Women and Justice: Type: Domestic Case Law

Domestic Case Law

X. v. Y. Cour du travail de Bruxelles (Brussels Labor Court) (2017)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

A woman informed her employer of the fact that she was pregnant. Two months later, her employer fired her due to alleged restructuring of the company. Subsequently, the appellant started proceedings before the Court to receive an indemnity.  The appellant claims that she has a right of indemnity based on the right of pregnant women to be protected against redundancy or, following the right to be protected against discrimination. The court held for the appellant and ordered the previous employer to pay the appellant a sum of EUR 33,135.00 and EUR 703.24 and to deliver to the appellant requested social documents.



Z.D.C. v. E.M.S. Rechtbank van eerste aanleg te Antwerpen (Court of First Instance in Antwerp) (2017)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, LGBTIQ

The two accused were prosecuted for invading the home of the two victims and assaulting them, which temporarily prevented the victims from being able to work. The first accused organized the crime because she could neither accept the breakup with one of the victims nor the fact that the victim was in a relationship with a man. Additionally, the first accused created a false Facebook profile to make fun of one victim’s sexual orientation and to convince one victim to break up with the other. The Court found that the motive of the crime was, among others, the sexual orientation of the victims, which is an aggravating circumstance of the assault. The Court found that the facts regarding the first accused had been clearly established. However, the interrogation and the investigation did not provide the court with enough evidence to hold the second accused criminally liable. The Court convicted the first accused and imposed a sentence of three years imprisonment and a fine of EUR 100.00 (increased with the multiplication factor of 50, i.e., in total EUR 5000), but suspended for five years if the accused complied with the terms of probation.



Public Prosecutor v. S.C. Rechtbank van eerste aanleg West-Vlaanderen afdeling Brugge sectie correctionele rechtbank (Bruges Criminal Court) (2018)

Gender-based violence in general, LGBTIQ

The accused was prosecuted for assaulting a trans woman and her partner for being transsexual. The accused confessed to calling the victim and her partner “dirty transsexuals” and assaulting them. Following the assault, a doctor determined that the victim was unable to work. The Court found that the facts were uncontested and therefore proven. According to the Court, the accused showed a lack of respect for social norms and the physical integrity of other human beings. Additionally, the Court found the punishment should reflect that the crime was based on the victim’s transsexual status and that the punishment should serve to have a strong deterrent effect. The court convicted the accused and imposed a sentence of  six months imprisonment and a fine of EUR 100.00 (increased with the multiplication factor of 50 (i.e., in total EUR 5000))which would be suspended during three years if the accused obeyed the terms of probation.



RRT Case No. 1101038 Refugee Review Tribunal (2011)

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

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



RRT Case No. 0808751 Refugee Review Tribunal (2009)

Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting, Harmful traditional practices

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



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

Domestic and intimate partner violence

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



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

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

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



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

Forced sterilization

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



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

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Femicide

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



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

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

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



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

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

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



Decision of the Constitutional Tribunal, Case 2208/2013 Constitutional Tribunal (2013)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

The Court held that it was not empowered to impose measures that guaranteed the physical and psychological integrity of domestic violence victims when other tribunals and bodies established for that purpose were competent. However, plaintiffs have the right to make the requests from the competent courts to take necessary measures in order to enforce its orders, using persuasive or coercive means.

La Corte sostuvo que no estaba facultada para imponer medidas que garantizaran la integridad física y psicológica de las víctimas de violencia doméstica donde otros tribunales y organismos establecidos con ese fin eran competentes. Sin embargo, los demandantes tienen el derecho de hacer las solicitudes de los tribunales competentes para tomar las medidas necesarias para hacer cumplir sus órdenes, utilizando medios persuasivos o coercitivos.



Decision of the Constitutional Tribunal, Case 1708/2013 Constitutional Tribunal (2013)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

The plaintiff in this action was an elected councilor in the municipality of Tolata. She was forced to sign a letter of resignation under pressure from a group of intruders who had entered the session room of the municipal building. The plaintiff alleged that her rights relating to legal security in the exercise of a public function under Articles 46 and 144 of the constitution were violated and sought constitutional protection and the return to the office of municipal councilor of Tolata. The Constitutional Tribunal granted these requests.

La demandante en esta acción era un concejal electo en el municipio de Tolata. Se vio obligada a firmar una carta de renuncia bajo la presión de un grupo de intrusos que habían entrado en la sala de sesiones del edificio municipal. La demandante alegó que sus derechos relacionados con la seguridad jurídica en el ejercicio de una función pública en virtud de los Artículos 46 y 144 de la constitución fueron violados y solicitó protección constitucional y el regreso a la oficina del concejal municipal de Tolata. El Tribunal Constitucional concedió estas solicitudes.



Decision of the Constitutional Tribunal, Case 1961/2013 Constitutional Tribunal (2013)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Gender discrimination

The Constitutional Tribunal held that the conduct of the municipal authorities forcing a victim of gender violence to reconcile with her aggressor under the threat of taking her children to a shelter violates the right of women to live free from violence. The Tribunal held that this conduct constituted undue harassment.

El Tribunal Constitucional sostuvo que la conducta de las autoridades municipales, obligando a una víctima de violencia de género a reconciliarse con su agresor bajo la amenaza de llevar a sus hijos a un refugio es contra el derecho de las mujeres a vivir libres de violencia. El Tribunal sostuvo que esta conducta constituía indebida acoso.



Decision of the Constructional Tribunal, Case 0033/2013 Supreme Tribunal: Criminal Bench (2017)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

The Supreme Tribunal confirmed the decision of the Appeal Court, which refused to review the decision of the First Instance Court that had allowed summary proceedings in a case of domestic violence and had sentenced the accused to two years of prison. The Supreme Tribunal held that the Court of Appeal had sufficiently reasoned its decision by holding that the judge of First Instance had correctly applied Article 272 of the Criminal Code, which provides for abbreviated proceedings and for the imposition of the maximum penalty suggested by the public ministry where the accused pleads guilty and agrees with the public ministry to abbreviated proceedings.  

El Tribunal Supremo confirmó la decisión del Tribunal de Apelación, que se negó a revisar la decisión del Tribunal de Primera Instancia que había permitido un proceso sumario en un caso de violencia doméstica y había condenado al acusado a dos años de prisión. El Tribunal Supremo sostuvo que el Tribunal de Apelación había razonado suficientemente su decisión al sostener que el juez de Primera Instancia había aplicado correctamente el Artículo 272 del Código Penal, que prevé un procedimiento abreviado y la imposición de la pena máxima sugerida por el ministerio público donde el acusado se declara culpable y está de acuerdo con el ministerio público para abreviar los procedimientos.



Decision of the Constitutional Tribunal, Case 0206/2014 Constitutional Tribunal (2015)

Abortion and reproductive health rights, Gender discrimination

Patricia Mansilla Martínez, a member of the Bolivian Parliament, challenged the constitutionality of several articles of the Criminal Code on the basis that they discriminated against women. The Court held that some of the challenged articles were unconstitutional and upheld others. On the grounds of gender discrimination, the Court found unconstitutional Article 56, which prevented imprisoned women from being employed outside of prisons while allowing imprisoned men outside employment, and Article 245, which recognized as a defense to the offense of falsifying a birth record the motive of protecting the honor of one’s wife, mother, daughter, or sister. The Court declared unconstitutional the words “fragility” and “dishonor” in Article 258 regarding infanticide also due to gender discrimination, although this did not affect the operation of the offense. The final unconstitutional issue was that Article 250 criminalized an unmarried man abandoning a woman who became pregnant with him, but did not criminalize a married father’s abandonment of his pregnant wife. The Court was unwilling to hold restrictions on abortion unconstitutional. As such, receiving an abortion remains prohibited under Articles 263 and 264, and the performance of abortion is prohibited under Article 269. However, the Court did declare unconstitutional the requirements in Article 266 that a woman inform the police and obtain judicial authorization in order to obtain an abortion in the case of rape or incest (article 266).

Patricia Mansilla Martínez, quien es miembro del Parlamento boliviano, cuestionó la constitucionalidad de varios artículos del Código Penal sobre la base de que eran discriminatorios contra las mujeres. El Tribunal sostuvo que varios de los artículos impugnados eran inconstitucionales: el Artículo 56, que impedía que las mujeres encarceladas fueran empleadas fuera de las cárceles mientras que los hombres encarcelados, por otro lado, podían tener empleo y el Artículo 245, que reconocía la protección del honor de la esposa, la madre, la hija o la hermana de uno como defensa al delito de falsificar un registro de nacimiento. Ambos Artículos se consideraron inconstitucionales sobre la base de la discriminación de género. La Corte declaró que las palabras "fragilidad" y "deshonra" contenidas en el Artículo 258 en asociación con el infanticidio eran inconstitucionales por la misma base, aunque esto no afecta el funcionamiento del delito. Además, la distinción dentro del Artículo 250 que penalizaba el abandono por parte de un padre de una mujer que no es su esposa después de dejarla embarazada pero que no se aplicaba a la esposa de un padre también se consideró inconstitucional. La Corte no estaba dispuesta a mantener las restricciones sobre el aborto como inconstitucionales. Como tal, recibir un aborto sigue prohibido según los Artículos 263 y 264, y el aborto está prohibido según el Artículo 269. Sin embargo, la Corte declaró inconstitucional los requisitos del Artículo 266 de que una mujer informe a la policía y obtenga la autorización judicial para obtener un aborto en caso de violación o incesto (artículo 266).



Resolución Nº 01439 - 2014, Expediente: 11-000056-0532-PE Tribunal de Apelación de Sentencia Penal II Circuito Judicial de San José (2014)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, International law

The Court established that for a cause of action based on a threat against a woman to meet the justiciability criteria pursuant to article 27 of the Law of Criminalization of Violence against Women (Ley de Penalización de Violencia contra la Mujer), it is necessary that the conduct be executed in a context of a (1) marriage or of (2) factual union.

La Corte estableció que para que una causa de acción basada en una amenaza contra una mujer cumpla con los criterios de justiciabilidad, en conformidad con el artículo 27 de la Ley de Penalización de Violencia contra la Mujer, es necesario que la conducta se haya ejecutado en un contexto de (1) matrimonio o de (2) unión de hecho.



Resolución Nº 00355 - 2016, Expediente: 12-110068-0671-TP Tribunal de Apelación de Sentencia Penal: III Circuito Judicial de Alajuela en San Ramón (2016)

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

The Court established a unified standard of the legal meaning of a “factual union” (unión de hecho). This term is used in the Law of Criminalization of Violence against Women (Ley de Penalización de Violencia contra la Mujer) and in the Family Code (Código de Familia). However, the definition is composed of different elements under each of these legislations. For example, in the Family Code’s definition, the requirement for the marital union to have lasted for a three-year term is considered unnecessary in order to protect the life, free will, physical integrity, and the woman’s dignity in a marriage or factual union. In the unified standard, the Court established that the necessary elements of a factual union are the following: (1) stability (which excludes periodic relationships); (2) publicity (which excludes furtive relationships); (3) cohabitation (which excludes superficial relationships); and (4) singularity (which excludes multiplicity). The Court recognized these elements and acknowledged that they were also recognized by the Convention of Belém do Pará, establishing that it is also considered domestic violence when the aggressor lives with the victim (cohabitation).

El Tribunal estableció una definición legal unificada del significado de una “unión de hecho.” Dicho término se utiliza en la Ley de Penalización de la Violencia contra la Mujer y en el Código de la Familia. Sin embargo, la definición se compone de diferentes elementos en cada una de estas legislaciones. Por ejemplo, en la definición del Código de la Familia, el requisito de que la unión matrimonial haya durado un período de tres años se considera innecesario para proteger la vida, el libre albedrío, la integridad física y la dignidad de la mujer en un matrimonio o en una unión de hecho. En la norma unificada, la Corte estableció que los elementos necesarios de una unión de hecho son los siguientes: (1) estabilidad (lo cual excluye las relaciones periódicas); (2) publicidad (lo cual excluye relaciones furtivas); (3) la cohabitación (lo cual excluye las relaciones superficiales); y (4) la singularidad (lo cual excluye la multiplicidad). La Corte reconoció estos elementos y reconoció que también fueron reconocidos por la Convención de Belém do Pará, estableciendo que también se considera violencia doméstica cuando el agresor vive con la víctima (convivencia).



Resolución Nº 00618 - 2018, Expediente: 12-021945-0042-PE Tribunal de Apelación de Sentencia Penal: II Circuito Judicial de San José (2018)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, International law

The court emphasized that in order to prove a domestic violence cause of action, the plaintiff must prove that she has been subject to a behavior pattern that fits within the domestic violence cycle. Such behavior pattern consists of three stages: (1) the growing tension stage; (2) the acute aggression stage; and (3) the kindness or affection stage. The third stage is followed by the aggressor’s regret and then by the reconciliation, which in turns leads to another assault and then to the repetition of the cycle. This third stage is crucial in order to recognize whether there is a systematic situation of violence and to prove the elements of this cause of action.

 

La Corte enfatizó que para presentar con éxito una causa de acción legal por violencia doméstica, la demandante debe probar que ha estado sujeta a un patrón de comportamiento que se ajusta al ciclo de violencia doméstica. Dicho patrón de comportamiento consta de tres etapas: (1) la etapa de tensión creciente; (2) la etapa de agresión aguda; y (3) la etapa de bondad o afecto. A la tercera etapa le sigue el arrepentimiento del agresor y luego la reconciliación, que a su vez conduce a otro asalto y luego a la repetición del ciclo. Esta tercera etapa es crucial para reconocer si existe una situación sistemática de violencia y para probar todos los elementos que constituyen esta causa de acción.



Govender v. Ragavayah High Court of South Africa: Durban and Coast Local Division (2008)

Harmful traditional practices, Property and inheritance rights

The applicant was a woman married according to Hindu rites. Accordingly, when her husband died intestate, his parents stood to inherit his estate. The applicant sought a declaratory judgment that the word “spouse” as used in the Intestate Succession Act 81 of 1987 includes a surviving partner to a monogamous Hindu marriage. The Court granted the declaratory judgment and held that the applicant was entitled to inherit from her deceased husband.



Moosa N.O. and Others v. Harnaker and Others High Court of South Africa: Western Cape Division (2017)

Gender discrimination, Property and inheritance rights

The deceased was married to the second and third applicant under Islamic law. The marriage of the deceased and the third applicant was entered into before the marriage between the deceased and the second applicant. However, the deceased and the second applicant entered into a civil marriage to qualify for a home loan. Following the death of the deceased, The Registrar of Deeds, Cape Town, refused to register the title deed to the family home in the name of the third applicant. The Registrar’s refusal was premised on the meaning of the term “surviving spouse” as contemplated in terms of section 2C(1) of the Wills Act 7 of 1953 (the “Wills Act”). According to the Registrar, the only recognised surviving spouse of the deceased is the second applicant as they entered into a civil marriage. The Court declared section 2C(1) of the Wills Act unconstitutional as it does not recognise the rights of spouses married under Islamic law nor multiple female spouses married to a deceased testator in polygynous Muslim marriages.



Hassam v. Jacobs NO Constitutional Court (2009)

Gender discrimination

The applicant was in a polygamous Muslim marriage. After her husband died intestate, the respondent, the executor of the deceased’s estate, refused the applicant’s claims on the basis that polygynous Muslim marriages were not legally recognised under the Intestate Succession Act. The court held that precluding the applicant from an inheritance unfairly discriminated on the grounds of religion, marital status, and gender, and was therefore inconsistent with section 9 of the Constitution. The court found that section 1 of the Intestate Succession Act was inconsistent with the Constitution and invalid to the extent that it did not include more than one spouse in a polygynous Muslim marriage in the protection afforded to “a spouse.” Accordingly, the applicant could inherit from her late husband’s estate.



Daniels v. Campbell and Others Constitutional Court (2004)

Gender discrimination, Harmful traditional practices, Property and inheritance rights

The applicant was a woman married according to Muslim rites and whose husband had died intestate. The marriage was not solemnized by a marriage officer under the Marriage Act 25 of 1961. The house in which the applicant and her husband had lived was transferred to the deceased’s estate. The applicant was told that she could not inherit from the estate of the deceased because she had been married according to Muslim rites, and therefore was not a “surviving spouse.” A claim for maintenance against the estate was rejected on the same basis. The Court held that the word “spouse” as used in the Intestate Succession Act includes the surviving partner to a monogamous Muslim marriage and that the word “survivor” as used in the Maintenance of Surviving Spouses Act 27 of 1990, includes the surviving partner to a monogamous Muslim marriage.



Bhe and Others v. Khayelitsha Magistrate Constitutional Court (2004)

Gender discrimination, Harmful traditional practices, Property and inheritance rights

This judgment constituted three related cases (Bhe, Shibi and SAHRC), which were decided together and concerned the African customary law rule of primogeniture. In Bhe, a mother brought an action to secure the property of her deceased husband for her daughters. In Shibi, the applicant was denied the right to inherit from her deceased brother’s intestate estate under African customary law. In SAHRC, the South African Human Rights Commission and the Women’s Legal Centre Trust brought an action in the public interest to declare the rule of male primogeniture contained within section 23 of the Black Administration Act 38 of 1927 invalid. The Constitutional Court declared section 23 invalid, meaning that all deceased estates were to be governed by the Intestate Succession Act 81 of 1987, under which widows and children can benefit regardless of their gender or legitimacy. The Court also ordered the division of estates in circumstances where the deceased person was in a polygamous marriage and was survived by more than one spouse and ordered that, in such instances, a surviving spouse shall inherit a child’s share of the intestate estate or so much of the intestate estate as does not exceed in value the amount fixed by the Minister for Justice and Constitutional Development by notice in the Gazette.



Dlanjwa v. Minister of Safety and Security Supreme Court of Appeal (2015)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Property and inheritance rights

The appellant was shot by her husband, who subsequently committed suicide.  Her husband was employed by the South African Police Service, so she sued the Minister of Safety and Security for general damages, medical expenses, loss of earnings, and loss of support arising from her injuries and the deceased’s suicide. She also sued for loss of support on behalf of her infant triplets with the deceased.  The appellant alleged that the shooting and suicide were caused by, inter alia, the negligence of the station commander and/or certain police officials.  The appellant claimed that these police officers failed to (a) dispossess the deceased of the firearm, (b) initiate disciplinary steps against him, and (c) have him criminally charged despite her previous requests and their knowledge that the deceased abused alcohol, had a violent temper and suicidal tendencies, had assaulted her, pointed a firearm at her and threatened to shoot her and thereafter kill himself, which led her to obtain a protection order against him under the Domestic Violence Act 1998.  The Supreme Court of Appeal found that: (a) the police had a legal duty to investigate the appellant’s complaints once she reported that she feared for her safety; (b) the police negligently breached that duty by failing to take measures to protect the appellant from being injured by the deceased (and prevent the deceased from killing himself); and (c) the appellant had established wrongfulness on the part of the police due to the causal connection established between the police’s negligent breach of duty and the harm suffered by the appellant.  The court therefore upheld the appeal.



Naidoo v. Minister of Police Supreme Court of Appeal (2015)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

The plaintiff attempted to bring a charge of assault against her former husband under the Domestic Violence Act of 1998 (“the DVA”). She was incorrectly advised by a police officer that she required a protection order from the Magistrate Court before she could receive police assistance. She was then told by a second officer that her former husband would bring a similar charge of assault against her if she persisted. The plaintiff, along with her former husband, was arrested. She filed a claim for damages against, inter alia, the Minister of Police, arguing that (i) the officials involved were acting in the course and within the scope of their employment and (ii) the Minister of Police was vicariously liable for failing to comply with the DVA. The court agreed that the DVA requires the police to assist and provide the maximum protection possible to victims of domestic abuse.



Women's Legal Centre Trust v. President of the Republic of South Africa and Others High Court of South Africa: Western Cape Division (2018)

Gender discrimination, Property and inheritance rights

The plaintiff petitioned to bring three consolidated actions directly to the Constitutional Court.  They sought a declaratory order that the President recognize Muslim marriages as valid for all purposes in South Africa.  The Constitutional Court dismissed the plaintiffs’ plea for direct access and instead directed them to the High Court.  The High Court held that the State’s failure to enact legislation recognising religious Muslim marriages violated the rights of Muslim women based on religion, marital status, gender, and sex.  The court directed the President, Cabinet, and Parliament to prepare and bring into operation legislation to recognise marriages performed in accordance with Sharia law.



In re Zhou & Yang Divorce Litigation Intermediate People's Court of Wuxi Municipality (2017)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Domestic and intimate partner violence

The appellant-wife appealed to the Intermediate People’s Court of Wuxi Municipality, Jiangsu Province in relation to the lower court’s refusal to grant a divorce. The appellant alleged that her marriage with the appellee was irreparably broken and that he had committed domestic violence against her. The appellant alleged that the domestic violence was corroborated by their daughter’s testimony and photographic evidence. The court held that even though the appellee might have beaten the appellant on at least one occasion, under the legal definition, domestic violence must constitute continuous multiple-time battery rather than [one occasional][1] conduct. Since the evidence submitted by the appellant was insufficient to demonstrate that the appellee’s conduct caused harmful consequences to the appellant, the court refused to grant their divorce. The court also admonished the appellee to fulfill his responsibility as a husband and to stop his "bad habits."

 

[1] Note to draft: This concept is unclear.  The exact translation of the Mandarin phrase would be “one occasional conduct.” From the context of the opinion, it appears that this means that occasional conduct, even if more than once, may not be sufficient if it is not indicative of a pattern of abuse.



Deng v. Beijing Shouwanshou Co. Ltd. No. 3 Intermediate People's Court of Beijing Municipality (2016)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

The plaintiff sued the defendants for infringing on her equal employment rights. The plaintiff alleged that the job description for the courier position included: “Eligibility: Men.”  When Deng went for an interview, she was advised that “we never have women couriers.”  She was subsequently informed that Beijing Postal could not authorize an employment contract for her because she is female. The plaintiff requested relief of, among other things, an official apology and 50,000 Chinese yuan as compensation of for mental distress.  The court of first instance held that the defendants infringed upon the plaintiff’s right of employment equality under the People’s Republic of China’s Employment Law. The Court also rejected the defendants’ argument that the courier position fit within the statutory exceptions under “Special Regulations on Protection of Female Workers,” which prohibits female workers from working in certain fields involving heavy manual labor. The Court of first instance awarded 2,000 Chinese yuan as compensation for mental distress but denied the request for an official apology. Both the plaintiff and defendants appealed.  The Intermediate People’s Court affirmed the lower court’s determination that a courier does not fit within the statutory exceptions for positions “unsuitable for women.” The court also held that compensation of 2,000 Chinese yuan was commensurate with the damages suffered by the plaintiff, and that there was insufficient ground to require an official apology from the defendants to the plaintiff.



Liang v. Guangdong Huishijia Economic Development Co. Ltd. Intermediate People's Court of Guangzhou Municipality (2016)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

The plaintiff sued the defendants for infringing upon her right to employment equality. The plaintiff alleged that the online advertisement posted by the defendants, to which Liang responded, required kitchen apprentices to be “men between the ages of 18 and 25.” The plaintiff further alleged that when she went to the restaurant, the receptionist informed her of the restaurant’s policy that “all employees in the kitchen should be men, even if a woman possesses the qualifications of a chef.” The plaintiff alleged that the defendants’ behavior violates Articles XII and XIII of the People’s Republic of China’s Employment Law, which provide that potential employees should not be discriminated against on the bases of ethnicity, race, sex, and religious beliefs. As relief, the plaintiff requested (1) an official apology from the defendants; (2) 21 Chinese yuan in damages for costs incurred by responding to the advertisement; and (3) 40,800 Chinese yuan in damages for emotional distress. The court of first instance held that the defendants’ actions constituted gender-based discrimination against the plaintiff. However, it found insufficient evidence for the plaintiff’s emotional distress and awarded 2,000 Chinese yuan in damages. It also denied Liang’s request for an official apology. Both the plaintiff and defendants appealed.  Relying on the explicit requirement in the advertisement and the receptionist’s explanations that the candidate be a man, the Intermediate People’s Court held that the defendants’ exclusion based on the plaintiff’s gender was unlawful and unreasonable and constituted gender-based employment discrimination. With respect to relief, the Intermediate People’s Court held that under the Supreme People’s Court’s interpretations, emotional distress normally should not be compensated in monetary terms unless there are severe consequences.  The Intermediate People’s Court held that compensation of 2,000 Chinese yuan was within the discretion of the lower court, and thus upheld the amount. The Intermediate People’s Court, however ordered the defendants to issue an official apology to the plaintiff in newspapers in the Guangzhou area.



People's Procuratorate of Chongming County v. Shi Chongming County District People's Court of Shanghai Municipality (2014)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

On May 20, 2014, the defendant used a hammer to strike her husband’s head three times. She then asked her son to send her husband to hospital where he died. The Court found that throughout their marriage, the deceased often beat and abused the defendant. The day before the incident, the deceased beat the defendant for a long period of time. At approximately 5:30 AM the following day, the defendant, due to the history of abuse, decided to kill her husband. During the trial, multiple witnesses testified to the deceased’s long history of domestic violence. A letter signed by more than 100 people, including close relatives of the deceased, also confirmed that he had abused the defendant over a long period of time. The Court held that the defendant’s conduct qualified as murder. However, because her motive was her husband’s long history of domestic violence, the victim himself was also culpable. Because the defendant had little possibility of recidivism and because there was strong public sympathy for the defendant, the court sentenced her to four years imprisonment. She was due to be released on May 21, 2018. On August 29, 2017, Shanghai No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court ordered her release on parole.



Yang v. China PLA Hospital No. 458 Higher People's Court of Guangdong Province (2018)

Abortion and reproductive health rights

Yang sued China PLA Hospital No. 458 for violation of his reproductive rights. The plaintiff alleged that his wife sought an abortion at the defendant-hospital and lied that she was unmarried. The plaintiff also alleged that the defendant did not meet its obligation to investigate Peng’s marital status and chose to believe Peng’s lie. The Court held that under Article 51 of the Law on Protection of Women’s Rights and Interests, “women have the right to reproduce and not to reproduce under the relevant state regulations.” Therefore, Peng’s right to voluntarily terminate pregnancy is protected by law. Moreover, according to the Supreme People’s Court’s authoritative interpretations of the Marriage Law, “courts should not support husbands’ damage claims based on infringement of their reproductive rights due to their wives’ termination of pregnancy.” Therefore, the defendant’s actions were not unlawful.



Liu v. Zhang Intermediate People's Court of Fuyang Municipality Anhui Province (2014)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Property and inheritance rights

Liu and Zhang held the wedding ceremony in 2009 and registered for marriage in 2011.  In order to marry Liu, Zhang paid a “bride price” of 96,080 Chinese yuan, and Liu’s dowry included a television, refrigerator, washing machine and several pieces of furniture. Liu filed for divorce in 2013, and Zhang requested Liu to return part or all of the bride price. The court found that the bride price was paid for the purpose of marrying Liu, and its payment led to difficulty in Zhang’s parents’ life after Zhang’s marriage. Thus, the court held that Liu was required to return a portion of the bride price. Considering the length of Zhang and Liu’s marriage and their standard of living during that time, the Court ordered Liu to return 32,000 Chinese yuan of the bride price. Moreover, the court found that Liu’s dowry was Liu’s personal property and Zhang had no interest therein.  Available here



People's Procuratorate of Wuhan City Hubei Province v. Zhu Intermediate People's Court of Wuhan Municipality (2011)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

The appellant and the deceased were divorced in 2007 but continued to live as a married couple until the incident.  The appellant had a history of physical abuse. On the day of the incident, the appellant again beat the deceased with a leather belt, causing her to commit suicide. On the same day, the appellant turned himself in. The lower People’s Court held that the appellant had continuously beaten the deceased, causing her to endure physical and mental damage and commit suicide, and his actions constituted the crime of abuse. The appellant was sentenced to five years of imprisonment. Upon appeal, the Intermediate People’s Court upheld the conviction and affirmed the decision.



