Service authority to renounce to the post she had the right to. The Basque Health Service authority deprived Mrs. Elena from a post that corresponded to her by the position she had in the list of temporary recruitment. The Basque Health Service authority forced Mrs. Elena to renounce to the post because of her recent maternity when she had expressly said that she wanted to accept that job. Art. 48 of the Statute of Workers Right (Estatuto de los Trabajadores) damage the worker depriving them from an appointment that corresponds to the worker. The maternity leave is not equal to a lack of capacity for the performance of their duties for the post under Spanish law. Law 30/1999 of 5th October of selection of temporary workers of the Health Service, does not exclude the recruitment of a person during the maternity leave. The decision of the High Court of the Basque Country was to appoint Mrs. Elena as temporary worker for the Basque Health Service (in particular for the substitution of the chief of psychiatry services in the hospital Santiago de Vitoria) for the remaining period until the fulfillment of the six (6) months period of the vacant position.

 

Durante un proceso de selección de personal para el Servicio de Salud Vasco, en particular para la sustitución del jefe de servicios de psiquiatría en el Hospital Santiago de Vitoria por un período de seis (6) meses, la Sra. Elena, que había tenido un bebé quince (15) días antes del proceso de selección mencionado anteriormente, fue obligada por la autoridad del Servicio Vasco de Salud a renunciar al cargo al que tenía derecho. La autoridad del Servicio Vasco de Salud privó a la Sra. Elena de un puesto que le correspondía y le otorgó la posición a alguien en la lista de reclutamiento temporal. La autoridad del Servicio Vasco de Salud obligó a la Sra. Elena a renunciar al cargo debido a su reciente maternidad cuando había dicho expresamente que quería aceptar ese trabajo. Artículo 48 del Estatuto de los Trabajadores (Estatuto de los Trabajadores) establece un daño al trabajador que ha sido privado de una cita que le corresponde. La licencia de maternidad no es igual a la falta de capacidad para el desempeño de sus funciones para el puesto bajo la ley española. La Ley 30/1999, de 5 de octubre, de selección de trabajadores temporales del Servicio de Salud, no excluye el reclutamiento de una persona durante la licencia de maternidad. La decisión del Tribunal Superior del País Vasco fue designar a la señora Elena como trabajadora temporal del Servicio Vasco de Salud (en particular para la sustitución del jefe de servicios de psiquiatría en el hospital Santiago de Vitoria) por el período restante hasta el cumplimiento del período de seis (6) meses del puesto vacante.



Sentencia Nº 145/14 High Court of Andalucía Labour Chamber (2014)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage

Mrs. Ana was denied a survivor’s pension because when her husband died they were already divorced. Normally, when a couple divorces and between the divorce and the death of the husband there is a period of more than ten (10) years, the ex-spouse does not have the right to a survivor’s pension. Nevertheless, as the ex-spouse was victim of physical abuse by her ex-husband during their marriage, this period of ten (10) years does not apply. As the ten (10) years period does not apply when there are physical abuses, the woman has the right to obtain the survivor’s pension even if she was divorced from her husband when he died. The decision of the High Court of Andalucía is to recognize the right of Mrs. Ana to a survivor’s pension even if she was already divorced when her husband passed away.

 

A la señora Ana se le negó la pensión de sobreviviente porque cuando su esposo murió, ya estaban divorciados. Normalmente, cuando una pareja se divorcia y entre el divorcio y la muerte del esposo hay un período de más de diez (10) años, el ex cónyuge no tiene derecho a una pensión de sobreviviente. Sin embargo, como la ex esposa fue víctima de abuso físico de su ex esposo durante su matrimonio, este período de diez (10) años no se aplica. Como el período de diez (10) años no se aplica cuando hay abusos físicos, la mujer tiene derecho a obtener la pensión de sobreviviente, incluso si se divorció de su esposo antes de la murte. La decisión del Tribunal Superior de Andalucía es reconocer el derecho de la Sra. Ana a una pensión de sobreviviente, incluso si ella ya estaba divorciada cuando su esposo falleció.



Sentencia núm. 7262/2008 High Court of Cataluña, Labour Chamber (2008)

Employment discrimination, Gender-based violence in general

Mrs. Yolanda was dismissed from her job post when she was in a situation of temporary incapacity as a consequence of an anxiety disorder due to physical abuse carried out by her husband. The company alleges that during the period of temporary incapacity due to anxiety disorder, Mrs. Yolanda carried out a normal life. This situation may be a cause of dismissal for normal workers, but not when the worker is a victim of gender abuse. Mrs. Yolanda was in a situation of temporary incapacity determined by the Spanish health services. The High Court of Catalonia decided that as Mrs. Yolanda was in a situation of temporary incapacity determined by the health services due to gender based violence she had to be readmitted in her job.

 

La Sra. Yolanda fue despedida de su puesto de trabajo cuando se encontraba en una situación de incapacidad temporal como consecuencia de un trastorno de ansiedad debido a los abusos físicos cometidos por su esposo. La compañía alega que durante el período de incapacidad temporal debido a un trastorno de ansiedad, la Sra. Yolanda llevó a cabo una vida normal. Esta situación puede ser causa de despido para los trabajadores normales, pero no cuando el trabajador es víctima de abuso de género. La señora Yolanda se encontraba en una situación de incapacidad temporal determinada por los servicios de salud españoles. El Tribunal Superior de Cataluña decidió que, dado que la Sra. Yolanda se encontraba en una situación de incapacidad temporal determinada por los servicios de salud debido a la violencia de género, tuvo que ser readmitida en su trabajo.



1 BvR 1409/10 Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) (2011)

Gender discrimination

The Court held that it was in breach of the right to equal treatment enshrined in the German constitution that periods of maternity leave (which affects women only) were not counted towards certain pension benefits whereas periods of sick leave (which affects both men and women) were.



1 BvL 8/08 Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) (2010)

Employment discrimination

Employees of state hospitals in Hamburg were granted the right in 1995 to continued employment in case of privatization of the hospitals. In 2000, the cleaning staff were spun out into a separate company which was a wholly-owned subsidiary of the state hospitals. Upon privatization in 2005, the right to continued employment was applied only to those employees employed by the state hospitals, not those employed by the wholly-owned subsidiary company. The Court held this to be in breach of the right to equal treatment enshrined in the German constitution as the cleaning staff denied the right to continued employment due to the spin-off were predominantly women and there was no evident justification for the unequal treatment of the two groups of employees.



15 Sa 517/08 Employment Court Berlin-Brandenburg (Landesarbeitsgericht Berlin-Brandenburg) (2008)

Employment discrimination

The claimant sued her employer on the grounds of discrimination after a male colleague received a promotion to a management role she had hoped for. The Court decided for the claimant, accepting statistical evidence showing that, while the majority of employees of the employer (69%) were women, no women were represented on the three most senior management levels. This was the first decision of a court accepting such statistical evidence of discrimination.



1 BvR 774/02 Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) (2005)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

The Court held that it was unconstitutional to require an attorney without earnings to continue to make compulsory pension contributions during time taken out to care for children (up to the age of three years). Requiring such compulsory pension contributions was viewed as in breach of the right to equal treatment enshrined in the German constitution because it disproportionately affects women who are in the vast majority of cases the ones taking time out to care for small children.



XII ZB 166/03 Federal Court of Justice (Bundesgerichtshof) (2004)

Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting

The Court affirmed the decision of the lower court which had prohibited the parents of a young daughter with Gambian nationality resident in Germany from determining her whereabouts and relocating her to Gambia due to a high risk of FGM/C being performed on the daughter in Gambia. This decision paved the way for several similar decisions by lower courts protecting girls from potential FGM/C during trips to their home countries in cases where a high risk of FGM/C was prevalent in the home country.



1 BvR 300/02 Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) (2002)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

Mr. Z appealed to the Court against an injunction issued against him by a lower court in expedited proceedings prohibiting him from approaching his partner and from re-entering the flat he shared with her on the grounds of protection from domestic violence. The Court did not allow the appeal on the grounds that the injunction did not breach a constitutional right of the claimant. The need for immediate short-term protection from further domestic violence justified the expedited nature of the proceedings.



Sentencia Número 677 (Ruling 677) Provincial Court of Madrid (2012)

Sexual violence and rape, Trafficking in persons

In 2010, Spain amended its Penal Code by enacting Article 177 to prohibit human trafficking. Spain did so in response to international human rights agreements regarding human trafficking. This ruling was the first conviction under this new article. Two women reported to authorities that the defendants had lured them from Paraguay under false pretenses, forced them to work as prostitutes, and physically and emotionally assaulted them. The Provincial Court of Madrid found that the defendants' actions constituted: 1) crimes against the rights of foreign nationals (Article 318 bis), 2) human trafficking for purposes of sexual exploitation (Article 177 bis), 3) solicitation by coercion to commit prostitution (Article 188.1), and 4) sexual assault (Article 179). According to the court, the fact that the defendants promoted, encouraged, or facilitated illegal immigration with the intention of using the women for prostitution was enough to find criminal sexual exploitation. The court found the victims’ testimony to be credible, realistic, and consistent, and used their testimony as the base for this decision.

 

En 2010, España modificó su Código Penal al promulgar el artículo 177 para prohibir la trata de personas. España lo hizo en respuesta a los acuerdos internacionales de derechos humanos relativos a la trata de personas. Esta sentencia fue la primera condena en virtud de este nuevo artículo. Dos mujeres informaron a las autoridades que los acusados las habían atraído desde Paraguay con falsas pretensiones, las obligaron a trabajar como prostitutas, y las agredieron física y emocionalmente. El Tribunal Provincial de Madrid determinó que las acciones de los demandados constituían: 1) delitos contra los derechos de los extranjeros (artículo 318 bis), 2) trata de personas con fines de explotación sexual (artículo 177 bis), 3) solicitud por coacción para cometer prostitución (artículo 188.1), y 4) agresión sexual (artículo 179). Según el tribunal, el hecho de que los acusados promovieron, alentaron o facilitaron la inmigración ilegal con la intención de utilizar a las mujeres para la prostitución fue suficiente para encontrar la explotación sexual criminal. El tribunal determinó que el testimonio de las víctimas era creíble, realista, y coherente, y utilizó su testimonio como base para esta decisión.



BVerwG 6 C 25.12 Federal Administrative Court (Bundesverwaltungsgericht) (2013)

Harmful traditional practices

The Court rejected the appeal and upheld the decision of the lower court that a female Muslim high school student was not exempt from compulsory swimming lessons on the grounds of her religion. In the circumstances, there was not sufficient reason to undermine compulsory school attendance of children. The parents of the girl had applied to the school for an exemption from swimming lessons on the grounds that Islamic dress custom did not allow their daughter to participate in co-educational swimming lessons. The school had rejected the application but permitted the girl to wear swimwear which would be in accordance with Islamic custom (a burkini). The decision was generally welcomed as protecting the right of Muslim girls to education.



Mme Florence B…/IBM, RG 02/00504, Arret n. 635 2003 Cour d’appel de Montpellier (2003)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

Sexual discrimination – employment. Florence B, an employee of IBM France SA, was promoted to the rank of “coefficient 285” in March 1986. She remained in this position for a total of 12 years. Company statistics demonstrated that the average period of employment for male employees of the company in this position was only 4.11 years. Florence B claimed that the company failed to promote her based on grounds of sexual discrimination. IBM France SA was unable to justify Florence B’s lack of career advancement and refused to provide manuscripts supporting which would be required to show that Florence B’s lack of advancement was due to matters other than those relating to sexual discrimination. Florence B was therefore awarded damages to the amount of 30,000 euros in order to compensate her for the lack of career advancement as well as awarded an order for her promotion to a new position of “coefficient 114”. The costs of the case incurred were held to be dealt with in accordance with Article 700 of the New Civil Code Procedure.



Claimant (on her own behalf and on behalf of her minor children) v. the Minister for Immigration and Asylum District Court of the Hague (2010)

Gender violence in conflict, Gender-based violence in general, Harmful traditional practices

The claimant, of Tajik descent, had a high school diploma, was an active member of a left-leaning political organization, and was a volunteer teacher for girls while she lived in Afghanistan. The Taliban arrested a friend of the claimant who worked for UNICEF and had also pressured the claimant’s family to provide details about her whereabouts. Once the Taliban occupied her village, she and her husband hid with a relative before traveling to the Netherlands. In 2008, the claimant filed an application on behalf of herself and her minor children (two daughters and a son) under the Aliens Act 2000, citing Article 3 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. The claimant argued that they were subject to inhumane treatment if they were forced to return to Afghanistan. The District Court noted that the policy relied upon did not take into account the situation of Westernized women in Afghanistan, who were at risk just having lived in Westernized society. The District Court noted that the evidence showed that not only was security a risk to all in Afghanistan, but that treatment of women and girls had deteriorated even further since the rejection of the 2003 application. Finally, the District Court referred to reports submitted in the case, noting that women returning to Afghanistan from Europe or Iran are perceived as having violated religious and social norms and, as a result, are subject to honor crimes, domestic violence, isolation and other forms of punishment. The District Court found the claimant’s appeal to be well-founded, destroyed the contested decision, and ordered the government to issue a decision taking the District Court’s findings into consideration.



Claimant v. the Minister of Justice District Court of the Hague (2010)

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

The claimant was born in Somalia and left the country when her home was destroyed and four men attempted to rape her. The claimant sought residence in the Netherlands as a refugee under Immigration Act 2000. She argued that women in Central and Southern Somalia were systematically exposed to inhuman treatment. The claimant submitted reports that abuse and rape of women, by civilians and armed groups, was frequent, and that displaced women were particularly vulnerable during their flight. Gang rape was widespread, and victims (including young girls and boys) were selected at random. Further, rape is almost never prosecuted and the victims are discriminated against because they are seen as “unclean.” The report further stated that women in Somalia do not have access to justice and receive no protection from authorities. Human Rights Watch and UN reports also described women as suffering the brunt of abuse and repression cultivated by al-Shabaab’s decrees, including forced marriage, female genital mutilation (“FGM”) and gender-based violence. The District Court opined that women are in a vulnerable position in Central and Southern Somalia and, therefore, run the risk of suffering violence and human rights violations, and cannot obtain effective protection. They are therefore a group worthy of protection from inhuman treatment and torture.



Claimants (on their own behalf and on behalf of their minor children) v. the Secretary of State for Justice, Immigration and Naturalization Service District Court of the Hague (2010)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Gender discrimination, Gender-based violence in general, Harmful traditional practices, Honor crimes (or honour crimes), Sexual violence and rape

The claimants, on behalf of themselves and their two minor daughters, sought residence permits under the Aliens Act 2000. The claimants stated that if they returned to Afghanistan, the mother and daughters would be subjected to inhuman treatment under Article 3 European Convention on Human Rights. The claimants noted that women were systematically disadvantaged and discriminated against in Afghanistan. Women were subject to violence throughout the country, including the claimants’ area of origin, and had no protection from the government (if they even had the opportunity of access to the courts). Women suffer domestic violence, sexual violence, honor crimes, and arranged marriage. Women do not have the same rights as men (even though the constitution states that men and women are equal), are seen as property, and have little to no access to education or health care. The District Court found the mother’s and daughters’ appeals well-founded and ordered the government to consider the applications.



N. de pourvoi: 84-95759 Cour de Cassation, chambre criminelle (1986)

Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting

Two parents sought the assistance of a non-identified female in carrying out a circumcision of their daughter, then aged 21 months and 25 days. The infant’s parents proceeded to assist the non-identified female in the act by immobilising their child throughout the operation. The child subsequently suffered from an external hemorrhage caused by an aperture of the wound, causing anaemia and loss of appetite. The infant’s parents did not at this stage bring the child’s critical condition to the attention of a doctor or emergency services. The child died shortly thereafter. The infant’s parents were convicted of voluntary grievous bodily harm resulting in the involuntary death of a minor which is prohibited in accordance with article 312 of the French Penal Code and failing to assist in the prevention of the child’s death. The case demonstrates the severity with which the French courts will hold parents liable for not only assisting in the practice of female circumcision, but also for failing to prevent the adverse consequences that it may entail.



Claimant (on her own behalf and on behalf of her minor children) v. the State Secretary of Justice District Court of the Hague (2008)

Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting, Harmful traditional practices

The government had denied three of the claimant’s applications for residence under the Aliens Act 2000. The appeal stemmed from the dispute about whether the claimant’s minor daughter was at risk for inhuman treatment (specifically, FGM) in Chad under the European Convention on Human Rights. The claimant argued that her daughter was, as a Hadjarai woman, “very strongly” at risk of FGM, and she herself had been circumcised. The government denied that FGM is a matter of tradition, ethnicity, and religion and claimed that the claimant’s story was inconsistent with what was known about FGM in Chad. The District Court found that the government’s decision was subject to review referring to a U.S. Department of State report that stated that though violence against women and FGM were prohibited by law in Chad, FGM was widespread, deeply rooted in tradition and rarely prosecuted. Further, 93% of Hadjarari women were circumcised. The District Court ordered the government to decide the claimant’s application in light of the Court’s findings.



Cour de cassation, N. de pourvoi: 02-44904, 2004 Cour de Cassation, chambre sociale (2004)

Gender discrimination

Contract of employment – dismissal – sexist and racist remarks – real and serious cause. Mr. X, employed as a chef by the company “Pavillion Montsouris”, was dismissed by a letter dated 4 June 1999 for gross negligence following several instances of alleged sexist and racist remarks made at the workplace towards several members of staff. The Court of Appeal of Paris dismissed the case, interpreting the comments made by Mr. X as “out of place” and “of bad taste” but not serious enough to warrant his dismissal. The Court of Cassation rejected this decision, reaffirming that Mr. X’s actions were nonetheless very serious and real (although this was not considered to amount to gross negligence, which only applies if there is an intention to harm towards an employer and cannot be applied between co-workers). The court confirmed that the severity of Mr. X’s sexist and racist comments were such that his dismissal was justified. This case marks the courts’ rejection of the trivialization of serious sexist and racist remarks towards female employees at the workplace.



Case Number E.2006/156, K.2008/125 Constitutional Court of Turkey (2008)

Gender discrimination

The Constitutional Court found that a Labour Law that states that an employer must pay severance to a woman who requests to terminate her employment contract within a year of getting married is constitutional and not discriminatory. Under Article 14.1 of the Turkish Labour Law, an employer must pay severance to a woman who requests to terminate her employment contract within a year of getting married. The Izmir 6th Labour Court found that this provision is discriminatory under the Constitution as it treats male and female workers differently. Using Article 41 and Article 50 of the Turkish Constitution, the Constitutional Court, however, ruled that the law is not discriminatory and does not violate the Constitution. Under Article 41, Turkey has the power to “take necessary measures” to ensure the “peace and welfare” of the family, specifically in regards to the protection of mothers and children. Article 50 allows women, and other protected groups, to enjoy “special working conditions.” The Court found that the goal of the Labour Law to protect both female workers and the family union aligned with these two Articles, and thus was neither discriminatory nor in violation of the Constitution.



Case Number E.2005/151, K. 2008/37 Constitutional Court of Turkey (2008)

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

The Constitutional Court held that a provision in the Turkish Penal Code that increases the penalty by half for the crime of laceration if committed against family members is constitutional. Although such a penalty treats family members differently than non-family members, the Court found that such differential treatment did not violate the equality principle under the Turkish Constitution. Under the equality principle, criminals who have committed the same offence may not be subject to the same penalty if they have different legal statuses. Here, the Court found that the Turkish Legislature, through the Turkish Penal Code, expressed a preference for family members, giving family members a different legal status and thus the provision did not violate the equality principle. In reaching its decision, the Court also noted that Turkey has taken “extensive legal and administrative measures” to prevent and reduce domestic violence in Turkey. Because the state must protect family members from danger and family members have a different legal status, the Court found that the provision increasing the term of imprisonment and fine for laceration against a family member is constitutional.



B 990-11 Supreme Court of Sweden (2011)

Sexual violence and rape

A man who possessed 39 drawn pornographic images in manga style was acquitted from a charge of possession of child pornography on the grounds that holding this possession as illegal would unreasonably limit freedom of expression. Swedish child pornography laws outlaw actual photographic material as well as drawn images. The purpose of this law is to protect children from offensive materials, to avoid anyone using child pornography to snare children into sexual situations, and to protect their likeness being shared in pornographic materials. The court argued, however, that because a conviction would mean a restraint in the defendant’s freedom of expression, the court must present a serious reason for why pornographic manga-styled cartoon images actually have the potential to harm a child in any of these ways. Because the images were not made in any child’s likeness and because manga is an expression of Japanese culture, the court ruled that the restraint on the defendant’s freedom of expression would be too great if he were convicted and the images were held to constitute child pornography.



Case Number E.1999/35, K.2002/104 Constitutional Court of Turkey (2002)

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

The Constitutional Court found that the legislature could take necessary measures to reduce violence within families. Articles 1.1 of the Law on the Protection of the Family allows judges to take measures against one spouse, not both, and not against the children or members of the family, if a spouse has subjected another family member to domestic violence. The Gulyaly Peace Court found that because the Articles did not provide for an injunction or penalty if a child committed a violent act, rather than a spouse or parent, the Articles violated the principle of equality. Relying on Article 41 of the Turkish Constitution, which focuses on the family as the foundation of Turkish Society and gives the legislature the power to protect the family unit, the Constitutional Court found that Article 1.1 does not violate the Constitution because it protects the family unit and ensures peace within a family unit. The Court also found that the provision did not violate the Turkish equality principle, because the legal status of spouses differs from that of other family members and just cause exists to treat such groups differently.



Case Number E.1999/27, K.1999/42 Constitutional Court of Turkey (1999)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage

Article 237.4 of the Turkish Criminal Code provides for a penalty of two to six month imprisonment if a man or woman holds a religious wedding ceremony before a civil ceremony. Under Turkey’s principle of equality, different individuals with different legal statuses may be treated differently. The Constitutional Court found that the statute does not violate the principle of equality because unmarried individuals have a different legal status than those who have conducted a religious wedding ceremony. In reaching its decision, the Court also noted that legislature has discretionary power to make laws, the Constitution provides for the protection of family life, and the statute does not prohibit religious ceremonies entirely.



Reed & Bull Information Systems v. Stedman (1999, IRLR 299 EAT) Employment Appeal Tribunal (1999)

Employment discrimination

S was employed by Bull as a temporary secretary and was subsequently given a permanent placement responsible to the Marketing Manager, R. S resigned on the ground that she found working with him intolerable as R allegedly sexually harassed her. S never confronted S nor made any identifiable protests about his behavior with the exception of complaint she made about him telling dirty jokes to colleagues in her presence. But she had made complaints to her mother and colleagues at work. Although the tribunal decided that no single incident was serious enough to be capable of constituting sexual harassment, they did find that there had been a series of sexual inferences with a pervading sexual innuendo and sexist stance and that R realized that they were unwanted and were bullying in nature. With regard to the liability of Bull, the tribunal found that colleagues in the personnel department were well aware of the applicant's deteriorating health and that she had made complaints to other members of staff which had been dismissed. In those circumstances there should have been an investigation into the cause of the illness and the complaints that had been made. By failing to implement this, Bull committed a repudiatory breach of contract as they failed to deal with the issue of sexual harassment adequately. The tribunal concluded that the applicant was entitled to compensation for unfair dismissal by reason of sexual discrimination. The Employment Appeal Tribunal dismissed the appeal and added that whilst not “gross: the behavior of R towards S was most inappropriate in the workplace. The EAT placed the burden on the victim to place the harasser on notice that she does not welcome his conduct and endorsed the reasonable person perspective in assessing a victim’s rejection. The question at issue should be was the victim subjected to a detriment on the grounds of her sex. A one-off ace may suffice. The Court also directed tribunals to pay attention to the impact of totality of successive incidents, individually trivial.



Vent-Axia v. Wright (1999, EAT) Employment Appeal Tribunal (1999)

Sexual harassment

A department head accused of harassing four women was not permitted to learn the names of his accusers due to confidentiality issues. The EAT re-affirmed that the primary test when ordering disclosure of documents is whether disclosure is necessary for fairly disposing of the proceedings, not whether the document is confidential in nature. The Court ruled the alleged harasser must demonstrate that this information is necessary in the context of his specific case.



Bebb v. Law Society Court of Appeals of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland (1914)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

Gwyneth Bebb, upon being denied admission to the Law Society to take the preliminary examination to become a solicitor, took the matter to court. In Bebb v. Law Society, the Court of Appeal stated that the question of whether the gender-neutral language of the statutes meant that women could gain admission to the bar was settled through “long usage” in the common law and found that women were not included under “persons” in the Solicitor’s Act of 1843. Additionally, women were considered to have an additional disability at common law, namely that after marriage they are not able to enter into contracts with third parties. As every woman held the potential of being married, this disability was also applied to unmarried women.



Hall v. Incorporated Society of Law Agents Court of Sessions (1901)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

Margaret Hall appealed to the Court of Sessions regarding the decision of the Society of Law Agents in Scotland to deny her permission to take the preliminary examination for the Society. Hall argued that she should be given permission because the statute permitted “persons” to become law agents and so, by its terms, did not exclude women. The Society had found that women did not have a legal right to practice law given that “[a]ccording to inveterate usage and custom in Scotland, that practice has in all departments of the law been hitherto confined exclusively to men.” Upon Hall’s appeal, the Court of Sessions also refused to grant her permission because the statute did not explicitly include women, even though it did not explicitly exclude them either. In support of its decision, the court stated that the word “persons” had to be interpreted according to its customary usage; because women had been ineligible to become law agents when the statute was enacted in 1873, the court found the customary usage of “persons” to mean “male persons” and accordingly refused Hall’s appeal.



File No. 7C/203/2006 District Court Prešov (2007)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

On August 4, 2006 Ms. M. G. (the “Claimant”) filed an action with the District Court Prešov against her husband, Mr. F. G. (the “Defendant”) requesting that his right to use the common household be revoked. The court ruled to revoke the Defendant’s common right to use the household and found the Defendant guilty of the criminal offence of making a dangerous threat under Section 360 (1) of the Criminal Code and sentenced him to imprisonment for six months. The Defendant, under the influence of alcohol, threatened to throw the Claimant off the balcony and forced her by violence to leave the house. During the trial, the Claimant’s allegations regarding the violent behavior of the Defendant were supported by the testimonies of both children of the disputing parties. According to an expert opinion, the Defendant was suffering from alcohol addiction and in need of medical treatment, which was later ordered by the court. Pursuant to Section 705a of the Civil Code, if further co-habitation with a spouse, divorced spouse or close person who is a common user of the same household becomes insufferable due to his / her physical or psychological violence or threats thereof, the court may, upon a petition, revoke or limit such violating party’s right to use such common household. In this case, the District Court in Prešov revoked the Defendant’s common right to use the household under the abovementioned provision of the Civil Code.


File No. 1T 107/01 District Court Martin (2001)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

Mr. X (the “Accused”) under the influence of alcohol physically assaulted his wife Mrs. Y (the “Aggrieved”) by hitting her head and face. Subsequently, the Accused physically assaulted the children of the Aggrieved from her first marriage. When the Aggrieved attempted to protect her children, the Accused beat her with his fists and kicked her. The Aggrieved and her children suffered various minor injuries which caused the inability to work for less than six days. The court ruled that the Accused had committed the criminal offence of attempted bodily harm under Section 221 (1) of the former Criminal Code , the criminal offence of violence against an individual or group of individuals under Section 196 (1) and Section 197a of the former Criminal Code and sentenced him unconditionally to imprisonment for six months. However, pursuant to Section 58 (1a) and Section 59 (1) of the former Criminal Code , the court suspended this imprisonment sentence for a probationary period of 15 months. Moreover, the Accused was obliged to pay damages to Aggrieved for the harm they suffered.



File No. 5T 33/2007-41 District Court Košice I (2007)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

Mr. X (the “Accused”) threatened to kill his ex-wife, Mrs. Y, (the “Aggrieved”) by cutting her throat and hitting her head with a hammer. Two days later, the Accused threatened to kill the Aggrieved and her whole family and thereby caused the Aggrieved to fear that he would carry out such threats. The court ruled that the Accused had committed the criminal offence of dangerous threat under Section 360 (1) of the Criminal Code and sentenced him unconditionally to imprisonment for sixteen months. The court ordered the Accused to serve his term of imprisonment in a minimum security correctional facility under Section 48 (2a) of the Criminal Code.



File No. 7T 167/03-121 District Court Košice II (2004)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

Over the course of seven years, Mr. X (the “Accused”) caused substantial physical and psychological suffering to his wife Mrs. Y and his daughter Ms. Z (jointly the “Aggrieved") including strangling, physical assaults, threats of killing, and constant humiliation. Furthermore, the Accused prevented his daughter from entering the apartment, where she lived with her parents. During the main trial, the Accused refused to testify and so did the Aggrieved Persons. However, the Court disposed of witness testimonies of the Aggrieved Persons provided at the preliminary hearing, according to which the spouses had permanent conflicts due to the alcoholism of the Accused. An expert opinion confirmed that the Aggrieved Persons had suffered from battering. The court found the Accused guilty of the criminal offence of battery of a close relative and entrusted person pursuant to Section 215 (1a) of the former Criminal Code and sentenced the Accused to imprisonment for a term of 2 years. However, pursuant to Section 58 (1a) and Section 59 (1) of the former Criminal Code, the court suspended this sentence for a probationary period of 3 years.



File No. 5T 3/07-114 District Court Košice - okolie (2007)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

Over the course of two years Mr. X (the “Accused”) abused his wife Ms. Y (the “Aggrieved”) by constantly humiliating and beating her. As a result, the Aggrieved experienced substantial psychological trauma. According to the Aggrieved, the aggressive behavior of the Accused occurred on a daily basis and despite her refusal of intercourse, the Accused forced her into sexual intercourse by use of violence. The daughter of the Aggrieved stated that she saw the Accused slapping and kicking her mother and after the Accused found a girlfriend, relations between him and the Aggrieved deteriorated and resulted in the decision of the Aggrieved to leave the common household with her daughter and search for professional psychological care. Expert opinions confirmed that the Aggrieved suffered psychological trauma of abused woman that resulted in loss of confidence, depressions, anxiety. The court found the Accused guilty of the criminal offence of battery of a close relative and entrusted person pursuant to Section 208 (1a) of the Criminal Code and sentenced him to conditional imprisonment for a term of 3 years with a probation period of 30 months. Furthermore, the Court issued the Accused a 5 meter restraining order.



File No. 6T 156/05-301 District Court Košice II (2008)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

Over the course of two months Mr. X (the “Accused”) threatened to kill his wife, Mrs. Y, (the “Aggrieved”) and to blow up the apartment. His actions and verbal assaults caused the Aggrieved to fear that he would carry out his threats. The Aggrieved and other witnesses attested to the Accused’s violent behavior. The Accused had previously been found guilty of similar violent acts for which the court had imposed a conditional sentence. The Aggrieved alleged that since the Accused was released from custody, his behavior had not changed and that he still had been insulting and threatening her. Other witness statements supported these accusations. According to an expert opinion, the Accused was emotionally unstable and in terms of his patriarchal understanding of the head of family, the Accused behaved towards the Aggrieved dominantly and without respect. The court found the Accused guilty of the criminal offence of violence against an individual or group of individuals pursuant to Section 197a of the former Criminal Code and imposed a sentence of imprisonment for 1 year.



File No. 13C/175/2003 District Court Bratislava II (2006)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

Ms. M. M. (the “Claimant”) filed an action with the District Court Bratislava II against her husband, Mr. Š. M. (the “Defendant”) to revoke his right to use the common household. This action was subsequently granted by the District Court Bratislava II, first in the form of a preliminary decision revoking the Defendant’s right to use the apartment and later as a final decision in the form of Decision No. 5 T 26/04. The court also found the Defendant guilty of the criminal offence of battery of a close relative and entrusted person and sentenced him to imprisonment. The Defendant had frequently insulted the Claimant, punched her, thrown pots at her and forced her by threats to have sexual intercourse with him, which made the Claimant afraid to use the common household with the Defendant. Although they were divorced, they had not agreed on a property settlement and thus, the apartment formed a part of the undivided co-ownership of spouses and the Defendant retained his rights to the apartment. Pursuant to Section 146(2) of the Civil Code, if further co-habitation with a spouse, divorced spouse or close person who is a common user of the same household becomes insufferable due to his / her physical or psychological violence or threats thereof, the court may, upon a petition, revoke or limit such violating party’s right to use such common household. In this case, the District Court Bratislava II revoked the Defendant’s right to use the apartment under the abovementioned provision of the Civil Code.



Decision No. 11/1995, File No. 6 Tz 17/94 Supreme Court of the Slovak Republic (1994)

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

Ms. V. Ž. (the “Aggrieved”) was sexually assaulted by her mother’s partner, Mr. M. P. (the “Accused”) who had lived with them in same household for more than 5 years. The Bratislava I County Prosecutor terminated criminal proceedings after the Aggrieved refused to testify and to give her consent to initiate the criminal prosecution. The Attorney General of the Slovak Republic challenged this termination arguing that the Aggrieved was not entitled to refuse her testimony or withhold permission to initiate criminal proceedings. The Supreme Court of the Slovak Republic ruled that by testifying against the Accused, a person with whom she has family like ties, she could suffer considerable harm herself, as the harm reflected upon the Accused could be perceived as a harm done to the Aggrieved herself and therefore she was in a position to refuse such testimony. The Attorney General challenged the decision and the Supreme Court admitted the insufficient assessment of the relevant criminal offence as only restraint of personal freedom and determined the relevant criminal offence as a combination of the criminal offences of sexual abuse and blackmail. Pursuant to Section 163a of the former Criminal Procedure Code , the initiation of criminal prosecution for these criminal offences was subject to the consent of the aggrieved person. Whereas, the Aggrieved was a minor and did not have full legal capacity to provide such consent, she should have been represented by her legal representatives, i.e., her parents. In this case, since her mother was the partner of the Accused, there was a high risk of conflict of interest. In such cases, the parents are replaced by other legal representatives, i.e., court appointed custodians. Since the Bratislava I County Prosecutor failed to observe these requirements, the Supreme Court superseded its resolution and ordered a new one to follow all of the findings made by the Supreme Court. According to current legislation, the prosecution of defendants of two related criminal offences, i.e., sexual abuse and blackmail, is no longer subject to the consent of the aggrieved person. Nonetheless, this Supreme Court Decision No. 11/1995 is applicable, especially in regard to the mandatory legal representation of aggrieved minors. Pursuant to Section 211 of the current Criminal Procedure Code, the prosecution of offenders of other criminal offences (e.g., copyright violations or theft) is still subject to the consent of the aggrieved person. Minors must be represented by their legal representatives not only in relation to giving consent, but in performing any relevant legal action. The relevant authorities shall always examine whether there is possibility of a conflict of interest and if so, exclude such representatives and ask the relevant court to appoint a custodian.



R v. O United Kingdom Court of Appeal (2008)

Trafficking in persons

O, a Nigerian national and apparently only 17 years old, appealed against a conviction for the offence of possessing a false identity document. One of the submissions on her behalf, supported by a senior outreach worker for The Poppy Project, was that she had been the victim of trafficking for sexual exploitation and used the false identity document in an attempt to escape. The Court of Appeal granted her appeal, stating that it regretted that neither the prosecution nor the defense had considered her age or the possibility that she might have been a victim of sex trafficking at first instance. It was unlawful to impose a prison sentence as such on a person aged 17. Further, the Court of Appeal noted that common law and article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights alike require far higher standards of procedural protection than were given to O at first instance. The Court of Appeal expressed the hope that the case would drive home the message that proper inquiries need to be made where there is doubt about the age of a Defendant who is a possible victim of trafficking.



A-G Ref (No. 44 of 2010) United Kingdom Court of Appeal (2010)

Trafficking in persons

Two offenders were convicted at first instance of (i) trafficking AH, a 19 year old girl, from Romania to the UK for sexual exploitation (s 57(1) of the Sexual Offences Act 2003) and (ii) controlling the prostitution of AH for gain (s. 53(1) of the Sexual Offences Act 2003).   The first offender received a sentence of 30 months imprisonment for the first offence and 24 months’ imprisonment for the second offence.  The second offender was sentenced to 24 months imprisonment for the first offence and 18 months imprisonment for the second offence.  The Attorney General appealed to the Court of Appeal to review the sentences on the grounds that the judge at first instance had not taken account of aggravating factors and the impact of the offences on AH.  The Court of Appeal agreed that the sentences did not reflect the totality of the offences, which involved bringing AH into the UK by deception and then coercing her to work as a prostitute and corrupting her in the process.  Therefore, the Court of Appeal imposed a harsher sentence of 4 years’ imprisonment on the first offender and 3 years’ imprisonment on the second offender for the first offence.   The sentences in relation to the second offence were not changed. 



Yemshaw v. Hounslow LBC United Kingdom Supreme Court (2011)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

The appellant (Y) appealed against a decision that the respondent local authority had been entitled to find that she was not homeless. Y had applied to the local authority for housing assistance, claiming that although her husband had not physically assaulted her or threatened to assault her she was scared that he would, and had left him. Under the Housing Act 1996 s.177(1) a local authority was obliged to rehouse a person where it was not reasonable for that person to continue to occupy accommodation if it would lead to domestic violence. The local authority decided that it was still reasonable for Y to occupy the matrimonial home. A review of that decision was unsuccessful as the panel considered the probability of domestic violence to be low. Upon appeal, the county court and the Court of Appeal concluded that the term "violence" in s.177(1) required some sort of physical contact. The issue in the instant appeal was whether the word "violence" in s.177(1) included other forms of violent conduct.



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

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Sexual violence and rape

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



Regina v. Shahnawaz Ali Khan, Raza Ali Khan and Perveen Khan United Kingdom Court of Appeal (2010)

Trafficking in persons

The defendants recruited nine men from the Middle East and the Indian continent between 2004 and 2008 to work in a restaurant owned by one of the defendants. The men were found to have been subjected to economic exploitation, including many or all of the following: having their documents taken away from them by the defendants upon arrival in the UK, being required to work 12 hours or more a day for 6-7 days a week without adequate recompense for overtime and in some cases without receiving even the basic salary, being asked to arrive with bond money (which was not returned) or accept deductions from income, not being provided with national insurance numbers or wage slips, not being registered with the NHS, being discouraged from visiting the town or talking with customers. The Crown Court convicted the defendants of conspiracy to traffic people for exploitation under s. 4 of the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants etc) Act 2004 and sentenced each to three years’ imprisonment. The Attorney General and the defendants appealed against the sentences.



AD 1996 nr 79 Supreme Court of Sweden (1996)

Gender discrimination

"An employer may not discriminate against a person who, with respect to the employer,1. is an employee; 2. is enquiring about or applying for work; 3. is applying for or carrying out a traineeship; 4. is available to perform work or is performing work as temporary or borrowed labour. (…)"].  In AD 1996 nr 79 the Swedish Labour Court (Sw: Arbetsdomstolen) ruled that a municipality was applying a salary development system that constituted gender-based discrimination.  A female head of department had received, for four time periods, a lower wage than a male head of department who was employed by the same municipality. The municipality argued that the differences in salary were justified by differences in the two jobs.  However, the court rejected this claim, finding that during the last two time periods, the employees' jobs had in effect been equivalent.



RH 2007:7 Court of Appeals for Western Sweden (2007)

Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting

["Anyone committing a breach of Section 1 is to be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not more than four years. If the offense has caused danger to life, serious illness, or has involved conduct of an unusually ruthless character in some other respect, it shall be regarded as grave. For a grave offence the sentence is a term of imprisonment of not less than two years and not more than ten years.] [A sentence for liability pursuant to Chapter 23 of the Penal Code is to be passed on anyone found guilty of attempting, preparing or conspiring to commit the above offence, or of failing to report it."] A girl who had been raised in Sweden and who knew nothing about genital cutting before going to Somalia, was while in Somalia, completely at the mercy of her father as her only caregiver. The girl had on two occasions tried to escape from Somalia in order to rejoin her mother in Sweden. After an initial failed attempt, the girl succeeded in fleeing. It was established that the operation had been performed after the first escape attempt, and it appeared to have been done both as a reprisal for the girl's attempt to escape and as a way to get her to conform to the will of the father, together with the fact that she was soon to be married off.  At the time of the surgery, the girl was eleven to twelve years old.  The court considered that the fact that the father took advantage of the girl's helplessness and the fact that it was particularly difficult for the girl to defend herself against the crime was an aggravating factor in sentencing. During the surgery, the girl was forced to lie down on her bed while her father and another man held her legs apart. Using a razor blade, a third man cut the girl's genitals. The Court of Appeal found that the act constituted serious assault and had been very abusive to the girl. The surgery was carried out without anesthesia, and not by a doctor or in a hospital but in the home of the father. Apart from the fact that the surgery was performed in a place where the girl should normally expect to be safe, the crime also exposed the girl to the risk of acute medical complications, and the risk of long-term psychological and physical harm was also evident. The physical damage was considered to be irreparable and may lead to future problems related to pregnancy and childbirth. Of importance is also the statement by the girl that she was terrified during the surgery. In an overall assessment, the Court of Appeal established the compensation for damages and additional compensation for pain and suffering and for travel expenses at a total of SEK 296,045. The father was also sentenced to two years imprisonment.



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

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Sexual violence and rape

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



G.M. v. G.S. Bucharest Sector 2 Court of First Instance (2008)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Domestic and intimate partner violence

Following the divorce of G.M. and G.S., the later violently chased away the claimant and their minor daughter from the common domicile, acquired during their marriage. Due to these violent actions against his wife and their children, the court decided to re-integrate the claimant and to evacuate the accused from the common domicile until the partitioning of the common assets. The decision became final and binding for failure to appeal it. (full text decision on file with the Avon Global Center)



Madam F v SA Schenk Labour Court of Appeal Brussels (2009)

Gender discrimination

A female employee was dismissed with severance pay due to a period of incapacity resulting from two consecutive miscarriages.  In the circumstances of the case, it was not possible to apply article 40 (protection against dismissal for pregnant women) of the Labour Law of 16 March 1971, because the employer was not informed of the pregnancy. However, because the dismissal followed right after the second miscarriage, the female employee was discriminated against based on her sex.  This was not refuted by the employer. Given the timing of the events and the timing of the termination of the employment relationship, the dismissal violated the law of 7 May 1991 on equal treatment for men and women with regard to working conditions, access to employment, and promotion, access to independent professions and supplementary social security schemes. This law does not provide for a fixed amount of damages. The moral damages were estimated at EUR 5,000.



VaaHO:2006:16 Court of Appeal of Vaasa (2006)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

The issue here was whether a partner's experience of domestic violence during her former relationships could be seen as a mitigating circumstance in connection with the partner's manslaughter of her new partner. A (female) had killed B (male) by making a deadly strike with a kitchen knife. Before the strike A had flailed the knife in a way which caused several marks on B's body. A and B were arguing on the night of the stabbing. A claimed that B had never before been violent towards A, but in A's former relationships A had experienced domestic violence. The District Court found that the fact that there was a plastic bag behind the living room sofa containing knives collected from the house could suggest that there was a threat of violence. It found that there were some indications of justifiable defense and sentenced A to prison for 8 years 6 months for manslaughter. The Court of Appeal held that B had attacked A unlawfully, causing A the need for self-defense. However, it found that the use of a knife in the situation was not justifiable, as A did not receive any grave wounds except for bruises. The Court found that A was guilty of excessive self-defense. According to Chapter 20 Section 3 of the Finnish Criminal Code (39/1889, as amended) (the "Criminal Code"), if the manslaughter, in view of the exceptional circumstances of the offense, the motives of the offender or other related circumstances, when assessed as a whole, is to be deemed committed under mitigating circumstances, the offender shall be sentenced for killing to imprisonment for at least four and at most ten years. The Finnish government proposal (94/1993) for the Criminal Code states that these kind of exceptional circumstances can be present when a wife has been constantly terrorized with violence by her husband and she kills him. The Court held that A had a traumatic background and had experienced domestic violence but that there had not been, according to A, any previous violence by B towards A. The Court did not consider this an exceptional circumstance. A was sentenced to five years in prison for manslaughter committed as excessive self-defense.



E.V. Gavrilov vs. Public Prosecutor The Court of the City of Moscow (2010)

Trafficking in persons

E.V. Gavrilov and his associates ran a brothel. He offered a well-paid job in a night club in Moscow to three girls, who, to the best knowledge of Gavrilov, were minors. Later he and other associate bought tickets for the girls and carried them to Moscow. On the way to Moscow the girls asked several times whether the job was related to prostitution, but Gavrilov always said that it was not. Upon arrival, the victims were moved to a private apartment. There they were threatened by Gavrilov and forced to engage in prostitution. Gavrilov organized the brothel, and his associates carried girls to clients and guarded them. Gavrilov pled not guilty, claiming that he did not use violence against the victims and did not run a brothel. The Moscow district court of Chuvashia found Gavrilov guilty of the following crimes: involvement in and enforcement to prostitution connected with use of force or threat of using force performed by a group of individuals by previous concert with knowledge that victims were minors.  The court of the City of Moscow confirmed the decision of the court of first instance.



NJA 2004 s. 97 Supreme Court of Sweden (2003)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

"A person who commits criminal acts as defined in Chapters 3, 4 or 6 against another person having, or have had, a close relationship to the perpetrator shall, if the acts form a part of an element in a repeated violation of that person's integrity and suited to severely damage that person's self-confidence, be sentenced for gross violation of integrity to imprisonment for at least six months and at most six years. (…)" Chapter 4, Section 4 a, paragraph 2 of the Swedish Penal Code.]  The Supreme Court ruled that a couple had a close relationship, in the sense required by law, even though they both had access to their own separate accommodations. The court found that the couple was to be considered to be in an established relationship as they, for a longer period (a year and a half), spent time with each other in a way comparable to what may be the case in a cohabiting relationship or between spouses. It was further found that the perpetrator had battered the woman he had a relationship with at six occasions and that he had also been guilty of assault. The court ruled that the actions had violated the woman's integrity and suited to severely damage the woman's self-confidence. The perpetrator was sentenced for gross violation of integrity to eight months imprisonment.



ARY v International Association of the European Labor Institute Labor Court of Appeal (2004)

Gender discrimination

A female employee claimed that she was discriminated against with regard to her salary at the time of her recruitment and subsequently as she became more senior in the company.  She argued that she was granted a lower salary at the beginning of her employment than male employees with equal qualifications and that she was not later granted a higher salary in the same way as male employees who received such higher salary only based on their seniority.The Court of first instance rejected the claims of the female employee. On appeal however, the Court applied the case “Danfoss” (Court of Justice, 109/88 of 17.10.1989) to the case at hand.  Regarding her salary at the time of the beginning of the employment, it ruled that there was no discrimination. However, in terms of the subsequent increase of the salary, the Court held that there was indeed discrimination.



KHO 2005:87 Supreme Administrative Court (2005)

Forced and early marriage, Harmful traditional practices

The issue here was whether A should get a residence permit to Finland because of family ties. He had entered into marriage with his cousin B in Syria in 2004 who was 15 years old at the time and had lived in Finland since 1996. The Directorate of Immigration (now Finnish Immigration Service) denied A's application for residence permit. According to Section 114(1) of the Finnish Aliens Act (301/2004, as amended) (the "Aliens Act"), a residence permit is issued on the basis of family ties to a family member of a refugee or an alien who has been issued with a residence permit on the basis of the need for subsidiary protection or humanitarian protection, or who has enjoyed temporary protection if: (i) the sponsor lives in Finland or has been issued with a residence permit for the purpose of moving to Finland; and (ii) the applicant is not considered a danger to public order, security or health. According to Section 4 of the Finnish Marriage Act (234/1929, as amended) (the "Marriage Act"), (i) a person under 18 years of age shall not marry, (ii) The Ministry of Justice may, however, for special reasons grant a person under 18 years of age a dispensation to marry. Before the matter is decided, the custodian of the applicant shall be reserved an opportunity to be heard if his or her whereabouts can be determined with reasonable measures. The Directorate of Immigration considered that the marriage was against Finnish law and not valid. Hence A could not be considered a family member in accordance with the Aliens Act.  The Administrative Court reversed the Directorate of Immigration's decision.  It held that the marriage was made under Syrian law and the fact that B was under age according to the Finnish law did not matter in this case. Also taking into account the religion, culture and traditions of B and her family, the Court found that issuing permit of residence would not be against the interest of the child. On appeal from the decision of the Administrative Court, the Supreme Administrative Court concluded that the fact that some countries allow underage marriages does not mean that such marriages can be the basis for a residence permit in the same way as are marriages between consenting adults. Although Section 115(1) of the Marriage Act generally recognizes the validity of marriages concluded in other countries, the law contains an exception where the application of a foreign provision would have an outcome contrary to Finnish public policy (ordre public (Section 139 (2) of the Marriage Act). Taking into account Article 1(1) of the Convention on Consent to Marriage, Minimum Age For Marriage, and Registration of Marriages; Article 23(3) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR); and Article 16(1)(6) and (2) of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the Court held that it was not possible to use culture to justify marrying B to a person whom she is claimed to have met when she was a small child and taking her into a country where she does not have any family ties. Marrying a child and applying for permit of residence on the basis of this marriage can be seen as intention to evade the provision on entry into or residence in the country (Section 36(2) of the Aliens Act). On these grounds, the Supreme Administrative Court held that the decision of the Administrative Court would be revised and the decision of the Directorate of Immigration would be enforced.



NJA 2003 s. 144 Supreme Court of Sweden (2003)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

"A person who commits criminal acts as defined in Chapters 3, 4 or 6 against another person having, or have had, a close relationship to the perpetrator shall, if the acts form a part of an element in a repeated violation of that person's integrity and suited to severely damage that person's self-confidence, be sentenced for gross violation of integrity (…)." Chapter 4, Section 4 a, paragraph 2 of the Swedish Penal Code. The Supreme Court ruled that even though several assaults separately do not qualify as criminal acts as defined in Chapter 3, 4, or 6 of the Swedish Penal Code they may, if assessed together, be seen as seriously damaging to a person's self-confidence and the perpetrator may be sentenced for gross violation of a woman's integrity. In this case, a man had thrown a glass of juice in the face of the woman he lived with while she held their youngest child in her lap.  He also had assaulted her several times by, inter alia, kicking her legs and buttocks, taking firm grips of her neck, punching her neck and shoulder, stepping on her feet, knocking her over on the floor, taking her in a stranglehold, and threatening to kill her. Although only one of the assaults could be defined as a criminal act in accordance with Chapters 3, 4 or 6 of the Swedish Penal Code, the Supreme Court stated that it is necessary to take into account a person's entire situation when assessing gross violation of a woman's integrity. The Supreme Court further ruled that it is not necessary to establish that a person's self-confidence is actually injured but only that the acts are such as would typically lead to serious injury to a person's self-confidence.



Cour d’appel, Bruxelles No. 89/3060 Court of Appeals of Belgium (1979)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Sexual violence and rape

The Brussels Court of Appeal recognized marital rape and found that the husband who used serious violence to coerce his wife into having sex against her wishes was guilty of the criminal offense of rape.  Furthermore, this act was neither subject to bail nor to a defense of misunderstanding.



HelHO 2007:722 Court of Appeal of Helsinki (2007)

Trafficking in persons

The issue here was whether defendants Ilves, Marttila, Zdanovits, Hilden, Maalinn, Traublum and Angelsctock were guilty of aggravated trafficking in human beings of a mentally handicapped person and of aggravated pandering. According to Chapter 25 Section 3 a of the Finnish Criminal Code (39/1889, as amended) (the "Criminal Code"), if, in trafficking in human beings, (i) violence, threats or deceitfulness is used instead of or in addition to the means referred to in section 3,(ii) grievous bodily harm, a serious illness or a state of mortal danger or comparable particularly grave suffering is intentionally or through gross negligence inflicted on another person, (iii) the offense has been committed against a child younger than 18 years of age or against a person whose capacity to defend himself or herself has been substantially diminished, or (iv) the offence has been committed within the framework of a criminal organization referred to in chapter 17, section 1a, subsection 4 and the offence is aggravated also when considered as whole, the offender shall be sentenced for aggravated trafficking in human beings to imprisonment for at least two years and at most ten years. Seemen had come to Finland from Estonia to work as a prostitute. According to doctor's testimony, she was mentally handicapped. The Court concluded, in the light of the evidence presented, that Seemen had been threatened by violence and her freedom had been restricted by the defendants. The elements of trafficking were present as a whole when taking into account the intensiveness of the submission, even though Seemen might still have had her passport or key to the apartment. The Court of Appeal considered that the defendants were guilty of aggravated trafficking in human beings. Seemen, who was mentally handicapped, had been deceived and mislead into working as a prostitute in Finland. The court dismissed the claims of aggravated trafficking in human beings against Marttila and Hilden on grounds that they could not have been seen in having such a close connection with Seemen even though they were belonged to a criminal organization responsible for pandering. The Court also held that Angelstock was guilty only of abetting aggravated trafficking in human beings. According to Chapter 20 Section 9a(1) of the Criminal Code if, in pandering, (i) considerable financial benefit is sought, (ii) the offense is committed in a particularly methodical manner, and the offense is aggravated also when assessed as a whole, the offender shall be sentenced for aggravated pandering to imprisonment for at least four months and at most six years. According to the Finnish government proposal (34/2004), for the Criminal Code, "considerable financial benefit" would meant cases where the benefit is larger than on average. The Court decided that Ilves, Marttila, Zdanovits, Hilden, Malinn and Traublum were guilty of aggravated pandering. They were ordered to forfeit the proceeds of the crime and to pay damages to Seemen.



KKO 2011:1 Supreme Court of Finland (2011)

Sexual violence and rape

The issue here was whether violation of official duty of a doctor was considered sexual abuse under the Finnish Criminal Code (39/1889, as amended) (the "Criminal Code"). A was the working doctor when B went for a breast ultrasonography. A had touched B's breast with bare hands and complemented her on her breasts. A had also massaged gel on the breasts with his hands and several times touched B's breasts. A had also, after getting permission from B, suckled the breasts in order to get excretion. The District Court and the Court of Appeal held that the procedure was not appropriate but did not amount to sexual abuse. The questionbefore the Supreme Court was whether the procedure had a sexual purpose.  According to  Chapter 20 Section 5(1) of the Criminal Code, a person who abuses his or her position and entices another into engaging in sexual intercourse or another sexual act or submitting to such an act should be sentenced for sexual abuse. The Court held that the procedures that A performed deviated from established and medically recommended practice. As a whole the procedure was done in a way that strongly indicated the purpose of sexual arousal or satisfaction. The fact that B had reacted only afterwards was not significant. The Court held that doctor and patient are not in an equal position and the fact that a patient agrees to a medical examination does not imply that the patient would give up her sexual self-determination. The Court saw that A had misused his position as a doctor and found A guilty of sexual abuse and violation of an official duty in accordance with Chapter 40 Section 9(1) of the Criminal Code. The Court found that this was only a single incident towards a consenting adult and sentenced A to pay 80 days-fine and damages to B of 1,200 Euros.



S.A. v. I.G.R Bucharest Court of Appeal (2010)

Gender discrimination

Ms. S.A. was dismissed by I.G.R. based on the fact that she was reaching the standard age for retiring although she chose to continue working. The court of first impression held that the decision of the employer was illegal due to 4 given that it has decided to terminate the employment contract of the claimant solely due to the fact that she had exceeded the standard age for retiring in case of women (58 years) while a man born on the same year could work until the age of 64. The first court held that the national law may establish different ages for state pensions for women and for men, as a social protection measure, but women only have the right and not the obligation to retire at the respective age. Romanian Law No. 202/2002 regarding the equal treatment between women and men prohibits 4 by an employer. On appeal, the Appeal Court maintained the decision of the first court, considering that dismissal solely based on reaching the qualifying age for a state pension, for which the age is different under national legislation for men and for women, constitutes discrimination on grounds of sex. A general dismissal policy of an employer implying the dismissal of a woman having as sole reason the standard retiring age, which is different for women and men, is 4 prohibited by the national and European legislation. Given the priority of European legislation over the national legislation, the court cited in its reasoning the case, Marschall v. Southampton and South – West Hampshire Area Health Authority of the Court of Justice of the European Union dated 26 February 1986.