People’s Procuratorate of Dazhou City Sichuan Province v. Tang Higher People's Court of Sichuan Province (2013)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

The lower court convicted the appellant of intentional assault and sentenced her to life imprisonment and deprivation of political rights for life for stabbing her cohabiting boyfriend to death. The lower court held that the defendant’s motive, frivolous arguments, constituted a crime of intentional assault.  The lower court found that the consequence of the crime was serious and that the defendant should receive a severe punishment. On appeal, the Higher People’s Court of Sichuan Province reversed the lower court’s holding, finding that (1) the appellant turned herself in and obtained forgiveness from relatives of the deceased; (2) on the day of incident, the victim had attacked the appellant first, and should bear certain responsibility. Thus, the High People’s Court reversed the lower court’s ruling and reduced the sentence to 15 years in prison and deprivation of political rights for three years. Available here.



State v. Banda High Court of Zimbabwe (2001)

Abortion and reproductive health rights

The accused took a concoction of herbs with the intent to procure an abortion when she was six months pregnant and buried the fetus. She pled guilty to contravening the Termination of Pregnancy Act, which bans abortions subject to enumerated exceptions. She was sentenced to nine months imprisonment that were suspended on the condition that she complete 305 hours of community service. The issue under review was whether the conviction was proper without medical evidence to prove that the ingested herbal concoction could induce an abortion. It was held that before a person is convicted for abortion it must be proved that the instrument or method used can induce an abortion. Except for a few obvious cases were the conduct of the accused is known to cause abortions, medical evidence must prove that the terminated pregnancy was not spontaneous but induced by the actions of the accused. Here, there was no proof that the herbal concoction was, in fact, capable of inducing an abortion. Therefore a conviction for abortion was an error, accused was guilty solely of attempting abortion.



Musumhiri v. State High Court of Zimbabwe (2014)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

The 47-year-old male applicant requested bail pending the appeal of his conviction and 15-year sentence for raping the 16-year-old complainant. The applicant appealed, arguing that the intercourse was consensual because the victim did not scream or immediately report the rape after a witness stumbled upon the incident. The applicant had to show, among other things, the likelihood of success of his appeal to obtain bail. The court dismissed the bail application after rejecting the state's concession that the applicant had a meritorious appeal because complainant's failure to scream or to immediately report the rape cast doubts upon her lack of consent. Citing research about cultural inhibitions on gender violence victims, the court concluded that silence could not be equated to acquiescence. With women often held culturally as custodians of appropriate sexual conduct, and with the responsibility for sexual restraint being placed on a woman, regardless of her age or power imbalances, the court found it understandable that the complainant failed to make an immediate report. The court noted that a young girl may not make a voluntary report because her cultural context makes it difficult for her to do so without being re-victimized. Consequently, the proposition that the victim's initial silence implied consent was untenable and could not be ground for bail.



People's Procuratorate of Baoding City Hebei Province v. Cong China Supreme People's Court (2014)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Femicide

The defendant was convicted of murder and sentenced to death for stabbing his wife (Cui) and mother-in-law (Zhao) to death, which was upheld by the Supreme People’s Court. Cui had previously filed for divorce. On October 4, 2012, the defendant got into an argument with Zhao and Cui. The defendant chased Zhao out of the house and stabbed her to death. The defendant then caught up with Cui, who had run to a neighbor’s house for help, and stabbed her to death. The Supreme People’s Court affirmed the lower courts’ finding that the defendant was guilty of unlawfully depriving others of their lives, which constituted intentional homicide. The Supreme People’s Court upheld the death penalty, holding that the defendant’s killing method was cruel and the consequences were particularly serious, and thus the death penalty was the appropriate sentence according to the law.



Hosho v. Hasisi High Court of Zimbabwe (2015)

Harmful traditional practices, Property and inheritance rights

This was a dispute involving property in the name of the plaintiff and occupied by the defendant. The plaintiff sought an order for the eviction of the defendant, claiming that he had lawfully acquired the property. The defendant claimed that she was the rightful owner as the surviving spouse of the previous owner of the property through an unregistered customary law union. The court held that defendant had no right to the property as there was no concrete evidence supporting the existence of her customary marriage. The court explained that although the absence of a formal marriage certificate is not fatal to the recognition of a customary law union in matters of inheritance and constitutional protections for surviving spouses and children, the union must be proven to exist. Payment of a roora/lobola, or bride price, remains the most cogent and valid proof of a customary union/marriage, particularly where it has not been formally registered because the ceremony itself involves representatives from both families and others who could attest to the process having taken place. Furthermore, there is often documentary evidence of what had been paid and what remained to be paid. Here, the court held for the plaintiff because there was no evidence of a roora/lobola payment and the defendant could not prove her customary marriage to the deceased.



Mapingure v. Minister of Home Affairs Supreme Court of Zimbabwe (2014)

Abortion and reproductive health rights, Sexual violence and rape

A month after the rape, the appellant’s pregnancy was formally confirmed, she then informed the investigating police officer of her pregnancy who referred her to a public prosecutor. She was told by the prosecutor that she had to wait until the rape trial had been completed to have her pregnancy terminated. At the direction of the police, she returned to the prosecutor’s office four months later and was advised that she required a pregnancy termination order. The prosecutor requested that a magistrate certify the termination. The magistrate said he could not assist because the rape trial had not been completed. She eventually obtained the necessary magisterial certificate nearly six months after the rape, the hospital felt that it was no longer safe to carry out the termination procedure. The appellant carried to full term and gave birth to a child. The applicant brought an action against the Ministers of Home Affairs, Health and Justice for damages for the physical and mental pain, anguish and stress she suffered and care for the child until the child turned 18. The basis of the claim was that the employees of the three Ministries concerned were negligent in their failure to prevent the pregnancy or to expedite its termination. The particulars of negligence were itemized. Her claim was dismissed. The questions for determination on appeal were (i) whether or not the respondents’ employees were negligent in responding to the appellant, (ii) if they were, whether the appellant suffered any actionable harm as a result of such negligence and, (iii) if so, whether the respondents were liable for damages for pain, suffering, and the care of her child. The Supreme Court held, on appeal, that the State was liable for failing to provide the appellant with emergency contraception to prevent the pregnancy and ordered it to pay damages. However, the court dismissed the claim that the State was liable for failing to ensure a timely termination of the pregnancy and in turn that they were liable to pay for the care of the child. The case was referred back to the High Court for a determination of the amount of damages.



State v. Gudyanga (2015)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

This was a review of a sentence imposed by a trial magistrate at the request of the regional magistrate. In the opinion of the regional magistrate, the sentence imposed by the trial magistrate was too harsh and a community service sentence would have been just in the case. The accused was charged with physical abuse as defined under the DVA. The 20-year-old accused assaulted the complainant, his18-year-old wife, over a denial of conjugal rights. He was sentenced to two months’ imprisonment with a further two months suspended. The issue to be determined on review was whether the trial magistrate, by imposing a custodial sentence on a repeat violator of the DVA, erred in the exercise of discretion. The court found no misdirection on the part of the magistrate, holding that a custodial sentence is not required because the purpose of the DVA was to bring families closer together. Rather, the court explained that judges should apply a multi-factor sentencing analysis that includes, among other factors, considering both the DVA’s purpose to bring families together and whether the accused was a repeat offender. The DVA makes repeat offenders liable for imprisonment not exceeding five years. Here, the accused was a repeat offender, and therefore, liable for a custodial sentence at the discretion of the trial magistrate.



Saks v. Franklin Covey Co. United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (2003)

Abortion and reproductive health rights, Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

The plaintiff’s employee health benefit plan denied coverage for certain infertility procedures that can only be performed on women, including in vitro fertilization (“IVF”). She sued her employer for unlawful discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), Title VII, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, and state law. The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant-employer. On the plaintiff’s appeal, the Second Circuit analyzed the issue differently than the district court but ultimately affirmed the grant of summary judgment, finding that the health plan’s exclusion of coverage for surgical implantation procedures limited its infertility procedures for male and female employees equally and as a result did not amount to unlawful discrimination.



Lavin-McEleney v. Marist College United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (2001)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

The plaintiff, a female professor sued the defendant, alleging that her salary raises were less than those of comparable male professors in violation of the Equal Pay Act and Title VII. At trial, both parties’ experts provided statistical evidence based on multiple regression analyses controlled to eliminate any observed gender disparity, including rank, years of service, division, tenure status, and degrees earned. Both experts found a difference in pay between comparable men and women, but disagreed about the statistical significance of that difference. The District Court for the Southern District of New York entered judgment for the plaintiff. The defendant appealed, arguing that the plaintiff had failed to make a case for discrimination because she had not identified a specific higher-paid male professor in her department and that she had impermissibly compared herself to a male employee statistical composite rather than an actual male employee. The Second Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision, holding that the plaintiff had identified a specific male comparator since only two other professors were comparable in each of the five categories identified by the expert witnesses, and one of them was a male professor who received higher pay. The Second Circuit further held that it was proper for the professor to introduce



Raniola v. Bratton United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (2001)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination, Sexual harassment

The plaintiff, a female police officer sued a police department, alleging hostile work environment, sexual harassment, and retaliation claims under Title VII. The plaintiff alleged that she suffered years of abuse because she was a woman, including derogatory remarks, disproportionately burdensome assignments, sabotage of her work, threats, and false accusations of misconduct. The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York granted the defendants’ motion for judgment as a matter of law. The Second Circuit reviewed all the evidence in the light most favorable to the officer and found that a reasonable jury could have arrived at a different conclusion than the district court. The Second Circuit determined that the evidence presented by the officer formed a sufficient basis for a reasonable jury to conclude that she was subjected to hostile work environment because she was a woman and that she was suspended, put on probation, and then terminated in retaliation for having complained about her treatment. The Second Circuit vacated the judgment and remanded the claims for retrial.



Bah v. Mukasey United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (2008)

Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting, Gender-based violence in general, Harmful traditional practices, International law

Three plaintiffs from Guinea who underwent female genital mutilation (“FGM”) appealed decisions from the Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”), which had denied their claims for relief and withholding of removal under the Convention Against Torture based on FGM. An applicant who demonstrates past persecution benefits from the presumption that he or she faces future persecution, unless the government shows either a change of circumstances such that the applicant’s life or freedom would not be threatened upon return to his or her native country, or a reasonable possibility of internal relocation within the country. Here, the BIA found that the presumption was automatically rebutted because the FGM had already occurred. On appeal, the Second Circuit held that the fact that an applicant had already undergone FGM cannot, in and of itself, rebut the presumption that her life or freedom will be threatened in the future. In doing so, the Second Circuit found that the BIA had committed two significant errors in its analysis. First, it assumed that FGM is a one-time act without placing the burden on the government to show that the individuals in this case are not at risk of further mutilation. Second, to rebut the presumption, the government must show that changed conditions in the country obviate the risk to life or freedom related to the original claim; it is not enough that the particular act of persecution suffered by the victim in the past might not reoccur. The Second Circuit accordingly vacated the BIA decisions and remanded the cases.



Kone v. Holder United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (2010)

Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting, Harmful traditional practices, International law

The plaintiff, who was from Côte d'Ivoire, appealed a Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) decision affirming the denial of her asylum application, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture. Her asylum claim was based on female genital mutilation (“FGM”) and her fear that her daughters would be subjected to FGM if she was removed. An applicant who demonstrates past persecution benefits from the presumption that he or she faces future persecution unless the government rebuts that presumption by showing that there is either a change of circumstances such that the applicant’s life or freedom would not be threatened upon return to his or her native country, or a reasonable possibility of internal relocation within the country. Here, the BIA found that the plaintiff’s several voluntary return trips to her native country prior to her application for asylum rebutted that presumption and undermined her credibility. The Second Circuit disagreed, finding that a safe return on one occasion does not preclude potential future harm and that the regulation does not require an applicant to show that she would immediately be persecuted upon return. Similarly, the Second Circuit also found that an applicant’s return trips are not sufficient to undermine an applicant’s credibility. The Second Circuit accordingly vacated the BIA decision and remanded the case, noting that the agency may wish to consider the application for “humanitarian asylum.”



U.S. v. Robinson United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (2012)

Statutory rape or defilement, Trafficking in persons

A federal grand jury convicted the defendant-appellant of child sex trafficking in violation of 18 U.S.C. A minor victim testified that she started dating the defendant when she was 17 years old but had told him and others that she was 19 years old. She insisted that the defendant was only living off her income as a prostitute and was not a pimp facilitating prostitution.  However, the prosecution introduced videotaped statements in which the defendant repeatedly implored Doe to make money for him and threatened her when she failed to deliver the money. Following a jury trial, the defendant was convicted of two counts of sex trafficking of a minor. On appeal, the Second Circuit considered the construction of 18 U.S.C. § 1591(c), an evidentiary provision added by the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 (“TVPRA”), which provides that “[i]n a prosecution . . . in which the defendant had a reasonable opportunity to observe [the victim], the Government need not prove that the defendant knew that the person had not attained the age of 18 years.” The Second Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court, holding that this provision imposes strict liability with regard to the defendant’s awareness of the victim’s age and relieves the government’s usual burden to prove knowledge or reckless disregard of the victim’s underage status under § 1591(a). The Second Circuit rejected the defendant’s challenges to this provision as lacking merit and affirmed the judgment of the district court.



McGlothlin v. Bristol Obstetrics, Gynecology and Family Planning, Inc. Court of Appeals of Tennessee at Knoxville (1998)

Abortion and reproductive health rights

A mother and daughter sued an abortion provider for having performed an abortion on the minor daughter without first obtaining her parents’ approval, which was in violation of a Tennessee statute. The daughter was 17 years and ten months old at the time. The trial court dismissed the complaint because the statute was unconstitutional as applied to the abortion rights of minors. The Court of Appeals of Tennessee affirmed, finding that the statute in question violated the privacy rights of minors seeking abortions.



Berning v. State Department of Correction Court of Appeals of Tennessee at Nashville (1999)

Employment discrimination, Sexual harassment

The plaintiff, the manager of the Tennessee Department of Correction’s Murfreesboro probation office, was fired after an anonymous letter was sent to the department alleging that the office was rife with sexual harassment, creating a hostile work environment. An administrative law judge reviewed the plaintiff’s termination and found it to be warranted. The plaintiff appealed the administrative law judge’s decision to the Davidson County Chancery Court, which affirmed the order. The Court of Appeals of Tennessee affirmed the Chancery Court’s decision, holding in part that the conduct for which he was fired was not protected speech under the First Amendment.



Spann v. Abraham Court of Appeals of Tennessee (1999)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

The plaintiff, a cook and assistant manager at the defendant’s pizza franchise, informed her employer that she was pregnant. The defendant offered her the position of a backup night driver—a position she had held before—and proposed that his son replace her as the assistant manager while she took maternity leave. When she refused, the defendant informed her that if she did not accept the temporary reassignment, he had no other position for her. She quit soon after and sued in the Davidson County Circuit Court for pregnancy discrimination in violation of the Tennessee Human Rights Act (“THRA”). The Court entered a directed verdict in favor of her employer, and the Court of Appeals of Tennessee affirmed, finding that the plaintiff had failed to establish a prima facie case that the defendant discriminated against her because she was pregnant.



Keeton v. Hill Court of Appeals of Tennessee at Nashville (2000)

Gender discrimination, Sexual harassment

The plaintiff was fired for falsifying documents related to her work time. She sued in the Davidson County Chancery Court, alleging sexual harassment and retaliatory discharge in violation of the Tennessee Human Rights Act (“THRA”). The plaintiff alleged that her supervisors made sexually derogatory remarks to her, and that she was fired shortly after she complained about these comments. The Court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant, and the Court of Appeals of Tennessee affirmed because the employer had established the affirmative defense of exercising reasonable care.



Tennessee Department of Health v. Boyle Court of Appeals of Tennessee at Nashville (2002)

Abortion and reproductive health rights

A Tennessee statute required private clinics providing a “substantial number” of abortions to obtain a “certificate of need” from the Health Facilities Commission and a license from the Department of Health. The Department of Health denied a license to plaintiffs, and then sued to enjoin them from performing abortions. Defendants alleged that the licensing requirement violated the United States and Tennessee Constitutions as they relate to women’s right to privacy. The Davidson County Chancery Court upheld the statute and enjoined the defendants from performing abortions. The Court of Appeals of Tennessee reversed, holding that the statute was unconstitutional.



Bundy v. First Tennessee Bank National Association Court of Appeals of Tennessee at Jackson (2007)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

The plaintiff, a 59 year-old male employee, was fired following his failure to disclose documents he received from a customer. He filed suit in the Shelby County Circuit Court alleging both age and sex discrimination. The Court granted summary judgment in favor of his employer, and the Court of Appeals of Tennessee affirmed because the plaintiff was neither replaced by a younger female employee nor was he similarly situated to a younger female employee.



Smith v. City of Chattanooga Court of Appeals of Tennessee at Knoxville (2007)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

The plaintiff was a police officer with the Chattanooga Police Department. After repeated sexual harassment by a fellow officer, she filed a sexual harassment complaint against the officer, and he was transferred to a different team. However, he still worked in close physical proximity to the plaintiff and his presence intimidated her. She filed suit in the Hamilton County Chancery Court, alleging hostile work environment and sexual harassment in violation of the Tennessee Human Rights Act (“THRA”). The Court granted a directed verdict in favor of the police department, but the Court of Appeals of Tennessee vacated the verdict, finding that reasonable minds could differ on whether the employer established the affirmative defense that it took appropriate corrective action.



Bellomy v. Autozone, Inc. Court of Appeals of Tennessee at Knoxville (2009)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

The plaintiff was the defendant’s employee. She applied for the position of store manager, but the promotion was given to a younger male employee with less experience. She sued her employer in the Hamilton County Chancery Court alleging sex discrimination and other tort claims. The Court granted summary judgment in favor of her employer, but the Court of Appeals of Tennessee reversed and remanded her sex discrimination claims, finding that a genuine issue of material fact existed as to whether the plaintiff was qualified for the store manager position.



Hartman v. Tennessee Board of Regents Court of Appeals of Tennessee at Nashville (2011)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

The plaintiff was a long-time employee of Tennessee Tech University’s facilities department, where she managed inventory and was required to make purchases of supplies and equipment. After she made a purchase that exceeded her $5,000 purchasing authority, and even though she had recruited multiple bids for the product and chose the best supplier, her employment was terminated. The plaintiff filed suit in the Putnam County Chancery Court for gender discrimination. The Court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant. The Court of Appeals of Tennessee affirmed, finding that the plaintiff had not sufficiently alleged that a similarly-situated male employee was treated more favorably, even though she had named a male employee who was not fired after making a purchase that exceeded his purchasing authority.



Castro v. TX District Court of Appeals of Tennessee at Jackson (2013)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

The plaintiff worked at-will as a sales representative for the defendant. Shortly after she started working there, she discovered she was pregnant and informed her supervisor. Shortly after that, her supervisor informed her that her yearly salary would be halved, allegedly because she had failed to meet sales quotas. When she contacted the CEO (with whom she had interviewed) about her pay reduction, her supervisor met informed her that it was inappropriate to go over his head. After renegotiating the terms of her employment, her employment was soon terminated, again allegedly for failing to meet sales quotas. The plaintiff filed suit in the Shelby County Chancery Court for of sex and pregnancy discrimination, retaliation, and hostile work environment. The Court granted summary judgment in favor of her employer, but the Court of Appeals of Tennessee reversed, holding that the defendant did not establish that there were no male comparators that were treated more favorably than the plaintiff.



Castro v. TX District Court of Appeals of Tennessee at Jackson (2013)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

The plaintiff worked at-will as a sales representative for the defendant. Shortly after she started working there, she discovered she was pregnant and informed her supervisor. Shortly after that, her supervisor informed her that her yearly salary would be halved, allegedly because she had failed to meet sales quotas. When she contacted the CEO (with whom she had interviewed) about her pay reduction, her supervisor met informed her that it was inappropriate to go over his head. After renegotiating the terms of her employment, her employment was soon terminated, again allegedly for failing to meet sales quotas. The plaintiff filed suit in the Shelby County Chancery Court for of sex and pregnancy discrimination, retaliation, and hostile work environment. The Court granted summary judgment in favor of her employer, but the Court of Appeals of Tennessee reversed, holding that the defendant did not establish that there were no male comparators that were treated more favorably than the plaintiff.



Pierce v. City of Humboldt Court of Appeals of Tennessee at Jackson (2013)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

The plaintiff was a police officer with the Humboldt Police Department. While off duty, she ran into an ex-boyfriend against whom she had a protective order. Based on this encounter, she filed a criminal charge against him for violating the order. The chief of police commenced an internal affairs investigation into her charges, and her ex-boyfriend filed a criminal charge against her for filing a false charge. While both charges were pending, the plaintiff informed the chief of police that she was pregnant. Once the internal affairs investigation was completed, the plaintiff’s employment was terminated. She filed suit in the Gibson County Circuit Court for discrimination based on gender and pregnancy in violation of the Tennessee Human Rights Act (“THRA”). The Circuit Court granted summary judgment in favor of her employer, but the Court of Appeals of Tennessee reversed and remanded, finding that the plaintiff had sufficiently alleged that she was treated differently than similarly situated male police officers.



Bazemore v. Performance Food Group, Inc. Court of Appeals of Tennessee at Knoxville (2015)

Employment discrimination, Sexual harassment

The plaintiff was employed by the defendant as a sales manager. Another sales manager in her office sexually harassed her verbally and physically. He repeatedly made sexually explicit comments towards her and grabbed her buttocks on one occasion. The plaintiff sued in the Hamilton County Circuit Court, alleging sexual harassment and constructive discharge in violation of the Tennessee Human Rights Act (“THRA”). The Circuit Court granted summary judgment in favor of her employer, and the Court of Appeals of Tennessee affirmed, finding that the employer took reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment.



Sanders v. Lanier Supreme Court of Tennessee (1998)

Employment discrimination, Sexual harassment

The plaintiff worked as a youth services officer with the Dyer County Juvenile Court, where she alleged that a Chancery Court judge sexually harassed her verbally and physically. When she rejected his advances, the judge demoted her from her supervisory position, denied her salary increases, and altered her job requirements weekly. She sued the judge for quid-pro-quo sexual harassment, in violation of the Tennessee Human Rights Act (“THRA”). The Dyer County Chancery Court determined that the State was not the plaintiff’s employer for purposes of the THRA and dismissed her complaint for failing to state a cause of action. The Court of Appeals of Tennessee reversed and the Supreme Court of Tennessee affirmed the Court of Appeals decision. The Supreme Court of Tennessee held that the plaintiff did state a cause of action because the State was the plaintiff’s employer and the defendant was a supervisor acting in the scope of his employment, making the employer strictly liable under an “alter-ego” theory of liability.



Anderson v. Save-A-Lot, Ltd. Supreme Court of Tennessee (1999)

Employment discrimination, Sexual harassment

The plaintiff was the co-manager of a Save-A-Lot grocery store in Memphis, where her immediate supervisor sexually harassed her daily and threatened to kill her if she reported the harassment. She reported him and transferred to another store, but suffered post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”) and other psychological problems for which she sought medical treatment. She filed a complaint for workers compensation, which is at issue in this appeal, as well as a claim in federal court for sexual harassment in violation of the Tennessee Human Rights Act (“THRA”) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Shelby County Chancery Court granted summary judgment in favor of her employer on her worker’s compensation claim, finding that that her injuries did not arise out of her employment. The Special Workers Compensation Appeals Panel reversed and remanded, but the Supreme Court of Tennessee reversed the Panel’s ruling, holding that her employment was not the “but for” cause of her injuries.



Parker v. Warren County Utility District Supreme Court of Tennessee (1999)

Employment discrimination, Sexual harassment

The plaintiff worked as a bookkeeper for the defendant. The general manager of the district repeatedly touched her inappropriately and made inappropriate remarks to her. Parker made numerous complaints to her immediate supervisor, but the harassing conduct continued until she resigned. Soon after, she sued the defendant for sexual harassment in violation of the Tennessee Human Rights Act in the Warren County Chancery Court. The court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant, finding that it took prompt corrective action in response to plaintiff’s complaints, thereby establishing a complete affirmative defense. The Court of Appeals of Tennessee reversed, finding that there was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the defendant acted promptly and adequately. The Supreme Court of Tennessee held that an employer is subject to vicarious liability for actionable hostile work environment sexual harassment by a supervisor with immediate, or successively higher, authority over employee, but that a genuine issue of material fact existed as to whether the employer exercised reasonable care. The Court remanded the case for further proceedings.



Planned Parenthood of Middle Tennessee v. Sundquist Supreme Court of Tennessee (2000)

Abortion and reproductive health rights

A Tennessee criminal statute required that physicians warn their patients that “abortion in a considerable number of cases constitutes a major surgical procedure,” that second-trimester abortions be performed in a hospital, and that women wait two days after meeting with a physician to receive an abortion. The plaintiff challenged the constitutionality of these provisions. The Davidson County Circuit Court struck down as unconstitutional the statutory warning and two-day waiting period as unconstitutional, but allowed the hospitalization requirement. The Court of Appeals of Tennessee reversed, finding each requirement constitutional. The Supreme Court of Tennessee reversed the Court of Appeals, holding that none of the provisions could be deemed constitutional under the proper strict scrutiny framework.



Women's Medical Center of Providence, Inc. v. Roberts United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island (1982)

Abortion and reproductive health rights, Gender discrimination

This case struck down provisions of the Rhode Island “Informed Consent for Abortion” Act for failure to demonstrate a compelling state interest to justify its interference with women’s rights to abortion including: (i) a provision that required women be informed of “all medical risks” associated with the abortion procedure, including “psychological risks to the fetus,” as such a provision was unconstitutionally vague; (ii) a provision requiring a woman seeking abortion to give written consent to the procedure at least 24 hours prior to her scheduled operation, as such a provision imposed a legally significant burden on a woman’s fundamental right to terminate her pregnancy, and the state did not demonstrate a compelling state interest necessitating such waiting period. However, the Court upheld a provision requiring that an abortion patient be informed of the “nature of her abortion,” i.e., that the abortion will irreversibly terminate her pregnancy.



Constitutional Right to Life Committee v. Cannon Supreme Court of Rhode Island (1976)

Abortion and reproductive health rights

A non-profit corporation filed a claim protesting the validity of a regulation requiring specified facilities, procedures, and personnel whenever a pregnancy is terminated within the geographical boundaries of Rhode Island, arguing that the regulations failed to consider the life of the unborn child. The Supreme Court of Rhode Island held that the regulation did not improperly disregard the life of the unborn child because, as a matter of constitutional law, the only interest that a state may assert in regulating abortion procedures prior to the time of a child’s viability is during the second trimester when the state may regulate abortion procedure to the extent that the regulation reasonably relates to the preservation and protection of maternal health.