KKO 2010:1 Supreme Court of Finland (2010)

Gender discrimination, Sexual harassment, Sexual violence and rape

The issue here was whether A, the CEO of a company for which the victims worked, was guilty of sexual abuse, of a work safety offense, and of employment discrimination. A had performed sexual acts on his subordinates while they were resting in the break room. These acts included touching intimate parts such as breasts and bottom. The District Court and the Court of Appeal held A guilty of these charges, and A appealed to the Supreme Court.  The Supreme Court considered whether the public prosecutor had a cause of action given that the injured party had not reported the offense within the statute of limitations period.  According to Chapter 20 Section 11 of the Finnish Criminal Code (39/1889, as amended) (the "Criminal Code"), the public prosecutor may not bring charges for the offenses referred to in Sections 3 or 4 or Section 5(1)(2) or 5(1)(4), unless the injured party reports the offense for the bringing of charges or unless a very important public interest requires that charges be brought.The Court held that since A was the victim's supervisor, important public interest required the case to be brought to court by the prosecutor. Turning to the merits of the case, the Court found that A had abused his position in violation of Chapter 20 Section 5(1) of the Criminal Code.  It therefore held A guilty of sexual abuse towards B, C, D and E.  In addition, the Court upheld A's convictions for a work safety offense under Chapter 47 Section 1(1) of the Criminal Code and Section 27 of the Finnish Occupational Safety and Health Act (738/2002, as amended).  Finally, the Court upheld A's conviction for employment discrimination in violation of Section 8(2)(4) of the  Finnish Equality Act (609/1986, as amended), in accordance with Chapter 47 Section 3(1) of the Criminal Code.



D.J. v. State Iasi Court of Appeal (2009)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Domestic and intimate partner violence

The court of first instance decided the divorce of D.B.N. and D.J. on the ground of common fault and placed the minor child in the custody of her father.  D.B.N. appealed the decision to the Isai Tribunal, and the appeal court decided to place the minor child in the custody of D.B.N., her mother considering this to be in the best interest of the minor. It explained that the fact that the parents of D.J. were taking care of the minor did not represent sufficient reason for placing her in his custody, as wrongfully held by the court of first instance. The Court of Appeal rejected the appeal of D.J. against the decision of the Iasi Tribunal based on the fact that the minor is attached to her mother and to the domestic violence of her father both against the mother and the minor child.



KKO 2004:60 Supreme Court of Finland (2004)

Sexual violence and rape

The issue was whether the victim pointing out the rapist was sufficient evidence to hold someone guilty, taking into account the circumstances at the time of recognition. B was coming home late at night from a restaurant. On the way home B was raped. After the incident B tried to find the rapist. B met a friend C who happened to be in the companion of A. B recognized A as the rapist. All the parties where intoxicated at the time. A left the scene immediately when B started accusing A. There was not enough DNA evidence to be found to determine the identity of the rapist. At the District Court hearing B recognized A as the perpetrator. A pleaded not guilty but the District Court and later the Court of Appeal sentenced A to 1 year and 10 months prison for rape. The question in front of the Supreme Court was whether B pointing out A as the perpetrator was enough evidence to hold A guilty. The Court had no doubt that B was raped. The Supreme Court held that there were uncertainties including the parties' intoxication and the fact that B after identifying A reinforced the characteristics of the perpetrator. This could indicate that these were more observations about A and not about the actual rapist. B's recognition could not be held as the only evidence proving A guilty since it could not be seen as reliable. Also the Court held that according to the new witnesses D and E and the testimony by C, A could not possibly have had the time to reach the crime scene and back to where A was reported been seen. The court held that B's recognition could not be held as reliable evidence and the fact that A left as soon as B pointed out him as the perpetrator could not be seen as evidence proving A's guilt. According to the Supreme Court the evidence was not sufficient to prove A guilty. The charges were dismissed. Reliability of evidence is regulated under Finnish law pursuant to Chapter 17 Section 2(1) of the Finnish Code of Judicial Procedure (4/1734, as amended) (the "Code of Judicial Procedure"). The Code of Judicial Procedure provides that after having carefully evaluated all the facts that have been presented, the court shall decide what is to be regarded as the truth in the case. The court shall evaluate the evidence by: (i) deliberating the value of the evidence and (ii) resolving whether the presented evidence is sufficient. The court practices free deliberation which is limited by the need for careful evaluation and the fact that the assessment has to be grounded on objective criteria. The judge uses his/hers empirical rule and additional facts on the evidence evaluation. In criminal cases the burden of proof is on the prosecution and the plaintiff (Chapter 17 Section 1(2) of the Code of Judicial Procedure).



Prosecutors’ Office attached to the Iasi Tribunal and T.D. v. State Iasi Court of Appeal (2009)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

Both the Prosecutors’ Office attached to the Iasi Tribunal and the accused T.D. appealed the decision in first instance of the Iasi Tribunal regarding the conviction of T.D. for violence and manslaughter. The accused T.D. and the victim T.P. used to drink large quantities of alcohol. One night, following the victim’s refusal to prepare food, the accused hit her and the victim collapsed, hitting her head and throat on the stove. The accused continued hitting the victim and at the end lifted her and putted her on the bed. The victim was not able to get up from the bed for a few days, but she was conscious. However, her status deteriorated, and at the request of the accused, she was brought to hospital. Nonetheless, she died a few days later. The court of first instance convicted the accused for violence causing death (homicide), but case had been prosecuted under the charge of qualified murder. Therefore, in accordance with Romanian law, the Court of Appeal considered the decision of the first instance null and void, and re-sent the case to the court of first instance for re-hearing in line with the decision of the Court of Appeal.



KKO 2003:76 Supreme Court of Finland (2003)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

The issue was whether plaintiff was entitled to compensation for anguish in connection with intimate partner violence. A (male) had assaulted E (female) in E's home and on the staircase in a way that caused brain injury and severe traumatic stress. The District Court and the Court of Appeal sentenced A for an aggravated assault and ordered A to pay damages for pain and suffering for 20,000 Finnish marks. The Courts rejected demands for compensation on anguish. The question before the Supreme Court was about the amount of damages and if E was entitled to damages arising from anguish. The Supreme Court evaluated the pain and suffering as a whole and ordered A to pay 14,000 Euros of damages. In court practice (rulings KKO 1989:141 and KKO 1999:102) an assault has not been held as an act that justifies damages on mental anguish. According to Chapter 5 Section 6 of the Finnish Tort Liability Act (412/1974, as amended) (the "Tort Liability Act"), the provisions of the Tort Liability Act on personal injury apply also to damages for the anguish arising from an offense against liberty, honour or the domestic peace or from another comparable offense. The Court held that since A broke into E's apartment, E was entitled to damages arising from offense against domestic peace which could be seen causing anguish. The Court ruled that A had to pay damages for anguish in the amount of 500 Euros.



R.M. v. State Bucharest Court of Appeal (2006)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

The accused R.M. was convicted for violence against his wife. In a second appeal submitted by the prosecutor, the Appeal Court held that the factual circumstances of the case were correctly retained by the inferior courts but the sentence did not take into account the aggravating circumstance that the victim was the wife of the accused person. The Romanian Criminal Code provides as an aggravating circumstance the fact that the criminal act has been done against a member of the family. The Appeal Court therefore decided to increase the sanction applied to R.M. based on the aggravating circumstance.



KKO 1995:152 Supreme Court of Finland (1995)

Gender discrimination

The issue here was whether the employer was allowed to lay off an employee returning from maternity leave due to a change of duties. During Ms. Mari Karjanoja's maternity and parental leave, her duties as a product manager had changed as a result of the company restructuring, and the employment relationship of her substitute, Ms. Tuulia Pärkö, had been made permanent. When Ms. Karjanoja returned from maternity leave, she was not offered back her duties as a product manager as the employer regarded Ms. Pärkö to be better qualified to take care of such duties in the changed situation. Later, for financial and production related grounds, the employer laid off Ms. Karjanoja.  Section 34 h of the Old Finnish Employment Contracts Act (320/1970, as amended) (the "Old Employment Contracts Act") prevented the displacement of an employee returning from maternity and parental leave on the basis that a substitute to the employee would be able to carry out the work duties better than the employee. Therefore, the Supreme Court considered that the employer should have offered Ms. Karjanoja the changed work duties of the product manager which were comparable to her previous duties. Since the ground of Ms. Karjanoja's termination was the employer acting against Section 34 h of the above-mentioned Old Employment Contracts Act, the employer did not have sufficient grounds for the termination. On these grounds, the Supreme Court, upholding the decisions of the District Court and the Court of Appeal, ordered the employer to pay damages to Ms. Karjanoja.



State v. L.D. Cluj Court of Appeal (2006)

Gender-based violence in general, Sexual violence and rape

The accused L.D. entered into the house of an 80-year-old woman, exercised physical violence against her, and raped her. The woman died as a result of the violence, and L.D. was convicted for homicide. Related to the rape the trial court considered that due to the lack of the victim’s complaint (a condition precedent for criminal investigations in case of rape) L.D. could not be convicted of rape. In the appeal submitted by the prosecutor, the Appeal Court held that although in normal circumstances the lack of a victim’s complaint will prevent criminal investigations of an alleged rape, in special cases, where the victim died, the criminal investigations shall start ex-officio. As any person needs to be treated with dignity during criminal investigations, the memory of the victim needs to be treated in the same way. The Appeal Court explained that the right of a person to file a criminal complaint for rape had been hindered by an unpredictable and invincible event, the death of the victim of the rape.



AD 2011 nr 2 Supreme Court of Sweden (2011)

Gender discrimination

"An employer may not discriminate against a person who, with respect to the employer, 1. is an employee, 2. is enquiring about or applying for work, 3. is applying for or carrying out a traineeship, or 4. is available to perform work or is performing work as temporary or borrowed labour. (…)" Chapter 2 Section 1 of the Swedish Discrimination Act.]  A woman had applied for employment at the farm where she was doing an internship. During the internship the woman had had a miscarriage, which she told the farmer about. She was later denied employment. The farmer claimed that he denied her employment due to her insufficient capacity for work. However, the Swedish Labour Court (Sw: Arbetsdomstolen) found that the decision to deny the woman employment did not completely lack connection with a possible future pregnancy. Hence, Swedish Labour Court ruled that the denied employment constituted a violation of the Discrimination Act and granted the woman compensation for the damage suffered from the discrimination.



KKO 1992:7 Supreme Court of Finland (1992)

Gender discrimination

The issue here was whether the employer company was guilty of discrimination in working life. Marja-Liisa Laukkanen had been working at Oy Kolmeks Ab. During her four months trial period, she got pregnant on which she informed her employer. Soon after that, she was dismissed on the grounds that she was on her trial period. Ms. Laukkanen claimed that her pregnancy was the ground for the dismissal which was against Section 8 of the Finnish Equality Act (609/1986, as amended) (the "Equality Act") on the basis of discrimination in work life.  In addition, Ms. Laukkanen claimed that the dismissal was against Section 3 of the Old Finnish Employment Contracts Act (320/1970, as amended) (the "Old Employment Contracts Act"), which states that employment cannot be revoked on inappropriate grounds. The District Court ruled against Ms. Laaukkanen but the Court of Appeals reversed.  It held that the dismissal of Marja-Liisa Laukkanen was against both the Old Employment Contracts Act and the Equality Act and ordered the company to pay damages. The grounds for the Court of Appeals' decision were that, when the employer and Ms. Laukkanen had negotiated on the employment, the employer had had significant interest on the fact if Laukkanen was planning to get pregnant. Further, the company had not been able to prove that Ms. Laukkanen had started neglecting her work duties as soon as she had found out about her pregnancy. The Supreme Court agreed with the opinion of the Court of Appeals and held that the dismissal violated Section 3 of the Old Employment Contracts Act. However, it did not consider the dismissal to be against the Equality Act because, according to the government proposal (57/1985) for the Equality Act, discrimination in working life only means discrimination based on the gender and, therefore, gender has to be the immediate reason behind the dismissal.



Interpretative recourse High Court of Cassation and Justice (2005)

Sexual violence and rape

Due to inconsistencies in the application of the Romanian law criminalizing forced sexual relations with family members of opposite sex through constraint or taking advantage of the victim’s inability to defend herself or express her will, the High Court of Cassation and Justice has been called upon by the General Prosecutor to establish the legal qualification of the facts representing both rape and incest. Following analysis of the relevant legal aspects, the court decided that such cases shall be considered as rape against a family member simultaneously with incest and shall be sanctioned accordingly.



KKO 1991:14 Supreme Court of Finland (1991)

Gender discrimination

The issue here was whether the Finnish State was guilty of 4 in selecting an applicant for a job. Ms. Risse Serén claimed that she was more qualified for the position of the head of the office at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry than Mr. Paavo Mäkinen, who had been selected for the position. She claimed that she had been discriminated during the application process because of her gender. According to Section 8 of the Finnish Equality Act (609/1986, as amended) (the "Equality Act"), an action of an employer is deemed to constitute discrimination if, inter alia, the employer selects a less qualified person of the opposite sex for the position unless there is a justifiable reason for such selection other than the applicant's gender or the selection was based on weighty and acceptable ground related to the job or the task. The District Court evaluated the assessment of education, work experience, and other qualifications of the both applicants prepared by the Ombudsman for Equality and concluded that Ms. Serén was more qualified for the position. Since the state of Finland did not show that there were any acceptable reasons described in the Equality Act, the District Court ordered the state pay damages to Ms. Serén for the discrimination. The Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court upheld the decision of the District Court.



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

Femicide

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



HelHo 2009:3420 Court of Appeal of Helsinki (2009)

Trafficking in persons

The issue here was whether defendants Lepp and Taning were guilty of trafficking in persons. Lepp and Taning had jointly solicited A to come with them from Tallinn to Helsinki, where they had lodged her and, profiting from her insecure position and dependence, had subjected her to sexual abuse by prostitution for the purpose of gaining financial profit for themselves. The District Court of Helsinki found that the activities of the defendants did not amount to human trafficking under the Finnish Criminal Code (39/1889, as amended).  The Court of Appeal reversed.  To establish the crime of trafficking in human beings under Chapter 25, Section 3 of the Criminal Court, the State must establish the means, methods, and purpose of trafficking. The Court of Appeal concluded that it was undisputed that the purpose of the defendants was to subject A to sexual abuse and prostitution (for payment) in Finland. In terms of methods, the Court of Appeal concluded, inter alia, that Lepp and Taning had solicited, by giving a phone call to A, A to activities in purposes of earning money through prostitution. Finally, the Court of Appeal concluded that A's childhood experiences and personal characteristics made her vulnerable to activities that are harmful to her.  Considering A's lack of foreign language skills, the fact that she had got into debt in Estonia, lack of means due to her mental characteristics, the Court found that she had no other choice than to continue prostitution under these circumstances. Therefore, she had been defenseless when she was acting as a prostitute, and she was dependant on Lepp and Taning, within the meaning of Chapter 25, Section 3 of the Criminal Code. Lepp and Taning were sentences to 1,5 years in prison for human trafficking and to pay damages of 4,000 Euros to A.



R. v. R. House of Lords (1992)

Sexual violence and rape

The defendant appeals his conviction for attempted rape on the grounds that a husband cannot rape his wife.   The House of Lords overturned the old common law rule that marriage automatically gave consent for sexual intercourse and held that a husband could be convicted of rape or attempted rape of his wife where she withdrew her consent to intercourse.



Regina v. Olugboja Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) (1982)

Sexual violence and rape

The defendant was convicted of rape and appealed on the grounds that there could only be an absence of consent if the victim's mind had been overborne by fear of death or duress.   The victim only began to struggle in earnest after penetration had occurred. The Court held that it is not necessary for the prosecution to prove that what appeared to be consent was actually submission induced by fear, force or fraud, but only that the jury should be instructed to focus on the victim's state of mind immediately before the act of sexual intercourse, in light of all the circumstances.  The conviction was affirmed.



M.Z. (Rape, Stigma, UNHCR Advice) Kosovo UK Asylum and Immigration Tribunal (2002)

Sexual violence and rape

The applicant arrived in the UK in January 2000, claiming asylum on arrival, and appealed a decision to have her removed to Kosovo following the refusal of her claim to asylum after she was raped by a Serbian soldier.  The Tribunal acknowledged that adequate facilities for rape victims exist in Kosovo but in light of the stigma attached to rape victims and the applicant's very real fear that her husband would leave her on finding out about the rape, granted her request for asylum.



P. and M. v. Secretary of State for the Home Department Court of Appeal of United Kingdom and Northern Ireland (2004)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting, Harmful traditional practices

The first appellant, P, was seeking asylum from being returned to Kenya on the grounds of a fear of persecution because of the violence that both she and her children had suffered from her husband in Kenya, especially as domestic violence tends to be accepted in Kenya and the police had not effectively protected her against her husband.   The second appellant, M, seeks asylum on the grounds of fearing that she would be subjected to female genital mutilation at the hands of her father, who is a member of the Mungiki sect that practices FGM, and who had already previously performed FGM on her mother, causing her mother's death. The Court allowed both appeals for asylum, but did stipulate that not all cases of either domestic violence or FGM would automatically give rise to a claim to protection and asylum. 



R. v. Immigration Appeal Tribunal and Another Ex Parte Shah (A.P.) House of Lords (1999)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

The two conjoined appeals both involve married Pakistani women who were forced by their husbands to leave their homes and seek asylum in the UK as refugees on the grounds that they fear being falsely accused of adultery and thus in danger of flogging or being stoned to death on being returned to Pakistan.   The Lords granted the appeals, giving the appellants refugee status, on the ground that the appellants are part of the particular group as women in Pakistan who fear being accused of adultery.



R. v. Ireland; R. v. Burstow House of Lords (1998)

Sexual harassment

In the Ireland case, the appellant was convicted of three counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm for harassing three women by making repeated silent telephone calls to them.   In the Burstow case, the appellant was convicted of unlawfully and maliciously inflicting grievous bodily harm for harassing a women after she broke off their relationship, in behavior ranging from silent telephone calls, offensive notes, taking photographs of her and her family, and being frequently at her house and place of work.   The House of Lords held that silent telephone calls can amount to an assault as long as the victim is made by them to fear some physical harm.



R. v. K House of Lords (2001)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

The appellant, K, was convicted of a single count of indecent assault against a girl aged 14; his defense was that the intercourse between the two was consensual and that she had told him she was 16.   The House of Lords allowed the appeal on the grounds that the appellant's honest belief that the complainant was over the age of 16 was a defense to the charge of indecent assault.



R. v. Malone Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) (1998)

Sexual violence and rape

The appellant appealed his conviction on the count of rape for allegedly having sexual intercourse with the complainant without her consent when she was too drunk to put up any physical resistance.   The Court upheld the conviction and the sentence on the grounds that the complainant's evidence was sufficient for a jury to find that the appellant was reckless as to the question of the complainant's consent, even if he did not know at the time that she was not consenting.



B. v. Director of Public Prosecutions House of Lords (2000)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

The appellant, a 15 year old, was charged with inciting a girl under 14 years old to commit an act of gross indecency for asking a 13 year old girl to perform oral sex with him several times; the girl repeatedly refused.  The defense argued that the appellant honestly believed the girl was over 14 years old.  The prosecution submitted the offense was one of strict liability.   The Lords held that a reasonable belief, even if mistaken, as to the victim's age was a defense to the charge



Burris v. Azadani Court of Appeal (Civil Division) (1995)

Sexual harassment

Mr. Azadani, the appellant, was under an injunction not to go within 250 yards of a specified address, after he had repeatedly sought a close and intimate relationship with Ms. Burris, which she refused, leading to repeated telephone calls and threats. Ms. Burris sought and obtained an interlocutory injunction prohibiting Mr. Azadani from pestering or contacting Ms. Burris, her children or her friends, or of going within 250 yards of her house. He breached the injunction and was committed to prison; he appeals the injunction. The Court held that an order prohibiting the defendant from being in a defined area in which the plaintiff's home was situated was possible in support of an injunction forbidding tortious harassment.



Chalmers v. Johns Court of Appeal (Civil Division) (1999)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

Mr. Johns, the appellant, and Ms. Chalmers, the respondent, began their relationship in 1972; it has become increasingly troubled, in part from the respondent's alcoholism, leading to Mr. Johns being charged with assault, of which he was later acquitted.   Ms. Chalmers obtained an occupation order requiring Mr. Johns to vacate their family home, which he appeals.   The Court held that the circumstances of this case were a mild form of domestic violence and an occupation order was an unjustifiably drastic measure to take and that occupation orders are only justified in exceptional circumstances.



Fornah (FC) v. Secretary of State for the Home Department House of Lords (2006)

Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting, Harmful traditional practices

The appellant arrived in the UK in March 2003, aged 15, and claimed asylum on the basis that she would be at risk of subjection to female genital mutilation if she was returned to Sierra Leone.   The House of Lords held that women in societies who practiced female genital mutilation were 'members of a particular social group' for the purposes of the Refugee Convention and affirmed that FGM was considered a form of torture.  



A. and B. v. Eastern Health Board High Court of Ireland (1997)

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

C. was a 13 year-old girl who became pregnant as a result of rape allegedly by a family friend and was now in State care.  The health board sought a court order to allow her to travel outside the State to obtain an abortion because abortion was illegal in Ireland except where the pregnancy formed a real and substantial risk to the woman's life. The Court granted the health board's order permitting C. to travel outside the State to obtain an abortion. The Court based its decision on the fact that the girl's risk of suicide presented a real and substantial risk to her life, entitling her to an abortion within Ireland as well.  



Attorney General v. X. and Others Supreme Court of Ireland (1992)

Gender-based violence in general, Sexual violence and rape

X was a 14 year-old girl who became pregnant and suicidal after being raped.  Her parents tried to take her to England in order to obtain a first-trimester abortion that was illegal in Ireland but the Attorney General obtained an interim injunction from the High Court restraining the girl and her parents from leaving the country for a period of nine months or from arranging an abortion for her. The family appealed.  The Supreme Court held that the Constitution's prohibition on abortion did not prevent a suicidal 14 year-old, pregnant as the result of rape, from obtaining an abortion in Ireland, because the suicide was a substantial risk to the life of the pregnant girl. The Court also struck down the injunction prohibiting the girl from leaving the country.



De Burca and Anderson v. Attorney General Supreme Court of Ireland (1975)

Gender discrimination

The plaintiffs were two female criminal defendants who chose to be tried by a jury and objected to the Juries Act of 1927 which excluded all women from jury pools except those who opted to be part of the potential jurors list.  The Supreme Court ruled the Juries Act unconstitutional because it constituted invidious discrimination on the basis of sex.



People v. Jem Court of Criminal Appeals (2000)

Sexual violence and rape

The defendant was convicted of four counts of sexual assault against a 15 year-old girl. He appealed on the grounds that the judge did not instruct the jury as to the danger of convicting the accused in the absence of corroboration of the victim's testimony. The Court rejected the appeal and held that the Criminal Law (Rape) Amendment leaves it to the judge's discretion whether to issue a warning about corroboration or not. 



U1991.534H Supreme Court of Denmark (1991)

Sexual violence and rape

The defendant was found guilty of multiple rapes and sentenced to five and a half years of imprisonment.  He was found guilty of threatening his victims with a knife, hitting them, holding them in a stranglehold and threatening them with death.  Four of his victims were prostitutes.   The Supreme Court awarded compensation to two rape victims who had been denied such compensation by the High Court because they were prostitutes. 



Cour d'appel de Douai 1re chambre civile, 17 novembre 2008, No. 08/03786 Cour d'appel de Douai (Chambre Civile) (2008)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage

The Prosecutor appealed a marriage annulment received by a husband on the grounds that his wife had deceived him regarding her virginity. The lower court had granted this annulment citing the wife's consent to the annulment as proof of her belief that her virginity was an essential determinant of her husband's consent to marriage. The Court of Appeals granted the appeal and rejected the marriage annulment, stating that a lie that does not concern an "essential quality" is not good grounds for the annulment of a marriage, especially where the alleged deception focuses on the wife's virginity, the absence of which has no impact on married life. The alleged resulting violation of "mutual confidence" has no effect upon the validity of the marriage. Furthermore, the Court of Appeals stated that the marriage could not be annulled for a deception regarding the wife's virginity as this would go against the principles of public policy.



Cour d'appel de Rennes CT0011, 9 mai 2006, No. 634 Cour d'appel de Rennes (2006)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Domestic and intimate partner violence

The family court awarded the marital home to Appellant's wife under Section 220-1 of the Civil Code, which provides that where one spouse threatens or perpetrates violence, the judge may rule that the couple should live apart, allocating the marital dwelling to the spouse who was not the perpetrator of the violence. Appellant appealed on the grounds that he had limited income, that the dwelling was his childhood home, that his wife had left voluntarily, and that she, a native of Algeria, had only married him for a French residence permit. The Court of Appeals found that there was ample evidence, such as medical reports, proving that the husband had committed violent acts against his wife on multiple occasions, that the wife had left the marital home because of such violence, and that there was no evidence that she had tried to terminate the marriage upon receipt of her residence permit. Furthermore, the Court stated that temporary housing in a women's shelter run by SOS Femmes was not tantamount to the wife's finding other lodging. The Court of Appeals therefore rejected the appeal and upheld the family court's decision to award the marital home to Appellant's wife.



U1960.1075V Western High Court (1960)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Sexual violence and rape

While in the process of obtaining a legal separation from his wife, the defendant broke into her bedroom and put her in a stranglehold until she surrendered to intercourse.   He was convicted of rape, thus recognizing marital rape within the definition of rape in the Penal Code.



U1984.253V Western High Court (1983)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Sexual violence and rape

Over a period of fifteen months, the defendant kicked and beat his wife, forcibly sodomized her and introduced foreign objects into her rectum, which eventually contributed to her death.   Rejecting defendant's statement that his wife had consented to being beaten during intercourse, the Municipal Court found him guilty of assault and maltreatment and sentenced him to six years imprisonment.  The prosecution sought to increase the defendant's sentence.   The Court increased the defendant's sentence because of the aggravating circumstance of the long duration of grossly degrading sexual assault suffered by the victim. 



Cour de Cassation Chambre criminelle, Rejet, 5 septembre 1990, No. 90-83.786 Cour de Cassation (Chambre criminelle) (1990)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Sexual violence and rape

Appellant appealed his indictment for aggravated rape, assault, and torture and acts of barbarism against his wife, arguing that marriage creates a presumption of consent to sexual relations between spouses. The Court found that such a presumption is not conclusive and that Section 332 of the Penal Code, which defines rape as "[a]ny act of sexual penetration, whatever its nature, committed against another person by violence, constraint, threat or surprise," does not exclude the possibility of rape within a marital relationship where there is a lack of consent. Furthermore, the same reasoning applies to sexual abuse other than penetration. The Court thus recognized that rape and other sexual abuse can take place within a marital relationship.



Cour de cassation Chambre criminelle, Rejet, 7 avril 1998 No. 97-84.068 Cour de Cassation (Chambre criminelle) (1998)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

Appellant was convicted of aggravated assault against his wife under Section 222-13 of the Penal Code, which provides that violence against a spouse is an aggravating circumstance that adds to the gravity of the original offense. Appellant appealed his conviction on the grounds that at the time of the violence the two spouses lived separately according to the orders of their on-going divorce proceedings. The Court rejected the appeal, finding that application of Section 222-13 of the Penal Code, aggravation of assault if committed against a spouse, does not require co-habitation of the spouses.



Cour d'appel, Bruxelles No. 96AR1629 Court of Appeals of Belgium (1998)

Gender discrimination

With regard to the marriage of persons of different nationality Belgian courts will ordinarily look to the national statutes governing each person to determine whether the conditions of marriage have been met.  Here, however, the Court refused to look to Algerian law to determine whether the conditions for marriage had been met when called upon to decide whether the marriage between an Algerian Muslim woman and an Italian non-Muslim man could be declared null.  The Brussels Court of Appeal stated that Algerian law, which includes the prohibition for a Muslim woman marrying a non-Muslim, must be rejected as being contrary to international public policy as it results in discrimination regarding the freedom of marriage based on gender and/or their religion.  The Court therefore refused to consider Algerian law with regard to the law applicable to both parties of the marriage.



Cour de Cassation de Belgique No. P.04.0595.F Cour de Cassation de Belgium (2004)

Sexual violence and rape

The Cour de Cassation held that a finding of rape does not preclude a finding of indecent assault. The court therefore rejected an appeal for lowering the appellant's sentence and stated that the finding of the lower court of indecent assault added to the gravity of the crime of rape.



C16 427.465-1/2012/7E Asylum Court (2012)

Forced and early marriage, Harmful traditional practices

The Applicant, a member of the Hazara ethnic group, illegally immigrated to Austria with her parents and four minor siblings from Afghanistan when she was approximately nine years old. The Federal Asylum Agency of Austria denied her and her family’s petitions for asylum. The Asylum Court reversed the denial, in part because the Federal Asylum Agency failed to adequately investigate and assess the dangers to the Applicant in Afghanistan. The Asylum Court found that the Federal Asylum Agency erred in summarily denying asylum based on the Applicant’s statements without considering outside credible reports or sources relevant to the applicant’s asylum claim. The Asylum Court concluded that the Applicant belonged to a particular social group based on her gender, age, and cultural and religious origins, and that she would have to live in accordance with the family’s conservative values if she returned to Afghanistan. As such, the Applicant would not have the opportunity to pursue any goals outside the religion and customs of her community nor would she be able to protect herself against violence or undesired restrictions. Specifically, returning to Afghanistan would mean that the Applicant would be raised to be a homemaker despite any wishes to have a career outside the home, would be married to a man chosen by her father or grandfather, and her freedom of movement and educational opportunities would be severely restricted. In granting the Applicant’s asylum claim, Austria’s Asylum Court considered both gender-specific and child-specific factors that were not brought forth by the Applicant but rather gathered from credible investigative sources.



International Case Law

A.Sh., et al. v. Switzerland Committee Against Torture (2018)

Custodial violence, International law, Sexual violence and rape

A.Sh., his wife Z.H. and their children, ethnic Chechens of the Muslim faith with Russian citizenship were residing in Switzerland and awaiting deportation to the Russian Federation.  A.Sh.’s brother-in-law was a leader of a Chechen insurgent group who went into hiding.  A.Sh. helped his sister and was arrested and beaten for collaborating with insurgents.  He left the Russian Federation with his eldest son for Switzerland.  When the police searched for him, they interrogated Z.H. about his whereabouts and then closed his shop and would not allow her to re-open it, stating it was her husband’s.  The police came to her house, searched it, and took her passport, after which the commanding officer raped Z.H.  She and her traumatize younger son went to live with her parents, and then left the Russian Federation illegally by car for Switzerland, where the complainants’ request for asylum was denied.  The Committee considered complainants’ claim that, if they were returned to the Russian Federation, they would be exposed to torture, and Switzerland would be in violation of article 3 of the Convention.  The Swiss authorities questioned complainants’ credibility and argued that the possibility they could settle in another region of the Russian Federation, other than Chechnya, meant they were not likely to be exposed to serious risk of treatment contrary to the Convention in case of return.  The Committee addressed the claim that because Z.H.’s rape was not raised at the time of the first asylum procedure, the complainants lacked credibility, stating that Z.H. and her husband had been subjected to torture and suffered post-traumatic stress disorder according to the medical reports issued by Swiss psychiatrists and psychologists.  Accordingly, since complete accuracy is seldom to be expected from victims of torture, the delay in reporting the sexual abuse did not undermine Z.H.’s credibility.  In this connection, the Committee recalled prior its prior holdings that rape constitutes “infliction of severe pain and suffering perpetrated for a number of impermissible purposes, including interrogation, intimidation, punishment, retaliation, humiliation and discrimination based on gender”, and that in other cases it has found that “sexual abuse by the police … constitutes torture” even when it is perpetrated outside of formal detention facilities.”  The Committee also rejected the Swiss authorities’ reliance on “internal flight,” citing the Russian requirement that Russian nationals must register within 90 days of arriving in a new place of residence and that this information will be accessible to Chechen authorities.  By rejecting the asylum application based on the assumption of the availability of an internal flight alternative and without giving sufficient weight to whether they could be at risk of persecution, the Committee determined that Switzerland failed its obligations under article 3 of the Convention.  It concluded that Switzerland could not forcibly return complainants to the Russian Federation or any country where there was a risk they could be returned to the Russian Federation.  Switzerland was given 90 days to respond with the steps it planned to take.



M.P. v. Denmark Human Rights Committee (ICCPR) (2017)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, International law

M.P. originally was from Sri Lanka, and of Tamil ethnicity and the Hindu faith.  She claimed her family had strong ties with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (“LTTE”).  Her father was killed and several of her brothers were subjected to violence due to the connection.  To gain protection, M.P. illegally entered Switzerland where she met her former husband and father of her two children.  Her husband was violent and abusive, and was convicted of domestic violence against her for which he was sentenced to three years imprisonment.  He was to be expelled to Sri Lanka upon his release, but forced M.P. and the children to accompany him to Denmark and make false statements to seek asylum.  M.P. was afraid of her husband, who physically assaulted her and the children and threatened to kill her and take their children away if she did no support his false version of reasons for seeking asylum.  He claimed he had been detained by the military and that M.P. had been sexually abused by the Sri Lankan army.  Danish authorities denied the family’s asylum request finding that M.P.’s husband had limited associations with LTTE.  He was returned to Sri Lanka after he assaulted another person in Denmark.  After he left, M.P. felt she could safely present the true grounds for seeking asylum in Denmark.  However, her application was rejected.  The Committee considered M.P.’s claim that forcibly removing her and her children would violate Denmark’s obligations under article 7 of the Covenant because she would be detained by authorities and beaten, raped and tortured due to her family’s alleged affiliation with LTTE.  The Committee noted its jurisprudence that the State’s role is to review and evaluate facts and evidence to determine whether a risk exists, unless the evaluation was clearly arbitrary or amounted to a denial of justice.  It then noted the findings of the Danish authorities that M.P. had not raised her family’s affiliation with LTTE before the Swiss authorities when seeking residence.  Further, it noted the finding that current background material on Sri Lanka provided no basis for believing that Tamils such as M.P. with no affiliation with LTTE whose family members had not been high-profile members of LTTE would risk persecution or abuse justifying asylum merely based on ethnicity.  Regarding claims by M.P. of alleged risk of harm by her former husband in Sri Lanka, the Committee noted that M.P. merely took issue with Denmark’s conclusions that she could seek protection if needed from her husband from Sri Lankan authorities.  The Committee concluded that the information provided did not demonstrate that M.P. would face a real and personal risk of treatment contrary to article 7 if she were deported to Sri Lanka.



Abromchik v. Belarus Human Rights Committee (ICCPR) (2018)

Custodial violence, Gender discrimination, International law

Abromchik attended a peaceful assembly on 19 December 2010 with friends in Minsk following the announcement of presidential election results.  After the event, when she and her friends were stopped by a special unit of riot police and tried to escape, they were blocked and beaten.  An officer punched her on the leg with a rubber truncheon several times.  She realized she had a broken leg and told the police officer.  She was not taken to the hospital for several hours.  She made a complaint to the prosecutor of Minsk about the unlawful actions of the police.  She provided details about the incident and witnesses were questioned, but no other actions were taken to investigate the incident or to identify the police officer who had beaten her.  The prosecutor’s office suspended the investigation, stating that it was impossible to find those responsible.  The office resumed the investigation and then suspended it again on the same grounds.  In her appeal to the Committee, Abromchik claimed that she was physically assaulted and affected mentally in violation of article 7 of the Covenant because authorities wanted her to feel helpless and to victimize her and that her age and gender should be taken into account when assessing the gravity of the ill treatment.  She also noted that her complaint of ill-treatment was not investigated promptly and impartially by the authorities, contrary to article 7.  The Committee found that, in the absence of any information from Belarus that it undertook to address the allegations made, due weight must be given to the allegations.  On this basis, the Committee concluded that Belarus failed in its duty to adequately investigate the allegations made in violation of article 7, read in conjunction with article 2(3) of the covenant.  The Committee determined that Belarus was required to provide an effective remedy, including conducting a full investigation of the ill treatment in order to prosecute the perpetrators and to punish them with appropriate sanctions, providing adequate compensation, including reimbursement of legal and medical expenses and non-pecuniary losses, and issuing a formal apology to Abromchik.  Further, the Committee stated that Belarus was under an obligation to take necessary steps to prevent similar violations from occurring in the future.



R.R. v. Denmark Human Rights Committee (ICCPR) (2017)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, International law

R.R., an Iranian national, had left Iran for Italy with her husband and children due to her husband’s activities for the Kurdish Komeleh party.  While in Italy, they lived in an asylum center and then were provided with a dwelling.  They had difficulty paying rent as they could not find steady employment and her husband became addicted to narcotics.  Her husband subjected her and the children to domestic violence and she was forced into prostitution by her husband.  She left her husband and took her children.  She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, depression, and cervical cancer, and received help from friends to pay for surgery.  Her youngest son suffered from heart disease.  She and her children left Italy and sought asylum in Denmark.  Danish authorities rejected her asylum application, finding that Italy should serve as her first country of asylum.  R.R. claimed that by forcibly returning her and her two children to Italy, Denmark would violate its rights under article 7 of the Covenant.  She stated that her family unit were particularly vulnerable as she was a single mother, she and her son required medical attention, and they risked facing inhuman and degrading treatment upon return to Italy, including a risk of homelessness and destitution, with limited access to the necessary medical care.  The Committee, acting under article 5(4) of the Optional Protocol, decided that the deportation of R.R. and her two children to Italy without proper assurances from Italy that it would renew her residence permit and issue permits for her children and that it would receive her family in conditions appropriate for her children’s age and the family’s vulnerable status to enable them to remain in Italy, would violate their rights under article 7 of the Covenant.  The Committee required Denmark to review her claim in consideration of its obligations under the Covenant and the need to obtain proper assurances from Italy.  While considering her request for asylum, the Committee requested that Denmark not deport her and her children.



Hashi v. Denmark Human Rights Committee (ICCPR) (2017)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Domestic and intimate partner violence, Gender discrimination, Gender violence in conflict, International law

Hibaq Said Hashi left Somalia for fear of persecution by Al-Shabaab.  She was divorced from one man and married to a second man, but her former husband claimed they were not divorced and she was having sexual relations with another man, which caused Al-Shabaab to call for her to be stoned.  Her father helped her leave Somalia and then he was killed, and her current husband was sentenced to death.  She traveled to Italy by boat, was registered and determined she was pregnant, but she faced poor conditions in Italy so she left for Sweden to have her baby.  When she learned Swedish authorities planned to send her back to Italy, she and her son moved to Denmark where she applied for asylum.  She claimed that if she returned to Somalia she would be persecuted and if she returned to Italy she would face harsh living conditions and would not be able to provide for her son’s basic needs.  She was ordered to leave Denmark to return to Italy, which Denmark considered her first country of asylum.  Upon appeal, the Committee, acting under article 5(4) of the Optional Protocol, decided that the removal of Hibaq Said Hashi and her son to Italy without any assurances from Italy that it would receive her and her son in conditions suitable for her child’s age and family’s vulnerable status would violate their rights under article 7 of the Covenant.  The Committee required Denmark to review her claim in consideration of its obligations under the Covenant and the need to obtain effective assurances from Italy.  While considering her request for asylum, the Committee requested that Denmark not deport her and her son.



O.G. v. Russian Federation CEDAW Committee (2017)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, International law

O.G. was in a civil partnership with K. who used drugs and alcohol and had a gambling addiction.  After O.G. left him, he sent her harassing texts, attempted to visit her, and when she refused to let him in her building, he hit her.  She reported the events to a Crisis Center for Women.  K. was sentenced to four months of labor which was suspended to a six-month probation and ordered to pay $50.  After his release, he continued to send texts to O.G. threatening to kill her.  She filed seven criminal complaints with the police, who took no action claiming there was nothing they could do because K. would not come to the police station and he was not acting on his threats.  O.G. filed a complaint with CEDAW alleging that the Russian Federation failed to fully implement the Convention by not introducing legislation on domestic violence, and that the authorities had violated her rights under the Convention by not responding adequately to her claims or implementing protective orders to ensure her safety, not providing any effective remedy or psychological support, not conducting meaningful investigation, and allowing prosecution to be time barred due to a two-year statute of limitation.  The Committee decided in O.G.’s favor, rejecting the Russian authority’s argument that O.G.’s claim to be a domestic violence victim was unsubstantiated because he was not a member of her family at the time of the alleged violence, finding that there is no statutory time limit on how long after the end of a relationship a partner can claim that violence falls within this definition.  The Committee determined that Russia had not adopted comprehensive legislation to prevent and address violence against women, and noted recent amendments to national legislation that decriminalized battery under which many domestic violence cases are prosecuted due to the absence of a definition of “domestic violence.”  This failure to amend legislation relating to domestic violence directly affected O.G.’s access to remedies and protection.  The Committee determined Russia violated O.G.’s rights under articles 1, 2 (b)-(g), 3 and 5 (a) of the Convention. It recommended that Russia provide financial compensation to O.G., adopt comprehensive legislation to prevent and address violence against women, including domestic violence, reinstate criminal prosecution of domestic violence, introduce a protocol for handling domestic violence complaints at the police station level to ensure adequate protection, renounce private prosecution in domestic violence cases, ratify the Istanbul Convention, provide mandatory training for judges, lawyers and law enforcement personnel on the Convention and related documents, investigate allegations of gender-based violence against women promptly and provide safe and prompt access to justice, provide rehabilitation programs to offenders, and develop and implement effective measures with relevant stakeholders such as women’s organizations, to address stereotypes and practices that condone or promote domestic violence.  A written response and report on actions taken was due to the Committee within six months. (Available in English, Russian, Arabic, Chinese, French, Spanish.)



S.F.A. v. Denmark CEDAW Committee (2018)

Abortion and reproductive health rights, Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting, Forced and early marriage

S.F.A., a Somali national, applied for asylum in Denmark for herself and her son born in 2013.  She was subjected to female genital mutilation as a child and her father wanted to marry her forcibly to an older man.  She had a relationship against her family’s wishes with H., became pregnant and had an abortion.  Her father learned about the abortion and her brothers threatened to hand her over to Al-Shabaab.  She left Somalia and ended up in Italy.  H. traveled to Italy, they got married and she became pregnant and H. died.  S.F.A. and her baby traveled to Denmark without documents and she applied for asylum.  Denmark rejected her asylum application and dismissed her claim.  She filed a complaint with CEDAW claiming that, if she and her son were deported to Somalia she would be personally exposed to serious forms of gender-based violence, as defined under articles 2, 12, 15 and 16 of the Convention.  The Committee noted that the Danish authorities found that S.F.A.’s account lacked credibility due to factual inconsistencies and lack of substantiation and that they considered the general situation in Somalia.  The Committee rejected her claim that the fact she is a single woman constitutes a supplementary risk factor in Somalia, finding that she has several close relatives in Somalia.  Based on the record, the Commission deemed the communication inadmissible under article 4(2)(c) of the Optional Protocol, finding that it was not able to conclude that the Danish authorities failed to give sufficient consideration to the application or that consideration of her case suffered from any procedural defect.



A.S. v. Denmark CEDAW Committee (2018)

International law, LGBTIQ

A.S., a Uganda national, applied for asylum in Denmark.  She claimed she was wanted in Uganda and at risk of being killed there because she was a lesbian.  She was forced to marry a man and have three children, and when he died, she made a living working in a bar frequented by lesbians.  Three men made advances to her in the bar, she turned them down, and they became aggressive.  Her home was ransacked and burned, her belongings were stolen, and the police looked for her, including at her mother’s house.  She left Rwanda traveling with a visa obtained in Kampala.  Danish authorities rejected the asylum application, noting the visa contained the wrong name.  A.S. filed a complaint with CEDAW claiming that, deportation to Uganda would violate her rights under articles 1-3 of the Convention because her life would be in danger at the hands of the police and ordinary people due to her sexual orientation.  She claimed that her case was not properly investigated by the Refugee Appeals Board.  The Committee noted that the Danish authorities found A.S.’ account lacked credibility due to factual inconsistencies and lack of support related to her claim to be a lesbian and her account of the bar incident.  The Committee also noted that the authorities considered the situation of gay people in Uganda, and found that, notwithstanding the fact homosexuality is prohibited under the Penal Code, the ban has not been enforced and gay people are not targeted.  The Committee deemed the communication inadmissible under article 4 (2)(c) concluding that A.S. failed to support that the lack of reference to the Convention in the asylum decision or the refusal to call a witness stemmed from any gender-based discrimination.  It also did not find any procedural defect or arbitrariness in the decision-making process or any breach of the Convention as a result of the initial error related to A.S.’ name.



Korneykova and Korneykov v. Ukraine European Court of Human Rights (2016)

Abortion and reproductive health rights, Custodial violence

The first applicant, a woman in her fifth month of pregnancy, was taken into police custody on suspicion of robbery and subsequently detained pending trial.  The woman gave birth to her son, the second applicant, while in detention.  The woman claimed that she had been shackled to bed during her stay in the maternity hospital, placed in a metal cage during court hearings before and after giving birth, and that the physical conditions of her and her child’s detention and the medical care provided to the child in pre-trial detention had been inadequate.  The Court considered that shackling to a gynecological examination chair before and after birth giving on the basis that she could escape or behave violently was unjustified, inhuman and degrading given the woman’s condition, and that holding a person in a metal cage during a trial constituted an affront to human dignity. The Court also held that keeping the woman’s son in detention without any monitoring by a pediatrician for almost three months following his birth and without adequate healthcare constituted a violation of his rights.



Garnaga v. Ukraine European Court of Human Rights (2013)

Gender discrimination, International law

The applicant requested Ukrainian authorities to change her patronymic to the one derived from her stepfather’s name and was refused because local legislation allowed a citizen to change the patronymic only in the event of a change of his/her father’s name.  At the same time, the applicant successfully changed her surname to the surname of her stepfather.  The Court held that given that the Ukrainian legislation recognizes the right of the individual to change his/her name and the procedure of changing names is flexible, the denial on changing the patronymic was not sufficiently justified.  Furthermore, the court held that the authorities had not secured the applicant’s right to respect for her private life as no reasons had been given by the Ukrainian authorities for denying the applicant her right to decide an important aspect of her private and family life and no such justification had otherwise been established.



Y. v. Slovenia European Court of Human Rights (2015)

International law, Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

Applicant is a citizen of Ukraine who came to Slovenia as a teenager with her family.  Applicant alleged that when she was 14 a family friend repeatedly sexually assaulted her.  The police investigated and an expert in gynecology examined the applicant.  After complaints and a letter from the State Prosecutor’s Office to the local police a criminal complaint was issued.  The ensuing investigation and trial extended over a period of eight years.  During that time the defendant was allowed to repeatedly cross examine the applicant.  Moreover, a lawyer with whom the applicant had shared confidential information about the case was allowed to represent the defendant.  The defendant was acquitted, the applicant was referred to civil court for damages, and the applicant received a settlement from the government for the undue delays in the proceedings.  The Court found that Slovenia violated the European Convention of Human Rights in two ways.  Slovenia violated Article 3 when it failed to promptly investigate and prosecute the complaint of sexual abuse.  Furthermore, Slovenia violated Article 8 because it failed to sufficiently protect the applicant’s personal integrity and privacy in the proceedings.



Case of W. v. Slovenia European Court of Human Rights (2014)

International law, Sexual violence and rape

In 1990 at age 18, W. was raped by a group of seven men.  Three other men aided and abetted the rape.  Seven months later, the court acquitted the men of all charges, finding that the victim had not “seriously resisted sexual intercourse.”  The Public Prosecutor appealed the judgement and in 1991, a year after the assault, the appellate court overturned the acquittal.  The Slovenian authorities attempted to locate the perpetrators, but two defendants had emigrated to Austria and could not be found.  Between 1995 and 2001, the victim wrote eight letters to the court urging the proceedings to continue and five hearings were adjourned for failure of some of the defendants to appear.  Various excuses, such as frequent changes in the presiding judges, were offered to the victim as excuses for the stalled proceedings.  Finally, in May 2001, the authorities issued an international arrest warrant for the defendants located abroad.  In June 2002, six defendants were found guilty of rape and aggravated rape.  However, due to the passage of time, they were only sentenced to eight months to one year of prison.  The last defendant was extradited in 2004, convicted of aiding and abetting the rape, and sentenced to eight months in prison.  The victim received €5,000 from the Slovenian government in recognition of delay in prosecuting the defendants; however, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) found that this amount (while the statutory maximum in Slovenia) was insufficient redress.  The ECtHR noted that Slovenian authorities failed to proceed with the case in a diligent manner and that the defendants received prison sentences of less than the minimum sentences prescribed by law.  Thus, the domestic authorities failed to comply with their obligations under Article 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights.  The ECHR, deciding in equity, awarded the victim €15,000 in addition to the €5,000 she received from the domestic authorities.



Case of Bălşan v. Romania European Court of Human Rights (2017)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Domestic and intimate partner violence, International law

Applicant is a Romanian citizen who alleged that her husband had been violent towards her and their children on numerous occasions.  The assaults intensified when the applicant initiated divorce proceedings against her husband.  The applicant’s husband assaulted and threatened her on multiple occasions, for which she required and obtained medical treatment.  She then used her medical records as proof when she lodged formal complaints against her husband at the prosecutor’s office.  She told prosecutors of the incidences of violence and the fact that her husband repeatedly locked her out of their shared residence.  The police did not pursue criminal charges and only imposed an administrative fine, holding that the applicant had provoked the disputes.  A similar pattern of abuse, medical attention, and contact with the authorities occurred over a period of months.  The applicant brought the case to the European Court of Human Rights alleging that the State “had failed to protect her from domestic violence and to hold the perpetrator accountable.”  The Court found that there were violations of Article 3 and Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which forbid torture and discrimination, respectively.  The Court found that the authorities were aware of the violence against the applicant, and thus they had an obligation to act on the complaints.  The applicant exhausted domestic avenues, but without success.  The state’s responses did not comply with international standards about required state action to violence against women and domestic violence. (Available in English, Romanian, and Croatian. English version is official.)



TUNCER GÜNEŞ v. TURKEY European Court of Human Rights (2013)

Gender discrimination

The applicant, Gülizar Tuncer Güne?, is a Turkish national who was born in 1966 and lives in Istanbul (Turkey). The case concerned her complaint that she had not been allowed to keep just her maiden name after her marriage in March 2005. She claimed in particular that the fact that Turkish law allowed married men but not married women to use only their own surname after marriage amounted to discrimination based on sex. She relied in particular on Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) and Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) of the Convention.



Boso v. Italy European Court of Human Rights (2002)

Gender discrimination

In 1984, Ms. Boso, an Italian citizen who is married, decided to have an abortion despite her husband’s opposition. Mr. Boso initiated a suit against his wife claiming that the termination deprived the unborn child of its right to life. He also challenged the constitutionality of Italian legislation which provided that women could unilaterally decide whether to have an abortion. The European Court of Human Rights dismissed the complaint which alleged that the termination of a pregnancy by the applicant´s wife violated the right to life under the Convention and also his rights under Articles 8 and 12 of the Convention. The Constitutional Court dismissed the complaint on the grounds that the decision to grant the mother full responsibility was logical given the effects of pregnancy, both physical and mental, on the pregnant woman. Mr. Boso’s appeal to the Venice District Court alleging violations of Article 2, 8 and 12 of the Convention was also dismissed. The applicant’s final appeal to the Court of Cassation, again on constitutional and convention grounds, was similarly dismissed.



Seferovic v. Italy European Court of Human Rights (2011)

Custodial violence

The detention pending deportation of a woman who had recently given birth found to be unlawful and violated Article 5 § 1 (f) and Article 5 § 5 (right to liberty and security) of the European Convention on Human Rights. In September 2000, the applicant, a woman from Bosnia and Herzegovina, applied to the Italian authorities for refugee status. The application was not forwarded to the competent commission because it contained formal defects. On September 26, 2003 the applicant gave birth to a child, who died a few days later at the hospital. Then, on November 11, 2003 the police served her with a deportation order and transferred her to a holding center pending such deportation that the applicant's placement and detention had been in breach of Italian immigration law no. 286 of 1998, which provided that her deportation should have been suspended until six months after she had given birth (March 26, 2004), regardless of the fact that the baby had died. In March 2006, the Rome Civil Court granted Ms Seferovic refugee status. In addition, by way of just satisfaction, the government was required to pay the applicant 7,500 euros (EUR) for non-pecuniary damage for her unlawful detention as there was no redress available under Italian law.



International Planned Parenthood Federation – European Network (“IPPF EN”) v. Italy European Court of Human Rights (2013)

Gender discrimination

Italian government’s failure to take measures to ameliorate the less favorable treatment suffered by women falling into certain vulnerable categories with respect to access to abortion services was a violation of Article E (prohibition of direct and indirect discrimination) of the Revised European Social Charter (the “Charter”) in conjunction with Article 11 (right to protection of health) of the Charter. IPPF EN complaint stated that the high number of medical personnel electing to be conscientious objectors resulted in the violation of the rights of women to have access to procedures for the termination of pregnancy, thus violating their right to protection of health. Committee finds that certain categories of women in Italy are subject to discrimination in the form of impeded access to lawful abortion facilities as a combined effect of their gender, health status, territorial location and socio-economic status. Committee finds that Italian authorities should have adopted the necessary measures to compensate for deficiencies in service provisions caused by health personnel choosing to exercise their right to conscientious objection to performing abortions.



The Case of Yazgül Ylmaz v. Turkey European Court of Human Rights (2011)

Custodial violence

In this case the applicant complained that, at the age of 16, she was sexually harassed while in police detention. She was given a gynecological examination – unaccompanied and without her or her guardian’s consent – to verify whether her hymen had been broken. After being acquitted and released, she suffered from post-traumatic stress and depression. Her allegations of assault in custody were largely corroborated by subsequent medical examinations. No disciplinary proceedings were brought against the prison doctors concerned. The European Court of Human Rights noted that that the law at that time did not provide the necessary safeguards concerning examinations of female detainees and that additional guarantees were required for gynecological examinations, particularly for minors. The general practice of automatic gynecological examinations for female detainees – supposed to prevent false sexual assault accusations against police officers – was not in the interests of detained women and had no medical justification. The applicant had complained of sexual harassment, not rape, which could not be disproved by an examination of her hymen. The Court noted that the new Turkish Code of Criminal Procedure regulated gynecological examinations, but made no specific provision for minors. It held that there had been a violation of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (prohibition of inhuman treatment) concerning both the gynecological examinations of the applicant while in police custody and the inadequate investigation concerning those responsible.



The Case of Durmaz v. Turkey European Court of Human Rights (2015)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

The applicant, Ümran Durmaz, is a Turkish national who was born in 1955 and lives in ?zmir, Turkey. The case concerned her complaint of the authorities’ failure to carry out an effective investigation into the death of her daughter. Ms Durmaz’ daughter, Gülperi O., died in July 2005 in a hospital in ?zmir – where she had been working as a nurse – after her husband had taken her to the emergency department, informing the doctors that she had taken an overdose of two medicines. The doctors pumped her stomach but were unable to save her. When questioned by the police, her husband, who worked at the hospital’s pharmacy, also stated that the couple had had a row on the same day and he had hit her. Gülperi O.’s father subsequently lodged a complaint with the prosecutor, stating that she had not been suicidal, and alleging that her husband was responsible for her death. In the course of the ensuing investigation, a forensic medical examination found no trace of medicines or other drugs in Gülperi O.’s blood or in other samples taken from her body, but it noted that there was an advanced oedema in her lungs. In February 2006, the prosecutor decided to close the investigation, concluding that Gülperi O. had committed suicide. An objection by Ms Durmaz – stating, in particular, that the prosecutor had failed to question her late daughter’s husband, despite the fact that by his own admission he had beaten her, and that the prosecutor’s conclusion ran contrary to the findings of the forensic examination – was dismissed by the courts. Relying in particular on Article 2 (right to life), Ms Durmaz complained that the investigation into the death of her daughter had been ineffective. In particular, further expert reports would have been required, and the prosecutor should have investigated whether the cause of Gülperi O.’s death could have been an internal hemorrhage caused by the blows inflicted by her husband.



The Case of Emel Boyraz v. Turkey European Court of Human Rights (2015)

Employment discrimination

The case concerned a dismissal from public sector employment – a State-run electricity company – on grounds of gender. Ms Boyraz, the applicant, had worked as a security officer for almost three years before being dismissed in March 2004 because she was not a man and had not completed military service. In the Court’s opinion, the mere fact that security officers had to work on night shifts and in rural areas and had to use firearms and physical force under certain conditions had not in itself justified any difference in treatment between men and women. Moreover, the reason for Ms Boyraz’ dismissal had not been her inability to assume such risks or responsibilities, there having been nothing to indicate that she had failed to fulfil her duties, but the decisions of Turkish administrative courts. The Court also considered that the administrative courts had not substantiated the grounds for the requirement that only male staff could be employed as security officers in the branch of the State-run electricity company. The Court therefore concluded that the difference in treatment of which she had been a victim had not pursued a legitimate aim and had amounted to discrimination on grounds of sex. Consequently, there had been a violation of Article 14 in conjunction with Article 8.