State v. Ware Supreme Court of Rhode Island (1980)

Statutory rape or defilement

The Supreme Court of Rhode Island rejected the argument that the state’s criminal statute outlawing carnal knowledge of a girl under 16 years of age violated equal protection of the law, even though it created a classification based on sex by designating females as the only possible victims and subjecting only males to conviction under the statute. In rejecting the defendant’s argument, the court applied the rule that sex-based classifications that served important governmental objectives and were substantially related to the achievement of those objectives were not unconstitutional. The court cited the fact that the classification was substantially related to the important state’s interest in protecting female children “from the severe physical and psychological consequences of engaging in coitus before attaining the age of consent in the statute.” Therefore, the classification based on sex did not violate the constitution’s equal protection law.



Hamel v. Hamel Supreme Court of Rhode Island (1981)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage

Petitioners, husband, and wife filed cross-petitions for legal separation rather than an absolute divorce where the matrimonial bonds are completely broken. The Family Court dismissed both petitions because the husband’s stated reason for seeking legal separation was “irreconcilable differences.” The text of the statute ordaining legal separation seemed to require that it be an interim measure pending the reconciliation of the parties. Legal separation because of irreconcilable differences therefore, on its face, seemed to be an inconsistent proposition. The issue on appeal was whether irreconcilable differences could be grounds for a merely legal separation rather than an absolute divorce. The Supreme Court of Rhode Island ruled that based on the history of legal separation and legislative intent, a party can seek legal separation based on irreconcilable differences without needing to show that there is a possibility of reconciliation. Statutory text that seemed to contradict this ruling by requiring a show of a possibility for reconciliation was precatory but not mandatory.



McMaugh v. State Supreme Court of Rhode Island (1992)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

A woman and her husband were convicted of murder, and the woman appealed her conviction, arguing that her husband’s severe abuse prevented her from fairly defending herself at trial. Evidence of the abuse was discovered one year after the completion of trial, when the woman and her husband were placed in separate prisons. In reviewing the trial court’s denial of post-conviction relief, the Supreme Court of Rhode Island assessed whether the trial court considered if the additional evidence was newly discovered, material, and outcome determinative, and then whether such evidence, if appropriately before the court, warranted post-conviction relief. Upon hearing the newly discovered evidence, the court found that the pattern of extreme physical and mental abuse by her husband prevented the woman from assisting her attorney in presenting a reasonable defense at trial—rather, the evidence supported that the woman was suffering from battered women’s syndrome, which caused her, contrary to her own interests, to support her husband’s story at trial. Moreover, the evidence was and could only have been discovered after the wife was in prison and more removed from the husband’s domination and influence. The court found that this evidence warranted post-conviction relief, vacating the case and remanding it to the lower court for a new trial.



Sammataro v. Sammataro Supreme Court of Rhode Island (1993)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage

The General Master of Family Court granted custody of a child to the defendant because the plaintiff received public assistance. The issue on appeal was whether receiving public assistance was a legitimate criterion for the denial of child custody. In reversing the Family Court’s ruling for the defendant, the Supreme Court of Rhode Island reiterated the rule that any custody determinations must be based on the best interests of the child and delineated a non-exclusive test to determine the best interest of the child. The factors include, but are not limited to: (i) the wishes of the child’s parent or parents regarding the child’s custody; (ii) the reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient intelligence, understanding and experience to express a preference; (iii) the interaction and interrelationship of the child with the child’s parent or parents, the child’s siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interest; (iv) the child’s adjustment to the child’s home, school and community; (v) the mental and physical health of all individuals involved; (vi) the stability of the child’s home environment; (vii) the moral fitness of the child’s parents; and (viii) the willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate a close and continuous parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent.



Congdon v. Congdon Court of Appeals of Virginia: Richmond (2003)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Domestic and intimate partner violence, Property and inheritance rights

In this divorce case, the husband appealed the trial court’s decision to grant spousal support to the wife notwithstanding her adultery, based on the court’s finding that manifest injustice would otherwise result.  The appellant and the appellee were married for 20 years and had two children.  The appellant had a stable career in the trucking business and earned $250,000 per year and had assets totaling more than $6 million.  The appellee was the primary caretaker for the children and worked part-time as a receptionist earning $10 an hour.  She did not contest that she had an affair for at least five years during the marriage.  The court noted, however, that the evidence “portrayed the appellant  as a profane and verbally abusive man,” who frequented “strip joints and topless bars,” and frequently boasted and bragged about these experiences in lewd terms in front of the appellee and their children.  He was also verbally abusive to his children.  Several witnesses testified that “they had never once seen [him] show any affection or any kindness toward [his wife],” and that he “chronically complained” to the appellee and others about her “weight, appearance, housekeeping, and spending habits.”  The trial court explained that Va. Code § 20-107.1(B)the law precludes an award of support to any spouse found guilty of adultery, subject to narrow exceptions, including when the trial court determines from “clear and convincing evidence, that denial of support and maintenance would constitute manifest injustice, based upon the respective degrees of fault during the marriage or relative economic circumstances of the parties. The question before the court was whether the trial court committed a reversible error in stating that the statutory standard for deciding if a denial of support and maintenance constitutes a manifest injustice involved considering “either” the respective degrees of fault during the marriage “or” the relative economic circumstances of the parties.  In affirming the ruling of the trial court, the Court of Appeals held that the trial court erred, but also that it was a harmless error as it was supported by facts that satisfied the correct standard. The court determined that the proper standard for determining if a denial of spousal support would constitute a manifest injustice must consider “both” the comparative economic circumstances “and” the respective degrees of fault, i.e., the test was a conjunctive test rather than the disjunctive test used by the trial court.  Nevertheless, the Court of Appeals affirmed the ruling under correct test.  With respect to the relative degrees of fault, the Court of Appeals explained that adultery was not dispositive and that a reasonable factfinder could conclude that appellant’s severe and longstanding abusive conduct went beyond “mere incivility or petulance” and tipped the scales in appellee’s favor.  Moreover, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s finding of “extreme disparities” in the relative economic situations of the parties.  Consequently, the trial court erred in stating the standard for determining if a denial of spousal support would cause manifest injustice as requiring either economic disparities or fault instead of both factors, but the error was harmless as the factual findings addressed both factors under the appropriate standard.



Bergaust v. Flaherty Court of Appeals of Virginia (2011)

Gender discrimination, Property and inheritance rights

The plaintiff, a mother, brought a petition for child support against the putative father.  The two met during a trip to France and had a long-distance relationship for 18 months.  After returning to Virginia from another visit to the defendant in France, the plaintiff learned she was pregnant.  Because the defendant was her only sexual partner during the relevant time period, she informed the defendant that the child was his.  The defendant said he would help in any way he could and called twice a week during the pregnancy.  Their child was born in Alexandria, Virginia, and the defendant continued to call regularly during this time.  When the child was seven months old, the defendant came to Virginia to meet and spend time with the child.  Following this visit, the defendant’s contact with the plaintiff decreased and ultimately ceased.  Several years later, the plaintiff learned of the defendant’s whereabouts and brought a petition for child support.  The circuit court dismissed the petition for lack of personal jurisdiction. The question before the Virginia Court of Appeals was whether the defendant had fathered a child in Virginia pursuant to the long-arm statute that provided, in part, that a court may exercise personal jurisdiction over a person when it is shown that the person “conceived or fathered” a child in Virginia.  The statute does not define the terms “conceived or fathered.”  In finding no personal jurisdiction, the Court of Appeals affirmed the circuit court’s interpretation of the term “fathered” to mean “to beget or to procreate as father,” rejecting the plaintiff’s argument that the term encompassed “the acknowledgment of parentage” while in Virginia.  Although the Court of Appeals acknowledged that the ordinary meaning of “fathered” includes “to make oneself the father…by acknowledgment,” the court concluded that if the state legislature had intended this broader meaning of the term, it “presumably would have included the word ‘mothered’ along with ‘conceived or fathered’ to encompass the non-custodial mother of a child living in [Virginia].”  Therefore, per Virginia law, the child was not fathered in Virginia and the long-arm statute could not grant personal jurisdiction over the matter.



deCamp v. deCamp Court of Appeals of Virginia: Chesapeake (2014)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Property and inheritance rights

The appellant and the appellee were married for 21 years and had three children.  After the birth of their first child, by mutual agreement of the parties, the appellee stopped working and became a homemaker and the children’s primary caregiver. In adjudicating couple’s separation agreement, the trial court ordered the appellant to pay the appellee spousal support in addition to child support pursuant to statutory guidelines.  On appeal, the appellant raised several arguments including that the trial court failed to exclude child-related expenses that he already had to pay for through child support awarded to appellee and that the court erred in refusing to impute income to appellee even though she was voluntarily unemployed.  With respect to  the first argument, the court affirmed the trial court’s conclusion, explaining that expenses that are indivisible by nature or trivial in amount need not be segregated. Although “some of wife’s claimed expenses did indeed include expenses attributable to the children, such as Internet service fees, utilities, and food,” those expenses were properly included in the spousal support award because they were “indivisible by their very nature.”   With respect to the trial court’s refusal to impute income to the appellee, the court explained that “the law does not require wife return to work immediately upon divorce to avoid judicial imputation of income merely because she has provable earning capacity at the time of the divorce.”  Rather, any decision to impute income must be done “within a review of all the statutory factors concerning spousal support.”  Under the circumstances, the court found the trial court’s refusal to impute income to the appellee to be supported by the facts, given that the appellant  had been the sole monetary contributor for the entire duration of their marriage, the appellee had left her nursing career in order to be a full-time homemaker and caregiver for their children, and the family moved eight times over the course of the marriage in order to enable the appellant  to pursue and advance his military career. Thus, the refusal to impute any income to her was not an error.



J. v. Victory Tabernacle Baptist Church Supreme Court of Virginia (1988)

Statutory rape or defilement

The plaintiff, the mother of 10-year-old girl, sued the defendant, the Tabernacle Baptist Church, alleging that her daughter had been repeatedly raped and sexually assaulted by an employee of the church.  The plaintiff alleged that the church knew or should have known that its employee had recently been convicted of aggravated sexual assault on a young girl, was currently on probation for this offense, and that a condition of his probation was that he not be involved with children.  In spite of this fact, the church hired the offending employee and entrusted him with duties that encouraged him to interact freely with children, gave him the keys to lock and unlock all of the church doors, and failed to supervise him.  As a result, the plaintiff’s daughter was raped by the employee multiple times, on and off of church grounds.  The trial court dismissed the action, concluding that, as a charitable organization, the church was immune from tort liability under the doctrine of charitable immunity.  The Virginia Supreme Court reversed and remanded. The question  before the court was whether the church, as a charitable institution, was immune from prosecution for torts under the charitable immunity doctrine. Answering in the negative, the Court cited cases in which Virginia courts held charitable hospitals liable for negligent hiring and concluded that there was no basis for distinguishing those cases from the case before it.  Thus, the Court held that the church could be held liable for negligently hiring an employee.



S. v. Cayouette Supreme Court of Virginia (1992)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

The defendant sexually abused the plaintiff between 1969 and 1978 when she was 5-14 years old. The plaintiff turned 18, the age of majority in Virginia, in 1982. She first received information from her psychologist regarding the causal connection between the childhood sexual abuse and the severe emotional harm she manifested in March 1990, and she subsequently filed a lawsuit against defendant for the abuse in July 1991. However, the trial court dismissed the lawsuit as untimely. The issue before the Virginia Supreme Court was whether, upon the lapse of the time fixed in the statute of limitations and the tolling statute (the grace period before the statute of limitations begins), the defendant acquired a right protected by due process guarantees notwithstanding a recent statute by the legislature with provisions to: (a) retroactively apply a ten-year statute of limitations . . . in cases in which the statute of limitations had expired . . . and (b) to create a twelve-month period during which such cases could be filed regardless of when the cause of action accrued. In affirming the lower court’s ruling the Virginia Supreme Court reaffirmed its well-established principle that the legislature possesses the power to enact retrospective legislation only if the statute is not destructive of vested rights. Here, defendant’s statute of limitations defense was a vested right. Infant plaintiff suffered an injury in that "she experienced positive, physical or mental hurt" each time defendant committed a wrongful act against her "and her right of action accrued on that date." The last such act was committed in 1978. Because plaintiff was 14 years old at that time, the statute of limitations was tolled until she attained her majority in 1982. The two-year time limitation expired in 1984. At that time defendant right to a statute of limitations defense vested and could not be repealed by subsequent legislation. The court therefore affirmed the lower courts’ ruling that defendant had acquired a right protected by due process guarantees and plaintiff’s suit was untimely.



Middlekauff v. Allstate Insurance Co. Supreme Court of Virginia (1994)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination, Sexual harassment

The plaintiff sued her former supervisor and former employer for intentional infliction of emotional distress due to her supervisor’s harassment, which consisted of sexist and belittling remarks over an extended period of time.  The lower courts held that her claim was barred by the Virginia’s Workers Compensation Act, which supplies remedied for injuries by accident, arising out of and in, the course of the employment or occupational disease but excluded any other remedies for such injuries. The issue before the Court was whether a pattern of harassment constituted the type of injury for which a lawsuit had to be filed under the Workers Compensation Act only. In reversing the lower courts’ decision, the court overruled its prior decision in Haddon v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., 389 S.E.2d 712 (Va. 1990), which held that a pattern of sexual harassment constituted an “injury by accident” and thus could only be brought under the Workers’ Compensation Act.  The Court reasoned that Haddon was irreconcilable with long-established precedent holding that a “gradually incurred” injury over an extended period of time did not constitute an “injury by accident” and was thus not covered by the Act’s exclusion of other remedies.  The Court’s decision allowed for a tort cause of action for intentional infliction of emotional distress based on a pattern of sexual harassment in the workplace.   



Lockhart v. Commonwealth Education Systems Corp. Supreme Court of Virginia (1994)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination, Sexual harassment

Two plaintiffs, A and B, sued their former employer for wrongful termination, one based on racial discrimination and the other based on gender discrimination. Plaintiff B alleged that her supervisor touched her sexually without her consent and, when she complained, he fired her.  The lower courts dismissed the actions, concluding that, pursuant to the employment-at-will doctrine, the plaintiffs were at-will employees who could be terminated for any or no reason at all.  The issue before the Court was whether workplace discrimination could constitute a public policy exception to the employment-at-will doctrine and whether the availability of federal statutory remedies precluded state tort lawsuits. In reversing lower courts’ decision, the Court cited its precedents recognizing a public policy exception to the employment-at-will doctrine and concluded that it is “[w]ithout question” that it is the public policy of the Commonwealth of Virginia that individuals within the state are “entitled to pursue employment free of discrimination based on race or gender.”  The Court rejected the employer’s argument that the availability of federal statutory remedies should preclude a state tort cause of action based on wrongful discharge, explaining that it is not uncommon for injuries resulting from the same set of operative facts to give rise to multiple remedies.



Niese v. City of Alexandria Supreme Court of Virginia (2002)

Sexual violence and rape

The plaintiff alleged that she was raped several times by a police officer who had been assigned to help her deal with her son’s behavioral issues.  The plaintiff reported the rapes to municipal mental health and domestic abuse entities, and she alleged that these entities violated their statutory duty to report these incidents or take further action.  Consequently, the plaintiff sued the Alexandria Police Department for intentional tort and negligent hiring.  The issue before the Court was whether the sovereign immunity doctrine barred the plaintiff from suing municipal entities for both intentional torts and negligence in failing to act upon plaintiff’s reports and in hiring and retaining the offending officer. The Virginia Supreme Court affirmed the lower court’s dismissal of the action as barred by sovereign immunity, explaining that a municipality is immune from liability for negligence associated with the performance of “governmental” functions, which include maintaining a police force and the decision to retain a specific police officer.  It declined to adopt an exception to sovereign immunity for the tort of negligent retention, as it had done in the context of charitable immunity.  The Court observed that whether a municipality is liable for an employee’s intentional torts was an issue of first impression in Virginia, but the Court relied on Fourth Circuit precedent to conclude that sovereign immunity applies in this context.  Finally, the Court held that the then-applicable statute requiring officials to make a report whenever they have “reason to suspect that an adult” has been “abused, neglected, or exploited” imposed a discretionary duty and not a ministerial duty upon the individuals subject to the reporting requirements and thus dismissed the claim. (i.e., ministerial duties make actions necessary when conditions for their performance arise while discretionary duties make actions optional, subject to the official’s judgment.)



Molina v. Commonwealth of Virginia Supreme Court of Virginia (2006)

Sexual violence and rape

The defendant appealed his convictions for rape and sodomy, arguing that there was insufficient evidence to convict him and that the victim was incapacitated due to voluntary intoxication.  The victim suffered from bipolar disorder and substance abuse. She was found non-responsive and half-naked behind a convenience store with rape-related injuries. She had high amounts of cocaine and alcohol in her blood, but low amounts of her prescribed lithium.  She stated that she had kissed the defendant but did not consent to sexual intercourse and had no recollection of intercourse with the defendant.  The defendant claimed the intercourse was consensual.  The issue before the Court was whether defendant could be convicted for rape because of the victim’s incapacity if such incapacity was not a permanent condition but a transitory condition such as voluntary intoxication. In affirming the conviction, the court explained that “[n]othing in the statutory definition itself limits the definition of ‘mental incapacity’ to a permanent condition,” but rather the statute defines incapacity to mean a condition existing “at the time of the offense” that “prevents the complaining witness from understanding the nature or consequences of the sexual act.”  Accordingly, the Court held that “mental incapacity” could extend to a transitory circumstance such as intoxication because the nature and degree of the intoxication went beyond the stage of merely reduced inhibition and reached a point where the victim did not understand “the nature or consequences of the sexual act.” Consequently, the Court upheld the convictions.



Nobrega v. Commonwealth of Virginia Supreme Court of Virginia (2006)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Statutory rape or defilement

The defendant was convicted of rape and sexual abuse of his minor daughter and appealed, challenging the trial court’s refusal to order the victim to undergo a mental health examination and the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his conviction.  The defendant’s daughter, who was 11 years old, reported to her mother that defendant had sex with her on two occasions when she was seven and eight years old. In a motion to order a psychiatric examination of the child, defendant pointed to the child’s mental health history, which showed that she “had been diagnosed with psychological disorders and exhibited dysfunctional behavior.” The trial court denied the motion and the Virginia Court of Appeals affirmed the denial. The issue before the Court was whether the trial court erred in denying defendant’s motion to subject the plaintiff, a rape victim, to a psychiatric examination and whether the plaintiff’s testimony alone, without the requested mental examination, was sufficient to sustain defendant’s conviction. The Court affirmed the lower courts, finding that the trial process afforded “adequate safeguards to the accused to test the competency of the complaining witness without a court-ordered mental health examination of that witness.” Therefore, “a trial court has no authority to order a complaining witness in a rape case to undergo a psychiatric or psychological evaluation.”  With respect to the sufficiency of the evidence, the court noted its precedents establishing that “the victim’s testimony alone, if not inherently incredible, is sufficient to support a conviction for rape,” and that because the child’s testimony was not inherently incredible, it was sufficient to sustain defendant’s conviction. The trial court did not err in denying defendant’s motion to subject plaintiff to a mental examination and the plaintiff’s testimony, by itself, was sufficient to support the conviction.



Stephens v. Rose Supreme Court of Virginia (2014)

Stalking

The plaintiff filed a petition for a protective order against the defendant, her ex-boyfriend.  The two  ended their relationship in 2007, but from 2009 to 2012, the defendant made repeated, unsuccessful attempts to re-establish contact with the plaintiff via e-mail and social media.  In 2013, the defendant escalated his attempts, first driving to the plaintiff ’s parents’ home in Canton, Ohio, and approaching her father at 6:20 a.m. to find out where the plaintiff  was currently living.  The plaintiff’s father told the defendant not to contact the plaintiff anymore and then called 911. The plaintiff became afraid upon learning that the defendant had visited her parents’ home, asking her current boyfriend to stay with her because she was afraid to be home alone.  The defendant  began repeatedly calling and leaving voice messages for the plaintiff.  Within a one-week period, he called her 40 times.  On one occasion, the plaintiff ’s boyfriend answered the phone and told the defendant that he had the wrong number and not to call anymore.  The defendant also attempted to contact the plaintiff at her work.  Then, one day, after placing several calls between 2 and 3 A.M., the defendant showed up at the plaintiff ’s home at 7 A.M. with flowers, and the plaintiff ’s boyfriend called 911 and had him arrested. The issue before the Court was whether these acts satisfied the statutory requirements for a protective order which require an “[a]ct of violence, force, or threat.”  The Court held that stalking satisfies the requirements for a protective order even in the absence of physical harm or threatened physical harm.  The Court set forth three elements necessary to prove stalking: (1) “the defendant directed his or her conduct toward the victim on at least two occasions”; (2) “intended to cause fear or knew or should have known that his or her conduct would cause fear”; and (3) “the defendant’s conduct caused the victim ‘to experience reasonable fear of death, criminal sexual assault, or bodily injury.’”  The Court held that, in this case, these three factors were satisfied and explained, with respect to the third factor, that it was sufficient that the plaintiff said that she “was scared,” because “[a] victim need not specify what particular harm she fears to satisfy the third element of stalking.”   



Robinson v. Salvation Army Supreme Court of Virginia (2016)

Employment discrimination, Sexual harassment

The plaintiff sued her former employer, alleging wrongful termination because she refused her supervisor’s request for unmarried sex in violation of a statute that proscribed fornication. The plaintiff alleged that her supervisor also made frequent lewd requests and comments when he was alone with her as well as suggestive gestures and inquiries concerning her romantic life. After plaintiff played secret recordings of these conversations to human resources she was terminated without explanation.  The issue before the court was whether termination for refusing to engage in unmarried sex could be the basis of a public policy exception to the at-will employment doctrine. In rejecting the plaintiff’s claim, the court reasoned that a public policy argument cannot be based on an unconstitutional statute. Further, that a statute that sought to regulate private consensual sexual activity between adults was unconstitutional. Here, plaintiff could not base her claim on the statute that forbade unmarried sex because such a statute sought to regulate private consensual activity between adults and was therefore unconstitutional. This case is significant because the court reached this conclusion even though the conduct at issue was economically coercive and the same alleged facts could arguably have supported a wrongful discharge claim based on statutes concerning gender discrimination or “criminal acts” of “adultery and lewd and lascivious cohabitation,” statutes, which the court did not purport to overrule.   



Operation Rescue-National v. Planned Parenthood of Houston and Southeast Texas Supreme Court of Texas (1998)

Abortion and reproductive health rights

Doctors and clinics sued anti-abortion activist group Operation Rescue for invasion of privacy, tortious interference, and civil conspiracy. Anti-abortion activists planned to picket and obstruct abortion clinics and homes of physicians who worked for the clinics to coincide with the 1992 Republican National Convention. The district court granted a permanent injunction to restrict anti-abortion demonstrations, which prohibited activists from, among other things, demonstrating within specified areas of each clinic. Operation Rescue appealed. Pursuant to free speech principles, the Court held that the injunction must burden no more speech than necessary to serve a significant government interest. The Court upheld the injunction as it related to physicians’ homes, but found the injunction overbroad because it limited peaceful communication within speech-free zones, such as peaceful sidewalk counseling and prayer. The Court modified the injunction, allowing no more than two demonstrators within a zone. These two demonstrators may individually sidewalk counsel patients in a normal speaking voice, but must retreat when the patient or physician verbally indicates that they wish to be alone. Otherwise, the lower court’s judgment was affirmed.



In re: Jane Doe Supreme Court of Texas (2000)

Abortion and reproductive health rights

A pregnant minor applied for judicial bypass to have an abortion without notifying her parents. The trial court denied her application, finding that she was neither mature nor well-informed enough to consent to an abortion without parental notification. The Supreme Court reversed, finding that Doe showed that she was sufficiently well-informed. The trial court specifically denied Doe’s application because she was allegedly unaware of the intrinsic benefits of alternatives to abortion such as parenting and adoption. The Supreme Court held that even though a minor may not share the court’s views about what the benefits of her alternatives might be, it does not follow that she has not thoughtfully considered her options or acquired sufficient information about them. The Court noted that she had read about abortion, spoken to women who have had abortions, and discussed potential mental effects with a counselor. Moreover, she expressed that she was not ready for parenthood and that keeping the child would prevent her from going to college or having a career. The Supreme Court thus reversed the trial court and granted Doe’s judicial bypass, holding that when a minor has established that she has engaged in a rational and informed decision-making process and concluded that realistic concerns foreclose her alternatives, she cannot be denied the statutory bypass for failing to list general benefits seen by others.



In re Doe Supreme Court of Texas (2002)

Abortion and reproductive health rights

Pregnant minor filed an application for judicial bypass to receive an abortion without notifying her parents. The district court did not rule on the application or make findings of fact, but issued a writing that sua sponte concluded that the parental bypass law was unconstitutional. Doe appealed due to uncertainty about the judgment, and the court of appeals dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. The Supreme Court held that because the judge did not issue findings of fact within two business days, her application was deemed granted.



In re: Jane Doe 10 Supreme Court of Texas (2002)

Abortion and reproductive health rights

A pregnant minor applied for judicial bypass to have an abortion without notifying her parents. The trial court denied the application on a form, but made no ruling and no findings of fact on one of the bases for judicial bypass—whether notifying her parents would lead to physical, sexual, or emotional abuse of the minor. Under the Texas Family Code, the court was required to issue a ruling and written findings of fact and conclusions of law within two business days after the application was filed. Doe argued that because the trial court did not comply with the Family Code, she was denied a timely and complete judgment, and her application should be deemed granted. The Supreme Court agreed, deeming her application for judicial bypass granted based on possible abuse.



Bell v. Low Income Women of Texas Supreme Court of Texas (2002)

Abortion and reproductive health rights, Gender discrimination

Physicians and clinics sued the Commissioner of Health sued, claiming that Texas Medical Assistance Program’s (“TMAP”) abortion funding restrictions for indigent women violated their constitutional rights under the Equal Rights Amendment and Equal Protection Clause of the Texas Constitution, and their rights to privacy. TMAP was prohibited from authorizing abortion services without matching federal funds. The relevant federal law, the Hyde Amendment, prevented TMAP from funding abortions unless the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest, or placed the woman in danger of death. The plaintiffs argued that the restriction constituted sex discrimination because the state funded virtually all medically necessary services for men while refusing to fund abortions that are medically necessary even though the woman is not at risk of death. The Supreme Court held that although any restriction related to abortion would only affect women, TMAP’s restriction was not “on the basis of sex,” but rather due to the nature of abortion as a medical procedure involving potential life, which has no similar treatment method. The Court noted that other than medically necessary abortions, TMAP funded virtually all other medical treatment for women, and funded abortions to the extent that matching federal funds were available. The Court held that the discouragement of abortion through funding restrictions cannot, by itself, be considered purposeful discrimination against women as a class. The Court recognized the state’s interest in encouraging childbirth over abortion and held that the right to choose an abortion does not translate into a state obligation to subsidize abortions. The Court thus held that the funding restrictions did not violate the Texas Constitution, reversing the Court of Appeals and entering judgment for the defendant.



Hoffman-La Roche Inc. v. Zeltwanger Supreme Court of Texas (2004)

Employment discrimination, Sexual harassment

The plaintiff-respondent worked as a sales representative for Hoffman-La Roche Inc, the defendant-petitioner. The respondent alleged that her supervisor told sexually inappropriate jokes and asked inappropriate questions on multiple occasions. She submitted complaints to Human Resources, which began an investigation. During the respondent’s performance review, her supervisor yelled at her and repeatedly criticized her performance, giving her a below average rating. Shortly afterwards, the petitioner fired both the respondent’s supervisor and the respondent. The respondent then filed a complaint for sexual harassment with the Texas Commission on Human Rights. At issue for the Supreme Court was whether the respondent could recover damages for emotional distress due to sexual harassment under the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act and common tort law. The Court of Appeals held that the respondent could recover under both statutory and common law, awarding damages. The Texas Supreme Court reversed, holding that when the complaint is for sexual harassment, the plaintiff must proceed solely under a statutory claim unless there are additional facts, unrelated to sexual harassment, to support an independent tort claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress. The Court found that the respondent could not identify additional extreme and outrageous conduct by the petitioner to support an independent intentional infliction of emotional distress claim. The Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals and remanded to the trial court.



San Antonio Water System v. Nicholas Supreme Court of Texas (2015)

Employment discrimination, Sexual harassment

The petitioner claimed that she was terminated from her position because she confronted a male vice president about his repeated lunch invitations to two female employees outside his department. The Texas Supreme court held that no reasonable person could have believed the invitations gave rise to an actionable sexual harassment claim. Accordingly, the Court held the petitioner did not engage in a protected activity under the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act when she confronted the vice president about his behavior. The Court reversed the lower court and dismissed the claim.



Texas Family Code: Child in Relation to the Family - Limitations of Minority - Notice of and Consent to Abortion (2016)

Abortion and reproductive health rights

Texas prohibits pregnant unemancipated minors from obtaining abortions unless the physician performing the abortion gives at least 48 hours actual notice of the appointment, in person or by telephone, to the minor’s parent, managing conservator, or guardian. If the parent or guardian cannot be notified after a reasonable effort, the physician may perform the abortion after giving 48 hours constructive notice by certified mail to the guardian’s last known address. A minor may obtain an abortion without parental notification if the minor receives a court order authorizing the minor to consent (judicial bypass), or if the physician finds a medical emergency, certifies the medical emergency in writing to the Department of State Health Services, and notifies the parent of the medical emergency. If a physician intentionally performs an abortion without complying with this code, the offense is punishable by a maximum fine of $10,000.



Jacques v. State Supreme Court of Rhode Island (1995)

Sexual violence and rape

The defendant appealed a 12-year prison sentence, arguing that his sentence was excessive given that there was no evidence he used violent force or penile penetration. However, the court held that the defendant failed to show the sentence imposed on him by the trial court was excessive or that any serious disparity existed between his sentence and any other sentence imposed for similar convictions, citing the fact that the Supreme Court found he violated Rhode Island’s sexual assault statute even though he did not commit penile penetration or use violent force (“the type of penetration is unimportant under the sexual-assault statute . . . The fact that only digital penetration occurred does not lessen [the victim’s] fear and humiliation.”).



Rhode Island Depositors Economic Protection Corp. v. Brown Supreme Court of Rhode Island (1995)

Gender discrimination

In this case, the Rhode Island Supreme Court set out the standard of scrutiny with which to view the constitutionality of laws that discriminate based on gender: “If an act employs a gender-based classification, it is subject to a middle-tier scrutiny in which the classification must be substantially related to the achievement of the statutory objective.”



Dupre v. Dupre Supreme Court of Rhode Island (2004)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage

In this case, the Rhode Island Supreme Court held that a parent seeking to relocate out of the country with children in his or her custody need not make a showing that his or her reasons for relocation are “compelling.” Rather, the court cited the “time-honored axiom that the primary consideration and paramount concern in all matters relating to custody is the best interests of the child.” In determining the child’s best interests, requiring a parent to demonstrate that the reason for moving was compelling would overly burden a parent’s ability to relocate for legitimate reasons. Accordingly, the court held that the family court had incorrectly applied a “compelling reason” test in denying a mother’s motion to relocate with her children, failing to consider the children’s best interests. 



DeCamp v. Dollar Tree Stores, Inc. Supreme Court of Rhode Island (2005)

Employment discrimination

A female employee sued her employer and supervisor for sex discrimination in violation of the Rhode Island Fair Employment Practices Act and the Rhode Island Civil Rights Act. In deciding the case, the court set out a three-step approach for determining liability. First, the employee must establish a prima facie case of gender discrimination. In a gender discrimination analysis based upon a termination, the establishment of a prima facie case requires the plaintiff to show that: “(1) she is a member of a protected class; (2) she was performing her job at a level that rules out the possibility that she was fired for inadequate job performance; (3) she suffered an adverse job action by her employer; and (4) her employer sought a replacement for her with roughly equivalent qualifications.” Once this “not especially onerous” burden has been met, the employer must offer a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for the adverse employment action. Finally, the employee is required to convince the judge or jury that that the legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason proffered by the employer is merely a pretext for her termination.



State v. Urena Supreme Court of Rhode Island (2006)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

The defendant appealed a conviction of manslaughter after stabbing her boyfriend to death, arguing that the state did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that she did not act in self-defense based on evidence that she suffered from battered women’s syndrome. The Supreme Court of Rhode Island clarified the burden of proof in establishing battered women’s syndrome as a defense, stating that the “defendant [is] required to prove the existence of [battered women’s syndrome] as an affirmative defense by a fair preponderance of the evidence.” Accordingly, the lower court correctly instructed the jury that the burden of proof was on the defendant, not the state, to show that she was suffering from the effects of battered women’s syndrome, and the conviction at the lower court was upheld.



State v. Rivera Supreme Court of Rhode Island (2010)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

A bus driver was convicted of sexually assaulting three developmentally disabled women, two of whom were passengers on the defendant’s bus route. On appeal, the defendant challenged his conviction on several grounds, one of which was that the trial court erred in precluding him from questioning the victim’s mother about a previous incident that suggested the victim was promiscuous. The court held that the defendant was not entitled to question the victim’s mother about the incident, because the defendant did not notify the trial justice beforehand of his intention to probe into the victim’s conduct or otherwise seek a hearing with the court about the admissibility of such evidence.



State v. Enos (2011)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

Charges were filed against a young woman’s ex-boyfriend for domestic violence after he grabbed her at a restaurant and repeatedly kicked her and hit her over the head with a drinking glass. The defendant was convicted in the lower court of domestic assault with a dangerous weapon. On appeal, the defendant argued that there was insufficient evidence that the couple was in a domestic relationship, which was a prerequisite finding for his conviction. The Rhode Island Supreme Court held that the state domestic violence statute does not require a specific demonstration of three statutory factors (length and nature of relationship and frequency of the interaction between the parties) to prove the existence of a substantive dating relationship, nor are courts limited to considering only these three factors. Rather, the fact that the victim testified that (i) the couple dated for six months, (ii) the two had an intimate relationship during the defendant’s arrest, and (iii) the defendant referred to the victim as his girlfriend was evidence that the defendant and the victim were in a substantive dating relationship as required to support a domestic assault conviction. The Court also rejected the defendant’s arguments regarding the trial judge’s decision not to declare a mistrial and upheld his conviction.



23 Pa. C.S.A. § 4301, Domestic Relations - Child Support (1985)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Property and inheritance rights

Pennsylvania uses a system referred to as the “Income Shares Model” for determining child support. This methodology focuses primarily on the net incomes of the parents and aims to grant the children the same proportion of the parental income that he or she would have received had the parents not divorced.



Roe v. Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region Supreme Court of Ohio (2009)

Abortion and reproductive health rights

The parents of a minor who received an abortion sued Planned Parenthood, which they alleged had performed the abortion illegally because the clinic did not notify them in advance. The plaintiffs sought the medical records and any reports of abuse relating to minors who had received abortions in the prior 10 years. The defendant refused to produce the records of nonparty patients on the ground of physician-patient privilege. The trial court ordered the defendant to produce the non-party records with identifying information redacted, but the Court of Appeals of Ohio reversed. The Supreme Court of Ohio affirmed the Court of Appeals’ ruling, holding that the medical records of non-party patients were not discoverable.



Women's Medical Professional Corp. v. Voinovich United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (1997)

Abortion and reproductive health rights

The plaintiff-appellant, an abortion clinic, sued the Governor of Ohio, the Attorney General of Ohio, and the prosecuting attorney for Montgomery County, challenging the facial constitutionality of an Ohio law regulating abortions. The district court ruled (i) that the prohibition on dilation and extraction abortions placed substantial, and hence unconstitutional, obstacles in the way of women seeking pre-viability abortions; (ii) that the combination of subjective and objective standards without scienter requirements rendered the “medical emergency” and “medical necessity” exceptions to the abortion prohibitions were unconstitutionally vague; and (iii) that the constitutional and unconstitutional provisions in the law could not be severed. The district court thus struck down the entire law and prohibited its enforcement. The Sixth Circuit affirmed.



Williams v. General Motors Corp. United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (1999)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination, Sexual harassment

The plaintiff-appellant, who worked for General Motors for more than 30 years, sued the company for violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, claiming that she experienced a hostile work environment and retaliation. She alleged that she suffered a variety of sexually harassing comments, as well as other slights such as being the only employee denied a break and the only employee without a key to the office. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of her employer on both her hostile work environment and retaliation claims. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment on the plaintiff’s retaliation claim, but reversed and remanded the lower court’s ruling on her hostile work environment claim, finding that there was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether her allegations were sufficiently severe or pervasive enough to violate Title VII.



Smith v. City of Salem United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (2004)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination, LGBTIQ, Sexual harassment

The plaintiff-appellant a trans woman lieutenant in the Salem, Ohio, Fire Department, sued the City of Salem, alleging discrimination based on sex in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. According to the plaintiff’s complaint, after she began expressing a more feminine appearance at work on a full-time basis, her co-workers informed her that she was not acting masculine enough. She then notified her immediate supervisor that she had been diagnosed with gender identity disorder and that she planned to physically transition from male to female. The plaintiff’s supervisor met with the City of Salem’s Law Director and other municipal officials, who required the plaintiff to undergo three psychological evaluations. The plaintiff retained legal counsel, received a “right to sue” letter from the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, and was shortly thereafter suspended for one 24-hour shift, allegedly in retaliation for retaining counsel. The district court dismissed his complaint, but the Sixth Circuit reversed and remanded, holding that the plaintiff sufficiently plead a prima facie case of retaliation under Title VII, as well as claims of sex stereotyping and gender discrimination.



Rreshpja v. Gonzalez United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (2005)

International law, Sexual violence and rape, Trafficking in persons

The plaintiff-appellant, a citizen of Albania, arrived in the United States with a fraudulently obtained non-immigrant visa after a man attempted to abduct her in her home country. The Immigration and Nationalization Service initiated removal proceedings against her. During those proceedings the plaintiff requested either a grant of asylum or the withholding of removal and protection under the Convention Against Torture, arguing that she is at risk of being forced to work as a prostitute if she were to return to her home country. The immigration judge denied her application, as did the Board of Immigration Appeals. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the denial because the plaintiff was unable to show that she was a member of a particular social group that faced persecution in her home country.



Barnes v. City of Cincinnati United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (2005)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination, LGBTIQ, Sexual harassment

The plaintiff-appellant, a trans (“a pre-operative male-to-female transsexual”) police officer, applied to be promoted to sergeant within the Cincinnati Police Department. The plaintiff passed the sergeants exam but failed a rigorous training program and was denied promotion. The plaintiff sued the City of Cincinnati, alleging that the denial of her promotion was due to sex-based discrimination and failure to conform to male sex stereotypes, such as wearing makeup, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Equal Protection Clause. The district court ruled in favor of the plaintiff and awarded her $320,511 as well as attorney’s fees and costs. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, holding that the plaintiff met all four requirements of a claim of sex discrimination: that the plaintiff is a member of a protected class, that she applied and was qualified for a promotion, that she was considered for and denied a promotion, and that other employees of similar qualifications who were not members of the protected class received promotions.



Women's Medical Professional Corp. v. Baird United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (2008)

Abortion and reproductive health rights

The plaintiff-appellant operated an abortion clinic in Dayton, Ohio. Ohio law required it to be licensed, which in part required it to enter into a written transfer agreement with a Dayton-area hospital. When no hospital would enter into such an agreement with the plaintiff, it sought a waiver of the transfer agreement requirement. Even though the plaintiff had both a back-up group of physicians ready to provide emergency care and a letter from Miami Valley Hospital confirming that it would admit patients in the event of an emergency, the Director of the Ohio Department of Health denied the plaintiff’s request for a waiver and ordered that it immediately close. The plaintiff sought a temporary restraining order and an injunction against the Department of Health’s order. The District Court granted both requests and awarded attorney’s fees and expenses to the plaintiff. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, holding that the plaintiff’s procedural due process rights were violated, but vacated the permanent injunction and remanded the case for a hearing on the denial of the plaintiff’s application.



Thornton v. Federal Express Corp. United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (2008)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination, Sexual harassment

The plaintiff-appellant, a former employee of FedEx, the defendant, was discharged when she did not return from work after a 16-month leave of absence. She took this leave because of stress she suffered after being sexually harassed by her immediate supervisor, and she did not return to work because her health care providers had not released her from treatment for panic disorder and fibromyalgia. The plaintiff sued for sex discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, as well as discrimination based on disability in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The District Court granted summary judgment in favor of FedEx, and the Sixth Circuit affirmed, holding that the plaintiff did not establish either that she was disabled under the Americans with Disabilities Act or that she suffered an adverse employment action.



Kalaj v. Holder United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (2009)

Sexual violence and rape, Trafficking in persons

The plaintiff-appellant, an Albanian citizen who entered the United States on a non-immigrant visa, fled her home country after facing three attempted kidnappings that she believed would have led her into forced prostitution. After escaping the third attempt, her uncle arranged for her to obtain a fake passport to enter the United States. After she applied for asylum with the Immigration and Nationalization Service, she was notified that she was subject to removal as an alien not in possession of valid entry documents. Both an immigration judge and the Board of Immigration Appeals denied her application for asylum. The Sixth Circuit affirmed these denials, finding that the plaintiff was unable to demonstrate that she was a member of a persecuted social group and unable to show that the Albanian government was unwilling or unable to protect her.



Gilbert v. Country Music Association, Inc. United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (2011)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination, LGBTIQ, Sexual harassment

After the plaintiff-appellant, a theater professional who was openly homosexual, complained that a coworker had threatened him based on his sexual orientation and a union hiring hall of which the plaintiff was a member refused to provide him with work. Gilbert sued his union and a collection of various employers, alleging, among other claims, discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The district court granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss, holding that Title VII does not prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. The Sixth Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part. The court observed that, while Title VII prohibits sex discrimination, and that this prohibition includes “sex stereotyping” whereby a plaintiff suffers an adverse employment action due to his or her nonconformity with gender stereotypes. The court held that Gilbert had not plead a sex stereotyping claim since other than his sexual orientation, the plaintiff fit every male stereotype, and sexual orientation did not suffice to obtain recovery under Title VII: “[f]or all we know,” the Court stated, “Gilbert fits every ‘male stereotype’ save one—sexual orientation—and that does not suffice to obtain relief under Title VII.”



Kalich v. AT&T Mobility United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (2012)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination, LGBTIQ, Sexual harassment

The plaintiff-appellant sued his employer, AT&T, in state court under Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, and AT&T removed the action to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. The plaintiff alleged that his immediate supervisor made a series of sexually inappropriate comments to him over the course of a year that created a hostile work environment. These comments included calling him by a girl’s name and telling him he looked like a girl. The district court granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment, and the Sixth Circuit affirmed, holding that the plaintiff failed to demonstrate that his supervisor’s conduct toward him was because of his gender. The appellate court noted that the plaintiff stated in his deposition that he believed that his supervisor made these derogatory comments because he knew or suspected that the plaintiff was gay and that sexual orientation discrimination was not a protected classification under Title VII or Michigan law.



Mathis v. Wayne County Board of Education United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (2012)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

The plaintiff-appellants’ sons were members of their middle school basketball team who were victims of sexual harassment by their teammates. The harassment ranged from arguably innocent locker room pranks to sexual violence. The plaintiffs sued the Wayne County Board of Education, alleging that the school board was deliberately indifferent to student-on-student sexual harassment in violation of Title IX of the Civil Rights Act. The District Court denied the defendant’s motion for judgment as a matter of law and awarded the plaintiffs $100,000 each in damages. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, holding that the plaintiffs had established the following elements of a deliberate indifference claim: that the sexual harassment was so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it could be said to deprive the plaintiff of access to the educational opportunities or benefits provided by the school; that the funding recipient (i.e. the board of education) had actual knowledge of the sexual harassment, and the funding recipient was deliberately indifferent to the harassment.



EEOC v. New Breed Logistics United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (2015)

Employment discrimination, Sexual harassment

The plaintiff-appellant, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, initiated sexual harassment and retaliation claims under Title VII against New Breed Logistics, the defendant, on behalf of three employees. The plaintiff alleged that Calhoun, a supervisor at New Breed sexually harassed three female employees and then retaliated against the women after they complained. The plaintiff further alleged that Calhoun retaliated against a male employee who verbally objected to Calhoun’s harassment of the women. The evidence presented to the district court that showed that each woman communicated her intent to complain about Calhoun’s sexual harassment shortly after which all three women were fired or transferred. One of the women lodged a complaint through the company’s complaint line but the company asked Calhoun five questions about his conduct and determined there was no misconduct. A jury found the defendant liable under Title VII for Calhoun’s sexual harassment and retaliation, and the district court denied the defendant’s post-trial motions for a new trial and judgment as a matter of law. The district court determined that complaints to management and informal protests were protected activities under Title VII. Therefore, the three employees’ demand that Calhoun stop harassing them were considered protected activity under Title VII, and retaliation constituted a violation of Title VII. The defendant appealed, challenging the district court’s denial of its post-trial motions. The Second Circuit affirmed the district court’s decisions, finding that sufficient evidence supported the district court’s rulings and that the district court did not abuse its discretion when providing instructions to the jury.



Ault v. Oberlin College United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (2015)

Employment discrimination, Sexual harassment

The plaintiff-appellants, three female dining services department employees, sued Oberlin College, the defendant alleging that they suffered various acts of sexual harassment at the hands of the executive chef of the private contractor, Bon Appetit, that operated the dining facilities. The plaintiffs brought this suit under Chapter 4112 of the Ohio Revised Code, which prohibits sexual harassment in the work place and holds employers responsible for sexual harassment committed by employees or nonemployees in the work place, where the employer knows or should have known but fails to intervene. The plaintiffs initially sued in state court, and the defendants removed. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants, and the Sixth Circuit affirmed on all but one count. The court held that, with respect to one of the plaintiffs but not the other two, there was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the conduct the employee endured was sufficiently severe or pervasive enough to affect the terms, conditions, or privileges of employment.



Jackson v. VHS Detroit Receiving Hospital, Inc. United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (2016)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

The plaintiff-appellant worked as a mental health technician for the defendant, Detroit Receiving Hospital’s Mental Health Crisis Center. Her duties included assisting registered nurses with treating psychiatric patients. A few days after assisting a nurse with the mistaken discharge of a patient who should not have been discharged, the plaintiff’s employment was terminated, even though she consistently received high ratings on her performance evaluations. The plaintiff sued the defendant for sex discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant, but the Sixth Circuit reversed and remanded, holding that the plaintiff had established a prima facie case of sex discrimination, in part because two men committed “nearly identical” infractions of “comparable seriousness” and were not terminated like the plaintiff. The appellate court remanded the case for trial proceedings.



Simpson v. Vanderbilt University United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (2017)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

The plaintiff-appellant was a professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine who solicited clients for her own private business, which the defendant, Vanderbilt University, considered to be a violation of its Conflict of Interest Policy, its By-Laws, and its Participation Agreement. The defendant terminated the plaintiff’s employment and she sued the defendant, alleging that her termination was due to gender discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Tennessee Human Rights Act. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant, holding that the plaintiff failed to identify a suitable male comparator and thus did not establish a prima facie case of discrimination. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, finding key differences between the plaintiff’s conduct and that of the male comparator she identified, including most notably the fact that the male comparator had disclosed his work outside of Vanderbilt University on his conflict of interest form.



Chairperson of the Immigration Selection Board v. E.F. and Another Supreme Court of Namibia (2001)

Gender discrimination, LGBTIQ

The respondent, a German national, was denied permanent residence in Namibia despite being in a committed relationship with a Namibian woman, residing in Namibia for many years, and having a highly skilled job in Namibia. The respondent claims that the only reason her application was denied is because she was a lesbian woman in a homosexual relationship. She therefore filed suit against the Immigration Selection Board (“ISB”), arguing that it had discriminated against her in denying her application. The lower court found in favor of the respondent and ordered the ISB to grant the respondent’s application. On appeal, the Supreme Court reversed the decision, finding that the respondent had not proven discrimination and that the ISB had wide discretion to deny applications. However, the Supreme Court judge explicitly stated: “I must emphasize in conclusion: Nothing in this judgment justifies discrimination against homosexuals as individuals, or deprive [sic] them of the protection of other provisions of the Namibian Constitution.”



Life Office of Namibia Ltd. (NamLife) v. Amakali Labour Court of Namibia (2014)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination, Sexual harassment

The respondent was charged with two counts of sexual harassment of female coworkers and with the verbal abuse of another female coworker. His employer (the “company”) found that he had violated the company’s policies and fired him. The respondent brought a claim for wrongful termination to the Office of the Labour Commissioner, and the dispute was referred to arbitration. The arbitrator found in favor of the respondent and ordered the company to reinstate him and pay him N$102,000 in lost wages. The company appealed the decision to the courts. The judge overturned the arbitrator’s decision, finding that he overlooked numerous relevant facts in making his conclusions, which “no reasonable court or tribunal court have reached.” The court held that the company acted appropriately in terminating the respondent’s employment because sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace are serious offenses that create obstacles to equality in employment. 



The State v. L.S. High Court of Namibia (2006)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

The accused murdered her newborn child and pleaded guilty to the crime. In determining her prison sentence, the judge took into account mitigating circumstances such as her young age (21 years old), the fact that the child’s father denied responsibility for the child, and the fact that her family nearly kicked her out of their home when she had her previous child. The judge also acknowledged that she was a first-time offender and showed remorse for the crime. However, he reiterated the seriousness of the crime and stated that he did not want his leniency in this case to serve as a message to other young women that infanticide was acceptable. He further stated that newborn infants have just as much a right to life as anyone else. For the murder, he sentenced the accused to three years imprisonment with 30 months suspended for five years on the condition that the accused not be convicted of murder during the suspension. For the concealment of the birth of her newborn child, the judge sentenced the accused to six months imprisonment to run concurrently with the murder sentence.



The State v. V.U. High Court of Namibia (2007)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Sexual violence and rape

The accused conceived a child after incestuous sexual intercourse with her brother. After the child was born, the mother tied a scarf around its neck and buried it alive. At trial, she claimed that the child was strangled by its own umbilical cord and was already dead when she buried it. However, medical and forensic evidence showed that the child died from strangulation and suffocation due to the mother’s actions. She was convicted of murder. 



The State v. Vries Supreme Court of Namibia (2001)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

The accused was charged with raping a 10-year-old girl (the “complainant”). The trial judge convicted the accused of attempted rape, finding that the prosecution did not prove penetration beyond a reasonable doubt. The prosecutor was not satisfied with the sentence and appealed to the Supreme Court, seeking a conviction for rape. The Supreme Court agreed with the trial court that penetration had not been proven beyond a reasonable doubt. However, the Supreme Court stressed that the slightest unwanted penetration of a woman’s genitalia by a man’s genitalia is sufficient to constitute the crime of rape.



Monomono v. The State High Court of Namibia (2017)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

The appellant was convicted of rape under the Combating of Rape, Act 8 of 2000 (the “Act”) in the Regional Court for inserting his finger into the vagina of his friend’s eight-year-old daughter (the “complainant”). This insertion caused bruising to the complainant’s vagina that lasted longer than 72 hours. The complainant’s hymen, however, remained intact. The appellant was sentenced to 15 years in prison, of which five were conditionally suspended. On appeal, the appellant argued that he had not committed rape under the Act because he had not penetrated the complainant’s “vagina” as that term is defined under the Act, but rather touched the areas around her vagina. Accordingly, he argued that, at most, he had committed indecent assault, and therefore his sentence should be reduced. The appellate court denied the appeal and upheld the original sentence, finding that the labia minora, labia majora and the para-urethral fort all form part of the complainant’s genital organs and therefore satisfy the definition of “vagina” within the Act.



The State v. G.I. High Court of Namibia (2007)

Abortion and reproductive health rights

The accused was an 18-year-old woman charged with the crime of abortion under the Abortion and Sterilization Act, 2 of 1975 (the “Act”). The Act outlaws abortion and prescribes no minimum sentence for the crime. The accused pleaded guilty and testified that she performed the abortion on herself, which terminated a two-month-long pregnancy. The Court sentenced her to pay N$3,000 or serve two years in prison. On review, the High Court found the sentence to be “completely” disproportionate to the crime. The Judge referred to the Old Authorities and stated that sentences for abortion should be less harsh in cases where a very young fetus is involved. The Judge also found that the accused personal circumstances and the particular circumstances of her trial, including the fact that she was a minor at the time, did not have counsel to represent her, and was not given the opportunity to explain her actions, warranted mitigation of the penalty. Finding that the lower court did not factor in any of these mitigating circumstances, the High Court reduced the sentence to N$300 or three months in prison, which he suspended on the condition that during that period the accused was not convicted of any abortion-related crime.



The State v. Dausab High Court of Namibia (2018)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Femicide

The accused was convicted of pre-meditated murder and sentenced to life imprisonment after stabbing his girlfriend (“the victim”) 27 times and locking her in a room until she bled to death. Prior to murdering the victim, the accused sent her a text message describing how he would kill her. At trial, the court determined the crime was aggravated by the fact that the accused had a direct intention of murdering his girlfriend and did so in a domestic setting. In imposing a sentence, the court took into account retribution, prevention of crime, deterrence and reformation. The court further found that the accused did not care about the victim’s right to life, but rather his own wellbeing, that he “played victim,” and that he showed no remorse. The judge stated that it “is high time that men in relationships with women should understand that once a woman tells them that they are no longer interested in continuing with the relationship, she means just that and her views and feelings should be understood and respected.”



Gawaxab v. The State High Court of Namibia (2018)

Femicide, Gender-based violence in general, Sexual harassment

The accused was charged with assaulting and murdering a woman. At trial, the accused filed an application for his discharge at the close of the prosecution’s case, arguing that the prosecution failed to make a case requiring the accused to answer. According to prosecution evidence, after buying alcohol and drinking it with a group of women he did not know, including the deceased, an argument began because the accused stated that he could have sex with all the women. The driver stopped the car when the accused hit the deceased with a bottle. The accused continued to beat the woman outside of the car and the others drove away in fear for their lives to report the attack the police. Upon their return to the scene, they found and picked up the deceased, who was running down the road after escaping the accused. She later passed away from her injuries. At trial, prosecutors presented several eye-witnesses to testify against the accused, as well as direct and circumstantial evidence to support their case. The accused argued that the eye-witnesses had been intoxicated at the time of the assault and therefore their testimony was unreliable. He also argued that the prosecutors failed to meet their burden to convict him. However, the court agreed with the prosecution and refused to discharge the accused, finding that the prosecution’s evidence presented a prima facie case that the accused was legally obliged to answer.