The Case of Serife Yigit v. Turkey European Court of Human Rights (2010)

Property and inheritance rights

The applicant, ?erife Yi?it, is a Turkish national who was born in 1954 and lives in Gaziantep, Turkey. In 1976, she married Ömer Koç (Ö.K.) in a religious ceremony (imam nikah?). Ö.K. died on 10 September 2002. The youngest of their six children, Emine, was born in 1990. On 11 September 2003 ?erife Yi?it brought an action, in her own name and that of Emine, seeking to have her marriage with Ö.K. recognised and to have Emine entered in the civil register as his daughter. The District Court allowed the second request but rejected the request concerning the marriage. The applicant further applied to the retirement pension fund (Ba?-Kur) to have Ö.K.’s retirement pension and health-insurance benefits transferred to her and her daughter. The benefits were granted to Emine but not to her mother, on the ground that her marriage to Ö.K. had not been legally recognized. The applicant appealed unsuccessfully against that decision. Relying on Article 8 of the Convention (right to respect for family life), the applicant complained about the Turkish courts’ refusal to transfer her deceased partner’s social-security entitlements to her. In its judgment of 20 January 2009 the Chamber examining the case found that it was not unreasonable for special protection to be afforded only to civil marriages in Turkey, pointing out that marriage remained an institution widely recognized as conferring a particular status on those who entered into it. It considered that the difference in treatment between married and unmarried couples with regard to survivors’ benefits was aimed at protecting the traditional family based on the bonds of marriage and was therefore legitimate and justified. Accordingly, the Chamber held by four votes to three that there had been no violation of Article 8. On 14 September 2009 the case was referred to the Grand Chamber at the applicant’s request.



LEVENTOĞLU ABDULKADİROĞLU v. TURKEY European Court of Human Rights (2013)

Gender discrimination

The case concerned the complaint by a woman that, under Turkish law, she was not allowed to keep just her maiden name in official documents after getting married, whereas married men kept their surname. The Court held that this difference in treatment on grounds of sex between persons in an analogous situation had no objective and reasonable justification. Accordingly, the obligation imposed on married women to bear their husband’s surname – even if they could put their maiden name in front of it – had no objective and reasonable justification, in breach of Article 8 in conjunction with Article 14.



L.R. v. United Kingdom European Court of Human Rights (2014)

Sexual violence and rape, Trafficking in persons

The applicant is an Albanian national who was abducted and brought into the UK where she was forced to work as a prostitute. She escaped and requested asylum for fear of retribution from her abductor if she returned to Albania. Her request for asylum was rejected by the UK government and she complained that her removal was in violation of Articles 2, 3, 4, and 8 of the Convention. The UK did grant her application though, so the issue was resolved without having to consider whether there was a violation of the Convention.



Sandra Jankovic v. Croatia European Court of Human Rights (2009)

Gender-based violence in general

The applicant brought a claim in Split Municipal Court for protection against being disturbed in occupying her room. After years the applicant finally gained possession of the room and then was assaulted by several individuals. Although the applicant tried to get a criminal case brought, it was dismissed by the domestic courts. She then brought a complaint relying on Articles 3 and 8 of the Convention before this Court. The applicant argued that the national authorities failed to afford her adequate protection against violence inflicted by private individuals, which was an Article 8 violation. The Court agreed that Article 8 applied due to the circumstances under which she had been attacked and found that Article 8 had been violated due to the delay of the authorities in prosecuting the crime.



Juhnke v. Turkey European Court of Human Rights (2008)

Custodial violence, Sexual harassment

The applicant was a German national arrested in Turkey on suspicion of belonging to a terrorist organization. She claimed that she was subjected to a gynecological exam during her detainment and that the local gendarmes stripped her naked and sexually harassed her. The court found that in these circumstances the gynecological exam was an interference with her right to physical integrity and her right to respect for her private life.



Case of Y.F. v. Turkey European Court of Human Rights (2003)

Custodial violence

The applicant alleged that the forced gynecological exam of his wife constituted a breach of Article 8 of the Convention. The Government argued that the exam was carried out with the consent of both the applicant and his wife. The Court found that the interference with the woman’s right to physical integrity was not “in accordance with law” because the Government failed to demonstrate a medical necessity or circumstanced defined by law for an exam, and there was the question of consent.



W. v. Slovenia European Court of Human Rights (2014)

Sexual violence and rape

The applicant was raped by a group of men, some of whom were juveniles at the time. The Maribor Basic Court first acquitted them, but on appeal it was remitted to a new panel of judges. The case was delayed for a decade because some of the defendants had emigrated to Austria. The court finally tried the defendants in trials in the early 2000’s. The applicant alleged a violation of Article 3 of the Convention because the delays in the criminal proceedings against the individuals who raped her. The Court ruled that the compensation awarded to the applicant by the domestic court did not constitute consistent redress and that there was a violation of Article 3 of the Convention.



Omeredo v. Austria European Court of Human Rights (2011)

Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting

The applicant is a Nigerian national who fled due to not wanting to undergo female genital mutilation (FGM) and sought asylum in Austria. Austria rejected her application for asylum and she appealed, complaining under Article 3 of the Convention that she runs the risk of being forced to undergo FGM if she is expelled to Nigeria. The Court rejects her application because they reasoned that due to her age and work experience she should have been able to live in Nigeria on her own.



Pensionsversicherungsanstalt v. Kleist European Court of Justice (2010)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

Mrs. Kleist, who was employed as chief physician for the pension insurance institution, was terminated pursuant to a policy requiring termination of all employees, whether male or female, upon reaching the age at which they could draw a public retirement pension. Mrs. Kleist argued that the termination policy was discriminatory because, under the pension statute, women were able to draw a pension at an age five years younger than men; thus requiring their termination five years earlier. After proceedings in the lower courts, the Austrian Supreme Court referred to the European Court of Justice the question of whether the policy constituted prohibited discrimination on the grounds of sex. The Court answered the question in the affirmative, holding that since the criterion used by such a policy is inseparable from the worker’s sex, there is a difference in treatment that is directly based on sex. Having found direct discrimination, the Court also held that the difference in treatment could not be justified by the objective of promoting employment of younger persons.



Brachner v. Pensionsversicherungsanstalt European Court of Justice (2011)

Gender discrimination, Property and inheritance rights

Ms. Brachner brought an action against the Pensionsversicherungsanstalt arguing that the implementation of an adjustment factor for pensions, established in 2008, resulted in indirect discrimination against women who were disproportionately less likely to qualify for an exceptional pension increase. Upon referral from the Austrian Supreme Court, the European Court of Justice held that (1) an annual pension adjustment scheme comes within the scope of the EU Directive guaranteeing equal treatment of men and women in matters of social security, (2) a national arrangement that excludes from an exceptional pension increase a significantly higher percentage of female pensioners would violate the Directive, and (3) the disadvantage cannot be justified by the fact that women receive their pension at an earlier age or that they receive their pension over a longer period.



P.M. v. Bulgaria European Court of Human Rights (2012)

Sexual violence and rape

The applicant was raped at a party in 1991 when she was 13 years old. Her parents informed the police. The criminal proceeding started twice but were both terminated. At the third time of reopening the investigation, both people accused were convicted guilty by the court but relieved due to the expired limitation period. The European Court of Human Rights held that the case was admissible and that the authorities led the investigation ineffectively and slowly, which caused the expired limitation period. There was a violation of Article 3, prohibition of torture, of the Convention for Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.



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

Sexual violence and rape

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



P. and S. v. Poland European Court of Human Rights (2012)

Sexual violence and rape

The applicants, P. and S., were daughter and mother. P., a fourteen-year-old girl, was raped and impregnated by a classmate. Abortion in Poland is available in the case of rape so in May 2008 P. received a certificate from the public prosecutor to allow her to get a legal abortion in Poland. She went to three hospitals who refused to perform the operation: one brought her to a Catholic priest—who urged her not to get an abortion—without her permission. Hospital officials issued a press release after which anti-abortion campaigners harassed P. A criminal proceeding against P. on suspicion of sexual intercourse with a minor was initiated in July 2008 but later terminated, the court finding that P. could only be considered a victim, not a perpetrator. The police then alleged that S. was trying to coerce P. into having an abortion, leading to the authorities removing P. from her mother’s custody and placing her in a juvenile shelter. The Minister of Health intervened and P. got an abortion without being an officially registered patient or receiving any post-abortion care. The European Court of Human Rights held that there was a violation of Article 8: right to respect for private and family life. The Court found that the state should ensure people’s legal rights are facilitated by procedures to fulfill those rights. The Court also found that the hospital press release of information led to interference with the applicants’ lives. The Court held that there was a violation of Article 5(1) because the separation of P. from her parents was taken to prevent abortion rather than within in the purpose of the Article, which is for educational supervision. Finally, there was a violation of Article 3: the difficulties P. met in seeking abortion and subsequent trial for intercourse with a minor constituted ill treatment.



Mayr v. Bäckerei und Konditorei Gerhard Flöckner OHG European Court of Justice (2008)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

Ms. Mayr was employed as a waitress with Konditorei Gerhard Flöckner, and was terminated while undergoing in vitro fertilization. Ms. Mayr then filed suit to recover payment of her salary and pro rata annual remuneration, arguing that from the date on which in vitro fertilization of her ova took place, she was entitled to the protection against dismissal provided by Austrian legislation. After proceedings in the lower courts, the Austrian Supreme Court referred to the European Court of Justice the question of whether a female worker is entitled to protection from dismissal where her ova have been fertilized but not yet transferred to her uterus. The European Court of Justice answered the question in the negative. But the Court also held that EU Directives on the implementation of equal treatment for men and women as regards access to employment, vocational training and working conditions preclude the dismissal of a female worker who is undergoing in vitro fertilization treatment where it is established that the dismissal was based on such treatment.



I.G. v. The Republic of Moldova European Court of Human Rights (2012)

Gender discrimination

A 14-year-old girl was allegedly raped by an acquaintance. She complained that the authorities had failed to investigate her allegations effectively and that the requirement of corroborative evidence of resistance had been discriminatory against her. The Court found a violation of Article 3 on effective investigation and ordered the State to pay the applicant just satisfaction for non-pecuniary damage and awards the applicant EUR 10,000.



Elisabeth de Blok et al. v. The Netherlands CEDAW Committee (2014)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

Elisabeth de Blok and five other nationals of the Netherlands are self-employed women who gave birth between 2005 and 2006. Until 31 July 2004, self-employed persons were compulsorily insured against the risk of loss of income as a result of incapacity for work under the Incapacity Insurance Act. Under the Work and Care Act, self-employed women were also entitled to a State maternity benefits. On August 1, 2004, the Discontinuation of Access to Incapacity Insurance Act entered into force, ending the entitlement of self-employed women to maternity benefits. The six self-employed women complained to the District Court of The Hague, claiming that the State should have ensured an adequate maternity benefit scheme in keeping with article 11(2)(b) of the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against Women. The District Court declared the claim unfounded. The Court of Appeal of The Hague upheld the judgment. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, ruling that the provisions of article 11(2)(b) of the Convention were insufficiently precise, thus making them unsuitable for direct application by national courts. In their complaint to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, the six women argued that the State party violated their rights under article 11(2)(b) of the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women by removing the existing maternity leave scheme applicable to self-employed women up to 2004. The Committee held that article 11(2)(b) is applicable also to self-employed women and not to female employees exclusively. Further, the Committee held that, contrary to the State party’s view, the provision was directly applicable. The Committee concluded that the State party’s failure to provide maternity benefits affected pregnant women adversely and therefore constituted direct sex and gender-based discrimination against women. The Committee recommended that the State party provide reparation, including monetary compensation, for the loss of maternity benefits to the six women. The Committee noted that the Sate party amended its legislation in June 2008 to ensure that a maternity leave scheme is available also to self-employed women. However, the Committee invited the State party to address and redress the situation of women similarly situated to the authors, who are self-employed and gave birth between 1 August 2004 and 4 June 2008, when no compensation scheme for self-employed women was in place.



W.H. v. Sweden European Court of Human Rights (2014)

Gender discrimination

A woman seeking asylum in Sweden was denied asylum by the Swedish Migration Board, the Migration Court, and denied an appeal of the previous decisions by the Migration Court of Appeals. The migration courts found that although the applicant belonged to a minority (Mandaean) in Iraq, the one threat she had received several years ago was not based on her minority beliefs but on her marital status (as she was divorced) and therefore her return to Iraq could not be deemed unsafe. The courts also found that the situation in Iraq did not constitute grounds for asylum nor that she was still being searched for in Iraq. Swedish law (the Aliens Act (Utlänningslagen, 2005:716)) states that “an alien who is considered to be a refugee or otherwise in need of protection is, with certain exceptions, entitled to a residence permit in Sweden.” Moreover, the Aliens Act continues, “if a residence permit cannot be granted on the above grounds, such a permit may be issued to an alien if, after an overall assessment of his or her situation, there are such particularly distressing circumstances (synnerligen ömmande omständigheter) to allow him or her to remain in Sweden (Chapter 5, section 6).” The applicant brought this suit complaining that her return to Iraq would constitute a violation of Article 3 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (“No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”) The applicant lost this suit as well, as the court held that her circumstances would not prevent her from settling safely and reasonably in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq once deported from Sweden. The evidence did not show that the applicant would face a risk of treatment prohibited by Article 3 in the Kurdistan Region. The Court looked at precedent holding that the general situation in Iraq was not so serious as to cause, by itself, a violation of Article 3 of the Convention in the event of a person’s return to that country (F.H. v. Sweden (no. 32621/06, § 93, 20 January 2009)). Taking into account the international and national reports available at the time of the decision, the Court saw no reason to alter the position taken four years before. The Court gave deference to the Swedish Migration Court’s decision and found no violation of Article 3. According to the Court, “Contracting States have the right, as a matter of well-established international law and subject to their treaty obligations, including the Convention, to control the entry, residence and expulsion of aliens.”



Siliadin v. France European Court of Human Rights (2005)

Employment discrimination, Trafficking in persons

Domestic slavery. The applicant arrived in France in 1994 aged 15 years with a passport and a tourist visa. She had agreed to work for Mr. and Mrs D. until the cost of her air ticket had been reimbursed. During this time, Mrs. D. was to attend to her immigration status and find her a place at school. In reality her passport was taken away and she became an unpaid housemaid for Mr. and Mrs. D. She worked seven days a week, without a day off, and was never paid, except by Mrs. B.’s mother who gave her one or two 500 FRF notes. At an initial hearing, Mr. and Mrs. B. were convicted; however, this was overturned on appeal. The Court of Appeal ruled that the additional investigations and hearings had shown that, while it did appear that the applicant had not been paid or that the payment was clearly disproportionate to the amount of work carried out, in contrast, the existence of working or living conditions that were incompatible with human dignity had not been established. The European Court of Human Rights rejected this decision and held that in this case there had been a domestic slavery to the fore. The Court focused on the vulnerable nature of the applicant and the fact that the work being carried out without remuneration and against her will. This case brings the issue of domestic slavery to the fore. In a report by the Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men it was observed that 95% of the domestic slavery victims taken up by the Committee against Modern Slavery since 1994 were women. The case also demonstrates the specific threat that domestic slavery poses to women and highlights that over 4 million women worldwide are sold into domestic slavery each year.



France v Stoeckel, Court of Justice of the European Communities, 1991 Court of Justice of the European Communities (1991)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

Gender discrimination, employment discrimination. France had a long industrial and legal tradition prohibiting night work for women, accompanied by legislation which was aimed at protecting female workers. Alfred Stoekl, the manager of Suma SA, Obenheim, a business concerned with the packaging of audio and video cassettes, violated the ban by hiring female night workers and invoked the Equal Treatment Directive in his defense. The court held that in terms of protecting female workers, discrimination is only valid if there is a justified need for a difference of treatment as between men and women. However, whatever the disadvantages of night work may be, it does not seem that, except in the case of pregnancy or maternity, the risks to which women are exposed when working at night are, in general, inherently different from those to which men are exposed. Article 5 of Council Directive 76/207 on the implementation of the principle of equal treatment for men and women as regards access to employment, vocational training and promotion, and working conditions is sufficiently precise to impose on the member-States the obligation not to lay down by legislation the principle that night work by women is prohibited, even if that is subject to exceptions, where night work by men is not prohibited. This case is important as its judgment led to France rejecting legislation prohibiting women from night work with effect from February 1993.



Söderman v. Sweden European Court of Human Rights (2013)

Sexual harassment

In 2002, when Eliza Söderman (applicant) was 14 years old, she discovered that her stepfather had attempted to secretly film her naked by hiding a recording video camera in the bathroom. The applicant’s mother destroyed the videotape and reported the incident to the police who prosecuted the stepfather for sexual molestation. The stepfather was acquitted on appeal in 2007 because although he had intentionally filmed the minor, his behavior was not covered under the provision of sexual molestation because he had no intention of the applicant finding out about the film. Further, the Swedish appeals court pointed out that there is no general prohibition in Swedish law of filming an individual without their consent, even if that individual is a minor. The applicant brought this complaint to the European Court on Human Rights relying on Article 8 (right to respect for private life) of the European Convention on Human Rights to which Sweden is a party. The applicant alleged that Sweden had failed to comply with its obligation to provide her with remedies against her stepfather’s violation of her personal integrity. The court held for the applicant and held that Sweden had violated Article 8. The Court held so because Swedish laws in force at the time allowed for the applicant’s stepfather to film her naked in her home without any remedy. The stepfather had been acquitted of sexual molestation not on account of lack of evidence but because his actions did not constitute sexual molestation at the time. The provision on sexual molestation has since been amended in Sweden (in 2005), which to court highlighted as evidence that the previous version of the sexual molestation provision had not protected the applicant from the act in question.



González Carreño v. Spain CEDAW Committee (2014)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

In 2003, a father murdered his seven-year-old daughter Andrea during a court-approved parental visitation. Ángela González, Andrea’s mother, had previously reported instances of physical abuse to the police on numerous occasions and sought court-ordered restraining orders against him to protect herself and her daughter. The father had refused to accept supervised visitations with his daughter. After killing his daughter, the father committed suicide. The mother brought suit in national court against Spanish authorities. The court ruled against her, deciding in April 2011 that the visit regime was sound and denied the case any constitutional relevance. As a result, the mother brought this complaint to the CEDAW Committee. The Committee found for the mother, stating that in deciding the parental visitation scheme the Spanish authorities should have taken into account the existing context of domestic violence in the family. Instead, the Spanish authorities had made a routine decision that this type of visitation scheme was appropriate without taking the specific facts of this case into consideration. The Committee held that the Spanish authorities thereby failed to take the best interest of the child into account. The Committee has repeatedly found that a State can be held responsible for acts of individuals if it fails to exercise necessary diligence in order to prevent violations of the CEDAW Convention. Specifically, Spain had violated articles 2 a), d), e) and f), 5 a) and 16 paragraph 1 of CEDAW. Additionally, CEDAW ruled that Spain must provide training to judges and other professionals to avoid similar failures in the future. Spain has since stated that it will introduce new mechanisms to protect children in gender violence cases, such as requiring judges to act with precaution in their decision-making.

En 2003, un padre asesinó a su hija Andrea, de siete años, durante una visita de padres aprobada por el tribunal. Ángela González, la madre de Andrea, había denunciado previamente casos de abuso físico a la policía en numerosas ocasiones y había solicitado órdenes de restricción ordenadas por el tribunal para protegerse a ella y a su hija. El padre se había negado a aceptar visitas supervisadas con su hija. Después de matar a su hija, el padre se suicidó. La madre presentó una demanda en el juzgado nacional contra las autoridades españolas. El tribunal falló en contra de ella, decidiendo en abril de 2011 que el régimen de visitas era sólido y negó al caso cualquier relevancia constitucional. Como resultado, la madre presentó esta queja al Comité de la CEDAW. El Comité determinó que la madre indicaba que, al decidir el plan de visitas de los padres, las autoridades españolas deberían haber tenido en cuenta el contexto existente de violencia doméstica en la familia. En cambio, las autoridades españolas habían tomado una decisión de rutina de que este tipo de esquema de visitas era apropiado sin tener en cuenta los hechos específicos de este caso. El Comité sostuvo que las autoridades españolas no habían tenido en cuenta el interés superior del niño. El Comité ha encontrado repetidamente que un Estado puede ser responsabilizado por actos de individuos si no ejerce la diligencia necesaria para prevenir violaciones de la Convención de la CEDAW. Específicamente, España había violado los artículos 2 a), d), e) yf), 5 a) y 16 párrafo 1 de la CEDAW. Además, la CEDAW dictaminó que España debe brindar capacitación a jueces y otros profesionales para evitar fallas similares en el futuro. Desde entonces, España ha declarado que introducirá nuevos mecanismos para proteger a los niños en casos de violencia de género, como exigir que los jueces actúen con precaución en su toma de decisiones.



O’Keeffe v. Ireland European Court of Human Rights (2014)

Gender-based violence in general, Sexual violence and rape

Louise O’Keeffe was repeatedly sexually abused by her school principal during the 1970s. When these events were reported to the police in 1996, the complete police investigation revealed that the principal had sexually abused twenty-one former students during a ten-year period. In total, the principal was charged with 386 criminal offences of sexual abuse. O’Keeffe brought a civil action against the Minister for Education and the Attorney General of Ireland, claiming that the State had vicarious liability for the personal injury she suffered as a result of the abuse in the public school. The High Court ruled that the state did not have vicarious liability for its employee’s actions, and the Supreme Court dismissed O’Keeffe’s appeal. In January 2014, O’Keeffe brought a case to the European Court of Human Rights, alleging violations of Article 3 (torture or inhuman or degrading treatment) of the European Convention on Human Rights, and Article 13, alleging that she did not have an effective domestic remedy. The European Court of Human Rights held the following: (1) the Irish State failed to meet its positive obligation, in violation of Article 3; (2) there was no violation of the procedural obligations under Article 3 since an effective official investigation into the ill-treatment of the applicant had been carried out in 1995 once the a complaint was made by another former pupil to the police; (3) the applicant did not have an adequate remedy available to her regarding her Article 3 complaints, in violation of Article 13; and (4) the applicant was awarded 85,000 euros for the costs and expenses of the proceedings. As a result of this case, Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny gave an apology to O’Keeffe, and, in August 2014, the Irish government submitted an Action Plan to the Council of Europe setting out the measures that have been taken since this ECtHR decision.



S.A.S. v. France European Court of Human Rights (2014)

Gender discrimination

S.A.S, a 23 year old French citizen, filed an application against France to challenge the ban on the full face veil. She argued that as a woman wearing a face veil, the ban constituted a violation of her right to private life, freedom of religion, freedom of expression and her right not to be discriminated against. The French Government recognised that the ban may represent a limitation on Article 9 of the Convention i.e. the freedom to manifest one’s religion, but argued, however, that the limitation pursued legitimate aims and was necessary in a democratic society for the fulfillment of those aims. The Government argued that the ban sought to protect equality between men and women, as to consider that women must conceal their faces in public places amounted to denying them the right to exist as individuals. The Government also argued that this forced them to express their individuality only in the private family space or in an exclusively female space. The Government indicated that the practice of wearing the veil was incompatible in French society with the fundamental rules of social communication, tolerance and the requirements of “living together”. The court held that the ban imposed by the Law of 11 October 2010 was to be regarded as proportionate to the aim pursued, namely the preservation of the conditions of “living together” as an element of the “protection of the rights and freedoms of others” and thus no violation of Articles 8 or 9 of the Convention was found.



Dogru v. France European Court of Human Rights (2009)

Gender discrimination

Gender discrimination. The Muslim applicant, aged eleven at the material time, was enrolled in the first year of a state secondary school and wore a headscarf to school. On seven occasions in January 1999 the applicant went to physical education and sports classes wearing her headscarf and refused to take it off despite repeated requests to do so by her teacher, who explained that wearing a headscarf was incompatible with physical education classes. At a meeting on 11 February 1999 the school's pupil discipline committee decided to expel the applicant from the school for breaching the duty of assiduity by failing to participate actively in physical education and sports classes. The applicant's parents appealed against that decision to the appeal panel. The applicant claimed that expelling her for wearing the headscarf had amounted to an interference with her religious freedom under Article 9 of the Convention. The court however held that her rights were not infringed, following the Turkish case of Leyla Sahin (Leyla Sahin v. Turkey ([GC], no. 44774/98, ECHR 2005-XI) whereby it was found that secularism, as upheld by the French Government in that case, was of fundamental constitutional value in terms of the importance of the protection of women's rights. It was held that secularism was undoubtedly one of the fundamental principles of the State which was in harmony with the rule of law and respect for human rights and democracy. The court thus noted that secularism was the guarantor of democratic values, ensuring that all citizens are treated equally. The court confirmed that the freedom to manifest one's religion could be restricted in order to defend such values. It concluded that this notion of secularism was consistent with the values underpinning the Convention.



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

Custodial violence

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



Kalucza v. Hungary European Court of Human Rights (2012)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Property and inheritance rights

K’s partner Gy.B. acquired ownership of K’s ex-husband share of their jointly owned flat and had it registered as his place of residence. K sought to have him evicted when their relationship ended, lodged numerous criminal complaints for rape, assault and harassment but Gy.B.was acquitted on four occasions and was convicted on only two occasions, released on parole and ordered to pay a fine. On three occasions K herself was found guilty of disorderly conduct, grievous bodily harm and assault. She also faced a trespassing charge brought by Gy.B. because she had the flat's locks changed. During the criminal proceedings, K made two requests for a restraining order against Gy.B. and both were dismissed on basis that she was also responsible for the bad relationship. Civil proceedings concerning ownership of the flat were also suspended while Gy.B.’s violent behavior against her continued and a medical report was drawn up recording her injuries with an expected healing time of eight to ten days. The ECtHR found that the Hungarian authorities had not taken sufficient measures for her effective protection, in violation of Article 8. The Court noted that it had taken the authorities too long - more than one-and-half years - to decide on K’s first restraining order request, undermining the reason behind such a measure which was to provide immediate protection to victims of violence. Sufficient reasons for dismissing the restraining order requests were not given, the courts relying simply on the fact that both parties were involved in the assaults, ruling out the possibility of a victim having acted in legitimate self-defense in the event of a mutual assault. The Court commented that restraining orders could have been issued against both parties and ordered Hungary to pay K non-pecuniary damages.



Case of Eremia v. The Republic of Moldova European Court of Human Rights (2013)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

E’s husband, a police officer, had been abusive towards her, often in the presence of their teenage daughters, whose psychological well-being was adversely affected as a result. A protection order had been issued against E’s husband upon E’s first request but was not respected by the husband and was partly revoked on appeal. E filed a criminal complaint and claimed being pressured by other police officers to withdraw the complaint. Although a criminal investigation was finally launched, and substantive evidence of the husband’s guilt was found, the prosecutor suspended the investigation for one year subject to the condition that the investigation would be reopened if the husband committed another offence during that time on basis that the husband had committed “a less serious offence” and “did not represent a danger to society.” The ECtHR found a violation of Article 3 in respect of E as the suspension of E’s husband’s criminal investigation in effect shielded him from criminal liability rather than deterring him from committing further violence against E. The Court concluded that the refusal to speed up the urgent examination of their request for a divorce, the failure to enforce the protection order and the insult of E by suggesting reconciliation since she was “not the first nor the last women to be beaten up by her husband”, and by suspending the criminal proceedings amounted to “repeatedly condoning such violence and reflected a discriminatory attitude towards the first applicant as a woman” thus violating Article 14 of the Convention. There was also a violation of Article 8 in respect of E’s daughters in respect of their right to respect of private life, including a person’s physical and psychological integrity. The Court ordered the State to pay the applicants non-pecuniary damages and cost and expenses.