The State v. Swartz High Court of Namibia (2018)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Female infanticide and feticide, Femicide

The accused stabbed and murdered a pregnant minor girl with whom he was in a relationship when he was approximately 18 and she was 15 years old. Their relationship was one filled with domestic abuse and violence. He was convicted of murder and assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm. He was also convicted of assault for unlawfully and intentionally threatening to kill the deceased’s grandmother, thereby causing her to believe that the accused intended, and had the means, to carry out his threat.



H.D. v. The State Supreme Court of Namibia (2018)

Statutory rape or defilement

The appellant was charged with the rape and indecent assault of a three-year-old girl (“the complainant”). He pled “not guilty” to both counts but was convicted on the first count and sentenced to 14 years’ imprisonment. The trial court acquitted the appellant on the second count. On appeal, the appellant argued that (a) the charge did not contain adequate particulars of the date and time of the alleged crimes; (b) the degree of the injuries to the complainant made it doubtful that he could have raped her; and (c) the cautionary rule was not correctly applied when the trial court reviewed the complainant’s evidence. The Supreme Court confirmed that the trial court was not only aware of the risks associated with the evidence presented by a sole young witness, but also exercised appropriate caution in considering the complainant’s evidence. It further found that the evidence presented at trial, including testimony by the complainant’s mother and older sister provided sufficient details to uphold the conviction. The appeal was accordingly denied.



The State v. Iipinge High Court of Namibia (2018)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

The accused was convicted of culpable homicide for kicking his girlfriend to death, despite his claims that her death was caused by falling on a rock. In sentencing the accused to 10 years imprisonment, the court noted that violence against women is a serious problem in Namibia and that this should be taken into account in sentencing decisions as an aggravating factor.



The State v. Nkasi High Court of Namibia (2010)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Female infanticide and feticide

The accused negligently killed his daughter by beating her to death with a stick, which he meant as punishment. He also intentionally shot and killed his son with a shotgun and attempted to shoot his wife. He was convicted of culpable homicide, murder, attempted murder, obstructing the course of justice, possession of a firearm without a license, and the unlawful possession of ammunition. The court sentenced him to 44 years imprisonment. With respect to the conviction for negligent homicide, the court found that parents do not have carte blanche to punish their children. The court also found that the accused’s previous acts of violence against his wife and children constituted aggravating circumstances. The court further emphasized the seriousness of domestic violence and noted that sentencing in such cases should serve as retribution for those harmed, including the community at large and as deterrence to others.



F.N. v. S.M. High Court of Namibia (2012)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Domestic and intimate partner violence

The appellant and respondent are divorced parents of three children. At the time of the divorce, custody of the children was awarded to the respondent. The appellant then moved for an interim protection order, claiming that the respondent physically abused their minor children. A court granted the interim protection order on October 3, 2011, and awarded the appellant interim custody of the children, subject to visitation by the respondent, and ordered respondent to cease abusing the children. The Magistrate’s Court subsequently discharged the interim order on October 24, 2011, based on Section 12 of the Combating of Domestic Violence Act 4 of 2003, reasoning that the beatings were an isolated incident and were only meant to punish the children for bad behavior. The appellant challenged the discharge. The appellate court agreed with appellant and granted a final protection order effective through July 2013, which awarded the appellant custody of the children with visitation for the respondent on alternate weekends and holidays. In its decision, the appellate court stated the importance of rooting out the “evil that is domestic violence in order to give effect to the protection of the constitutional value of human dignity.”



Paschke v. Frans Supreme Court of Namibia (2015)

Gender discrimination, Property and inheritance rights

The respondent in this appeal is the biological daughter of the deceased. The respondent’s mother was not married to the deceased, and thus, the respondent was considered an “illegitimate child” under Namibian law. The appellant is the sister of the deceased and the respondent’s aunt. The deceased died intestate on May 30, 1991, and his estate was administered per Namibian law on intestate succession. Because the respondent was classified as an illegitimate child, she was not entitled to inherit from her father’s estate. The respondent challenged the constitutionality of this common-law rule, which the High Court had declared unconstitutional in July 2007. The Supreme Court confirmed the High Court’s finding.



M., L. del V. v. G., E.J. Tribunal de Familia de la Provincia de Jujuy (Family Court of the Jujuy Province) (2012)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Domestic and intimate partner violence

Following the separation of the plaintiff, Ms. L. del V., from the defendant, Mr. G., the defendant failed to pay their daughter’s school tuition or English lessons, took all of the family’s working vehicles, and sporadically paid no more than 40% of stipulated child support.  The plaintiff further alleged that the parties’ attempt at a negotiated solution constituted extortion given that she would not receive any support until they reached an agreement.  The parties subsequently negotiated an agreement, which the plaintiff later found to be inadequate.  In finding for the plaintiff, the court found that the defendant’s conduct constituted economic violence defined as the failure to provide required assistance, particularly where the woman has dedicated herself to childrearing at the time of separation and that the repeated failure to provide required support following separation would have a severe effect on the mother and child.

 

Luego de la separación del demandante, la Sra. L. del V., del demandado, el Sr. G., el demandado no pagó la matrícula escolar o las clases de inglés de su hija, tomó todos los vehículos de trabajo de la familia y esporádicamente no pagó más del 40% de la pensión alimenticia estipulada. La demandante además alegó que el intento de las partes por una solución negociada constituía una extorsión, dado que ella no recibiría ningún apoyo hasta que llegasen a un acuerdo. Posteriormente, las partes negociaron un acuerdo, que luego el demandante consideró inadecuado. Al encontrar al demandante, el tribunal determinó que la conducta del acusado constituía violencia económica definida como la falta de asistencia requerida, en particular cuando la mujer se habia dedicado a la crianza de los hijos desde el momento de la separación y que la falta reiterada de proporcionar la asistencia necesaria después de la separación tendría un efecto severo en la madre y el niño.



R.M., L.R. v. C.A., A.D. (Denuncia por violencia familiar) Camara Civil (Civil Court) (2014)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, International law

Child protective services appealed a decision of the court of first instance denying its request to extend to Ms. R.M.’s children an order of protection against her partner on the basis that (1) Ms. R.M. did not request that protection and (2) weaknesses were found in the determination by the Office of Domestic Violence regarding the degree of risk faced by the children.  In overturning the trial court’s ruling, the appellate court (1) found that applicable rules permit a judge to take measures that put an end to the crisis in order to enable the victim of domestic violence to return to a daily routine free from the influence of violence and (2) noted that the Office of Domestic Violence reported that the situation presented a high degree of risk, including in relation to the children.  In addition, the appellate court noted that in the cases brought before the judiciary, judges must ensure that the principals and rights set forth in the Treaty on the Rights of Children are observed.

 

Los servicios de protección infantil apelan una decisión del tribunal de primera instancia que denegó su solicitud de extender a los niños de la Sra. R.M. una orden de protección contra su pareja sobre la base de que (1) la Sra. R.M. no solicitó que se encontraran protección y (2) debilidades en la determinación de la Oficina de Violencia Doméstica con respecto al grado de riesgo que enfrentan los niños. Al anular el fallo del tribunal de primera instancia, el tribunal de apelación (1) encontró que las reglas aplicables permiten que un juez tome medidas para poner fin a la crisis a fin de permitir que la víctima de violencia doméstica regrese a una rutina diaria libre de la influencia de violencia y (2) notó que la Oficina de Violencia Doméstica informó que la situación presentaba un alto grado de riesgo, incluso en relación con los niños. Además, la corte de apelaciones señaló que en los casos presentados ante el poder judicial, los jueces deben garantizar que se respeten los principios y derechos establecidos en el Tratado sobre los Derechos del Niño.



Causa nro. 44601/2010 Juzgado Nacional en lo Criminal de Instrucción nro. 17 (2015)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

Mr. M. R. committed successive acts of violence and made threats against his wife, Mrs. F.M.S.  Upon finding that the declarations made by Ms. F.M.S., photographs and medical reports constituted sufficient probative evidence, the court determined that Mr. M. R. committed simple aggravated assault based on the relationship between the parties and that the threats made against Mrs. F.M.S. were grave and imminent.  Accordingly, the court found sufficient cause to hold the defendant in preventative confinement.

 

El Sr. M. R. cometió varios actos de violencia e hizo amenazas contra su esposa, la Sra. F.M.S. Al descubrir las declaraciones hechas por la Sra. F.M.S., las fotografías y los informes médicos constituyeron pruebas probatorias suficientes. El tribunal determinó que el Sr. M. R. cometió un asalto agravado simple basado en la relación entre las partes y que las amenazas contra la Sra. F.M.S. Fueron graves e inminentes. En consecuencia, el tribunal encontró causa suficiente para retener al acusado en confinamiento preventivo. 



Causa Nº 4.792/13 Ex Juzgado de Instrucción Formal Quinta Nominación (2014)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Femicide, Gender discrimination, LGBTIQ

Defendant Mr. H.R.A was convicted of aggravated homicide based on his prior ties and relationship with the victim, Ms. N.A. (his partner), whom he murdered with a gun.  Mr. H.RA. was sentenced to life in prison pursuant to Law No. 26,791, Article 80, which provides that “[l]ife imprisonment or confinement shall be imposed upon a person that murders an ascendant, descendent, spouse or ex-spouse or a person that kills another with whom he or she maintains a relationship, irrespective of whether they maintained a joint household.”  The defendant challenged the constitutionality of the statute, arguing that it violates principles of equal protection because it does not afford (or it is not clear that the statute affords) equal protection to similarly situated homosexual couples.  In rejecting the defendant’s challenge, the court notes (1) Supreme Court precedent making clear that holding legislation unconstitutional is a grave act that should be taken as a last resort and when it is clear that the legislation is clearly unconstitutional, and (2) the legislation in question sought to introduce as aggravating circumstances factors that had previously been ignored, extending the definition of the concept of “family” to include different family realities.

 

El acusado, el Sr. H.R.A fue condenado por homicidio con acciones agravadas debido a sus vínculos anteriores y su relación con la víctima, la Sra. N.A. (su pareja), a quien asesinó con un arma. El Sr. H.RA. fue condenado a cadena perpetua con conformidad con la Ley Nº 26.791, Artículo 80, que dispone que “se impondrá la reclusión o el encarcelamiento a una persona que asesine a un ascendiente, descendiente, cónyuge o ex cónyuge o una persona que asesine” otro con quien él o ella mantiene una relación, independientemente de si mantuvieron un hogar conjunto ”. El acusado impugnó la constitucionalidad de la ley, argumentando que violaba los principios de protección igualitaria porque no permite (o no está claro si el el estatuto otorga igual protección a las parejas homosexuales en situación similar). Al rechazar la impugnación del acusado, el tribunal señala (1) el Tribunal Supremo precedente, dejando en claro que mantener la legislación inconstitucional es un acto grave que debe tomarse como último recurso y solamente cuando está claro que la legislación es claramente inconstitucional, y cuando (2) la legislación en cuestión buscaba introducir como circunstancias agravantes factores que anteriormente se habían ignorado, extendiendo la definición del concepto de "familia" para incluir diferentes realidades familiares.



A., R.H. and other v. E.N. M Seguridad – P.F.A. and others Cámara Nacional de Apelaciones en lo Contenciosos Administrativo Federal (National Appeals Court for Federal Administrative Litigation) (2011)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Femicide

The plaintiff daughters, R.H. and V.C., filed suit against the State government and certain police officials requesting damages for the loss of the lives of their mother, Mrs. S., and father, Mr. A.  The day after her decision to flee her home together with her daughters and reside with other family members, Mrs. S. filed a civil proceeding against Mr. A. for domestic violence.  Mr. A. was prohibited from approaching Mrs. S. and his daughters, and Mrs. S. obtained permission to remove her and her daughters’ personal belongings from their previous home while escorted by police officers.  While accompanied by police officers and her sister to remove the belongings, Mr. A. killed Mrs. S. with a knife and subsequently committed suicide.  In finding for the daughters in the case of Mrs. S., the appellate court identified the following factors in support of its finding: (1) the existence of a real and immediate risk that threatened the rights of Mrs. S. and her daughters that had the potential to materialize immediately and which was expressly referenced by the Office of Domestic Violence, (2) the risk related to a specific threat against a woman and was therefore particular, (3) the State knew of the risk or should have reasonably known of the risk and (4) the State could have reasonably prevented and avoided the materialization of the risk.

 

Las hijas de la demandante, RH y VC, presentaron una demanda contra el gobierno del estado y ciertos oficiales de policía que solicitaron daños por la pérdida de la vida de su madre, la Sra. S. y el padre, el Sr. A. El día después de su decisión de huir de la casa junto con sus hijas, la Sra. S. presentó un proceso civil contra el Sr. A. por violencia doméstica. Al Sr. A. se le prohibió acercarse a la Sra. S. y a sus hijas, y la Sra. S. obtuvo permiso para retirar a ella y las pertenencias personales de sus hijas de su hogar anterior mientras estaba escoltada por agentes de policía. Mientras estaba acompañada por oficiales de policía y su hermana para retirar las pertenencias, el Sr. A. mató a la Sra. S. con un cuchillo y posteriormente se suicidó. Al encontrar a las hijas en el caso de la Sra. S., la corte de apelaciones identificó los siguientes factores que respaldan su descubrimiento: (1) la existencia de un riesgo real e inmediato que amenazaba los derechos de la Sra. S. y sus hijas que tenía el potencial de materializarse de inmediato y que la Oficina de Violencia Doméstica hacía referencia expresamente, (2) el riesgo relacionado con una amenaza específica contra una mujer y, por lo tanto, era particular, (3) el Estado sabía del riesgo o debería haberlo hecho razonablemente conocido del riesgo y (4) el Estado podría haber prevenido y evitado razonablemente la materialización del riesgo.



M.L.A. S/Lesiones Leves Agravadas y Amanazas de Muerte Corte Suprema Justicia de San Miguel de Tucumán (2016)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

In a criminal proceeding for domestic violence, the prosecutor appealed a judgment in favor the of the defendant on the basis that the trial court failed to confer proper evidentiary status to victim statements, medical and other reports, and photographs taken by the Office of Domestic Violence, a division of the Argentine judiciary.  In finding for the government, the appellate court noted that while investigating matters relating to domestic violence is a difficult task given that the disputed facts generally take place in intimate settings or when only the victim and aggressor are present, a victim’s testimony has inherent probative value.  The appellate court noted that “the work of judicial staff and employees (doctors, social workers, psychologists, etc.) that actively participate in the counseling of victims of domestic or gender violence must not be hidden and much less ignored in their entirety (…) The interviews, reports, physical inspections and medical reports carried out by professionals of the judiciary branch must constitute an essential component of the investigation into the facts,” irrespective of the decision on whether to proceed with the prosecution of the alleged perpetrator.

 

En un proceso penal por violencia doméstica, el fiscal apeló una sentencia a favor del demandado sobre la base de que el tribunal de primera instancia no otorgó el estatus de evidencia adecuada a las declaraciones de víctimas, informes médicos y otras, y fotografías tomadas por la Oficina de Violencia Doméstica , una división del poder judicial argentino. En la búsqueda para el gobierno, el tribunal de apelaciones señaló que si bien la investigación de asuntos relacionados con la violencia doméstica es una tarea difícil dado que los hechos en disputa generalmente tienen lugar en entornos íntimos o cuando solo la víctima y el agresor están presentes, el testimonio de la víctima tiene un valor probatorio inherente . La corte de apelaciones señaló que “el trabajo del personal judicial y los empleados (médicos, trabajadores sociales, psicólogos, etc.) que participan activamente en el asesoramiento a las víctimas de violencia doméstica o de género no debe ocultarse y mucho menos ignorarse en su totalidad (... ) Las entrevistas, informes, inspecciones físicas e informes médicos llevados a cabo por profesionales del poder judicial deben constituir un componente esencial de la investigación de los hechos ", independientemente de la decisión de proceder con el enjuiciamiento del presunto autor.



FSM 10518/2016/TO1 Tribunal Oral en lo Criminal Federal nº 3 de San Martín (Federal Oral Tribunal No. 3 of San Martín) (2017)

Trafficking in persons

The defendant was found guilty of aggravated economic exploitation through the prostitution of vulnerable women, having been found to be the operator of a prostitution establishment in which the four identified victims were sexually exploited.  Despite evidence that the women (1) could enter and leave the establishment as they pleased, (2) were never treated with violence, (3) were never required to work for minimum periods of time and (4) would not be charged an “exit” fee if they terminated their employment at the establishment, the court found that (1) the vulnerable status of the women was confirmed by their inability to finish their formal education and their difficulty in finding employment that would enable them to meet their basic needs, (2) the immigrant status of two of the women resulted in social, cultural and economic disadvantages that facilitated their exploitation and (3) their decision to work at the establishment was not the result of a truly free election, but rather was viewed as their only means to subsist.  The court further noted that fines imposed for tardiness served as a mechanism to control the women given the financial impact of such fines.  Based on these findings, the court ratified the plea bargain of five years imprisonment.



Hamilton v. Scott Supreme Court of Alabama (2012)

Abortion and reproductive health rights

Plaintiff, a mother of a stillborn child, sued physicians and a medical group, alleging that they wrongfully caused the death of her son and caused her emotional distress. The trial court held that a wrongful death action could not be maintained for the death of a fetus before viability. The Alabama Supreme Court reversed this holding, while agreeing with the trial court that Plaintiff could not recover damages for emotional distress. The court concluded that “Alabama’s wrongful-death statute allows an action to be brought for the wrongful death of any unborn child, even when the child dies before reaching viability.” Nonetheless, the court held that Plaintiff failed to demonstrate that she was entitled to damages for emotional distress because she did not present evidence that she was within the “zone of danger” and she could not claim a physical injury to herself based on the death of the fetus.



Hicks v. State of Alabama Supreme Court of Alabama (2014)

Abortion and reproductive health rights

The defendant was charged with chemical endangerment of a child for ingesting cocaine while pregnant, which resulted in her child testing positive for cocaine at birth. The defendant was convicted after a guilty plea, but challenged her conviction on appeal, arguing that the legislature did not intend for Alabama’s chemical endangerment statute to apply to unborn children. Additionally, she alleged that if the statute applied to unborn children, the law was: (1) bad public policy because it does not protect unborn children and (2) unconstitutionally vague. The Alabama Supreme Court rejected Hicks’ claims, relying on an Alabama Court of Appeal decision, Ankrom v. State, 152 So.3d 373 (Ala. Crim. App. 2011), in which the court held that the plain language of the statute included an unborn child or viable fetus in the term “child.” The Alabama Supreme Court refused to consider the defendant’s public policy arguments, stating that policy arguments are ill-suited to judicial resolution and should instead be directed at the legislature. Finally, the court concluded that the law was not vague, as it “unambiguously protects all children, born and unborn, from exposure to controlled substances.”



Reproductive Health Services, et al. v. Marshall, et al. United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama Northern Division (2017)

Abortion and reproductive health rights

A licensed abortion facility and its owner sued Alabama’s Attorney General and the Montgomery County District Attorney. Among Plaintiffs claims were allegations that the 2014 amendments to Alabama Code Title 26’s judicial bypass law violated the due process rights of minor patients seeking abortions because it failed to provide an adequate judicial bypass by permitting adverse parties and the court to disclose private information about the minor to others. Citing Supreme Court precedent enshrining a minor’s constitutional right to seek an abortion through judicial bypass without outside interference violating her privacy, the court ultimately agreed with the plaintiffs and severed the unconstitutional provisions allowing the participation of (1) the district attorney, (2) the minor’s parents, and (3) a guardian ad litem for the fetus from the judicial bypass process.



A.F. re: Self-Satisfying Measure Corte Suprema de Justicia de la Nación (Supreme Court of Argentina) (2011)

Abortion and reproductive health rights, International law, Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

A.F. sought an abortion for her 15-year-old daughter, A.G., whose stepfather raped and impregnated her.  The courts of first and second instance rejected A.F.’s petition because Argentina’s criminal code permits abortion in cases of sexual assault of a mentally impaired woman and A.G. is not mentally impaired.  The appellate court, however, authorized the abortion, holding that the relevant statute should be read broadly to encompass all pregnancies resulting from sexual assault.  Following the abortion, the local guardian ad-litem and family representative (“Tutor Ad-litem y Asesor de Familia e Incapaces”) challenged the appellate court’s decision on the basis that the appellate court’s broader interpretation of the statute violated constitutional protections for the fetus as well as protections found in treaties to which Argentina is a signatory.  Despite the abortion having already been performed, the Supreme Court agreed to adjudicate the matter given its importance and affirmed the appellate court’s ruling, noting that (1) certain of the referenced treaties had been expressly amended to permit abortions resulting from sexual assault and (2) any distinction between victims of sexual assault who are mentally impaired in relation to those who are not is irrational and therefore unconstitutional.  



González de Delgado and Others v. Universidad Nacional de Córdoba Corte Suprema de Justicia de la Nación (Supreme Court of Argentina) (2000)

Gender discrimination, International law

Parents of students enrolled at Colegio Nacional de Monserrat, a private all-male high school, filed suit to prevent the implementation of an order of the High Council of the National University of Córdoba (Consejo Superior de la Universidad Nacional de Córdoba) mandating that the high school admit female applicants. They argued that parents have the right to choose the type of education their children receive. The court of first instance found partially in favor of the parents, which was overturned by the appellate court.  Among other reasons, the Supreme Court upheld the appellate court ruling on the basis that (1) the High Council of the National University of Córdoba acted within its statutory authority, (2) the Argentine constitution does not guarantee the right to enroll children in schools limited to a specific gender, (3) mixed gender schools do not infringe on the rights of parents to elect the type of education their children receive, and (4) establishing a mixed gender school is the only alternative compatible with the constitutional principles of equality and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women to which Argentina is a signatory.



H.V.N. v. EM-M Defensa-FAA and Others Cámara Nacional de Apelaciones en lo Contencioso Administrativo Federal (National Federal Administration Appeals Court) (2015)

Employment discrimination, Sexual harassment

The plaintiff filed suit against her employer, the Ministry of Defense—Argentine Air Force, seeking damages for sexual harassment and workplace persecution because her supervisor made indecent proposals, threatened her employment if she did not accede to his demands, made sexually explicit comments, and impeded her advancement.  The trial court ruled against the plaintiff on the basis that (1) a psychological report indicated that she suffered from “moderate reactive development,” therefore making it impossible to determine the level of fault that corresponded to the alleged hostile conduct or to her “moderate reactive development,” (2) while certain testimony indicated the plaintiff was subject to certain “inconveniences” caused by her supervisor, the court found that these were insufficient to support a claim of sexual harassment or other unlawful conduct and (3) the plaintiff was therefore subject to a higher burden of proof in relation to the alleged conduct and that this burden was not met.   In reversing the trial court’s ruling, the appellate court noted that (1) workplace sexual harassment is characterized by extreme psychological violence in the workplace that is both systematic and prolonged and that is carried out for the purpose of devaluing, perturbing, or debasing the victim so that the victim abandons the workplace or accepts other workplace conditions, and (2) particular difficulties arise in proving that the offensive conduct took place. For this reason, the court noted, special importance must be given to testimony given by work colleagues, medical or psychological reports to determine the existence of physical or psychological damage and documentary evidence.  Specifically, the appellate court found that the plaintiff presented sufficient witness testimony, documentary evidence and psychological and accounting reports to sustain her claims. In addition to allowing damages, the appellate court ordered the defendants to pay costs.



De Sousa v. Administración de Parques Nacionales Camara Federal de San Martin (Federal Court of San Martin) (2018)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination, International law

On July 6, 2016, the plaintiff notified the defendant-employer of her pregnancy and intention to take maternity leave.  As of the date of notification, the plaintiff held a temporary executive position.  On July 11, 2016, the defendant notified the plaintiff that her temporary designation as an executive was of no effect.  The defendant subsequently provided a maternity compensation package beginning on the date her temporary designation was revoked, but it did not reflect her higher earnings as a temporary executive.  The court of first instance granted the plaintiff maternity leave at a salary corresponding (1) to her executive status as from the date she provided notice until 30 days before the probable date of birth and (2) to her non-executive status during the 100 days following the birth of the plaintiff’s child.  On appeal, the plaintiff challenged the trial court’s ruling denying her executive pay for the 100-day period following the birth of her child, while the defendant challenged the trial court’s ruling granting the plaintiff executive pay from the date of notice of her pregnancy because of the subsequent cancellation of the plaintiff’s executive status on July 11, 2016.  The appellate court found in favor of the plaintiff, noting that (1) the Argentine Constitution provides for the full protection of women during pregnancy and breastfeeding, (2) the International Treaty for the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (to which Argentina is a signatory) requires the adoption of laws that prevent discrimination based on marriage or pregnancy, and (3) the failure to award the plaintiff maternity compensation corresponding to her executive status would result in a failure to ensure employment stability.  The appellate court ruled against the plaintiff’s request to return to her executive position following maternity leave on the basis that the designation was temporary in nature and that laws protecting women during maternity leave cannot alter the fundamental nature of the relationship prior to maternity.



Sisnero, et al. v. Taldelva SRL, et al. Corta Suprema de Justicia de la Nación (2014)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

The plaintiffs, Mirtha Graciela Sisnero and the Women’s Foundation (Fundación Entre Mujeres), filed suit against the Automotive State Transportation Company (Sociedad Anònoma del Estado del Transporte Automotor), the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Autoridad Metropolitana de Transporte), and seven companies that provided public transportation services in the city of Salta.  The plainiffs alleged, citing Ms. Sisnero’s failure to obtain a bus driver position despite having met the job requirements, that defendants refuse to hire female drivers in violation of equal rights and anti-discrimination laws. The plaintiffs demanded that (1) the defendants cease to discriminate based on gender, (2) Ms. Sisnero be hired as a bus driver, and (3) the defendants set aside a certain number of positions to be filled exclusively by women until such time as the composition of drivers reflected gender integration.  The court of first instance found in favor of the plaintiffs, mandating that 30% of openings for bus drivers be set aside exclusively for women.  The appellate court reversed the trial court’s decision based on the plaintiff’s failure to prove that the defendants failed to hire Ms. Sisnero solely because she was female, further noting that the defendants’ failure to accept Ms. Sisnero’s multiple applications for employment were insufficient to sustain a claim of discrimination because the defendants were under no constitutional obligation to hire her.  The Supreme Court reversed the appellate court’s decision, noting that the appellate court failed to adequately consider the evidence provided by the plaintiffs. The lower court should have considered (1) the fact that the defendants had not hired any female bus drivers after receiving complaints from Ms. Sisnero and (2) discriminatory statements made by representatives of the defendants (e.g., “women should focus on demonstrating their culinary abilities”). The Supreme Court further noted that once the claimant has proven the existence of acts that are allegedly discriminatory, it is the defendant’s burden to disprove the existence of the alleged discrimination.   



[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.



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

Sexual violence and rape

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



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

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

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



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

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Property and inheritance rights

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



Decision No. 265/Pid.Sus/2015/PN Btm District Court of Batam (2015)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

The Defendant regularly verbally abused his wife (the victim) shouting at her, insulting and cursing her, demeaning her status and causing her deep embarrassment at in front of other employees. The Defendant also joked that he should just divorce the victim and get a new younger wife instead. These verbal abuses were not isolated incidents. The court viewed them as a form of psychological abuse which resulted in psychological suffering, a deep sense of helplessness, and the victim experiencing fear, losing confidence, and losing the will to act. The court found that the Defendant was guilty of domestic violence under Article 45 of Law No. 23 2004 and sentenced the Defendant to seven months imprisonment.