Menesheva v. Russia European Court of Human Rights (2000)

Custodial violence, International law, Sexual violence and rape

The applicant was arrested and bundled into an unmarked car after refusing them entry into her flat. Without being given any reason for her arrest she was taken to the District Police Station where she was allegedly beaten, insulted, threatened with rape and violence against her family. Her requests for medical assistance and access to a lawyer were also refused. Later in the day she was taken home but then re-arrested and suffered more ill-treatment. No record of her detention was kept. She was then brought before a judge of the District Court who, without introducing himself or explaining his ruling, sentenced her to five days detention for resisting arrest (an administrative offence). In the meantime her keys were taken from her and her flat was searched. After her release she was examined by a medical expert who established that she had multiple bruises. The applicant brought proceedings against her ill-treatment by the police and her unlawful detention and lodged a claim for damages. Her claim and appeal all failed. She subsequently attempted to challenge her five days' detention before the Regional Court. In reply she was informed that no appeal against a decision on administrative detention was provided for by law. Her subsequent appeals were all rejected on the ground that the courts lacked jurisdiction over the subject matter. Later the decision was quashed on the grounds that the judge who had convicted the applicant had not examined the circumstances of the case and had not established whether she was guilty of any administrative offence. It was also held that the police had acted in violation of the procedural law. The Office of the Prosecutor General ordered the District Prosecutor's Office to complete a criminal investigation of the alleged ill-treatment and unlawful arrest and detention under the supervision of the Prosecutor General within 30 days. The parties have not provided any update concerning the criminal investigation since 2004. The ECtHR held that the ill-treatment at issue amounted to torture within the meaning of Article 3 and found that there had been a violation in this regard. On account of the lack of an effective investigation into the applicant's allegations of ill-treatment, the Court also found a violation of Article 3. There had been a violation of Article 13 as the applicant had been denied an effective domestic remedy in respect of the ill-treatment by the police. The Court concluded that the period of the applicant's detention until her appearance before a judge did not comply with the guarantees of Article 5 § 1 and that there had therefore been a violation of that provision. The ensuing detention order was inconsistent with the general protection from arbitrariness guaranteed by Article 5 thus there had been a violation. The applicant's allegations that there had been no adversarial proceedings as such, and that even the appearances of a trial had been neglected to the extent that she did not even have a chance to find out the purpose of her brief appearance before the judge, were corroborated in the court ruling quashing that judgment. It followed that there had been a violation of Article 6 § 1. The Court therefore ordered the applicant pecuniary damages, non-pecuniary damages and costs and expenses.



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

Sexual violence and rape

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



Rantsev v. Cyprus and Russia European Court of Human Rights (2010)

Trafficking in persons

R arrived in Cyprus on an "artiste" visa. She started work as an artiste in a cabaret in Cyprus only to leave work three days later. After finding her, the manager of the cabaret where she had worked took her to the police asking them to declare her illegal in the country and to detain her. The police concluded that R did not appear to be illegal and refused to detain her. They asked the cabaret manager to collect her from the police station and to return with her later that morning to make further inquiries into her immigration status. The cabaret manager collected R and took her to the house of another employee of the cabaret, where the cabaret manager also remained. Later R fell from the window and was found dead in the street below the apartment. Following R’s death, interviews were conducted so was an autopsy. An inquest hearing was finally held nine months later in the applicant, R’s father's absence. The court decided that R died out of an accident and there was no evidence to suggest criminal liability for her death. Upon a request by the applicant, after the body was repatriated from Cyprus to Russia. Forensic medical experts in Russia carried out a separate autopsy and the findings of the Russian authorities, which concluded that R had died in strange and unestablished circumstances requiring additional investigation, were forwarded to the Cypriot authorities in the form of a request for mutual legal assistance under treaties in which Cyprus and Russia were parties. The request asked, inter alia, that further investigation be carried out, that the institution of criminal proceedings in respect of R's death be considered and that the applicant be allowed to participate effectively in the proceedings. Cyprus subsequently confirmed to the Russian Prosecution Service that the inquest into R's death was completed and that the verdict delivered by the court was final. The applicant has continued to press for an effective investigation into his daughter's death. The Cypriot Ombudsman, the Council of Europe's Human Rights Commissioner and the United States State Department have published reports which refer to the prevalence of trafficking in human beings for commercial sexual exploitation in Cyprus and the role of the cabaret industry and "artiste" visas in facilitating trafficking in Cyprus. The ECtHR found a violation of Article 2 as a result of the failure of the Cypriot authorities to investigate effectively R’s death. As regards Russia, the Court concluded that there it had not violated Article 2 as the Russian authorities were not obliged themselves to investigate R's death, which had occurred outside their jurisdiction. With respect to Article 3, the Court held that any ill-treatment which R may have suffered before her death had been inherently linked to her alleged trafficking and exploitation and that it would consider this complaint under Article 4. The Court noted that, like slavery, trafficking in human beings, by its very nature and aim of exploitation, was based on the exercise of powers attaching to the right of ownership; it treated human beings as commodities to be bought and sold and put to forced labor; it implied close surveillance of the activities of victims, whose movements were often circumscribed; and it involved the use of violence and threats against victims. Accordingly the Court held that trafficking itself was prohibited by Article 4. It concluded that there had been a violation by Cyprus of its positive obligations arising under that Article on two counts: first, its failure to put in place an appropriate legal and administrative framework to combat trafficking as a result of the existing regime of artiste visas, and, second, the failure of the police to take operational measures to protect R from trafficking, despite circumstances which had given rise to a credible suspicion that she might have been a victim of trafficking. In light of its findings as to the inadequacy of the Cypriot police investigation under Article 2, the Court did not consider it necessary to examine the effectiveness of the police investigation separately under Article 4. There had also been a violation of Article 4 by Russia on account of its failure to investigate how and where R had been recruited and, in particular, to take steps to identify those involved in R's recruitment or the methods of recruitment used. The Court held that the detention by the police following the confirmation that R was not illegal had no basis in domestic law. It further held that her subsequent detention in the apartment had been both arbitrary and unlawful. There was therefore a violation of Article 5 § 1 by Cyprus. The Court rejected the applicant's other complaints. As important as this case is for taking aim at the exploitive nature of the sex industry and the willingness of States to turn a blind eye to it, Rantsev brings with it questions regarding the very ability of the Court to adjudicate over issues emanating from Article 4 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). With the determination of the Court that obligations emanating from Article 4 of the ECHR come into play because trafficking is based on slavery, the Court reveals itself as not having truly engaged with the legal distinctions that exist between these two concepts. As a result, the Court has further muddied the waters as to where legal distinction should be made regarding various types of human exploitation, be it the forced labor, servitude or slavery.



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

Custodial violence

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



S. V. P. v. Bulgaria CEDAW Committee (2012)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

S filed a complaint on behalf of her seven-year-old daughter, V, who was sexually assaulted by a neighbor. The perpetrator, B, was indicted for sexual molestation, at which time, was not a ‘serious crime’ under the State’s criminal code and thus permitted B to enter into a plea-bargain agreement under which he admitted guilt and received a three-year suspended sentence. S brought a civil tort claim on behalf of V as she was not permitted to bring a civil claim against B in connection with B’s prosecution and received a judgment of approximately EUR 15,000 for moral damages two years later. The law did not provide for a state actor to enforce the judgment, and S was only able to collect approximately EUR 500 from B. B continued to live in the vicinity of V’s home, and she repeatedly expressed fear of further harm from him. After the assault, V was diagnosed as a person with disability. S brought a communication before the CEDAW alleging violations by Bulgaria of Articles 1, 2(a), (b), (c), (e), (f) and (g), 3, 5, 12 and 15 of CEDAW by failing to effectively protect V against sexual violence and compensation, to ensure V’s rights to health, including reproductive health and education, to provide V with proper rehabilitative services, and to guarantee V’s right against re-victimization by B. The Committee upheld all of S’s claims, ordered the State to provide V with appropriate reparations and addressed the State to adopt specified changes to State laws, including amendments to provide effective protection from re-victimization and to provide appropriate support and financial compensation to victims, and enact new policies, including health care protocols and hospital procedures, to address sexual violence against women and girls.



M. and Nalbandov v. Russia European Court of Human Rights (2008)

Custodial violence, International law, Sexual violence and rape

M., a 19-year-old witness in a murder case, was called for questioning to the police station. After M. denied any involvement in the murder, the officers threatened her, repeatedly beat her, and raped her. Eventually M. confessed. She was subsequently handed over to the prosecution authorities. M.’s requests to be released were denied. After the interrogation, the prosecution officials repeatedly raped her. The case was passed to the district court but was subsequently closed due to lack of proof of the guilt of the accused as “genetic expertise gives the probability of 99.999999 and not 100%”. It also turned out that two of the rapists had support from their parents, who were judges of the regional courts. Nine years after the crime, the case was brought to the ECtHR. The Court found a violation of Article 3 as Russia failed to punish torture, inhuman, and humiliating treatment, by failing to provide effective investigation of the complaint.



Jallow v. Bulgaria CEDAW Committee (2012)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Gender discrimination

J moved from the Gambia to Bulgaria after marrying A.P., a Bulgarian national. Once in Bulgaria, A.P. subjected J to physical and psychological violence, including sexual abuse, and attempted to force her to take part in pornographic films and photographs. He also abused their daughter, M.A.P. A.P. called the Child Protection Department to stop J from breastfeeding M.A.P, during which onsite visit the social workers learned of A.P’s abuse, called the police and advised J to seek refuge but provided no guidance about where or how to do so. J found refuge for several days in an NGO-run shelter, but A.P. later found her and forced her to return to the family home. Prosecutors refused to continue investigating the alleged domestic violence due to insufficient evidence. At no time did the authorities interview J. Later, A.P. filed an application with the Sofia Regional Court alleging him being a victim of domestic violence and requesting an emergency protection order. The Court granted the order, along with temporary custody of M.A.P, based solely on his statement and without consideration of the alleged domestic violence he committed against J. Authorities did not provide J with information about M.A.P’s whereabouts or her condition, despite repeated requests. The Court dismissed A.P.’s application for a permanent protection order but the emergency order remained effective. J later agreed to a divorce, including to numerous unfavorable conditions, to regain her custody of the daughter. J submitted a communication before the CmEDAW on behalf of M.A.P. and herself alleging violations by Bulgaria of Articles 1, 2, 3, 5 and 16 (1)(c), 16(1)(d), 16(1)(f) and 16(1)(g) of CEDAW by failing to provide effective protection against domestic violence and sanction A.P. for his behavior, to consider domestic violence as a real and serious threat, to adopt effective measures to address gender-based violence against women, gender discrimination and to provide illiterate migrant woman as herself to access justice. The Committee upheld all her claims, urged Bulgaria to compensate J and M.A.P, and recommended that the State Party adopt measures to ensure that women victims of domestic violence, including migrant women, have effective access to justice and other services. It also called on the State Party to provide regular training on CEDAW and the Optional Protocol and to adopt legislative and other measures to ensure that domestic violence is taken into account in determining custody and visitation rights of children.



Case 43/75, Defrenne v Sabena [1976] ECR 455 European Court of Justice (1976)

Employment discrimination

D worked as a flight attendant for the airline Sabena. The airline paid her less than her male colleagues who did the same work. The ECJ held that Article 119 of the Treaty of the European Community was of such a character as to have horizontal direct effect, and therefore enforceable not merely between individuals and the government, but also between private parties. Article 157 TFEU (119 TEEC, 141 TEC) was invoked which stated "Each Member State shall ensure that the principle of equal pay for male and female workers for equal work or work of equal value is applied".



N. v. Sweden European Court of Human Rights (2010)

Gender discrimination

N and her husband X applied for asylum after arriving in Sweden, claiming persecution in Afghanistan because of X’s political position. The asylum application being rejected, N appealed claiming that, as she had in the meantime separated from her husband, she would risk social exclusion and possibly death if she returned to Afghanistan. Her appeal was also rejected. She applied for a residence permit three times, as well as for divorce from X., submitting that she was at an ever-heightened risk of persecution in Afghanistan, as she had started an extra-marital relationship with a man in Sweden which was punishable by long imprisonment or even death in her country of origin. All her applications were rejected. While being aware of reports of serious human rights violations in Afghanistan, the Court did not find that they showed, on their own, that there would be a violation of the Convention if N were to return to that country. Examining N.'s personal situation, however, the Court noted that women were at a particularly heightened risk of ill-treatment in Afghanistan if they were perceived as not conforming to the gender roles ascribed to them by society, tradition or the legal system there. The mere fact that N had lived in Sweden might well be perceived as her having crossed the line of acceptable behavior. The fact that she wanted to divorce her husband, and in any event did not want to live with him any longer, might result in serious life-threatening repercussions upon her return to Afghanistan. Among other things, the Court noted that a recent law, the Shiite Personal Status Act of April 2009, required women to obey their husbands' sexual demands and not to leave home without permission. Reports had further shown that around 80 % of Afghani women were affected by domestic violence, acts which the authorities saw as legitimate and therefore did not prosecute. Unaccompanied women, or women without a male "tutor", faced continuous severe limitations to having a personal or professional life, and were doomed to social exclusion. They also often plainly lacked the means for survival if not protected by a male relative. Consequently, the Court found that if N were deported to Afghanistan, Sweden would be in violation of Article 3.



R.K.B. v. Turkey CEDAW Committee (2012)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

R.K.B.’s employer dismissed her but not the male colleague whom she was accused of having an affair with, and threatened to “spread rumours about her relationships with other men” to pressure her to sign a document, attesting that she had been paid all her benefits upon termination. R.K.B. filed a claim to the Kocaeli 3rd Labour Court against her employer alleging unfair termination based on gender stereotypes. The Court decided that the termination of her contract was not justified but not dismissing the male colleague was not discriminatory. R.K.B. appealed to the Court of Cassation, which dismissed the appeal without reference to gender discrimination. The CEDAW held that the Turkish court violated Articles 5(a), 11(1a) and 11(1d) of CEDAW by basing their decisions on gender stereotypes, tolerating allegations of extramarital relationships by male employees but not by female employees. It recommended adequate compensation to be paid to R.K.B, issued the State to take measures to implement laws on gender equality in the work environment; and to provide training to judges, lawyers and law enforcement personnel on women’s rights and gender-based stereotypes. The decision is of particular importance in a country where almost 80% of women are unemployed (Richinick) and where women’s participation in the labor force has been declining. It also stresses that mere adoption of laws is not enough to protect rights – implementation is the key. The decision also emphasizes the role of the courts (and not the executive branch) as ultimately responsible for rights’ violation.



Case C-136/95, Thibault [1998] ECR I-2011 European Court of Justice (1998)

Employment discrimination

T was employed by the CNAVTS as a “rédacteur juridique” (official responsible for legal drafting). According to a CNAVTS policy, any employee, after six months service, was automatically entitled to assessment of his/her performance in order to evaluate the possibility of promotion. T was on leave for over six months of the year because of both sickness and pregnancy and was denied assessment. However, had she not taken her maternity leave, she would have accumulated the required six months period necessary for the assessment. According to the relevant French legislation in force at that time, an employee was entitled to 16 weeks of maternity leave, which could be extended to 28 weeks, and that this period was “to be treated as period of actual work for the purpose of determining a worker’s rights by virtue of length of service” (L 123-1(c) Code du travail). T brought the case before the Conseil de Prud’hommes (Labor Tribunal) in Paris, which upheld her claim and ordered CNAVTS to compensate her. SNAVTS appealed to the Cour de Cassation (court of Cassation), which set aside the previous judgment and referred the case to the Conseil de Prud’hommes of Melun which reiterated the Paris tribunal’s conclusion. CNAVTS again appealed to the Cour de Cassation which referred the case to the ECJ. The ECJ held that the Equal Treatment Directive allows Member States to guarantee women specific rights on account of pregnancy and maternity. These rights are constructed so as to ensure the implementation of the principle of equal treatment between men and women. The Court stressed that, seen in this light, “the result pursued by the Directive is substantive, not formal equality”. The Court stated that Member States enjoy discretion on how to implement these rights; however, this discretion must be exercised within the boundaries prescribed by the Directive. Thibault marked the return of the pivotal principle that discrimination on grounds of pregnancy and maternity leads to direct discrimination which had been watered down since its establishment in Dekker.



Yilmaz v. Turkey European Court of Human Rights (2008)

Gender-based violence in general

A 20-year-old Y killed himself while performing his compulsory military service after being provoked by Sergeant A’s physical and verbal violence who had been informed of Y’s problems linking to his sister’s marital difficulties. The ECtHR concluded a violation of Article 2 as the authorities failed to effectively protect the victim from the improper conduct of his superiors.



V. C. v. Slovakia European Court of Human Rights (2011)

Forced sterilization

VC, a Romani woman, was forcibly sterilized in a state hospital in Eastern Slovakia during a cesarean section. While she was in the height of labor, hospital staff insisted that she sign a consent form for sterilization, without informing her about what the procedure entailed. She was only told that a future pregnancy could kill her and was pressured to immediately undergo the procedure. VC did not understand what she was agreeing to but fearing for her life, she signed the form. After learning that the sterilization was not medically necessary, VC filed a civil lawsuit in Slovakia. All her petitions were rejected, and she filed a complaint against Slovakia at the ECtHR The Court found a violation of Articles 3 and 8 of the ECHR, i.e. the right to freedom from inhuman and degrading treatment and the right to private and family life respectively. The court noted that sterilization is never a lifesaving procedure and cannot be performed without the full and informed consent of the patient even if doctors believe that future pregnancy may pose a risk to the woman. However, it did not address whether such conduct was a violation of the right to non-discrimination (Article 14), thus falling short of addressing the crux of the problem: racial stereotypes. The ruling is the first of its kind issued by the ECHR, and will have the major effect of bringing justice to the potentially thousands of Roma women who were sterilized without their consent in Central and Eastern Europe.



Case C-243/95, Hill and Stapleton v. Revenue Commissioners [1998] ECR I-3739 European Court of Justice (1998)

Employment discrimination

Job-sharing was introduced into the Irish Civil Service in 1984. Job-sharers work half the number of hours of full-time workers and are paid the same hourly rate. The scale of annual incremental salary increases for job-sharers are parallel to that for full-time workers with each point on the job-sharers scale representing 50% of the corresponding point on the full-time scale. 98% of job-sharers in the Irish Civil Service are women. According to the national referring tribunal a job-sharer can acquire the same experience as a full-time worker. When H and S transferred from job-sharing to full-time work they were initially assimilated to the same point on the full-time incremental scale as that which they had occupied on the job-sharers' scale. They were both subsequently reclassified at a lower point on full-time scale on the grounds that two years on the job-sharers' scale represented one year on the full-time scale. The questions posed to the ECJ by the Labor Court in Ireland arose from the decision by H and S to contest their reclassification. The Court took the view that workers who transferred from job-sharing, where they worked 50% of full-time hours and were paid 50% of full-time pay, to full-time work, were entitled to expect both the number of hours that they worked and the level of their pay to increase by 50%, in the same way as workers converting from full-time work to job-sharing would expect these factors to be reduced by 50%, unless a difference of treatment can be justified. Such development did not occur in this case, with the result that, as former job-shares are paid less than twice their job-sharing salary, their hourly rate of pay as full-time workers is reduced. Within the category of full-time workers, therefore, there is unequal treatment, as regards pay, of employees who previously job-shared, and who regress in relation to the position which they already occupied on the pay scale. In so finding, the Court observed that the use of the criterion of actual time worked during the period of job-sharing fails to take account, inter alia, of the fact that job-sharing is a unique category of work, given that it does not involve a break in service, or of the fact that a job-sharer can acquire the same experience as a full-time worker. Furthermore, a disparity is retroactively introduced into the overall pay of employees performing the same functions so far as both the quality and quantity of the work performed is concerned. In such a case, application of provisions of the kind at issue before the national tribunal result in discrimination against female workers which must be treated as contrary to Article 119 of the Treaty. The Court of Justice concluded that it would be otherwise only if the difference of treatment which was found to exist between the two categories of worker were justified by objective factors unrelated to any discrimination on the grounds of sex. It added that it is for the national tribunal to decide if any such objective factors exist.



B.S. v. Spain European Court of Human Rights (2012)

Gender discrimination

A Spanish woman of Nigeria origin was allegedly verbally and physically abused when she was stopped and questioned while working as a prostitute in the street on two occasions. She lodged a complaint with the investigating judge who asked the police headquarters to produce an incident report in which the identities of the police officers on patrol at the time of the incidents differed from those indicated by the applicant. The judge subsequently made a provisional discharge order and discontinued the proceedings on basis of insufficient evidence. The applicant applied for a review, asking to identify the police officers and obtaining witness statements, but the request was rejected. She lodged an appeal, leading to the reopening of the proceedings at which the police officers were acquitted on basis of the police headquarters’ report. The applicant was again stopped for questioning. Her criminal complaint, review request and subsequent appeal were all unsuccessful. The ECtHR considered that the investigative steps taken had not been sufficiently thorough and effective to satisfy the requirements of Article 3 of the Convention, and found a violation of Article 3. With respect to allegations of ill-treatment, the Court was unable to find a violation in this respect due to inconclusive evidence. The Court considered that the domestic courts had not taken into account the applicant's special vulnerability inherent in her situation as an African woman working as a prostitute. The authorities had not taken all possible measures to ascertain whether or not a discriminatory attitude might have played a role in the events. The Court therefore concluded that there had been a violation of Article 14 in conjunction with Article 3.

 

Una mujer española de origen nigeriano fue supuestamente abusada verbal y físicamente cuando fue detenida e interrogada mientras trabajaba como prostituta en la calle en dos ocasiones. Presentó una queja ante el juez, el que pidió a la comisaría de policía que presentara un informe de incidentes en el que las identidades de los policías en patrulla en el momento de los incidentes no coincidieran con las indicadas por el solicitante. Despues, el juez dictó una orden de baja provisional e interrumpió el procedimiento por falta de pruebas. La solicitante solicitó una revisión, solicitando identificar a los oficiales de policía y obteniendo declaraciones de testigos, pero su solicitud fue rechazada. Ella presentó una apelación, lo que llevó a la reapertura de los procedimientos en los cuales los agentes de policía fueron absueltos con base en el informe de la sede de la policía. La solicitante fue nuevamente detenido para ser interrogada. Su denuncia penal, solicitud de revisión y posterior apelación fueron infructuosas. El TEDH consideró que las medidas de investigación tomadas no habían sido lo suficientemente exhaustivas y efectivas para satisfacer los requisitos del artículo 3 de la Convención, y encontró una violación del artículo 3. Con respecto a las denuncias de malos tratos, el Tribunal no pudo encontrar una Violación a este respecto debido a pruebas no concluyentes. El Tribunal consideró que los tribunales nacionales no habían tenido en cuenta la especial vulnerabilidad de la demandante inherente a su situación como mujer africana que trabajaba como prostituta. Las autoridades no habían tomado todas las medidas posibles para determinar si una actitud discriminatoria podría haber desempeñado un papel en los hechos. En consecuencia, el Tribunal concluyó que se había violado el artículo 14 en relación con el artículo 3.



D.J. v. Croatia European Court of Human Rights (2012)

Sexual violence and rape

DJ was allegedly raped by his colleague. The Croatian authorities failed to conduct an effective investigation of the rape allegation by failing to conduct a proper inspection of the scene of the alleged crime, interview the injured party and other witnesses, and secure forensic evidence. The trial judge placed his emphasis on DJ alleged antisocial behavior thus lacked perceived impartiality. The ECtHR found Croatia in breach of the procedural aspect of Article 3 and 8 of the ECHR. It stressed that ‘the allegation that a rape victim was under the influence of alcohol or other circumstances concerning the victim’s behaviour or personality cannot dispense the authorities from the obligation to effectively investigate.’ The case adds to the Court’s jurisprudence recognizing violence against women as a form of ill-treatment prohibited by Article 3 of the ECHR and refines the contents of the state’s positive obligations to punish rape and investigate rape cases.



Case 171/88, Rinner-Kühn [1989] ECR 2743 European Court of Justice (1989)

Employment discrimination

At issue was a challenge to a German statute requiring employers to pay up to six weeks of annual sick leave for employees who worked more than ten hours per week, or more than forty-five hours per month. R-K sued her employer, an office cleaning company for whom she worked ten hours per week, after her request for eight hours of sick pay had been refused. Her claim was that, if Article 141 covered statutory-mandate sick pay provisions, the German legislation discriminated indirectly against women. The ECJ held that Article 141 covered sick pay, and that consequently the statute “must, in principle, be regarded as contrary to the aims of Art.[141]”, unless the German government could muster an argument to the contrary. The Court rejected the government’s submission that compared to full-time workers, part-timers “were not as integrated in, or as dependent on, the undertaking employing them”, declaring that “these considerations, in so far as they are only generalizations about certain categories of workers, do not enable criteria which are both objective and unrelated to any discrimination on grounds of sex to be identified.” It then announced a variation of the least-means proportionality test developed in Bilka. To mount a successful defense, Member States must convince a judge that the legislative “means chosen meet a necessary aim of its social policy,” and that these means “are suitable and requisite for attaining that aim.” The national judge has a duty to apply this test. The Court thus extended the Bilka framework to the judicial review of statutory-mandate social policy.



Izci v. Turkey European Court of Human Rights (2013)

Gender-based violence in general

A Turkish woman was allegedly attacked by the police following her participation in a peaceful demonstration to celebrate Women’s Day in Istanbul and that such police brutality in Turkey was tolerated and often went unpunished. The ECtHR considered that the police officers had failed to show a certain degree of tolerance and restraint before attempting to disperse a crowd which had neither been violent nor presented a danger to public order,and that the use of disproportionate force against the demonstrators had resulted in the injuring of Ms Izci. Moreover, the failure of the Turkish authorities to find and punish the police officers responsible raised serious doubts as to the State’s compliance with its obligation under the ECHR to carry out effective investigations into allegations of ill-treatment. Finally, the use of excessive violence by the police officers had had a dissuasive effect on people’s willingness to demonstrate. The Court reiterated that a great number of applications against Turkey concerning the right to freedom of assembly and/or excessive use of force by law enforcement officials during demonstrations were currently pending. Considering the systemic aspect of the problem, it therefore requested the Turkish authorities to adopt general measures, in accordance with their obligations under Article 46 of the Convention, in order to prevent further similar violations in the future.



A. v. Croatia European Court of Human Rights (2011)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

A, a Croatian woman was subjected to repeated violent behavior by her mentally-ill ex-husband, B, often in front of their daughter, whom on occasions turned violent towards the daughter too. Seven sets of proceedings were brought against B and although some protective measures were implemented, others were not. The prison sentences were not served and some of the treatment was not undergone due to a lack of qualified providers. A was refused an injunction prohibiting B from harassing and stalking her on basis that there was no immediate risk to her life. B was eventually imprisoned for making death threats to the judge and the judge's daughter. The ECtHR found that A would have been more effectively protected from B’s violence if the authorities had had an overview of the situation as a whole, rather than in numerous sets of separate proceedings. A failure to enforce protective measures undermined the deterrent purpose of such sanctions. It was still uncertain whether the husband had undergone any psychiatric treatment. A’s Article 8 right to respect for private life was breached for a prolonged period. The Court dismissed the allegation that domestic violence legislation applied in a discriminatory fashion in Croatia.