Decision No. 246/Pid.B/2013/PN.Trt District Court of Tarutung (2013)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

The Defendant forced his wife (the victim) to sleep in the cold outside of the bedroom and when the victim tried to enter the bedroom and sleep on the bed, the Defendant proceeded to push her to the floor and beat her, causing bruises and injuries to the victim. The court found the Defendant guilty of an act of domestic violence under Article 44(1) of Law No.23 2004 on Elimination of Domestic Violence. The court sentenced the Defendant to three months imprisonment.



Decision No. 174/pid.Sus/2013/PN.Kpj District Court of Kepanjen (2013)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

The Defendant had an argument with his wife (the victim) and proceeded to hit his head against the victim’s head three times causing bruising and swelling to occur on the victim’s head. The court considered this act as an act of domestic violence under Article 5 of Law No. 23/2004 relating to Elimination of Domestic Violence. The court found the Defendant guilty and sentenced him to three months imprisonment.



Decision No.172/Pid.B/2016/PN.Trg District Court of Tenggarong (2016)

Statutory rape or defilement

The Defendant broke into the victim’s house and forced the victim to have sexual intercourse with the Defendant. The charge is regulated and punishable by Article 285 of the Indonesian Penal Code dated 19 May 1999. The court found the Defendant guilty and sentenced the Defendant to imprisonment for six years and six months.



Decision No. 29/Pid/B/2017/PN.Tul Tual District Court (2017)

Sexual violence and rape

The Defendant committed the offence of creating and disseminating pornographic material. The Defendant threatened the victim with physical harm and forced the victim to take off her clothes to allow the Defendant to film her. The victim put up verbal resistance that prompted the Defendant to slap her and to forcibly take off the victim’s clothes. The Defendant then proceeded to take pictures of the naked body of the Defendant then forced the victim to perform oral sex on the Defendant. The Supreme Court decided that the Defendant was guilty of creating pornography which explicitly showed nudity and sentenced the Defendant to imprisonment for one year and three months and a fine of Rp. 500,000,000. If the fine is not paid then the Defendant will face further imprisonment for an additional three months. Under Indonesian Law only acts that involve vaginal penetration are defined as rape.



Decision No. 29/Pid/B/2017/PN.Tul Tual District Court (2017)

Sexual violence and rape

The Defendant committed the offence of creating and disseminating pornographic material. The Defendant threatened the victim with physical harm and forced the victim to take off her clothes to allow the Defendant to film her. The victim put up verbal resistance that prompted the Defendant to slap her and to forcibly take off the victim’s clothes. The Defendant then proceeded to take pictures of the naked body of the Defendant then forced the victim to perform oral sex on the Defendant. The Supreme Court decided that the Defendant was guilty of creating pornography which explicitly showed nudity and sentenced the Defendant to imprisonment for one year and three months and a fine of Rp. 500,000,000. If the fine is not paid then the Defendant will face further imprisonment for an additional three months. Under Indonesian Law only acts that involve vaginal penetration are defined as rape.



Supaul v. Lalchand Supreme Court of Belize (2018)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Property and inheritance rights

The issues in the preliminary hearing for this case were (i) whether the parties were involved in a common law union and what the material dates of that union were and (ii) whether an agreement entered into between the parties barred the applicant from bringing her claim for maintenance and division of property.  The applicant alleged that the parties lived together as man and wife for eight years.  The respondent claimed the first two years involved a sexual relationship only and that they did not live as man and wife for the last four years of their relationship because the relationship was unstable.  He also contended that the parties had “more of a business relationship.”  Under Belize law, a “common law union” is a “relationship that is established when a man and woman who are not legally married to each other and to any other person cohabit together continuously as husband and wife for a period of at least five years.”   The court analyzed the evidence of the relationship and found the respondent’s evidence to be “lacking in credibility.”  The court found there to have been a common law union for eight years.



Vasquez v. Vasquez Supreme Court of Belize (2017)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Property and inheritance rights

The petitioner applied to court for dissolution of marriage on the ground of respondent’s adultery, which was granted in 2010.  The petitioner then filed for maintenance for herself and their children as well as for other miscellaneous amounts for loans and medical expenses.  The court granted maintenance, which was being garnished from respondent’s salary.  The respondent contested the continuation of these payments.  Under Belize law, upon divorce the court has discretion to order a husband to pay maintenance to his former wife in an amount the court may think to be reasonable for the remainder of her life.  The court ordered a continuation of monthly maintenance payments based on the “practice that maintenance is generally awarded on the basis of one-third of the joint incomes of the parties, less the wife’s income” in order to “supply the former wife with the necessaries, comforts, and advantages incidental to her social position.”  The claims for loans and medical expenses were dismissed.



Roches v. Belize Agricultural Health Authority and Attorney General of Belize Supreme Court of Belize (2017)

Employment discrimination, International law, Sexual harassment

The claimant brought a claim of damages for unlawful termination of employment because she alleged she was terminated before her two-year contract had run despite a positive one-year evaluation.  She claimed her contract was not renewed because she made reports of sexual harassment by her supervisor to the police.  However, that report was made four months after the claimant was informed of the decision not to renew her contract.  The court also determined that her contract was a one-year contract.  As a result, her claim was dismissed.  However, the court “condemn[ed] in the strongest possible terms the exploitation and degradation of women by predatory male behavior in the workplace” and found that the respondent “has an obligation to not sweep these grave allegations under the rug.”  The court urged an investigation into the alleged conduct by claimant’s supervisor and for the respondent to “duly penalize such behavior if substantiated, in keeping with Belize’s national and international obligations to protect the rights of women and children from sexual exploitation under treaties such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Violence and Discrimination Against Women.”



Attorney General of Belize v. Matus Supreme Court of Belize (2017)

Forced and early marriage

The Attorney-General of Belize brought a claim under Belize’s Civil Procedure Rules to declare the marriage between the respondent and a 16-year-old minor null and void under the Marriage Act because it was executed without the consent of the child’s father.  Section 5 of the Marriage Act requires the consent of both parents before a minor can marry.  The court granted the respondent’s application to dismiss the claim because the Attorney-General should have commenced the action by petition under the Matrimonial Causes Rules.



Flowers v. Jeffords Supreme Court of Belize (2018)

Property and inheritance rights

The claimant alleged that her common law husband passed away without a will.  His son, the defendant, attempted to evict her from the home she shared with the deceased prior to his death.  The claimant responded by bringing this administrative action to remove the son as the deceased’s personal representative and to be recognized as one of the lawful beneficiaries of the estate.  The son and the deceased’s other children from previous relationships alleged that the claimant was merely their father’s caretaker, but could provide no evidence she was ever paid and could not explain why she lived with their father prior to him falling ill.  Under Belize law, a common law union is defined as “an unmarried man and an unmarried woman, who share a mutual commitment publicly to live their life together as a couple and in fact do so for a continuous period of five years or more.”  The typical signs of such a union are that the parties “share the same household; the relationship is stable; there is financial support or the pooling of financial resources; there is a sexual relationship; there is public acknowledgement of the relationship and there may be children.”    The court analyzed all evidence presented on the nature of the claimant’s relationship with the deceased and held that the claimant was “the female party to a common-law union with [the deceased] up until the time of his death” and so she was a lawful beneficiary of the estate.



J.B. v. Landero Supreme Court of Belize (2018)

Forced sterilization

The claimant underwent an exploratory surgery at age 21 to assess the cause of abdominal pain associated with bleeding.  During that surgery the doctor removed her womb and left ovary without her consent or a second opinion.  The defendants accepted liability and the court was asked to assess damages for breach of duty and for pain and suffering.  Under Belize law, the court must restore the claimant to “the position in which she would have been, had it not been for the negligent act.”  The claimant’s psychologist explained the psychological impact on the claimant for her loss of “femaleness” and her struggles with “depression, guilt, and feelings of worthlessness.”  To quantify her damages, claimant referred the court to awards for infertility in a “woman with severe depression and anxiety” in Guidelines for the Assessment of General Damages in Personal Injury Cases.  The claimant also pointed to a few foreign cases that quantified similar damages.  The defense urged the court to be cautious since these cases arose from jurisdictions “which do not share similar social, economic and industrial conditions to Belize.”  Defense counsel also attempted to distinguish the physical damage in the cases cited by claimant.  The court considered both the fact that claimant’s pecuniary prospects had not changed, as well as her loss of biological motherhood and the psychological damage from loss of her female reproductive organs, and awarded $250,000 in damages.



Longsworth v. The Queen Court of Appeal of Belize (2012)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

The appellant threw an accelerant on her husband, followed by a lit candle.  She then immediately attempted to douse the flames in water.  Her husband died and she was convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.  On appeal, the appellant attempted to introduce new evidence that she had suffered from Battered Women Syndrome (“BWS”).  This evidence was not available during the appellant’s trial because there were no qualified forensic psychiatrists available in Belize.  The Court of Appeal granted the appeal on the ground that (1) it was capable of belief; (2) it was relevant to the issues before the jury; (3) it would have been admissible at trial; (4) the trial attorney had been asked why no medical evidence was presented at trial; (5) the new evidence may have caused the jury to decide differently; (6) the evidence supports a defense of diminished responsibility and (7) it cast doubt as to the reasonableness of the verdict and admission of the evidence was in the interest of justice.  The court considered the findings of an experienced and distinguished professional in the field of forensic psychiatry who examined the appellant, interviewed witnesses, and reviewed trial documents and found that the appellant’s history and behavior was consistent with BWS.  The forensic psychiatrist concluded that the appellant had been physically, sexually, financially, and psychologically abused by her partner for nine years.  This abuse, together with the appellant’s response to the abuse, was found to be consistent with BWC.  The Court reduced the appellant’s sentence to eight years.  This case was the first time that a court in Belize admitted new evidence in relation to BWS and PTSD in connection with a defense of diminished responsibility. 



Meyers v. The Queen Court of Appeal of Belize (2017)

Statutory rape or defilement

The appellant was convicted of carnal knowledge of a female child under the age of 14.  During trial the complainant claimed to not remember anything about the night in question or even where she lived, her mother’s occupation or place of work, or where her best friend lived.  When the complainant continued to “evince no desire to cooperate with prosecuting counsel” and stated her previous statement to the prosecution about the night in question was untrue, the trial court granted the prosecution permission to treat the complainant as a hostile witness.  However, the Court of Appeal faulted the trial court for the fact there is “no indication in the record that the judge took the steps dictated by long established practice in this jurisdiction to demonstrate that [the trial judge] formed, at the proper time, the opinion that [the complainant], being then a child of only 13 years, understood the nature of an oath.”  Given the importance of the sworn testimony of the complainant on the identification of the appellant, the court ordered a retrial and granted bail on the condition the appellant stayed away from the complainant and her family. 



Gabourel v. The Queen Court of Appeal of Belize (2017)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Sexual violence and rape

The appellant was convicted of grievous harm (was also charged but acquitted of rape) and was sentenced to a fine of $10,000 or in default a term of three years imprisonment, as well as being ordered to pay the complainant $3,000.  The appellant appealed, arguing that the trial judge erred in law by not giving a proper instruction to the jury on the issue of self-defense.  The Court of Appeal affirmed the conviction, finding “no miscarriage of justice,” where the jury “clearly accepted the version [of events] given by the complainant in relation to the offence of grievous harm, and rejected the version given by the appellant,” and a different self-defense instruction would not have changed the result.



Gutierrez v. The Queen Court of Appeal of Belize (2018)

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

The appellant was convicted of raping a 16-year-old female colleague and was sentenced to eight years in prison.  The Court of Appeal granted a retrial because the trial court had “erred in failing to give a proper/adequate direction to the jury.”  Under Section 92(3)(a) of Belize’s Evidence Act, a trial court has discretion to “warn the jury of the special need for caution” where the only evidence against a person charged with rape is the word of the victim.  Where a judge exercises such discretion, he or she must provide the reasons for cautioning the jury.  The trial judge did caution the jury in the case, but the Court of Appeal found he had erred by not warning the jury that the complainant had lied during her testimony and by not pointing out the complainant’s admission that she had been raped was made only after being threatened by her father.  The Court of Appeal also found that the trial judge should have warned the jury that the complainant “may have had some kind of relationship with the Appellant.”



Taylor v. The Queen Court of Appeal of Belize (2018)

Sexual violence and rape

The appellant was convicted of abduction and rape and sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment.  The complainant was kidnaped from a car, driven to a remote location, and raped multiple times by two men.  Upon arrival at the remote location, the police chased after the two men, but only caught and arrested one of the men – the appellant.  The complainant testified that the appellant wore a stocking mask, and although he had spoken to her many times the night of her kidnaping, she did not recognize him until his stockinged face was illuminated by a car light.  This identification was not made until a few days after the police arrested the appellant.  The Court of Appeal quashed the convictions because the trial judge did not direct the jury on issues related to voice identification in general or concerns related to the timing of complainant’s identification.  The Court of Appeals also faulted the prosecution for not conducting a controlled identification procedure to test the complainant’s ability to identify the appellant by the sound of his voice.  The Court did not however order a retrial because it found the evidence to be “insufficient to justify a conviction by any jury which had been properly directed” due to the “glaring evidential gaps”.  



Lawrence v. The Queen Court of Appeal of Belize (2018)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Femicide

The appellant was convicted of the murder of his romantic partner of eight years and was sentenced to life in prison.  On the night of the murder, the appellant first beat his partner in front of her three children. One of children called the police to report the beating, but the police failed to respond to the residence.  Following the beating, the appellant left the house, but returned an hour later, broke into the house, and stabbed his partner to death.  The appellant then drove his partner to the hospital where he was subsequently arrested. At the appellant' trial, testimony revealed that the appellant was under the influence of drugs and alcohol at the time of the killing and had a history of domestic violence. The first issue before the Court of Appeal was whether the trial judge gave adequate instructions on the potential for intoxication to be taken into account when deciding whether there was an intent to kill for the purposes of the appellant’s defense.  The Court of Appeal found that such instructions given by the trial judge were adequate.  The next issue decided by the Court of Appeal was whether new evidence from a forensic psychiatrist based on a single interview with the appellant regarding the appellant’s mental health necessitated a new trial.  The Court of Appeal found the new evidence to be less than credible, but exercised discretion to substitute the original conviction of murder to a conviction of manslaughter and reduced the appellant’s sentence to 18 years.  In reducing the sentence, the Court of Appeal began with the range of sentences for murder applicable a street fight (being 15 to 20 years), although acknowledged that the instant case differed in that it was a “vicious attack on an unarmed victim.”  Taking into account appellant’s diagnosis of schizophrenia, the Court of Appeal began with a 15-year sentence and then added three years to reflect the aggravating factors of “the choice of weapon, the number of stab wounds, the presence of the children and the previous violence he inflicted on the deceased about an hour before the fatal incident” to arrive at the 18 year sentence ordered.



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

Domestic and intimate partner violence

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



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

Employment discrimination, Sexual harassment

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



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

Sexual violence and rape

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



Gandhi v. Perak, et al. Federal Court of Malaysia (2018)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Gender discrimination, International law

The appellant, Pathmanathan (husband), and the respondent, Indira Gandhi (wife), were married and had three children. In March 2009, the husband converted to Islam. In April 2009, the husband obtained certificates of conversion to Islam issued by the Pengarah Jabatan Agama Islam Perak over all three children as well as an ex-parte interim custody order over the children. In September 2009, he obtained a permanent custody order from the Syariah Court. In 2013 and 2014, the mother obtained orders from the High Court annulling the unilateral conversions and the Syariah Court’s custody order, inter alia, on the grounds that vesting equal rights to both parents to decide on a minor child’s religious upbringing and religion would be in accordance with international human rights principles, specifically the convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and CEDAW.  The first appeal in this case concerned the validity of the conversion of the children to Islam. The majority in the Court of Appeal allowed the husband’s appeal and held that the Syariah Court had exclusive jurisdiction to determine the validity of the children’s conversion to Islam. Dealing with the issue of whether the conversions violate international norms, the Court noted that international treaties do not form part of domestic law unless those provisions have been incorporated into domestic law and that the High Court’s approach of following very closely the standard of international norms in interpreting the Federal Constitution is not in tandem with the accepted principles of constitutional interpretation. Accordingly, the Court of Appeal did not declare that the conversions of the children were invalid. The Federal Court overturned the lower courts’ decisions on appeal, reasoning that the children had not met the statutory requirements of conversion. Specifically, the Court found that the children did not state the two clauses of the Affirmation of Faith in Arabic as the Perak Enactment requires for a valid conversion to Islam.  In addition, the Federal Court held that mothers have parental rights equal to fathers, so the permission of both parents is required for a child’s religious conversion.



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.



Sexual Crimes Court, New Chapter 25 Establishing Criminal Court “E” – Title 17 – Liberian Code of Laws Revised

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

The Sexual Crimes Court, New Chapter 25 Establishing Criminal Court “E” – Title 17 – Liberian Code of Laws Revised (the “Law”) establishes a Sexual Offences Court and Special Divisions of Circuit Courts. The Law gives exclusive jurisdiction to these courts for dealing with the prosecution of sex crimes. These courts have the authority to prohibit publication of a victim’s personal information. This includes the right to expunge their names from public records. Additionally, the Law grants these courts the ability to provide interim relief to protect victims. In this respect, the Law specifically refers to the ability of the court to ensure that child victims are placed in protective custody.



Barclay v. Digen Supreme Court of Liberia (2011)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Gender discrimination, Property and inheritance rights

Upon divorce, the husband claimed he was entitled to a property acquired during the marriage because a married woman cannot acquire property in her maiden name solely for herself. The court held that: (a) there is no legal significance of a woman choosing to use her husband’s surname; it does not affect the right of a woman to own property while married; (b) a woman can purchase property in her maiden name during marriage; (c) unless freely consented to, property which is owned solely by a husband’s wife cannot be controlled by her spouse.



Toopah v. RL Supreme Court of Liberia (1974)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Femicide

The Defendant appealed a homicide conviction for the shooting of his wife arguing that the killing resulted from the discovery of her adultery and could; therefore, only amount to manslaughter. In a charge of homicide, the law requires a showing of malice (i.e., a murder committed with premeditation). Implied malice (i.e., murder committed in the “heat of passion;” without premeditation) is nullified by sufficient provocation. The Court found that the murder was premeditated because express malice was proven to the Court. Thus provocation was not considered and the conviction was upheld.



Tequah v. Paye Supreme Court of Liberia (2014)

Sexual violence and rape

The Appellants were accused and convicted of armed robbery and gang rape. The trial court found that the Appellants raped the victim at gun point. The Supreme Court of Liberia upheld that under circumstances of violence or threats of violence to have sexual intercourse with a person, there is a presumption that the person being violated or threatened did not consent. In such circumstances, the burden of proving affirmative consent from the victim is on the accused.



Gardea v. R. Supreme Court of Liberia (2014)

Sexual violence and rape

The Appellant was convicted of raping his step-daughter on three occasions and sentenced to life imprisonment. He appealed the decision on the basis of lack of evidence. The prosecution’s case relied on evidence provided by the victim (deceased at the time of the trial), her nine-year-old sister, and a medical professional who examined the victim at the hospital immediately after she was raped. The defence argued that evidence provided by the victim immediately before her death was hearsay. The court held that, while under Liberian law hearsay cannot form the basis of a criminal conviction, “a dying declaration” (i.e., when a victim provides evidence concerning her or his attacker whilst at impending death in extremis) can be admitted as evidence and is not hearsay. The court also pointed out that, despite her young age, the victim’s sister’s evidence, which was admitted, was not hearsay because she was a direct witness to the attack and was subject to comprehensive cross examination. Finally, the court rejected the defence’s claims that the medical professional who inspected the victim in the hospital was not an expert witness because of her credentials that included a medical degree and over ten years of experience treating children victims of sexual violence. The conviction was upheld.



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.



Sentencia nº 965 de Tribunal Supremo de Justicia Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (2012)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

A mother was charged with sexual abuse of her own son and daughter.  The trial court issued an order of detention pending trial.  When the mother brought an extraordinary constitutional petition seeking protection against the order, the court of appeals declined to hear the petition on the ground that such a petition can heard only after ordinary remedies have been exhausted.  On appeal to the Supreme Court, the mother argued that the underlying order of detention suffered from various constitutional defects, mainly that special courts have exclusive jurisdiction to hear cases involving sexual violence against a girl and that the trial court therefore lacked jurisdiction.  (The mother argued, moreover, that she was being prosecuted and detained in order to prevent enforcement of her visitation rights—this after she had already been deprived of them the two years prior.)  The Supreme Court affirmed the appellate decision, noting that the mother had not exhausted any of the three remedies still available to her:  motion for reconsideration, motion for substitution, and an ordinary appeal. 



Sentencia nº 407 de Tribunal Supremo de Justicia Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (2016)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

A man invaded his neighbor’s house at night while two girls (12 and 17 years old) and their grandmother slept, and sexually assaulted the two girls.  The trial court convicted him of sexual abuse and physical violence.  After the court of appeals affirmed the conviction, the defendant brought a cassation appeal to the Supreme Court, arguing that the court of appeals erred by (1) selectively giving weight only to certain testimony of the victims and their grandmother, while ignoring exculpatory evidence; and (2) finding facts without articulating grounds for each finding.  Noting that weighing of evidence and fact finding are the exclusive domain of the trial court and that appellate review must be limited to assessment of the sufficiency of the evidence, the Supreme Court denied the appeal, expressly rejecting it as an attempt to replay the appeal below. 



Sentencia nº 1325 de Tribunal Supremo de Justicia Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (2011)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Gender-based violence in general, Harmful traditional practices, International law

An indigenous man was charged with physical violence and threats against his ex-partner (a non-indigenous woman), a violation of the Organic Law on the Right of Women to a Life Free of Violence (the “statute”), which created special courts with exclusive jurisdiction to hear cases under the statute.  The special court issued a restraining order in lieu of detention pending trial.  Prosecutors appealed.  While the appeal was pending, the man violated the restraining order.  The court of appeals vacated the restraining order and ordered detention.  On a constitutional appeal to the Supreme Court, the defendant argued that, because of his identity as an indigenous person, his community’s authorities had exclusive jurisdiction to hear the case.  The Supreme Court acknowledged that (1) the Organic Law on Indigenous Peoples and Communities creates special jurisdiction authorizing indigenous communities to resolve controversies arising among their members within their lands, (2) this special jurisdiction allows the communities to apply their own laws, and (3) the national courts must recognize the decisions of the communities.  But the Court also stressed that international conventions, the national constitution, and special laws (such as the statute) placed limitations on that jurisdiction.  The Court cited, for example, Article 9 of the ILO Convention on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples, which provides that “the methods customarily practiced by the peoples concerned for dealing with offenses committed by their members shall be respected,” but only “[t]o the extent compatible with the national legal system and internationally recognized human rights.”  More precisely, the Court noted that the statute itself established that indigenous authorities could serve as agents for receiving complaints of violence against women, but only without prejudice to the victim’s right to seek remedy in the special courts.  Based on that analysis, the Court held that the special courts have exclusive jurisdiction to hear cases under the statute, regardless of the defendant’s ethnic identify.  Notably, the Court ordered that its holding be published as binding precedent.   



Sentencia nº 620 de Tribunal Supremo de Justicia Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (2015)

Statutory rape or defilement

A male dance teacher was charged with sexually abusing a three-year-old girl at a dance school, by inducing her to perform oral sex and rubbing his penis against her behind.  Trial witnesses included the child, a security guard, and the parent of another student.  The trial court convicted the man and sentenced him to over 15 years of imprisonment.  On appeal, he argued that the conviction was illogical and groundless because the testimony of the guard and parent disproved that he was alone with the child at the school at the time of the alleged crime.  He also asserted that the prosecution turned down his offers to test his DNA against any found on the child’s undergarment.  The court of appeals affirmed the conviction, noting that factual and credibility determinations were for the trial court to make.  On a cassation appeal, the defendant argued that the court of appeals failed to state the grounds for its decision.  The Supreme Court also affirmed the conviction, finding that the defendant failed to specify the legal errors he claimed.   



Sentencia nº 500 de Tribunal Supremo de Justicia Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (2013)

Gender-based violence in general

A landlady alleged that two delinquent male tenants assaulted her and threatened to kill her if she sought to evict them.  The tenants were charged with “violence against a woman,” a violation of the Organic Law on the Right of Women to a Life Free of Violence (the “statute”), which created special courts with exclusive jurisdiction to hear cases under the statute.  The ordinary court declined jurisdiction and referred the case to the special court.  In the meantime, after completing their investigation, prosecutors downgraded the charges to “general injuries,” a violation of the general penal code.  The special court also declined jurisdiction, reasoning that its jurisdiction under the statute was limited to gender-based violence and that the violence alleged in the case was rooted in a contractual dispute and not in the landlady’s gender.  When the jurisdictional conflict was certified to the Supreme Court, it held that the landlady’s gender was sufficient to bring the case within the exclusive jurisdiction of the special courts, irrespective of the statutory classification of the alleged crime.  Dissenting judges argued that the special court’s jurisdiction was confined to gender-based crimes and that the majority opinion would result in a separate system of justice for each gender.     



Sentencia nº 542 de Tribunal Supremo de Justicia Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (2015)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

A teenage girl reported she had been sexually abused by a man.  A medical exam confirmed she had suffered involuntary anal penetration on the date of her report.  At trial, however, the girl testified that she was in a sexual relationship with a boyfriend at the time of the alleged abuse, another girl had advised her to blame the defendant in order to protect the boyfriend, and the defendant was innocent.  Her father corroborated her testimony, explaining that she recanted her accusations when he told her “where the defendant was being held.”  Noting “contradictions” in the girl’s and father’s testimony (e.g., the girl did not know the full name or the address of the boyfriend or the other girl), the trial court gave “no weight” to the recantation, indicating that it was the product of “manipulation.”  Instead, based on the medical evidence and the testimony of witnesses who responded to the girl’s initial report, the trial court convicted the defendant.  The court of appeals affirmed.  On a cassation appeal to the Supreme Court, the defendant argued that (1) the trial court failed to articulate the grounds for finding each element of the offense, and (2) the conviction was incongruous because there was no evidence identifying him as the perpetrator other than the girl’s own now-recanted statements.  The Supreme Court vacated the conviction and ordered a new trial, ruling that the trial court had made certain findings about the alleged crime without citing a basis in the record.  Notably, after a lengthy discussion of the importance of protecting victims from “secondary victimization” in the legal process, the Court authorized the trial court to read the girl’s testimony from the first trial into the record of the new trial, in lieu of requiring her to submit to live re-examination.    



Sentencia nº 752 de Tribunal Supremo de Justicia Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (2016)

Sexual violence and rape

A female motorcycle taxi driver was diverted by a male passenger to a remote location, where he knocked off her helmet with a blow to the head and used a broken bottle and threats to force her to perform oral sex.  Prosecutors charged him with (1) physical violence, (2) psychological violence, (3) sexual violence, and (4) threats.  Notably, prosecutors dropped the physical and psychological violence charges, explaining that (1) the helmet had protected the victim from any “visible injuries legally diagnosable through a medical examination,” and (2) it was not possible to show that she was “psychologically impacted by the events,” given that they “occurred for the first time and not in a manner continuous or permanent in time.”  The defendant pled guilty to sexual violence and threats, and was sentenced to 100 months of imprisonment.  On a constitutional appeal to the Supreme Court, the defendant argued that sexual violence and threats were impossible to prove in the absence of physical or psychological violence.  The Supreme Court rejected the appeal.  Citing various sources, the Court declared that “the nucleus of the crime of sexual violence is the infringement of a woman’s right to decide upon her sexuality voluntarily and freely.”  The Court noted, moreover, that threats were a form of violence sufficient to prove sexual violence under the statutory definitions.  This case is important because it makes clear that neither physical nor psychological violence is required in order to establish the commission of sexual violence.    



Sentencia nº 393 de Tribunal Supremo de Justicia Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (2016)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

A 13-year-old girl reported having consensual sex with her 26-year-old boyfriend.  He was charged under a statute that outlaws sexual relations, even without violence or intimidation, to the detriment of a woman who is “vulnerable” because of her age.  The trial court convicted the defendant, finding the girl “vulnerable” based on psychological evaluations.  On appeal, the court of appeals focused on the girl’s “discernment” to “decide concerning an active sexual life.”  The court of appeals then found the girl not “vulnerable” in light of her testimony that she consented to the alleged crime.  The court thus vacated the conviction.  The court of appeals also found that the psychological evaluations had “nothing to do with” the issue, because they did not focus on the girl’s “discernment,” but rather on her emotional state, which, in any event, was caused by “rigid standards and values” at home and the “the presence of a controlling feminine figure” (her mother), and not by the relationship with the boyfriend.  Because the couple had been dating for four months before deciding “by mutual accord” to have sex, the court found that the boyfriend had not taken advantage of the girl.  Prosecutors then brought a cassation appeal to the Supreme Court, arguing that the court of appeals had misinterpreted and misapplied the statute.  Although the Supreme Court also focused on the “degree of discernment or maturity possessed by the victim to make decisions regarding her sexual freedom,” the Court also held that the girl’s emotional state was essential to the analysis of her vulnerability and her ability to give “free consent,” because “emotions are determinants” that “directly influence human behavior.”  The Supreme Court thus remanded the case to a new appeals panel, with directions to rehear the defendant’s appeal in a manner consistent with the Court’s opinion.    



Sentencia nº 235 de Tribunal Supremo de Justicia Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (2016)

Sexual violence and rape

In the predawn hours of a Sunday morning, police officers came upon a cab parked in a secluded location.  A woman (apparently an adolescent) emerged from the car naked and told the officers she was being raped by the driver, who was found with his pants down.  Prosecutors charged the driver with attempted sexual violence.  After the driver pled guilty and was sentenced to 50 months of imprisonment, the victim appealed the classification of the offense and prosecutors opposed the appeal.  Based on evidence in the record, the court of appeals modified the conviction to sexual violence, doubling the time of the prison sentence.  On the driver’s cassation appeal, the Supreme Court held that, by upgrading the conviction beyond the driver’s plea, the modification denied the driver the opportunity to present a defense and thus violated his right to due process.  The Supreme Court accordingly vacated the modification and remanded the case for rehearing of the victim’s appeal. 



Sentencia nº 357 de Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (Número de Expediente: CC15-173) Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (2015)

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

In 2013, a woman’s ex-partner wounded her with a machete and knife as she was arriving home at midnight.  When the victim’s sister intervened, the man punched the sister and ran off.  For his attack against his ex-partner, the man was charged with attempted homicide, a violation of both the general penal code and the Organic Law on the Right of Women to a Life Free of Violence (the “statute”).  For his attack against the sister, he was charged with physical violence, a violation of the statute.  Amended in 2014, the statute created special courts with exclusive jurisdiction to hear cases brought under the statute, but a subsequent Supreme Court decision clarified that all types of homicide offenses occurring prior to the amendment remained within the jurisdiction of ordinary courts.  During the preliminary hearing, the ordinary court found that the allegations did not support the attempted homicide charge but rather the offense of “minor injuries,” a violation of the statute.  Accordingly, the ordinary court ruled that it lacked jurisdiction and thus referred the case to the special court.  In turn, finding that the allegations did support a homicide charge, the special court also concluded that it lacked jurisdiction.  When the jurisdictional conflict was certified to the Supreme Court, it held that the special court had exclusive jurisdiction.  The Court explained that the classification of the “homicide” charge was of no consequence, because the charge against the sister vested jurisdiction in the special court over all related charges involving gender violence. 



Sentencia nº 660 de Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (Número de Expediente: C15-3) Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (2015)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

A 12-year-old girl with the cognitive ability of a nine-year-old reported that she had had consensual sex with her boyfriend and separately with his roommate, both adult males.  A medical exam confirmed she had engaged in intercourse.  The roommate came forward to the police, saying that he wished to clear his name and felt “remorse” because he “had been with” the girl.  The two men were charged under a statute that outlaws sexual relations, even without violence or intimidation, to the detriment of a woman who is “vulnerable” because of her age.  A girl under 13 is per se vulnerable under the statute.  At trial, the girl’s mother and a psychologist testified that the girl had told them that she falsely accused the defendants because the real perpetrator, who had subsequently died, had threatened her.  But the psychologist further explained the girl’s contradiction was the product of cognitive limitations and did not mean that the defendants were innocent.  For his part, the roommate admitted that he had made the above-quoted statements to the police, but added that he made them under coercion.  Based on that admission, the trial court convicted the roommate and sentenced him to over 17 years of imprisonment.  The roommate appealed, arguing that the trial court failed to articulate the grounds for finding each element of the alleged offense.  The appellate court denied the appeal in a conclusory opinion.  On a cassation appeal, the Supreme Court agreed with the roommate’s argument, vacated the appellate decision, and remanded the appeal for rehearing before a different appellate court.   



Clark v. Clinton-Johnson Supreme Court of Liberia (2015)

Sexual violence and rape

The Act Creating Criminal Court E, Section 25.3(a), requires magistrates to forward a case alleging a sexual offense to the circuit court within 72 hours of arrest without first investigating the charge. However, the Constitution of Liberia, Article 21(f), requires courts in general criminal matters to conduct an investigation, known as a preliminary examination, within 48 hours to determine whether a prima facia case exists, thereby prohibiting preventively detaining the accused. The petitioner was arrested for rape, and the magistrate forwarded the case to the circuit court without first conducting a preliminary examination. The Supreme Court of Liberia held that forwarding such a case to the circuit court under the Act does not violate the Constitution, notwithstanding the additional time and its potential characterization as preventive detention, because magistrate courts are not equipped to protect witnesses from public exposure and the psychological harm resulting from directly facing the defendant. The objective of promoting witness protection having outweighed the additional time required by forwarding such cases to the circuit court, the Constitution is not violated, and Section 25.3(a) stands.



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.



Warren v. R. Court of Appeal (2015)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

The applicant was convicted in the Circuit Court of Kingston for the offences of indecent assault, incest and assault. Later, a single judge granted leave to appeal and granted legal aid to the appellant. The prosecution conceded that the learned trial judge erred in imposing a sentence of 15 years imprisonment in respect of the incest charge, under the Child Care Protection Act of 2004, because the appellant was actually charged under the Incest (Punishment) Act, which establishes as maximum penalty for the crime is five years. As a consequence, the appeal against the sentence was allowed on the incest charge and this was set aside and substituted for five years imprisonment. The Court didn’t take into account, nor studied, the possibility of amending the indictment due to the specific circumstances and seriousness of the case, that is, the fact that the appellant sexually assaulted an underage girl on more than one occasion, and also, according to the evidence, threatened her to kill her if she made him go to prison.



Gregory v. R. Court of Appeal (2015)

Gender-based violence in general

The applicant was sentenced to seven years imprisonment for abduction and robbery with aggravation. In response to his first application for leave to appeal against conviction and sentence, the judge granted him leave to appeal to the sentence, but refused permission to appeal against conviction. The applicant renewed his application for leave to appeal against his conviction. The issue on appeal was whether the indictment erroneously citing the wrong statute warranted overturning the conviction. The offence of forcible abduction can be found in the section 17 of the Sexual Offences Act, and it was formerly an offence addressed in section 56 of the Offences Against Person Act. The latter was repealed when the Sexual Offences Act passed. Although the sections are not identically worded, they create the same offence of taking away a woman, against her will, with the intent of having sexual intercourse with her. The indictment in this case had incorrectly stated that the offence was in violation of section 56 (which had been repealed at that point). Nonetheless, the Court of Appeals decided that the error was not fatal to the conviction, as an amendment would have been permissible. This leads to the conclusion that as long as indictment errors are related to the form, and not the substance, then there is no prejudice to the appellants.



Hall v. R. Court of Appeal (2014)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

The appellant was charged for carnal abuse of a girl under the age of 12 years and buggery. On 20 April 2009, the appellant was convicted for carnal abuse (but not for buggery). On 9 November 2010 the appellant filed for leave against the conviction and the sentence. He argued in his appeal that the trial judge was obliged to give the jury a separate and distinct warning related to the dangers of convicting relying solely on the uncorroborated evidence from children (in addition to the warning she gave them in relation to the dangers of convicting relying solely on the uncorroborated evidence of complainants in sexual cases).  However, the Court decided that it’s entirely within the discretion of the trial judge to determine (taking into account the content and manner of the witness’ evidence, the circumstances of the case and the issues raised), whether to give any warning at all, and if so, in what terms. As a result, in exercising her discretion, the judge decided the girl’s age did not warrant a specific, separate warning other than the one given related to the danger of acting on uncorroborated evidence in a sexual case.



Blake v. R. Court of Appeal (2015)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

The applicant pleaded guilty before the Circuit Court of Westmoreland for the offence of having sexual intercourse with a girl under the age of 16, in violation of section 10(1) of the Sexual Offences Act. He was in a serious relationship with the underage girl, but the matter was brought to the attention of the police when the complainant discovered she was pregnant and there was a dispute regarding the defendant’s paternity (tests showed he indeed was the father). He then argued that he was lured and tempted by the complainant, who would attend to his shop in revealing clothes and make sexual advances to him. The grounds for the defendant’s application was that the four-year sentence was manifestly excessive and that the judge was obliged to indicate, as a matter of law, the sentence that would have been imposed if the applicant had been convicted at trial and use that as a starting point for taking into account the fact that the applicant had plead guilty. In addition, his counsel highlighted as mitigating factors: the girl was just six months away from the age of consent and the sexual intercourse was consensual. His counsel also argued that the judge did not take into consideration the character and antecedents of the applicant, as well as the classic sentencing principles of retribution, deterrence, prevention and rehabilitation. However, the Court decided that, although the indication of a starting point for sentencing would have been desirable, they do not see the omission as being fatal to the reasoning underlying the sentencing. They also highlighted that it’s clear that Parliament has recognized this offence as a serious one, and their commitment against it. This case is particularly important because the Court stated that Jamaica has particular difficulties in dealing with offences involving young girls constantly being abused and exploited by older men, and that they have to get the message out that the children must be allowed to transition into adulthood without any molestation. Furthermore, the court stated that the pregnancy of the girl must not be taken as a mitigating factor, because that would send the message that a man who gets the girl pregnant is likely to be treated more favorably by the Court. Finally, the Court insisted that these pronouncements, in the context of the alarming local circumstances, should be guiding principles in sentencing these matters and cases.



Fletcher v. R. Court of Appeal (2015)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

On 29 July 2009, the applicant was convicted in the Home Circuit Court for rape of a 17-year-old girl. She claimed that he hauled her to the back of an abandoned house while asking her indecent questions and threatening her, and then proceeded to forcibly have sexual intercourse with her. He confirmed that they had had sexual intercourse in the yard of a building, but claimed they were in a long-term relationship. As to prove this, a witness testified that the applicant introduced the complainant to her as his girlfriend. However, her testimony was contradictory and unclear. His application for leave to appeal was heard and refused by a single judge of the Supreme Court of Criminal Appeal. He then renewed application for leave to appeal, arguing that the learned trial judge failed to adequately address questions raised by the jury during their deliberations, only giving them broad and general directions concerning their role and legal duty. His application for leave to appeal was again refused by the full Court. The application was denied because the court determined that the lower court made an accurate comparison of precedents offered, and that the trial judge’s jury direction was appropriate and within the acceptable parameters of what has become known as the Watson direction (as established by the English Court of appeal in the case R v. Watson). The judge was found to have avoided giving the jury any hint of pressure, correctly advised them to apply both their individual and collective experiences, and urged them to share their perspectives, but also to be willing to adapt to the other’s view if they agreed.



Squire v. R. Court of Appeal (2015)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

On 24 May 2013, the applicant was found guilty of the abduction and rape of a 14-year-old girl. He had a good relationship with the parents of the girl and thus was a trustworthy person to her. The applicant’s first appeal application was denied. He renewed his application and the Supreme Court of Criminal Appeal granted the application. This time his conviction was quashed, the sentences were set aside, and the Court ordered a new trial at the next sitting of the Circuit Court. The applicant criticized the quality of the representation given by his counsel at the trial, arguing that his attorney did not provide an adequate defense and did not take full instructions from him. The attorney defending the applicant at the first trial argued that the applicant was properly defended, that the prosecutor also submitted that the defense was adequate and that, as the case turned on the contest of credibility between the complainant and the applicant, the jury’s verdict would have been the same, regardless of any omission by the defense counsel at the trial. Despite the seriousness of the alleged crime, the Court held that the applicant was denied the substance of a fair trial and quashed the conviction, setting aside the sentences, without doing a balancing test between the rights of the 14-year-old girl who was a victim of a crime, and the sex offender’s due process rights.



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.



Muhammad Juzaili Bin Mohd Khamis, et al. v. State Government of Negeri Sembilan, et al. Court of Appeal Putrajaya (2015)

International law, LGBTIQ

The respondents in this case, three Muslim men with Gender Identity Disorder, filed a judicial review application at the Seremban High Court seeking a declaration that section 66 of the Syariah Criminal (Negeri Sembilan) Enactment of 1992 was unconstitutional. Section 66 “makes it an offense for any Muslim male person to do any of the following in a public place: to wear a woman’s attire, or to pose as a woman.” The High Court dismissed the application. However, the Court of Appeal overturned the High Court’s decision and declared that section 66 was unconstitutional on the grounds that it interfered with the respondents’ right to live with dignity and right to life, that it discriminated based on gender, and that it violated the respondents’ freedom of movement and freedom of expression. The State Government of Negeri Sembilan appealed the Court of Appeal’s decision to the Federal Court. The Federal Court overturned the Court of Appeal decision on the basis that the respondents should have challenged section 66 under Article 4 of the Federal Constitution, which requires leave from the Federal Court and Federal Government being entitled to join as a party, instead of by way of judicial review. Accordingly, until such proceedings are filed and the Federal Court makes a declaration on the issue, section 66 of the Syariah Criminal (Negeri Sembilan) Enactment of 1992 remains valid.



Mougdiel S.M., Case No. APN-135-15 Tribunal de Sentencia de Ahuachapan (2015)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

This case is an appeal from a judgment by a lower court.  Judge Delmy Elizabeth Mejia Salazar found Alvin, a 27-year-old farmer originating from Concepcion de Ataco, guilty of attempted rape of a minor (11 years old) in violation of articles 159 and 172 of the El Salvadoran criminal code, and sentenced Alvin to seven years imprisonment.  In the underlying case, the victim testified that Alvin forced her into a crawling position, raped, and sodomized her.  On appeal, Alvin argued that the sentencing judge did not properly apply article 179 of the criminal code of procedure as the evidence presented by the forensic expert did not show any injuries in support of a finding of rape and/or sodomization.  On appeal, the court emphasized that the medical examination was conducted a month and a half after the attempted rape and sodomization, which provided sufficient time for any injuries to heal.  The court further stated that article 159 of the penal code does not require the use of violence and indicated that not every attempted violation will leave physical evidence (e.g., if the victim has a passive reaction to the aggression which does not result in the use of force).  Additionally, Alvin did not deny attempting to sexually assault the victim by putting her in a crawling position.  Thus, the appellate court upheld the trial court’s ruling and sentence, which was shorter than the eight years imprisonment recommended by the relevant statute.



Alejandro G.D., Case No. 193-2013-2 Tribunal Segundo de Sentencia de San Salvador (2014)

Statutory rape or defilement

In April, 2013, the National Civil Police, a unit of the Computer Crime Investigation Group of the Central Investigation Division launched a search for pornography.  Chief inspector Jesus Perez Sanches instructed two investigative agents to perform a search when they observed five individuals, including Alejandro G.D., selling pornography on the street in a residential neighborhood.  Alejandro was showing to the public the pornographic images from the movie cases, including children accompanied by parents, students, and elderly individuals.  During the investigation, the agents found numerous DVDs including pornographic images on the movie cases.  Eleven of the 362 seized films referenced “child pornography” on the face of the movie cases and on the DVDs within the cases.  The investigators arrested the individuals, including Alejandro G.D. and seized all the pornographic paraphernalia.  Section 173 of the El Salvadoran Penal Code provides that when a person produces, reproduces, distributes, publishes, imports, exports, offers, finances, sells, trades, or disseminates, in any form, images or uses the voice of a person under the age of eighteen, or a person that is incapacitated or mentally disabled, including computerized, audiovisual, virtual or other mediums of exhibiting sexual, erotic, real or simulated acts of a sexual nature, he or she shall be punished with 6-12 years of imprisonment.  Pursuant to Article 417, the court has the authority to reduce the minimum sentence.  Accordingly, Alejandro was sentenced to three years of imprisonment for possession of and selling child pornography.



F.A.P.A., Case No. 191-09-2016 Tribunal de Sentencia de Chalatenango (2016)

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

F.A.P.A., the defendant, was a 54-year-old unmarried Salvadoran farmer residing in La Reina, El Salvador. At the time of the allegations giving rise to the case, he was receiving treatment for epilepsy.  An evening, F.A.P.A. visited his niece.  F.A.P.A. and his niece, a minor, were sitting on a couch watching television when his niece’s mother left the room to attend to her other children.  During that time, F.A.P.A. engaged in sexual behavior with his niece against her will by touching her genitals and kissing her in the mouth.  F.A.P.A. was subsequently arrested by Salvadoran police officers for sexually harassing his niece.  F.A.P.A. later confessed to these underlying facts.  Section 165 of the El Salvadoran Penal Code states a person is liable for sexual harassment when that person (1) engages in sexual behavior involving phrases, touching , signs, or other unequivocal conduct of a sexual nature or content, (2) the action is undesired by the person who receives it, (3) the action does not constitute a more serious sexual offence, (4) in the case of a person of legal age, the action is repeated, and (5) the action is intentional.  The court found that F.A.P.A.’s confession of intentionally touching his niece’s genitals and kissing her against her will satisfies the elements of sexual harassment.  Although F.A.P.A. was being treated for epilepsy, the court found that he was capable of distinguishing right from wrong and acted consciously.  The court found F.A.P.A. guilty of sexual harassment punishable by two years imprisonment.  However, in lieu of the prison sentence, the court exercised its discretion under articles 77 and 79 of the Penal Code and sentenced F.A.P.A. to two years of probation with the following restrictions: (1) prohibition from leaving the country; (2) prohibition from approaching the victim or her family; (3) prohibition from ingesting intoxicating drinks; and (4) will be under probationary surveillance.



Luis Alonso G.P., Case No. 145-2016-3 Tribunal Segundo de Sentencia de San Salvador (2017)

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

In May 2015, a girl purchased bread from Defendant Luis Alonso, a 50-year-old baker, at his home.  While the girl was at Luis’ home, Luis physically attacked her and stated that he would “rape her.”  Although Luis did not carry out his threat, he threatened the girl that if she reported him, she would pay and that he would continue to harass her and physically assault her every time he saw her on the street.  In February, 2016, the girl was approached by Luis in a small town in Ciudad Delgado and was afraid that Luis would sexually assault her again so she reported the previous events to patrolling officers.  The patrolling officers arrested Luis for sexual harassment.  Section 165 of the El Salvadoran Penal Code provides that a person is liable for sexual harassment—punishable by three to five years imprisonment—when that person engages in unwanted sexual conduct involving phrases, touching, signs or other unequivocal sexual conduct that does not in itself constitute a more serious offense.  The court found that the defendant Luis Alonso sexually harassed the girl in violation of article 165.  The court replaced the three-year prison sentence with 144 days of community service and ordered that Luis pays the victim a civil penalty of $300.



Juan Carlos F.G., Case No. 18-2016-3 Tribunal Segundo de Sentencia de San Salvador (2017)

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

Defendant Juan Carlos, a member of a gang known as the Mara Salvatrucha (MS), was arrested for sexually harassing and detaining a 16-year-old girl.  The victim was waiting for a bus an early afternoon when the defendant snatched her bag, attempted to kiss her, grabbed her by the neck, and forced her into a restaurant.  When the victim attempted to run away, the defendant pursued her and forcibly took her into a house where the defendant detained her in a room.  An anonymous individual in the neighborhood informed the police that the defendant was holding a girl captive.  Police officers entered the house and arrested the defendant.  Section 165 of the El Salvadoran Penal Code  provides that a person is liable for sexual harassment when that person engages in unwanted sexual conduct involving phrases, touching, signs or other unequivocal sexual conduct that does not in itself constitute a more serious offense.  Sexual harassment is punishable by three to five years of imprisonment.  Section 165 further provides that sexual harassment against a child under the age of 15 is punishable by eight years imprisonment.  Additionally, Section 148 of the El Salvadoran Penal Code provides that a person is liable for deprivation of freedom when that person deprives another of his or her individual liberty.  The crime of deprivation of freedom is punishable by three to six years imprisonment. The court found that the defendant sexually harassed the victim in violation of article 165 and deprived the victim of her freedom in violation of article 148.  Because the defendant performed multiple crimes, he was sentenced to 10 years 8 months of imprisonment. Three years of this sentence are attributable to sexual harassment, five years attributable to deprivation of freedom, increased by 1/3 for depriving a minor under the age of 18 of her liberty.  



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.



HKSAR v. Law Wan Tung District Court of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (2015)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Trafficking in persons

Three Indonesian domestic helpers claimed that they were assaulted and abused by Law Wang Tung,a Hong Kong housewife, during their employment by Defendant between 2010 and 2014. The District Court convicted the Defendant of 19 charges assault, intimidation, and failure to provide wages, insurance and holidays during the complainants’ employment, and was sentenced for six years of imprisonment and a fine of HK$15,000. During the trial, that one plaintiff was deprived from sleep, food and wages during the employment, and had suffered from extensive physical damages due to the serious abuse, assault and beating from defendant. Evidence also showed that the other two victims also suffered from similar but different degrees of harm while working for the Defendant. In reaching the judgment, the court held that the evidence was admissible for uncharged acts so as to “get a proper picture about the characters involved in the case” and that the account would be incomplete or incoherent without such evidence. The court also noted that the only issue in the case was the credibility of the witnesses. Despite defense’s attempt to challenge the consistencies and credibility of the victims’ testimonies and the question for lack of independent evidence, both the district court and the appellate court found in favor for the victims in the respective proceedings, by taking into account the victims’ background and the specific circumstances in the case. In affirming the decision, the Court of Appeal need to protect the interests of domestic helpers and articulate the society’s abhorrence for conduct.



L.W.L. v. Y.T. Cheng, Inc. District Court of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (2006)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

The Plaintiff was employed as secretary of the Director by the Defendant in 2001. In February 2002, the Plaintiff suffered a threatened miscarriage, and was admitted to the hospital several times thereafter. From June to August 2012, she took sick leave frequently for treatment of her pregnancy complications.  During that period, a permanent secretary was hired by the Defendant.  The Plaintiff returned to work after expiry of her maternity leave in November 2012 as agreed with the Defendant, but was moved to a new work station which was not properly equipped, and was not given her original duties.  Shortly after she resumed her work after maternity leave, she was dismissed by the Defendant. She sued the Defendant for her dismissal on the grounds of discrimination due to pregnancy, family status and victimization.  The Court applied the “but for” and “less favorable treatment” test, and held that the burden is on the Plaintiff to prove discrimination on a balance of probabilities – once the Plaintiff can show that a possibility of discrimination can be inferred from the primary facts, the Court will look to the employer for an explanation, with which or if such explanation is not enough, the Court will infer the existence of discrimination.  Based on the facts and evidence in this case, the Court found that the Plaintiff has established the primary facts on her claims on the grounds of discrimination due to pregnancy and family status, and found that the Defendant failed to establish the unsatisfactory performance of the Plaintiff and there were no significant enough reasons for the Defendant to dismiss the Plaintiff.  On a balance of probabilities, the Court concluded that the Plaintiff was dismissed because of her pregnancy and family status, and held the Defendant liable.  Damages for injury to feelings and loss of income were awarded to the Plaintiff.



B. v. King of the King Group Limited District Court of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (2012)

Employment discrimination, Sexual harassment

The Plaintiff worked as a cashier at King Palace Chinese Restaurant, which was operated by King of the King Group Limited (“Defendant”). The Plaintiff alleged that she was sexually assaulted by Mr. Leung, an employee of the Defendant, who made a sexual remark to the Plaintiff and also touched the Plaintiff’s chest. Immediately after the incident, the Plaintiff reported it to her direct supervisor, who promised to follow up on the incident, but did not do so. When the Plaintiff raised the harassment again later on and wanted to report it to the police, her supervisor asked the Plaintiff not to do so or the Defendant would terminate both her and Leung’s employment.  Eventually, her supervisor arranged a meeting and asked Leung to apologize to the Plaintiff, but he did it reluctantly and disrespectfully.  The Plaintiff, irritated by the disrespect, slapped Leung, and was then immediately fired by the Defendant.  The Plaintiff settled the case with Leung and made a claim under the Sex Discrimination Ordinance. The Court held that the dismissal was not made by the Defendant on the ground of the Plaintiff’s sex, or because she was sexually harassed, but because the Plaintiff slapped the harasser.  However, the Court ruled that the acts committed by Leung constituted unlawful sexual harassment, and that the Defendant, as employer of Leung, was vicariously liable for Leung’s sexual harassment for the reason that the Defendant failed to take all reasonably practicable steps to prevent the sexual harassment against the Plaintiff in the workplace. The Court awarded the Plaintiff damages for injury to her feelings and costs caused by or in connection with the sexual harassment.



Tsang v. Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. District Court of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (2001)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

The plaintiff, Helen Tsang, was employed by Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. (“Cathay”) as a flight attendant in 1979. According to the retirement policy at the time of her employment contract, the retirement age for a female attendant was 40, while the retirement age for a male attendant was 55.  Ms. Tsang was required to retire in 1992 when she reached 40. Cathay offered consecutive one year extensions of her employment thereafter till 1997 when she reached the age of 45. During that period, Cathay adopted a new retirement policy in 1993, which changed the retirement age of both the female and male cabin crew to the age of 45 and provided that female employees already on extension may choose to further extend the employment with Cathay till the age of 45 if Cathay agreed so. After 1997 (when Ms. Tsang was 45), Cathay did not offer Ms. Tsang any extension of her employment. Ms. Tsang sued Cathay alleging that the retirement policy implemented by Cathay was discriminatory and that she was discriminated on the ground of her sex. The court held that it constituted direct sex discrimination against Ms. Tsang because a male employee in the similar situation would be in a much better position than Ms. Tsang as he would have been entitled to remain employed with Cathay until the age of 55, or would at least have had the option to retire at 45 if he chose so and would have received more favorable benefits than Ms. Tsang had. In reaching such conclusion, the court upheld the view that the employment contract does not form the basis of a discriminatory claim and the discrimination is continuing and actionable if the discriminatory policy has been in place and implemented during subsequent extension(s) of employment.