Jabari v. Turkey European Court of Human Rights (2000)

Gender-based violence in general

The applicant fled to Turkey from Iran fearing that she would be convicted of having committed adultery, an offence under Islamic law, and sentenced to be stoned to death or flogged. She was arrested at Istanbul airport on the ground that she had entered Turkey using a forged passport. No charges were brought against her on account of the forged passport but she was ordered to be deported. The applicant subsequently lodged an asylum request, which was rejected by the authorities on the ground that the request had not been submitted within five days of her arrival in her Turkey. Later the applicant was granted refugee status by the UNHCR. The Ankara Administrative Court dismissed the applicant's petition against the implementation of her deportation on the grounds that there was no need to suspend it since it was not tainted with any obvious illegality and its implementation would not cause irreparable harm to the applicant. The applicant complained that her right not to be subjected to ill-treatment guaranteed under Article 3 ECHR would be breached if she were to be deported to Iran. She further complained that she had no effective remedy in the domestic law of the respondent state to challenge her deportation, in breach of Article 13. The ECtHR was not persuaded that the authorities of the respondent state conducted any meaningful assessment of the applicant's claim, including its arguability. It would appear that her failure to comply with the five-day registration requirement under the Asylum Regulation 1994 denied her any scrutiny of the factual basis of her fears about being removed to Iran. The automatic and mechanical application of such a short time-limit for submitting an asylum application must be considered at variance with the protection of the fundamental value embodied in Article 3 of the Convention. It fell to the branch office of the UNHCR to interview the applicant about the background to her asylum request and to evaluate the risk to which she would be exposed in the light of the nature of the offence with which she was charged. The Administrative Court on her application for judicial review limited itself to the issue of the formal legality of the applicant's deportation rather than the more compelling question of the substance of her fears, even though by that stage the applicant must be considered to have had more than an arguable claim that she would be at risk if removed to her country of origin. It further observed that the government have not sought to dispute the applicant's reliance on the findings of Amnesty International concerning the punishment meted out to women who are found guilty of adultery. Having regard to the fact that the material point in time for the assessment of the risk faced by the applicant was the time of its own consideration of the case, the Court was not persuaded that the situation in the applicant's country of origin has evolved to the extent that adulterous behavior was no longer considered a reprehensible affront to Islamic law. It had taken judicial notice of recent surveys of the current situation in Iran and noted that punishment of adultery by stoning still remained on the statute book and may be resorted to by the authorities. Having regard to the above considerations, the Court found it substantiated that there was a real risk of the applicant being subjected to treatment contrary to Article 3 if she was returned to Iran. Accordingly, the order for her deportation to Iran would, if executed, give rise to a violation of Article 3. The Court held that there had been a breach of Article 13. The notion of an effective remedy under Article 13 requires independent and rigorous scrutiny of a claim that there exist substantial grounds for fearing a real risk of treatment contrary to Article 3 and the possibility of suspending the implementation of the measure impugned. Since the Administrative Court failed in the circumstances to provide any of these safeguards, the Court was led to conclude that the judicial review proceedings did not satisfy the requirements of Article 13.



Bevacqua and S. v. Bulgaria European Court of Human Rights (2008)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Domestic and intimate partner violence

Following divorce and during extended custody proceedings in Bulgaria, B agreed to the father having contact with the child, S. However, he refused B’s contact with S. B recovered S from the kindergarten, which led to the father threatening her and eventually entering her home seeking to recover the child. B moved to a hostel for victims of domestic violence in another town, but the authorities threatened to prosecute her for abduction of S. Despite being asked by B to make an interim order concerning custody of S, the Bulgarian courts failed to do so. In order to avoid prosecution B agreed to care for S with the father in alternate months. S was subject to further violence by the father. She was granted custody of the child eventually, but the father was not prosecuted for his violence, or for subsequent violence against her. The ECtHR found violations of B and S’ right to respect for private and family life under Art 8 of the ECHR. The Court held that the Bulgarian court's failure to adopt interim custody measures without delay had adversely affected the well-being of S and insufficient measures had been taken in reaction to the father's behavior, however, the length of proceedings had not been unreasonable.



Driskell v. Peninsula Business Services & Others Employment Appeal Tribunal (2000)

Employment discrimination

D described, amongst others, how her manager suggested the day before her appraisal interview that, at that discussion, she should wear a short skirt and a low-cut or see-through blouse – the inference being that doing so would further her chances of a favorable appraisal. The EAT held that the “lewd words” acted as a detriment. The Court concluded that the correct approach when dealing with a course of conduct of harassment should be to limit judgment to the finding of all facts that are prima facie relevant. The judgment said that the facts of a case in which harassment is alleged “may simply disclose hypersensitivity on the part of the applicant to conduct which was reasonably not perceived by the alleged discriminator as being to her detriment... no finding of discrimination can then follow”. The Court confirmed that the ultimate judgment of whether there was sexual discrimination reflects an objective assessment by the tribunal of all the facts, however important the applicant’s subjective perception.



Ebcin v. Turkey European Court of Human Rights (2011)

Gender-based violence in general

A teacher was attacked in the street by two individuals who threw acid in her face. She alleged that the authorities had failed to prevent the attack on basis of a report by the Turkish Human Rights Foundation according to which 91 of 143 teacher killings in south-east Turkey between 1984 and 1995 were attributed to the PKK (Workers' Party of Kurdistan, an illegal organization). Her claim for compensation was twice set aside by the Supreme Administrative Court. Her aggressors were not arrested until six years later; the proceedings against the instigator of the aggression lasted over seven years and those against his accomplice were still pending before the Court of Cassation. The ECtHR did not hold the authorities responsible for any failure to take steps to protect the applicant individually due to lack of proof of any intimidation or threats to which she might have been subjected. But the Court found that the administrative and criminal proceedings had failed to provide prompt and adequate protection against a serious act of violence and that there had been a violation of Articles 3 and 8. The Court did not examine the case under Article 6.



E.S. and Others v. Slovakia European Court of Human Rights (2009)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Property and inheritance rights

E.S.’s ex-husband S was convicted of ill-treatment, violence and sexual abuse against E.S. and their daughters and sentenced to four years' imprisonment. E.S. requested an interim measure ordering S to move out of the council flat of which they were joint tenants. The domestic courts dismissed her request, finding it lack the power to restrict S’ right to use the property under the relevant legislation. The appellate courts upheld that decision noting that E.S. would be entitled to bring proceedings to terminate the joint tenancy after a final divorce decision and, in the meantime, she could apply for an order refraining S from inappropriate behavior. The Constitutional Court subsequently held that E.S.'s rights were not violated as she had not applied for such an order. However, it held that the lower courts had failed to take appropriate action to protect E.S.'s children from ill-treatment. It did not award compensation as it considered it provide appropriate just satisfaction by a finding of a violation. Following the advent of new legislation, E.S. made further applications and two orders were granted: one preventing S from entering the flat; the other awarding her exclusive tenancy. In the meantime, E.S. had had to move away from their home, family and friends and her children had had to change school. The ECtHR concluded that Slovakia had failed to fulfill its obligation to protect all of the applicants from ill-treatment, in violation of Articles 3 and 8. The alternative measure proposed by Slovakia, i.e. an order restraining S from inappropriate behavior, would not have provided the applicants with adequate protection against S and therefore did not amount to an effective domestic remedy. The ECtHR ordered the Slovak Republic to pay non-pecuniary damages of EUR 8,000.



Carole Louise Webb v. EMO Air Cargo (UK) Ltd., United Kingdom European Court of Justice (1994)

Gender discrimination

Carole Louise Webb v. EMO Air Cargo (UK) Ltd., United Kingdom, European Court of Justice, 1994. Gender discrimination, employment discrimination. Mrs. Webb learned that she was pregnant two weeks after starting with EMO Air Cargo, where she was hired to cover for another employee, Mrs. Stewart, during her maternity leave. Mrs. Webb expected to stay with EMO Air Cargo after covering for Mrs. Stewart, but was dismissed from the company after notifying EMO of her pregnancy. A letter from EMO clearly stated pregnancy as the reason for her dismissal. An industrial tribunal and the Court of Appeal dismissed Mrs. Webb’s claims of direct and indirect discrimination on the grounds of sex. An appeal to the House of Lords was referred to the European Court of Justice, and the European Court of Justice determined that Mrs. Webb’s dismissal was contrary to Article 2(1) and Article 5(1) of the Equal Treatment Directive. The ECJ also noted that Article 2(3) of the Equal Treatment Directive recognizes the importance of protecting women during pregnancy and after the birth of children, by allowing individual Member States to introduce protective legal provisions. Lastly, the ECJ acknowledged that the dismissal of pregnant women during pregnancy and maternity leave is prohibited, noting that exceptions to this prohibition are available only in exceptional cases in which the dismissal is unrelated to the pregnancy.



Bracebridge Engineering Ltd. v. Darby Employment Appeal Tribunal (1990)

Sexual harassment

Sexual harassment. Two of Mrs. Darby’s male supervisors, Mr. Daly and Mr. Smith, grabbed and sexually assaulted Mrs. Darby in the works manager’s office at Bracebridge. Mr. Smith threatened Mrs. Darby with a written warning when she attempted to get away from him, but she was eventually able to run away from the men. Mrs. Darby reported the incident, but the general manager did not take action against the men and Mrs. Darby subsequently resigned. An Industrial Tribunal upheld Mrs. Darby’s complaints of sex discrimination and unfair dismissal, awarding £3,900 to Mrs. Darby. Bracebridge appealed to the Employment Appeal Tribunal, and the Employment Appeal Tribunal dismissed Bracebridge’s appeal. The EAT found no error in the Industrial Tribunal’s finding of sex discrimination by Bracebridge, noting that the single incident of sexual harassment was sufficiently detrimental to Mrs. Darby and therefore no pattern of harassment was necessary to reach this finding. The EAT also noted that the incident took place in the workplace and was perpetrated by Mrs. Darby’s supervisors, further supporting a finding of sex discrimination under s.6(2)(b) of the Sex Discrimination Act. The EAT also found no error in the Industrial Tribunal’s finding of constructive dismissal (unfair dismissal) by Bracebridge, because the company failed to respond appropriately when Mrs. Darby reported the incident and Mrs. Darby left her position at the company as a result of Bracebridge’s failure to act.



Kontrová v. Slovakia European Court of Human Rights (2007)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

Mrs. Kontrová, (the claimant) a married women with two children, filed a criminal complaint against her husband, accusing him of assaulting and beating her with an electric cord. In her complaint, she mentioned the long history of physical and psychological abuse by her husband and submitted a medical report indicating that her latest injuries would prevent her from working for at least seven days. This statement was later modified upon the advice of a police officer, so that it could have been treated as a minor offence and the police decided to take no further action. One month later, the Police Department received two night emergency calls reporting that Mrs. Kontrová’s husband had a shotgun and was threatening to kill himself and the children. Despite the fact that the following morning Mrs. Kontrová went to the police station and inquired about her criminal complaint from the previous month as well as the incident of the previous night, the police took no further action and no new criminal complaint was filed. Four days later, Mrs. Kontrová’s husband shot and killed their two children and himself. Criminal proceedings initiated against the police officers involved in the case on the grounds of dereliction of duty produced no tangible results, and Mrs. Kontrová’s complaints lodged in the Constitutional Court were dismissed twice on the grounds that they were inadmissible. Mrs. Kontrová filed a claim with the European Court of Human Rights alleging a breach of the protection of her rights to life, privacy, a fair trial and right for an effective remedy. The local police department knew all about Mrs. Kontrová and her family, which triggered various specific obligations, such as registering the complaint, launching a criminal investigation and commencing criminal proceedings against Mrs. Kontrová’s husband, which the police failed to do. The direct consequence of this was the death of Mrs. Kontrová’s children and husband. The European Court further held that the Slovak Republic failed to fulfill its obligation to achieve an ‘effective’ remedy and Mrs. Kontrová’s compensation. The only action available to Mrs. Kontrová related to the protection of her personal integrity and this provided her with no such remedy. This amounted to a breach of right to an effective remedy , in connection with a breach right to life. The European Court held that an examination of the other Articles was not necessary and awarded her EUR 25,000 in damages.



A.S. v. Hungary CEDAW Committee (2006)

Forced sterilization

Andrea Szijjarto was sterilized without her informed consent by a Hungarian hospital during an emergency cesarean section procedure. While in a state of shock due to blood loss, Szijjarto was asked to provide her written consent to tubal ligation by signing an illegible hand-written note describing the procedure in terms she did not understand. Szijjarto charged the hospital with negligence in failing to obtain her full and informed consent to the coerced sterilization. Both the town and county courts held that the hospital was at least partially negligent in its legal duties to Szijjarto, but rejected her claim and appeal for failure to prove a lasting handicap and causal relationship between permanent loss of reproductive capacity and the conduct of the hospital’s doctors. The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women held that Hungary violated Szijjarto’s rights under article 10(h) of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) on access to information on family planning, article 12 guaranteeing women appropriate medical services in connection with pregnancy, and paragraph 1(e) of article 16 on a woman’s right to freely choose the number and spacing of her children. The Committee recognized the serious consequences of coercive practices including forced sterilization under its General Recommendation No. 21, and held that the Hungary had violated Szijjarto’s right to information on family planning and the sterilization procedure. The Committee also held that lack of informed consent constituted a breach of the obligation under article 12 and General Recommendation No. 24 to ensure the delivery of acceptable medical services in a manner that respects a woman’s dignity. Accordingly, the Committee recommended the State provide compensation to Szijjarto and amend its Public Health Act allowing doctors’ discretion to administer sterilization procedures when “appropriate in given circumstances.”



Salgado v. United Kingdom CEDAW Committee (2007)

Gender discrimination

Constance Ragan Salgado, a British citizen, moved to Colombia with her husband, a Colombian, and gave birth to a son. Salgado attempted to obtain British nationality for her son, but the British Consul in Bogotá stated that British nationality passed only though the paternal line. Although the British Nationality Act of 1981 amended British law to confer equal rights to men and women, Salgado’s son did not qualify because he was over 18. The Legislation again changed in 2002 with the passage of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act which allowed children born to British mothers between 1961 and 1983 to register as British nationals if they satisfied certain other conditions. Salgado’s complaint alleged sex-based discrimination under the British Nationality Act of 1948 which restricted nationality descent to British fathers. Salgado raised issues under article 2 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which calls for the elimination of all discriminatory laws, regulations and customs that discriminate against women, and article 9 paragraph 2 under which State parties must grant women equal rights with men with respect to the nationality of their children. She claimed that the discrimination was ongoing because her son failed to qualify for citizenship under the various amendments to the Act. Although the Committee held that the complaint was inadmissible ratione temporis because the events occurred before the Covention’s entry into force in the United Kingdom, it based its decision on the fact that Salgado’s son had reached the age of majority, at which time he could have applied for British nationality on his own. The Committee noted that the United Kingdom had enacted the challenged legislation prior to the Optional Protocol’s entry into force. The Committee also recommended that Salgado challenge the legislation by way of judicial review in the British High Court before turning to the Committee for further redress.



Goekce v. Austria CEDAW Committee (2007)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

Sahide Goekce’s husband shot and killed her in front of their two daughters in 2002. Before her death, Ms. Goekce had obtained three expulsion and prohibition-to-return orders against her husband in response to repeated episodes of domestic violence. The Vienna Public Prosecutor denied police requests to detain Mr. Goekce, and stopped the prosecution against him on the basis of insufficient grounds of prosecution two days before Ms. Goekce’s death. Police reports show that the law enforcement failed to respond in a timely fashion to the dispute that resulted in Ms. Goekce’s death. The complaint to the Committee on behalf of the decedent stated that Austria’s Federal Act for the Protection against Violence within the Family provides ineffective protection for victims of repeated, severe spousal abuse and that women are disproportionately affected by the State’s failure to prosecute and take seriously reports of domestic violence. The Committee found that although Austria has established a comprehensive model to address domestic violence, it is necessary for State actors to investigate reports of this crime with due diligence to effectively provide redress and protection. The Committee concluded that the police knew or should have know that Ms. Goekce was in serious danger, and were therefore accountable for failing to exercise due diligence in protecting her. By allowing the perpetrator’s rights to supersede Ms. Goekce’s human rights to life and to physical and mental integrity, Austrian law enforcement violated it obligations under article 2 to end gender discrimination through the modification or enactment of appropriate legislation, and its article 3 obligation to guarantee women’s exercise and enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedom on a basis of equality with men. The Committee recommended that Austria strengthen its implementation and monitoring of the Federal Act for the Protection against Violence within the Family, respond to complaints of domestic violence with due diligence, and provide adequate sanctions for failure to do so.



Yildirim v. Austria CEDAW Committee (2007)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Domestic and intimate partner violence

Fatma Yildirim sought to divorce her husband who threatened to kill her and her children if she ever initiated divorce proceedings. In response to Yildirim’s numerous reports of assault and dangerous criminal threats, the Austrian police issued an expulsion and prohibition-to-return order against her husband. The police also recommended that her husband be detained, but the Vienna Public Prosecutor twice denied the request. Yildirim appealed to the Vienna Intervention Center after her husband repeatedly came to her workplace to harass and threaten her; the Center asked the police to pay more attention to Yildirim’s case. When Yildirim finally filed a petition for divorce at the Vienna District Court of Hernals, her husband followed her home from work and fatally stabbed her. The complaint stated that the State’s action violated article 1 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) because the Austrian criminal justice system negatively impacts women through the public prosecutors’ failure to treat cases of domestic violence seriously. The complaint also cited the failure of judicial officials and law enforcement to collect data and maintain statistics on domestic violence instances denied Yildirim the enjoyment of her human rights in violation of article 2 and 3 of CEDAW on eliminating laws, regulations, and customs that adversely effect women . Finally, the complaint stated a violation of article 5 of the Convention on eliminating social and cultural attitudes towards women in the State’s continual treatment of domestic violence as a social or domestic problem rather than a serious crime. The Committee held that the Austrian police force’s failure to detain Yildirim’s husband was in breach of the State’s due diligence obligation to protect Yildirim, noting that a perpetrator’s rights cannot superseded women’s human rights to life and to physical and mental integrity. The Committee also took note of the correlation between lenient attitudes towards women’s cultural subordination and domestic violence. Although Austria prosecuted Yildirim’s husband to the fullest extent for her death, the Committee found violations of articles 2, 3, and 5 and recommended that Austria strengthen its implementation and monitoring of the Federal Act for the Prevention against Violence within the Family, and ensure enhanced coordination between police and judicial officers to protect women victims of gender-based violence.



V.K. v. Bulgaria CEDAW Committee (2011)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Domestic and intimate partner violence, Gender discrimination

Ms. V.K., a Bulgarian citizen residing in Poland, sought to obtain a divorce from her husband after years of physical, emotional and economic abuse. Following a series of incidents in which her husband physically abused and intimidated both mother and children, Ms. V.K. took her children and left Poland for Bulgaria in order to hide from her husband and to seek protection and support from her family and the State. Once in Bulgaria, Ms. V.K. filed an application pursuant to the State’s Law on Protection against Domestic Violence, asking for an immediate protection order against her husband, invoking the Convention (CEDAW) and other human rights treaties. The District Court issued the order for immediate protection, but rejected Ms. V.K.’s application for a permanent protection order. On appeal, the Regional Court upheld the decision of the District Court. After exhausting all available domestic remedies, Ms. V.K. lodged a complaint with the CEDAW Committee alleging that the State had failed to provide her with effective protection against domestic violence, in violation of the Convention. She further claimed that the absence of a special law regarding the equality of women and men in the State, and the lack of recognition of violence against women as a form of discrimination, interfered with her human rights. Upon consideration, the Committee found that the refusal of the State’s courts to issue a permanent protection order against Ms. V.K.’s husband, along with the unavailability of shelters for battered women, violated the State’s obligation to effectively protect her against domestic violence. The Committee further concluded that the refusal of the State’s courts to issue a permanent protection order against Ms. V.K.’s husband was based on discriminatory notions of what constitutes domestic violence.



Abramova v. Belarus CEDAW Committee (2011)

Gender discrimination, Sexual harassment

Ms. Abramova, a citizen of Belarus, is a journalist who was arrested for her activism on behalf of the “For Freedom” movement and convicted of “minor hooliganism.” She was held in a temporary detention facility for five days, where she shared a small, unheated cell with an unenclosed toilet area that lay in open view of the all-male staff. During her detention, the male prison staff directed numerous humiliating comments at Ms. Abramova, treatment that the male detainees at the facility did not receive. Upon her release, Ms. Abramova submitted a complaint of violation of her rights in detention to authorities at the Interior Department, who informed her that her allegations had not been verified. Ms. Abramova then filed a complaint with the Prosecutor’s Office, again with a response that her claims had not been confirmed. Next, Ms. Abramova filed an application to the District Court under civil procedure, but the court claimed that it lacked jurisdiction and rejected her application. She appealed, and the Judicial Board rejected her appeal. Ms. Abramova proceeded to file a complaint to the District Court under administrative procedure, which again refused to initial civil proceedings. On appeal, the Judicial Board reversed the decision of the District Court and remanded the case for new consideration; on remand, the District Court dismissed Ms. Abramova’s complaint on procedural grounds. She submitted a complaint to the CEDAW Committee alleging that the conditions under which the State detained her constituted inhuman and degrading treatment, and that such treatment amounted to discrimination against her on the basis of gender. The Committee found that Ms. Abramova’s temporary detention in poor, unhygienic conditions, in a facility staffed exclusively by men, amounted to inhuman and degrading treatment and discrimination on the basis of her gender. Further, the Committee found that the State was in violation of its obligations under the Convention (CEDAW).



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

Sexual violence and rape

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



A.S. v. Sweden CAT Committee (2000)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Gender discrimination

A.S.’s husband was mysteriously killed during training with the Iranian Air Force, and the Iranian government subsequently declared him to be a martyr. As the widow of a martyr, A.S. was required to submit to the rigid rules of the Bonyad-e Shahid Islamic society, a foundation which supported and supervised the families of martyrs. In accordance with the aims of Bonyad-e Shahid, a high-ranking leader forced A.S. to be his wife in a sigheh marriage, a temporary marital arrangement that requires no registration or witnesses and is used as a measure to prevent women from being sexually active outside of marriage. A.S. was forced to live with her sigheh husband and perform sexual services for him at his command. A.S. later fell in love with a Christian man, and when the two were discovered together by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, A.S. was taken into custody at the Ozghol police station in Tehran. A.S. was severely beaten by her sigheh husband for five to six hours. A.S. managed to obtain a visa to visit her sister in Sweden, and upon her arrival she applied for asylum; her application was rejected by both the Swedish Immigration Board and the Aliens Appeal Board. Since her departure from Iran, A.S. had been sentenced to death by stoning for adultery. In her complaint to the Committee, A.S. alleged that her forced return to Iran would constitute a violation of Sweden’s article 3 obligation not to expel or return a person to another state where there are substantial grounds for believing that he or she would be in danger of being subjected to torture. The Committee referred to the report of the Special Representative of the Commission on Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Iran which confirmed that Iran had recently sentenced several married women to death by stoning for adultery. Considering that A.S.’s account of events was consistent with the Committee’s knowledge about present human rights violations in Iran, the Committee held that in accordance with article 3 of the Convention, Sweden should refrain from forcing A.S. to return to Iran.



Hajduová v. Slovakia European Court of Human Rights (2010)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

Mrs. Hajduová was verbally and physically assaulted by her (now former) husband, who repeatedly threatened to kill her and her children. Mrs. Hajduová’s husband was convicted, and the district court ordered psychiatric treatment but no incarceration. The psychiatric hospital did not carry out the treatment, and Ms. Hajduová’s husband was released as the district court failed to order the hospital to retain him for psychiatric treatment. After his release, he verbally threatened Mrs. Hajduová and her lawyer. As a result, they filed criminal complaints against him, and the district court, in accordance to its earlier decision, arranged for psychiatric treatment and transported Mrs. Hajduová’s husband to a different hospital. Mrs. Hajduová filed a complaint with the Constitutional Court; she cited the violation of her right to liberty and security the right to a fair trial, the right to integrity and privacy and the right to the protection of private and personal life and claimed that the district court failed to ensure her husband’s placement in a psychiatric hospital immediately after his conviction. The Constitutional Court rejected her complaint on the grounds that she should have pursued an action for the protection of her personal integrity before ordinary courts. Mrs. Hajduová then filed a claim with the European Court of Human Rights (the “European Court”) alleging the failure of the Slovak Republic to fulfill its positive obligations to protect her from her husband, in violation of the right to private and family life (Article 8 of the Convention). Under Article 8, the State has positive obligations to implement effective measures to ensure respect for private and family life, and the duty to protect the physical and moral integrity of an individual from attack by other persons. The European Court further held that Mrs. Hajduová’s husband’s history of physical abuse and menacing behavior was sufficient to establish a well-founded belief that his threats would be carried out. It was the domestic authorities’ failure to ensure that Mrs. Hajduová’s husband was duly detained for psychiatric treatment which enabled him to continue his threats against her and her lawyer. The lack of sufficient measures taken by the domestic authorities, in particular the district court’s failure to comply with its statutory duties to ensure psychiatric treatment, amounted to a breach of the State’s positive obligation under Article 8 of the Convention to secure respect for the Mrs. Hajduová’s private life. The European Court awarded the claimant EUR 4,000 in damages.



Case nr B 4231-06 Court of Appeals of Sweden (2007)

Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting

["A person who commits criminal acts as defined in Chapters 3, 4 or 6 against another person having, or have had, a close relationship to the perpetrator shall, if the acts form a part of an element in a repeated violation of that person's integrity and suited to severely damage that person's self-confidence, be sentenced for gross violation of integrity to imprisonment for at least six months and at most six years."] A woman was sentenced to three years imprisonment for having commissioned the genital mutilation of her daughter, and damages in the amount of 450 000 SEK were awarded to the daughter. The mother claimed that the "surgery" was carried out without her knowledge on the day of her daughter's birth. It was established that the mother's testimony was false and that the genital mutilation had been performed during a trip to Somalia in 2001. The mother was also sentenced for gross violation of integrity since she had regularly assaulted and beat the plaintiff. The daughter had also frequently been forced to undergo examination by the mother of the genital area, often in conjunction with men paying visits to the family. The court found that the examination had violated the plaintiff and was intended to violate her privacy. [Decision on file with Avon Global Center]



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

Sexual violence and rape

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



Slovak Republic, Constitutional Court, Decision No. 10/2010-36, 2010 Constitutional Court of the Slovak Republic (2010)

Gender discrimination, Gender-based violence in general, Harmful traditional practices

Ms M.V. (the claimant) was sterilized while giving birth to her second child.  She was informed that sterilization would be performed on her shortly before delivery by C-section, to which she did not give her written consent.  The day after giving birth, while inquiring about her own health and that of her child, she was informed that sterilization was performed due to health reasons, as another pregnancy could be dangerous.  She was given a form to sign for the “sake of her health,” which she did without reading or inquiring due to her concerns about the well-being of her newborn child.  The claimant only later found out that sterilization was not a “life-saving” procedure after speaking with a representative from a non-governmental organization.  Her claim was dismissed by the district and regional courts based on hospital records which contained her written consent and the testimonies of the doctors and other staff members.  She filed a claim with the Constitutional Court which held that the decisions of the district and regional courts did not sufficiently address the claimants claims, in breach of the claimants' right to a fair trial. The Constitutional Court awarded the claimant EUR 1,500 damages and ordered the re-examination of the matter by the district court.



Slovak Republic, Constitutional Court, Decision No. 194/06-46, 2006 Constitutional Court of the Slovak Republic (2006)

Forced sterilization

Mrs. I.G., Mrs. R.H. and Mrs. M.K. (the claimants of Roma ethnicity) were sterilized while giving birth to their children.  The claimants initiated criminal proceedings on the grounds of unlawful sterilization, claiming that their consent (or informed consent in the case of R.H.) was not given.  Criminal proceedings were stopped by the regional prosecutor with the conclusion that no unlawful act had been committed.  The claimants filed a formal complaint against the decision, in part claiming that the investigation did not examine the substantive material issue, the lack of consent to sterilization.  This formal complaint was dismissed by the regional prosecutor. The claimants petitioned the Constitutional Court to address the decision to discontinue criminal proceedings by the regional prosecutor; they claimed among other things the breach of their right to private and family life  and of their right to privacy.  The Constitutional Court held that sterilization was not a “life-saving” procedure, as claimed by the regional prosecutor and the hospital.  Therefore, the explanation given by the regional prosecutor for the discontinuation of criminal proceedings on these grounds was unfounded.  The Constitutional Court further held that the investigation did not exhaust all possible avenues, and completely ignored the issue of consent.  This and the subsequent dismissal of the complaint amounted to inhumane or degrading treatment of the claimants affecting their private and family lives.  The Constitutional Court awarded each claimant 50,000 SK (EUR 1,659.70) in damages and ordered the regional prosecutor to re-examine the issue.



Slovak Republic, Supreme Court, Decision No. 36/2005, File No. 2 Cdo 67/03 Supreme Court of the Slovak Republic (2005)

Gender discrimination

Ms X.Y. (the claimant) had worked as a nurse in the Hospital in the city of Velký Krtíš (the employer) since November 30, 1998.  On April 11, 2002, the claimant received a notice of the termination of her employment due to her failure to take an oath in accordance with new legislation.  The new legislation came into force on April 1, 2002, when the claimant was on maternity leave.  The notification of the new legal prerequisite was posted in the halls of the hospital making it almost impossible for workers on maternity leave to be informed.  The claimant sued the employer for unlawful termination of employment, arguing that the termination was discriminatory on the grounds of her gender.  The district court ruled in favor of the claimant; however, on appeal the regional court quashed the decision and dismissed the case.  The claimant appealed to the Supreme Court which held that the termination was unlawful for a number of reasons.  Firstly, the employer failed to perform its legal obligations to enable the claimant to take the oath. Secondly, the acts of the employer with respect to the termination of employment were discriminatory.  The employer had disadvantaged a certain group of its employees, in particular those on maternity leave, by failing to provide them with notice about the new requirement to take the oath, breaching the prohibition of discrimination established in labor relations.  This was in breach of the prohibition of discrimination under Section 13 of the Labor Code of the Slovak Republic.  Lastly, the Supreme Court held that the employer had abused its rights as an employer, which is in violation of moral principals.  The Supreme Court further held that the termination would have been lawful if the employer had duly informed the claimant about the new regulations and provided her with a chance to comply with them, and ordered a re-examination of the issue by the district court.



Slovak Republic, Supreme Court, Decision No. 113/1999, File No. 3 To 61/98 Supreme Court of the Slovak Republic (1998)

Sexual violence and rape, Trafficking in persons

In the summer of 1995, Mr. P.Š. and Mr. K.P. (the defendants) transported juvenile Ms. Š.N. and juvenile Ms. A.G. (the Aggrieved) to Prague under the guise of providing employment.  The defendants intended to sell the Aggrieved to R.R. into prostitution. After examining the Aggrieved primarily on the basis of their moral standing and their relationship with the defendants, the district court acquitted both defendants. Subsequently, the Prosecutor appealed the decision to the Supreme Court.  The Supreme Court quashed the decision of the district court and found the defendants guilty of trafficking in women.  It further held that an examination of the moral standing and the relationship of the Aggrieved to the defendants was unreasonable.  The Supreme Court clarified that the criminal act of trafficking in women is committed if a woman is lured (i.e., by promises, offers of money, etc.), hired (conclusion of any agreement, including illegal agreements about the trafficking of women to another country), or transported to another country (crossing of a border being sufficient, the specifics of the actual location not required) for the purpose of prostitution.  It is irrelevant whether the women in question actually worked as prostitutes or not, the intention to work as a prostitute is sufficient.  The Supreme Court ordered the district court to re-examine the case.



Slovak Republic, Supreme Court, Decision No. 6/1984, File No. 3 To 3/28 Supreme Court of the Slovak Republic (1984)

Sexual violence and rape

Ms. L.G. (the Aggrieved) a mentally disabled female, under the age of 15, was forced into sexual intercourse with A.G. (the defendant).  The district court found the defendant guilty of attempted rape, even though the defendant had confessed to a number of facts during the police investigation and the trial including knowledge of the fact that the Aggrieved was under the age of 15 and the fact that he took advantage of the Aggrieved party’s mental condition and fully knowing that she would not resist, proceeded to rape her.  The district court´s decision relied on the testimony of an expert witness who examined the condition of Ms. L.G., and concluded that no sexual intercourse had occurred due to the undamaged status of the hymen. The Prosecutor appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, which quashed the decision of the district court and found the defendant guilty of rape.  The defendant had exploited the vulnerable nature of Ms. L.G., and the fact that she was under the age of 15.  The defendant also knew that Ms. L.G. would not resist him, as a result of her mental state, as evidenced by submissions from a number of experts.  The decision did not consider the status of the claimant’s hymen, since the defendant´s penetration was proven.  The Supreme Court sentenced the defendant to 8 years in a correctional facility. 



Slovak Republic, District Court, File No. 17C/65/2009 District Court (2009)

Sexual harassment, Sexual violence and rape

Ms V.Š. (the claimant) was sexually assaulted by her colleague, Mr. S.B. (the defendant) at work.  The criminal court found the defendant guilty of sexual violence by means of an agreement on crime and punishment.  The claimant sued the defendant for damages sustained as a result of the defendant’s actions.  The claimant supported her claims with the opinion of a psychological expert, who stated that the claimant had suffered damage to her dignity, honor and personal and intimate life, as well as material costs.  The amount of non-pecuniary damage awards is determined with regard to the facts of each case individually and the opinion of the court.  As a result of the sexual assault, the claimant was traumatized, depressed and afraid to go to work because of the obvious threat posed by the defendant. The district court held that the protection of privacy and other aspects of the personal life of each individual is paramount.  Every individual has the right to make decisions about his/her intimate and sexual life and in this case, such right was grossly violated.  Furthermore, under Section 11 of the Civil Code, the claimant has the right to protect her life, health, honor, dignity, privacy, name and expressions of personal value.  The district court held that the defendant was obliged to pay to the claimant non-pecuniary damages in the amount of EUR 3,319.



NJA 2008 s. 1096 I and II Supreme Court of Sweden (2008)

Sexual violence and rape

["A person who, by violence or threat involving or appearing to the threatened person as imminent danger, forces the latter to have sexual intercourse or to engage in a comparable sexual act, shall be sentenced for rape (…)" Chapter 6, Section 1 of the Swedish Penal Code.]  The Supreme Court ruled on the distinction between a sexual act and sexual intercourse. Although the victim in this case was a child, the decision still gives some guidance with respect to crimes against adults. A man took an eight-year-old girl with him to a backyard, where he kept a firm hold of the girl and pulled her pants and panties down against her will. For a moment, the man pressed his penis in between the girl's buttocks, which inflicted certain pain to the girl. However, since the offense was brief and since the man had neither touched the girl's genitals nor anus, the act was not considered comparable with sexual intercourse. The man was convicted of sexual abuse of a child. (The distinction was important at the time but the legal definitions have since changed and even without sexual intercourse or penetration it would now be possible to convict someone for rape of a child.) [Decision on file with Avon Global Center]



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

Sexual violence and rape

["A person who, by violence or threat involving or appearing to the threatened person as imminent danger, forces the latter to have sexual intercourse or to engage in a comparable sexual act, shall be sentenced for rape (…)" Chapter 6, Section 1 of the Swedish Penal Code.] The Supreme Court found that the accused had committed rape when the man put his fingers into a sleeping woman's vagina. When the woman woke up she indicated that she was not interested in sexual intercourse with the man, whereupon he stopped his behavior. However, as the woman was asleep and thus in a helpless state when the man carried out the sexual act, he had unduly exploited her helplessness. The Supreme Court stated that the sexual offence was of such serious nature that it qualified as rape.  Acts such as forced sexual intercourse or other forms of forced penetration typically constitute the most offensive sexual assaults. [Decision on file with Avon Global Center]



Collins and Akaziebie v. Sweden European Court of Human Rights (2007)

Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting, Harmful traditional practices

The first applicant, the mother, filed for asylum upon arriving in Sweden, claiming she had fled Nigeria while pregnant with her daughter, the second applicant, in an attempt to flee the female-genital mutilation ("FGM") that would have been performed on her during childbirth if she stayed in Nigeria. The Swedish Migration Board rejected the asylum application, explaining that FGM was not grounds for asylum, and that FGM was outlawed by Nigerian law so it was unlikely the first applicant would be submitted to the procedure upon return to Nigeria. The Swedish Aliens Appeal Board rejected the applicant's appeal, rejecting her argument that FGM was a deep-rooted Nigerian tradition, carried out despite modern law. Following several more attempts within Sweden to be granted asylum, the applicants filed a complaint with the ECHR, alleging that if they were returned to Nigeria, they would face a high likelihood of being submitted to FGM. The argued this would violate Article 3 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. The ECHR rejected the complaint, ruling that the applicants had failed to "substantiate that they would face a real and concrete risk of being subjected to female genital mutilation upon returning to Nigeria.



T.A. v. Sweden CAT Committee (2003)

Gender-based violence in general, Sexual violence and rape

T.A. and her husband are Bangladeshi citizens and members of the Jatiya party. After T.A. was arrested for participating in a political demonstration and released, the police, accompanied by members of an opposing political party, arrested T.A. and her four-year-old daughter. At the police station, T.A. endured torture including repeated rape until she confessed to the crime of illegal arm trading. She was released after she signed a document stating that she would not take part in any further political activity. T.A. fled to Sweden with her daughter where she applied for refugee status. The Migration Board that received her application did not contest her allegations of rape and torture, but concluded that these acts could not be attributed to the State; rather, they were to be regarded as acts of individual policemen. T.A. appealed to the Alien Appeals Board, submitting medical certificates that supported her account of torture and the traumatic experience it had on her daughter. The Alien Appeals Board upheld the Migration Board’s decision and stated that because of a political change in Bangladesh since the incident, T.A. would not be subjected to further torture if she returned. In her complaint to the Committee, T.A. argued that given the medical evidence of the case, a deportation order would in itself constitute a violation of article 16 of the Convention under which State parties are obliged to prevent cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment conducted by the State or its public officials. The Committee considered T.A.’s complaint in regards to a State’s obligation under article 3 not to expel or to return a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he or she would be in danger of torture. The Committee noted that T.A. belonged to a political party in opposition to the current ruling party in Bangladesh, and that torture of political opponents was frequently practiced by state agents. Taking into account the Bangladeshi police’s ongoing search for T.A. because of her political affiliations, the Committee concluded that T.A. would be exposed to a serious risk of torture if she returned to Bangladesh, and therefore her forced deportation would violate article 3 of the Convention.



Pauline Muzonzo Paku Kisoki v. Sweden CAT Committee (1996)

Gender-based violence in general, Sexual violence and rape

Pauline Muzonzo Paku Kisoki was raped in her home in front of her children by security forces after refusing to allow the government party MPR to host a party rally at her restaurant in Kisanto. She was detained and taken to Makal prison in Kinshasa where the guards forced the women prisoners to dance before they beat and raped them. Kisoki stated that she was raped more than ten times while in prison. After she managed to escape when her sister bribed a prison supervisor, Kisoki fled to Sweden where she immediately requested asylum. The Swedish Board of Immigration denied her request, concluding that the political climate in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) had improved, and Kisoki would not suffer persecution or harassment for her past activities. After the Alien Appeals Board confirmed the decision, Kisoki submitted a new request which referred to the report of the Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on the situation of rights violations in Zaire. Her application was denied again on the ground that Kisoki could not introduce new evidence. Her complaint to the Committee accused Swedish authorities of basing their decision on a false image of Zaire. Kisoki cited the Commission on Human Rights report to demonstrate that female prisoners are often raped, and a background paper from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees the show that the Zairian Security Police expose return asylum seekers to long sessions of interrogation. The Committee held that Kisoki’s history of working with the opposition party and of detention and torture provide substantial grounds to believe she would face further persecution and torture if she returned to Zaire. Thus, expulsion or return would be violation of article 3 which obligates State parties not to expel or return a person to another state where there are substantial grounds for believing that he or she would be in danger of being subjected to torture.



Case of Burghartz v. Switzerland European Court of Human Rights (1994)

Gender discrimination

Gender-based law on marital names.  The Court found no legal justification for a law to require married women to take their husbands' surnames.



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

Sexual violence and rape

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



Opuz v. Turkey European Court of Human Rights (2009)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

State failure to protect victims from domestic violence. Applicant brought this case against Turkey, alleging failure to protect her and her mother from domestic violence, violence which resulted in her mother's death and her own mistreatment. The victim and her mother were repeatedly abused and threatened by the victim's husband, abuse which was medically documented. The victim's husband and his father were at one point indicted for attempted murder against the two women, but both were acquitted. The abuse continued after the acquittal and eventually resulted in the husband's father killing the victim's mother. The husband's father was tried and convicted for intentional murder, but because he argued provocation and exhibited good behavior during the trial, his sentence was mitigated and he was released pending an appeal. Taking into consideration regional and international treaties as well as the domestic situation in Turkey, the ECHR held that Turkey violated Articles 2, 3, 14 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. The ECHR ordered Turkey to pay the victim non-pecuniary damages and costs.



N.S.F. v. United Kingdom CEDAW Committee (2007)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Domestic and intimate partner violence

N. S. F., a Pakistani national, experienced repeated ill-treatment from her husband, including marital rape, until they divorced in 2002. Although N. S. F.’s husband continued to harass her after she moved to a nearby village, the police did not offer her any protection. When her ex-husband came to her new home with other armed men and threatened to kill her, N. S. F. fled to the United Kingdom and applied for asylum, claiming that her forced return to Pakistan would constitute violations of the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees and article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. N. S. F. appealed the dismissal of her application for asylum by the Immigration and Nationality Directorate of the Home Office, and on appeal the Adjudicator denied N. S. F.’s application on the grounds that N. S. F. could relocate further away from her husband within the country, and that she would receive protection in Pakistan on account of her being divorced from her husband. The Immigration Appeal Tribunal rejected N. S. F.’s application for permission to appeal, and the High Court of Justice, Queens Bench Division, Administrative Court affirmed the decision upon challenge. Her complaint alleged that the asylum and human rights-based procedures were not fair, and that if deported back to Pakistan, N. S. F.’s husband would kill her and put her children’s education at risk. Although the Committee found the complaint inadmissible because N. S. F. did not exhaust all domestic remedies, the Committee noted that the complaint raised concern for women who have fled their country because of fear of domestic violence. It recalled its General Recommendation No. 19 on violence against women, and concluded that Pakistan’s assertion that N. S. F.’s claims do not amount to an allegation of sex discrimination needed to be reconsidered in light of this Recommendation. The Committee suggested that N. S. F. apply to the High Court for judicial review of her application for asylum, and that the Court take her allegations of sex discrimination under consideration.



Case of Abdulaziz, Cabales and Balkandali v. the United Kingdom European Court of Human Rights (1985)

Gender discrimination

Three lawfully and permanently settled residents of the UK challenged the Government's refusal to permit their husbands to join or remain with them on the basis of the 1980 immigration rules in force at the time. The rules applied stricter conditions for the granting of permission for husbands to join their wives than vice versa. These conditions did not apply to the wives of male permanent residents. The Court found that Article 8 encompassed the right to establish one's home in the State of one's lawful residence, and that being forced to either move abroad or be separated from one's spouse was inconsistent with this principle. On this basis the applicants claimed that, as a result of unjustified differences of treatment in securing the right to respect for their family life, based on sex, race and, in the case of Mrs. Balkandali, birth, they had been victims of a violation of Article 14 of the Convention, taken in conjunction with Article 8. The applicants claimed there was no objective and reasonable justification for the difference in treatment, rather the Government's claims ignored the modern role of women and the fact that men may be self-employed and create rather than seek jobs, as in the case of Mr. Balkandali.



Commission of the European Communities v. United Kingdom European Court of Justice (1983)

Gender discrimination

The Commission brought a charge against the United Kingdom for failing to fully implement the Directive 76/207. The Commission’s complaint is that the legislation enacted in the United Kingdom does not state that provisions contrary to equal treatment in any collective agreement will be void. The UK legislation also has an exception for private households and the practice of midwifery. The Court decided that the UK failed to meet its obligations under the treaty.



Johnston v. Chief Constable European Court of Justice (1986)

Gender discrimination

A new regulation was instituted that women in the Royal Ulster Constabulary would not be given firearms to carry or trained in them. Johnston was a police officer who filed a complaint of sexual discrimination. The Court recognizes that the policy was instituted by the Chief Constable to protect women from risks and that it is up to a national tribunal to determine whether this type of action meant for public safety is allowed in light of Directive 76/207.



Zwaan-de Vries v. The Netherlands Human Rights Committee (1987)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

F.H. Zwaan-de Vries is a Netherlands national who worked for several years before becoming unemployed. Zwaan-de Vries qualified for unemployment benefits under the Unemployment Act until 1979, at which time she applied for continued support through the Unemployment Benefits Act (WWV). The Municipality of Amsterdam rejected her application in accordance with section 13 subsection 1 of WWV (the “breadwinner” clause) because she was a married woman. The WWV provision that required applicants to prove that they are the family’s “breadwinner” in order to qualify for benefits did not apply to married men. On appeal, the Municipality of Amsterdam affirmed the rejection, after which the author appealed to the Board of Appeal in Amsterdam. The Board of Appeals held that Zwaan-de Vries’ complaint was invalid, and the Central Board of Appeal affirmed this holding. In her complaint to the Committee, Zwaan-de Vries argued that the Netherlands violated article 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights under which all persons are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to the equal protection of the law. In interpreting the scope of article 26, the Committee took into account the “ordinary meaning” of each element of the article in its context and in light of its object and purpose, noting that article 26 derives from the principle of equal protection of the law without discrimination as contained in article 7 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Thus, article 26 is concerned with the obligations imposed on States in regard to their legislation and its application. The Committee cited Hendrika Vos v. The Netherlands for the principle that differentiation based on reasonable and objective criteria does not amount to prohibited discrimination within the meaning of article 26. However, since the WWV required only women to prove their status as “breadwinner”, the differentiation was not reasonable. Therefore, the Netherlands violated article 26 of the Convention when it denied Zwaan de Vries a social security benefit on an equal footing with men.



Case of Schmidt v. Germany European Court of Human Rights (1994)

Gender discrimination

Gender-based service-or-tax requirement.  The Court found a law that required men only to serve as firefighter and required women to pay a tax was discriminatory in violation of the ECHR.



Hofmann v. Barmer Ersatzkasse European Court of Justice (1984)

Gender discrimination

The plaintiff is the illegitimate father of a child and took off work to take care of the child for a while. He applied for maternity leave and was turned down by the defendant, his employer. The country’s court decided that the legislation only permitted maternity leave and no paternity leave. In interpreting Directive 76/207, the Court decided that it was not meant to force member states to grant the same leave to fathers even if that is what the parents decide.



A.T. v. Hungary CEDAW Committee (2005)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

A.T. is a Hungarian woman whose husband subjected her to continued domestic violence resulting in her hospitalization and ten medical certificates documenting separate incidents of abuse. Hungarian law did not provide a mechanism for A.T. to obtain a protection order against her husband, and accordingly, A.T. submitted a motion for injunctive relief for her exclusive right to the family apartment. The Budapest Regional Court denied the motion and held that A.T.’s husband had a right to return and use the apartment, stating that A.T.’s battery claims against him lacked substantiation and that the court could not infringe on her husband’s right to property. Her complaint to the Committee called for the introduction of effective and immediate protection for victims of domestic violence in Hungary, as well as effective interim measures to prevent irreparable damage to A.T.’s person in accordance with article 5, paragraph 1 of CEDAW’s Optional Protocol. The Committee held that Hungary’s domestic violence jurisprudence was deeply entrenched in gender stereotypes which constituted a violation of Hungary’s obligation under article 2 of CEDAW to promote gender equality through appropriate legislation. Hungary’s lack of specific legislation to combat domestic and sexual violence led the Committee to conclude that the State had violated its article 5 obligation to eliminate prejudices and customs grounded in female inferiority, and article 16 obligation to end discrimination against women in matters relating to marriage and the family. The Committee recommended that Hungary enact domestic and sexual violence legislation and allow victims to apply for protection and exclusion orders which forbid the abuser from entering or occupying the family home.



Case of Airey v. Ireland European Court of Human Rights (1979)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

Family law, domestic violence and the right of access to court.  Petitioner, a domestic violence survivor, could not find legal assistance to appear before a court.  The Court ruled that member states must guarantee effective access to the courts.



Commission of the European Communities v. Italian Republic European Court of Justice (1983)

Gender discrimination

The Commission brought an action against the Italian Republic that they failed to properly implement legislation adopting Directive 76/207. The Commission argues that the Italian government did not properly implement certain requirements, such as equal working conditions, into national law. The Court notes that Article 189 of the EEC Treaty permits a country to implement its own form of legislation. There is no infringement of Directive 76/207 if the national law lets anyone bring the matters covered under the Directive before the courts. So the Court found for the Italian Republic.



Dung Thi Thuy Nguyen v. The Netherlands CEDAW Committee (2006)

Gender discrimination

Dung Thi Thuy Nguyen worked part-time as a salaried employment agency worker as well as together with her husband as a co-working spouse in his enterprise. For her salaried employment, Nguyen was insured under the Sickness Benefits Act (ZW), and for work at her husband’s enterprise she was insured under the Invalidity Insurance (Self-Employed Person) Act (WAZ). When Nguyen applied for maternity leave in 1999, she received benefits from her ZW insurance, but her WAZ insurance denied her coverage because of an “anti-accumulation clause” which allowed payment of benefits only insofar as they exceed benefits payable under the ZW policy. Nguyen objected to the withholding of her benefits and applied for review with the Breda District Court, who dismissed the complaint. The Central Appeals Tribunal upheld the lower judgment on appeal, stating that the WAZ insurance policy did not result in unfavorable treatment of women as compared to men. Nguyen’s complaint to the Committee cited a violation of article 11, paragraph 2 (b) of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women under which the State party is obligated to introduce maternity leave with pay or with comparable social benefits without loss of former employment, seniority, or social allowance. The Committee held that it is state’s discretion to determine the appropriate maternity benefits within the meaning of article 11 for employed women, and separate rules for self-employed women accounting for fluctuated income and related contributions did not amount to a violation. The dissent, however, argued that the law of the Netherlands which provides for a financially compensated maternity leave for women who are both salaried and self-employed does not take into account the situation of these women who work more hours per week than a full-time salaried employee entitled to full maternity benefits. The anti-accumulation clause, therefore, constitutes indirect sex-discrimination because the policy assumes that mainly women work as part-time salaried employees in addition to working as family helpers in their husband’s enterprises.



Zhen Zhen Zheng v. The Netherlands CEDAW Committee (2007)

Trafficking in persons

Petitioner was trafficked into the Netherlands and request for asylum was denied because she could not give details about her trip from China and did not have identity documents.  Although the Committee held complaint to be inadmissible for non-exhaustion of domestic remedies, the dissent found that due to vulnerable situation of victims of trafficking, the complaint should be admissible and that the State did not act with due diligence in failing to recognize that Ms. Zheng may have been victim of trafficking.



S.W.M. Broeks v. The Netherlands Human Rights Committee (1987)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

S.W.M. Broeks, a married Netherlands national, worked as a nurse for several years before her employer dismissed her for reasons of disability. Broeks received benefits under the Netherlands social security system for five years before her unemployment payments were terminated under Netherlands law. Broeks contested the termination in domestic courts, but the Central Board of Appeal confirmed the decision of a lower municipal court not to continue unemployment payments to Broeks. In her complaint to the Committee, Broeks claimed that the Netherland’s Unemployment Benefits Act (WWV) made an unacceptable distinction on the grounds of sex and status, and discriminated against her as a woman in violation of article 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights under which all persons are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to its protections. Broeks argued that because she was a married woman at the time of the dispute, the law excluded her from continued unemployment benefits. Under section 13 subsection 1 of the Unemployment Benefits Act (WWV), a married women, in order to receive WWV benefits, had to prove that she was a “breadwinner” – a condition that did not apply to married men. The Committee concluded that the differentiation that appears to be one of status is actually one of sex, placing married women at a disadvantage compared with married men, amounting to a violation of article 26 of the Covenant.



M.C. v. Bulgaria European Court of Human Rights (2003)

Sexual violence and rape

The victim, a 14-year old, alleged she was raped by two men, but an ensuing investigation found insufficient evidence of the girl having been compelled to have sex. The investigation found that force was not used and that therefore rape had not occurred. Before the ECHR, therefore, the victim alleged that Bulgarian law failed to protect her because it required force to be present for rape to have occurred, a higher standard than in other countries, where for example, only non-consent was necessary. She also challenged the thoroughness of the investigation. The ECHR found that Bulgaria violated its positive obligations under Articles 3 and 8 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. It ordered Bulgaria to pay the victim non-pecuniary damages and costs.



Vos v. The Netherlands Human Rights Committee (1986)

Gender discrimination

The Committee held that differences of treatment based on reasonable and objective criteria do not amount to prohibited discrimination.



Commission of the European Communities v. France European Court of Justice (1988)

Gender discrimination

The Commission brought proceedings against France claiming that it failed to adopt all of the measures required by Council Directive 76/207 within prescribed time. The French government argues that removing special rights for women that are in place should be left to the two sides of industry. However, the Court thinks that leaving industry to work out the issue through collective negotiation without any time limit is unacceptable and the French Republic violated the treaty.



Public Ministry  v. Stoeckel European Court of Justice (1991)

Gender discrimination

The region had a national law that women cannot be employed in working at night, especially in factories and plants. Suma was a company that had to lay off people and switch to a continuous shift-work system because of economic difficulties. Thus, it had women employees work night shift as well, which violated French Law. The company argued that Article 5 of Council Directive 76/207/EEC demanded equal treatment for men and women when it comes to working conditions. The Court ruled that the directive was specific enough that the Member State was obligated not to pass the legislation it had.



Arjona Camacho v. Securitas Seguridad España, SA European Court of Justice (2015)

Employment discrimination

Ms. Arjona Camacho was dismissed from her position as a security guard at a juvenile detention center. The Social Court No. 1 of Cordoba in Spain found that her dismissal constituted discrimination on the grounds of sex, and referred to the European Court of Justice the question of whether EU law (specifically Article 18 of Directive 2006/54/EC) requires a national court to grant punitive damages, i.e., damages that go beyond the amount necessary to compensate the actual loss and damage caused by the discriminatory act, even when the concept of punitive damages does not exist within the legal tradition of that national court. The European Court of Justice found that, although punitive damages may be awarded under such circumstances, they are not required under EU law. If the national law does not provide a ground for the award of punitive damages, EU law does not independently provide such a right.

 

La Sra. Arjona Camacho fue despedida de su puesto como guardia de seguridad en un centro de detención juvenil. El Juzgado de lo Social Nº 1 de Córdoba en España determinó que su despido constituía una discriminación por motivos de sexo y remitió al Tribunal de Justicia de las Comunidades Europeas la cuestión de si la legislación de la UE (específicamente el artículo 18 de la Directiva 2006/54 / CE) exige una tribunal nacional para otorgar daños punitivos, es decir, daños que van más allá del monto necesario para compensar las pérdidas y daños reales causados ​​por el acto discriminatorio, incluso cuando el concepto de daños punitivos no existe dentro de la tradición legal de ese tribunal nacional. El Tribunal de Justicia de las Comunidades Europeas determinó que, aunque en tales circunstancias se pueden otorgar daños punitivos, no están obligados por la legislación de la UE. Si la legislación nacional no proporciona un motivo para la concesión de daños punitivos, la legislación de la UE no puede proporcionar dicho derecho de forma independiente.



Reference Guides

Judicial System of Portugal (2019)

Gender discrimination

Portugal has a code-based civil law justice system, and its judiciary is divided between civil and administrative courts. The civil courts, which have jurisdiction over gender discrimination matters, are structured in a hierarchy. The lowest level civil court is the District Court (the Tribunal Judicial de Comarca), which is subordinate to the Appellate Court (the Tribunal da Relação), which is subordinate to the Superior Court of Justice (the Superior Tribunal de Justiça). The Judicial District Courts have the broadest jurisdiction, and issues initial judgments on the cases brought before it, after determining the findings of fact and rulings of law. Parties may appeal to the appropriate Appellate Court, which may review the findings of fact and rulings of law. Decisions rendered by the Appellate Court are final with respect to the findings of fact. However, should there still be dispute about the rulings of law, parties may file a final appeal before the Superior Court of Justice, and any judgment issued by the Superior Court of Justice is final and non-appealable.



Memoranda

Journalistic Rights to Photography (2012)

Gender-based violence in general

This memorandum discusses the intellectual property rights of a journalist to the photos he has taken outside the course of his employment citing international, United States and United Kingdom law.



RH 2010:34 Svea Court of Appeal (2010)

Trafficking in persons

["A person who, in other cases than those referred to in Section 1, uses unlawful coercion or deceit, exploits another person's vulnerable situation or by some other such improper means recruits, transports, harbours, receives or takes any other such action with a person and thereby takes control over this person with the intent that this person shall be exploited for sexual purposes,  removal of organs, military service or exploited in some other way that places that person in distress, shall be sentenced for trafficking in human beings to imprisonment, for at least two years and at most ten years. (…) Chapter 4 Section 1 a of the Swedish Penal Code.] Two persons, 21 and 22 years old respectively brought two 16-year-old boys from Romania to Sweden, where they had jointly stolen goods from shops. The two persons were found guilty of human trafficking because they had taken control of the minors in order to exploit their plight and to encourage them to take part in crimes in a situation that constituted a state of distress for the minors. However, the court considered the crime to be mitigated by the fact that the minors were not exposed to any direct coercion nor had they been deprived of their freedom. [Decision on file with Avon Global Center]


Reports

You Dress According to Their Rules (2010)

Gender discrimination, Harmful traditional practices, Sexual harassment

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