Waliyah v. Yip Hoi Sun Terence District Court of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (2017)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

The complainant, an Indonesian domestic helper, was asked by her employer’s wife to urinate for a home-pregnancy test. After the result showed positive and was subsequently confirmed by a physician, the employer terminated her employment by a month’s notice. Ultimately, the complainant was required to move out of the couple’s home before the notice period ran out. She sued the couple for damages based on, among others, sex and pregnancy discrimination. The court held the couple liable for the act of sex discrimination against the complainant by asking her to take the pregnancy test, despite the fact that she voluntarily participated in the test and wanted to know the result. The court took the view that whether the employee had consented or voluntarily cooperated to take the pregnancy test is not determinative as to deciding the nature of the employer’s request to take the pregnancy test, and that the lack of intent or motive to discriminate by the employer is a factor to assessment of damages but would not bar an act from being determined as discriminatory. The court held that the employer has no right to know about a female employee’s pregnancy status, which is a private matter of the employee. The court determined that requesting a female employee to take a pregnancy test without giving her a choice not to disclose the result to the employer constitutes a “less favorable treatment” to that employee because of her gender, for the reason that a male employee would not be requested to take such a test or reveal such private information to his employer.



Magerer v. Republic High Court of Kenya at Bomet (2016)

Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting, Harmful traditional practices

The appellant was convicted of (i) aiding the commission of female genital mutilation (“FGM)” on several girls, (ii) failing to report the commission of FGM, and (iii) allowing her premises to be used to perform FGM.  She pled guilty to the crimes and was sentenced to pay a fine of Kshs. 200,000 (or 3 years of imprisonment if she defaulted on the payment).  On appeal, she argued that the sentence was overly harsh and oppressive because she was a single mother of three children.  Justice M. Muya upheld her sentence, as it was the minimum allowed under the Female Genital Mutilation Act.  The Justice in this case noted that within this case “lies the clash between traditional values and the law of the land.”  Even though the appellant was abiding by a customary practice, it was in violation of Kenyan criminal law, and thus the appellate court upheld her sentence. 



Nduta v. Republic High Court of Kenya at Siaya (2015)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Gender-based violence in general, Harmful traditional practices

The appellant appealed his conviction and sentence for injuring his wife, who he inherited according to customary practice after her husband died in 2002.  On November 8, 2013, his wife attempted to pack clothes to visit her children in Nairobi.  The appellant refused to let his wife travel and threatened to murder her.  The appellant cut both of his wife’s arms using a panga (machete), but she managed to escape to her nephew’s home.  The nephew saw the appellant armed with the panga and a knife before taking his aunt to the police station and later the hospital.  The appellant was convicted of Grievous Harm Contrary to Section 234 of the Penal Code and sentenced to seven years imprisonment.  He appealed, arguing that the trial court failed to consider that this was a mere domestic issue that could have been resolved by village elders.  The appellant asked for a non-custodial sentence citing the fact he was an elderly man (78 years old).  The High Court upheld the conviction and the sentence, noting, “The appellant’s actions amounted to violence against women.  It is my view a gender-based violence which the court cannot condone or tolerate and let perpetrators of violence against women and girls go unpunished.”  This case demonstrates the relationship between the criminal courts in Kenya and customary law. 



P.O. v. Board of Trustees, A.F., et al. Industrial Court at Nairobi (2014)

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

The claimant accompanied one of respondents, a co-worker “J.”, on a work-related trip.  Throughout the business trip, J. made sexual innuendos towards the claimant and when his advances failed, he physically beat her.  He booked a single hotel room, while the claimant believed she would have her own room.  As a result, the claimant was forced to sleep on the floor and returned to Kenya two days later, while J. continued to the conference.  Upon the claimant’s return, she received multiple threatening emails from J. and her employment was terminated as of May 24, 2010 for alleged “misconduct” for not travelling to the conference.  Her salary for May was unpaid.  Although there were numerous legal issues decided in this case, including jurisdiction, the key issue was whether the claimant was subjected to gender-based discrimination and thus unlawfully terminated, and what, if any, entitlement is due to her.  The Industrial Court determined that J.’s conduct toward the claimant, no matter where it had occurred, clearly amounted to gender-based violence against an employee, and that his conduct “had the effect of nullifying or impairing the equality of opportunity or treatment in employment, based on her sex.”  The Industrial Court awarded P total compensation of Kshs 3,240,000, which included general damages for sexual harassment, and unfair and wrongful termination of Kshs 3,000,000.  This case is important to demonstrate Kenyan courts afford protection against sexual violence in multiple ways, including equal opportunity and human rights legislation, labor legislation, civil remedies and criminal law.  In addition to Kenyan employment law, the Industrial Court also relied on the 1993 UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, the International Labour Organization, as well as other forms of jurisprudence to support eradicating violence and sexual discrimination against women in the workplace.  The decision noted that while the Constitution of Kenya was not yet in effect and thus not directly applicable when the case was tried, Articles 1, 3 and 5 of the 1948 UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights were included in the Kenyan Constitution and thus were applicable at the time the case occurred.



A.M.L. v. Republic High Court of Kenya at Mombasa (2012)

Statutory rape or defilement

The appellant was convicted of defilement for having intercourse numerous times with a 16-year-old, which is under the age of consent.  A.M.L. appealed his conviction and ten-year sentence on four grounds: (i) failure to conduct a voir dire examination on the victim before obtaining her testimony, (ii) failure to conduct a DNA test on the appellant, (iii) insufficiency of evidence, and (iv) the court’s failure to adequately consider his defense.  The State wished to enhance A.M.L.’s sentence on appeal.  The appellate court found that adequate evidence had been presented at trial that justified the charge of defilement.  However, the court found ten-year sentence imposed by the trial magistrate unlawful because 15 years is the legal mandatory minimum sentence for the defilement of a girl aged between 16 and 18 years.  Accordingly, AML’s sentence was enhanced to 15 years and his conviction upheld.



Republic v. C.W. High Court of Kenya at Siaya (2016)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

The defendant was accused of the killing of her husband. She entered into a plea agreement to reduce the charge of murder to manslaughter.  The deceased returned home on May 7, 2016, intoxicated and accused the defendant of infidelity.  A violent domestic fight ensued and the defendant used a kitchen knife to fatally stab the deceased.  The defendant was also injured by the deceased during the altercation.  The defendant asked the court for a non-custodial sentence based on a number of mitigating circumstances including the fact that the defendant is the primary caregiver of her three children with the deceased, aged five, three, and one.  Relatives and friends of the deceased confirmed that he was verbally and physically abusive to the defendant and the killing occurred in “the heat of the moment.”  Furthermore, the defendant had no prior record, demonstrated remorse, and the deceased’s family and the community had forgiven her and were willing to help her raise her children.  The High Court agreed that these factors merited a non-custodial status, adding that the defendant is both the accused and the victim, and was acting in self-defense even though she used excessive force.  The High Court handed down a three-year non-custodial sentence.  This case marks an important example of Kenyan courts treating victims of domestic violence with leniency where excessive force is used while defending themselves from their abuser.



Jezile v. State High Court of South Africa: Western Cape Division (2015)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Forced and early marriage, Harmful traditional practices, Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement, Trafficking in persons

The appellant was convicted in a regional magistrates' court of one count of human trafficking, three counts of rape, one count of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, and one count of common assault against a 14-year-old schoolgirl, whom he had married in accordance with customary marriage laws. After she ran away from the appellant, the appellant took the complainant to Cape Town by taxi, where they resided with the appellant's brother and his wife. There, the incidents of rape and assault occurred. The appellant raised as one of his defenses and as a ground of appeal that the alleged rapes took place in the context of a customary arranged marriage, or ukuthwala. According to expert evidence, ukuthwala was an irregular form of initiating a customary marriage. Experts have stated that, in its traditional form, ukuthwala was consensual and innocuous, but there existed an 'aberrant' form in which young girls were abducted and often raped and beaten to force them into marriage. The magistrate held that the matter was not about ukuthwala and its place in our constitutional democracy, but about whether the state had shown that the accused had committed the offences he was charged with and, if so, whether he acted with the knowledge of wrongfulness and the required intent. The court held that child-trafficking and any form of abuse or exploitation of minors for sexual purposes is not tolerated in South Africa’s constitutional dispensation. Furthermore, it ruled that the appellant could not rely on traditional ukuthwala as justification for his conduct because practices associated with an aberrant form of ukuthwala could not secure protection under the law. Thus, the Court could not find that he did not traffic the complainant for sexual purposes or that he had committed the rapes without the required intention  ̶  even on the rather precarious grounds of appellant’s assertion that his belief in the aberrant form of ukuthwala constituted a 'traditional' custom of his community.



Levenstein v. Frankel Constitutional Court (2018)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

The case was initially brought to the High Court by individuals who had suffered childhood sexual molestation by the deceased, a prominent financier and philanthropist, in the 1970s and ‘80s. The applicants were unable to pursue criminal charges due of the effect of s18(f) of the Criminal Procedure Act 1997, which imposed a 20-year statute of limitations for most sexual offences (excluding rape, sexual trafficking, and using a child or a mentally disabled person for pornographic purposes). However, the High Court found s18(f) to be unconstitutional. The Constitutional Court affirmed, removing the statute of limitations for prosecuting all sexual offences.



De Lange v. Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church of South Africa for the Time Being Constitutional Court of South Africa (2015)

Gender discrimination, LGBTIQ

After a Methodist Church minister (applicant) announced to her congregation her intention to marry her same-sex partner, the Methodist Church (respondent) suspended and subsequently discontinued her role as an ordained minister in early 2010. In March 2010, the applicant referred the matter to arbitration according to the Laws and Discipline of the Church. The parties could not agree on the applicant’s procedural rights and the arbitration convener proceeded with the process as provided by the Laws and Discipline of the Church. On her behalf, the convener then entered into a final agreement with the Church in May 2011. In 2012, the applicant approached the Western Cape High Court, Cape Town seeking an order to set aside the arbitration agreement in terms of the Arbitration Act. She contended that she was unfairly discriminated against on the basis of her sexual orientation. The High Court held that the applicant had not shown good cause to set aside the arbitration agreement. She then appealed to the Supreme Court of Appeal. The majority judgment of that Court agreed with the finding of the High Court. The applicant sought leave to appeal to the Constitutional Court. In a unanimous judgment, the Constitutional Court made four findings. First, the applicant had not shown good cause to set aside the arbitration agreement. Because the issue related to interpretation of religious doctrine, arbitration would be the appropriate forum. Second, since the applicant had unequivocally disavowed her unfair discrimination claim before the High Court, she was not free to raise the claim for the first time on appeal. Third, pursuant to the principle of constitutional subsidiarity, the applicant should have first brought her unfair discrimination claim to the Equality Court. Finally, the applicant failed to file a notice in terms of the Uniform Rules of the High Court, an omission that deprived other interested parties including religious communities of the opportunity to intervene as parties to the dispute or seek admission as amicus curiae in the High Court. The Court accordingly dismissed the appeal. 



National Coalition for Gay and Lesbian Equality v. Minister of Justice Constitutional Court of South Africa (1998)

Gender discrimination, LGBTIQ

The case concerned a referral for confirmation to the Constitutional Court of an order made by the Witwatersrand High Court. The referral sought to affirm that the following laws are unconstitutional and invalid (a) the common law offence of sodomy, and (b) the inclusion of sodomy in schedules to, inter alia, the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977, which prohibits sexual conduct between men in certain circumstances. Although technically the Constitutional Court only had to decide on the constitutionality of the inclusion of sodomy in the schedules and of the section of the Sexual Offences Act, it could not do so without also considering the constitutionality of sodomy as a common law offence. The Constitutional Court found that the offences, all aimed at prohibiting sexual intimacy between gay men, violated the right to equality by unfairly discriminating against gay men on the basis of sexual orientation. Such discrimination is presumed to be unfair since the Constitution expressly includes sexual orientation as a prohibited ground of discrimination.



Mgolozeli v. Gauteng Department of Finance Labour Court of South Africa (2014)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

The applicant, a male, applied for a senior managerial position previously occupied by a woman. After undergoing a psychometric assessment, he was recommended for appointment. The recommendation was turned down “due to the gender imbalance at SMS level”. The applicant claimed that he had been unfairly discriminated against on the basis of his sex because the target, set by the Gauteng Provincial Legislature, did not comply with the provisions of the Employment Equity Act (EEA), 55 of 1998. The respondent contended that, although it had not adopted an equity plan, it had set itself a target of 50% females in senior management positions. The Court noted that when the second respondent took the decision not to appoint the applicant, there was great confusion regarding the actual gender balance at the senior management level. However, the Court was prepared to accept that, at the time, females filled only 29% senior management posts. The EEA requires that equity plans must provide objectives for each year, their duration, and procedures for evaluating their implementation. The Court noted that, in SA Police Service v Solidarity obo Barnard (Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union as amicus curiae [2014] 11 BLLR 1025 (CC)), the Constitutional Court had confirmed that competent courts must ensure that validly adopted equity plans are applied lawfully. Apart from the fact that the respondent had no plan, it had no mechanism to track the levels of gender representation. The second respondent had applied the target without considering the panel’s reasons for its recommendation. Affirmative action had been applied ad hoc, in a haphazard, arbitrary, and random manner. The responsible official had applied a quota system and raised an absolute barrier, both of which were impermissible. The affirmative action measure applied by the respondents conflicted with both the Constitution and the EEA. Accordingly, the measure had unfairly discriminated against the applicant. The respondents were directed to appoint the applicant to the post concerned and pay him compensation equal to the difference between the salary he had earned and the salary he should have earned, with retrospective effect.



Ekhamanzi Springs Ltd. v. Mnomiya Labor Appeal Court of South Africa (2014)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

The respondent was employed by the appellant to bottle Aquelle spring water. The appellant’s plant was located on property belonging to a religious mission, and to gain access to the workplace, the appellant’s employees had to cross the mission’s property. The mission’s security guards were instructed to bar entry to any persons who did not comply with its code of conduct; one provision, for example, prohibited “amorous relationships between any two persons outside of marriage”. The respondent and a colleague were denied access because they became pregnant outside of marriage. Consequently, the respondent and her colleague were not able to access the workplace, as they were refused access to the mission’s property. They were subsequently fired. The court ruled that the dismissal of the respondent employee was automatically unfair because she had been dismissed for her pregnancy. The court noted that all persons have a constitutional right to equality. Discriminatory dismissals, such as this one, are accordingly automatically unfair and higher compensation is allowed in such cases. Employers are obliged to avoid discriminating against employees directly or indirectly  ̶  protection against being discriminated against on the ground of pregnancy is not a preserve of married women. An agreement that denies pregnant employees access to the workplace is accordingly prima facie unenforceable unless it can be justified on grounds consistent with constitutional norms. The mission’s code of conduct interfered with the employment relationship between the appellant and its employees and created a situation in which breaches could lead to dismissal. Such provisions blurred the line between the appellant’s terms and conditions of employment and the mission’s code.  That the employee was not a party to the mission’s code proved decisive. As lessee, the appellant had legal remedies to compel the mission to allow full use and enjoyment of the leased property. The appellant’s faint plea of operational necessity could not serve as a defense because it had failed to exercise its rights as lessee to protect its pregnant employees. The employee had tendered her services, and the appellant’s refusal to accept the tender constituted a breach of contract. The court further held that the appellant’s acquiescence in the mission’s discriminatory practice of barring unwed pregnant women from the leased premises violated the appellant’s constitutional duty to treat its employees fairly and was a breach of its common law duty to accept the employees into service. The court, therefore, confirmed that the employee had been dismissed and that her dismissal was automatically unfair. The court also confirmed the remedy of 12 months’ compensation.



South African Police Service v. Barnard Constitutional Court of South Africa (2014)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

The South African Police Service (“SAPS”) had adopted the Employment Equity Plan (“EEP”), which sets numerical goals to produce gender and racial diversity. The appellant, Ms. Barnard, applied twice for a position in the National Evaluation Service of the SAPS in 2005. Despite being shortlisted, interviewed, and recommended as the best-suited candidate, she did not get the position on either occasion. This case concerns her second attempt, where the National Commissioner did not appoint Ms. Barnard on the grounds that it would not enhance racial representation at that salary level and that it was not necessary to fill the vacancy immediately because the post was not critical. While the Labor Court found that SAPS had unfairly discriminated against the appellant, the Labor Appeal Court found in favor of SAPS. On further appeal, the Supreme Court of Appeal (“SCA”) reversed the Labor Appeal Court’s decision and held that Ms. Barnard had been the victim of unfair discrimination on the basis of race, in violation of Section 9(3) of the Constitution and Section 6(1) of the Employment Equity Act (the Act). The Constitutional Court granted SAPS leave to appeal and unanimously reversed the SCA’s ruling in favor of Ms. Barnard. As the Court noted, the SCA found that SAPS had failed to rebut the presumption that the discrimination against Ms. Barnard was unfair. But, since the EEP was a valid affirmative action measure, the issue was not whether the Plan could overcome such presumption, but whether the decision the National Commissioner made under it was open to challenge. The Court found that the Commissioner properly exercised his discretion. Appointing Ms. Barnard would have aggravated the overrepresentation of white women at that salary level. And, the decision did not bar Ms. Barnard from future promotions.



AA v. Attorney General's Office, Case No. 375/2007 Criminal Appeals Court 3º Tº (2007)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

The accused (AA) was sentenced to 20 months in prison by the Trial Court for crimes of domestic violence against his wife. AA filed an appeal to the Appeals Court arguing that the scope of the law against domestic violence applies only to victims that are deemed to be defenseless. AA argued that the victim BB was a member of the military and as such could not be deemed a defenseless person. The Appeals Court dismissed the appeal affirming the decision of the Trial Court.  The Appeals Court determined that the fact that the victim was a member of the military was irrelevant and that the acts of violence were appropriately analyzed considering only the aggressor.



AA v. Attorney General's Office, Case No. 327/2008 Criminal Appeals Court 1º Tº (2008)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

AA was sentenced to 12 months by the Trial Court of Tacuarembó for domestic violence deemed to be aggravated because the victim was a woman. AA and the victim had been living together in common law marriage since 2000, and in 2002 the victim reported on several occasions multiple instances of physical abuse as well as of psychological violence. In September 2003, the victim filed a complaint against AA for injuries inflicted to her neck and arm, which were verified by a public health doctor. The couple reconciled but thereafter got separated again. On January 1, 2004 the victim was on her way to visit a friend when AA intercepted her on the street and forcibly grabbed her left arm while pressing against her mouth a ring he was carrying until he broke her front tooth. Between December 2003 and January 2004 the victim had also reported threats and aggressions from AA. AA appealed to the Appeals Court but the Appeals Court dismissed the appeal affirming the decision of the Trial Court, ruling that the 12-month sentence was appropriate considering the evidence presented and the dangerous personality of AA.



Caeiro v. Tecnosolar S.A., Case No. SEF-0013-000001/2015 Labor Appeals Court 2ºT (2015)

Employment discrimination, Sexual harassment

Fernanda Caeiro (Plaintiff) sued Tecnosolar S.A. (Defendant) in civil labor court for damages suffered because of sexual harassment in the workplace.  Plaintiff was an employee of defendant for 13 years and always had good performance reviews and was even promoted. One of the company’s directors, Mr. Gustavo Capurro, continuously harassed her in the workplace for over two years even though Plaintiff rejected his propositions.  Over the course of those two years, Mr. Capurro sent several inappropriate text messages and emails to Plaintiff. Plaintiff never responded to these messages.  On one occasion, he sent an email with more than 70 pictures of sexual content to Plaintiff. After this occurrence, Plaintiff filed a formal complaint with one of the company’s executives who asked Mr. Capurro to apologize but did not take any additional action against him.  Plaintiff quit her job and sued her employer for sexual harassment in the work place.  The Trial Court ruled in favor of Plaintiff and awarded her UR$ 880.272 pesos and a 10% administrative fine against Defendant.  Defendant appealed, arguing there was not enough evidence to find for Plaintiff and that, if anything, Plaintiff had consented to Mr. Capurro’s advancements. The Appeals Court analyzed all the unanswered harassing emails and messages sent by Mr. Capurro to Plaintiff and determined the appeal had no basis.  The court determined that Mr. Capurro’s conduct qualified as sexual harassment in the workplace per the definition included in Law No. 18.561 and that his conduct had effectively created a hostile work environment for Plaintiff that had forced her to quit her job.  Therefore, The Appeals Court affirmed the Trial Court’s award.



AA v. Attorney General's Office, Case No. 413/2008 Criminal Appeals Court 2º Tº (2008)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

The accused (AA) was sentenced to 10 months with a suspended sentence by the Trial Court for the crime of domestic violence against his wife (BB). AA intimidated and committed continuous acts of violence against BB. The continuous and manipulative nature of this violence was deemed an aggravating circumstance by the Trial Court. AA appealed, arguing the Trial Court had improperly analyzed the evidence presented and that there was not enough evidence to convict him. The Appeals Court determined that the evidence on file needed to be analyzed in the context of the contentious relationship between AA and BB.  While AA argued that BB had mental problems, the court found this argument a mere pretext to deflect attention away from his own misconduct. The facts of the case showed that BB maintained the home and paid for AA’s expenses, a fact demonstrating that AA had an additional interest in BB other than one of affection. The doorman of the building where AA and BB lived testified that he once saw AA breaking things in a violent rampage, testimony contradicting AA’s statement that he was not destructive.  The Appeals Court found that there was sufficient evidence in the record to demonstrate AA’s guilt and affirmed the decision of the Trial Court.



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

Sexual violence and rape

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



Durand v. Prieto, Case No. 312/2017 Family Appeals Court 1ºT (2017)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

A trial court awarded Mariangeles Durand (Plaintiff) US$4,500 for actual damages and US$30,000 for emotional distress damages as a result of domestic violence committed by her common-law husband Luis Prieto (Defendant).  Defendant appealed arguing that, beyond Plaintiff’s testimony and a medical diagnosis based on that testimony, there was no proof that Defendant committed acts of domestic violence against Plaintiff and that Plaintiff’s depression and anxiety were the consequences of a preexisting medical condition.  Additionally, Defendant argued on appeal that the law does not recognize emotional distress damages in a common law marriage because the duty of fidelity and the duty to do no harm only arise from marriage. Finally, Defendant argued that Plaintiff consented to the acts of domestic violence acts and therefore there could be no damages.  The Family Appeals Court determined that domestic violence is a human rights violation: a victim cannot consent to be the victim of domestic violence and every person has a general duty to not harm another.  The Family Appeals court also ruled that the medical and psychological diagnoses were not hearsay. The Family Appeals Court dismissed the appeal and partially affirmed the decision of the Trial Court, concluding that Defendant breached a duty to Plaintiff and there was causation between the domestic violence and the damages suffered by Plaintiff.  However, it reduced the award of actual damages from $4,500 to $2,250 due to the fact that Defendant had already made payments to Plaintiff.



AA v. Attorney General's Office, Case No. 299/2010 Criminal Appeals Court 1º Tº (2010)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

The accused (AA) was sentenced to two years in prison by the Trial Court for aggravated domestic violence.  The court considered the aggravating circumstances to be the accused’s recidivism and the use of his strength to overpower his female victim.  AA had a history of domestic violence against his wife (BB).  Even though he had repeatedly assaulted BB and even stabbed her once, BB refused to file a complaint against him.  A family court judge imposed a restraining order against AA pursuant to which he could not get closer than 300 meters to BB and her children, but BB on several occasions allowed AA back in her home and near the children.  On October 7, 2008, AA came over to BB’s house with the intention of moving back in, but when BB said no AA locked her and her children in a room for two hours.  He did not physically assault them, but did threaten to kill them.  BB filed a complaint and AA was convicted of domestic violence.  AA appealed arguing that BB had subsequently withdrawn her criminal complaint against him and that this fact should be considered consent to his conduct. The Appeals Court determined that the victim’s withdrawal of her complaint was a consequence of “battered women’s syndrome,” and had no bearing on a criminal action.  The Appeals Court dismissed the appeal and affirmed the decision of the Trial Court.



AA v. Attorney General's Office, Case No. 6/2009 Criminal Appeals Court 2º Tº (2009)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

The accused (AA) was sentenced to three years and six months in prison by the Trial Court for the continuous sexual abuse of a 15-year-old girl (BB) and her kidnapping. AA sexually abused BB once a week since she was 11 years old. When BB was 15 years old, AA called her over to his house under false pretenses and then locked her inside against her will for six hours and raped her.  AA was drunk and when he got distracted, BB was able to escape and find a neighbor to help her.  The trial court determined that there was enough evidence to prove the kidnapping and that the sexual abuse was continuous.  The Appeals Court dismissed AA’s appeal affirming the decision of the Trial Court with the exception of its finding the rape as continuous sexual abuse. Based on the facts of the case, the Appeals Court qualified the sexual abuse as repetitive instead of continuous.  It also determined that AA’s inebriation was voluntary, and thus has no bearing on the sentencing.



AA v. Attorney General's Office, Case No. 359/2013 Criminal Appeals Court 1º Tº (2013)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

The accused (AA) was sentenced to four years in prison by the Trial Court for aggravated sexual abuse of a minor (BB). AA and the mother of BB had a common law marriage. AA had been sexually abusing BB since she was eight years old and started raping her when she turned 11.  At age 14, BB became pregnant as a result of rape committed by AA.  BB’s mother discovered AA’s abuse and filed the criminal complaint.  AA admitted being the victim’s “lover.”  The court considered the fact that AA took advantage of his domestic relationship with BB’s mother and abused his victim during the night aggravating circumstances.  AA’s confession was an attenuating circumstance reducing the sentence imposed.  The Appeals Court dismissed AA’s appeal and affirmed the decision of the Trial Court, ruling that there was enough evidence presented to establish the facts of the case.



2016 (A). No. 1731 Supreme Court of Japan (2014)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

The defendant committed acts of obscenity upon a young girl.  He alleged that it was only for a monetary purpose—to record the act and give the record to his acquaintance in return for receiving a loan —and that he had no sexual intent.  The defendant appealed the High Court’s ruling that sexual intent is not required to establish a prima facie case of indecent assault, which is proscribed by Article 176 of the Japanese Penal Code.  He argued that the High Court’s finding was inconsistent with a judicial precedent holding that sexual intent is an element for the crime.  The Supreme Court, upon noting that the scope of sexual crimes cannot be properly determined without taking into account the views of contemporary society, found that, in the present day, the focus should be on the existence, details, and extent of sexual damage caused to a victim rather than an assailant’s intent.  Thus, the Supreme Court, sustained the High Court’s finding and overturned the 47-year-old jurisprudence. The Court found that, while it could not deny that there may be a situation in which the sexual intent of a perpetrator becomes an important factor in finding the crime, it was not reasonable to uniformly require the existence of such a factor for the crime of indecent assault.  



2016 (Kyo) No. 45 Supreme Court of Japan (2017)

Gender-based violence in general, Statutory rape or defilement, Trafficking in persons

The appellant in this case had been arrested and punished with a fine for allegedly paying for child prostitution in violation of the Act on Punishment of Activities Relating to Child Prostitution and Child Pornography, and the Protection of Children (before its revision by Act No. 79 of 2014).  The news media reported the his arrest for the alleged charge, and all or part of the coverage was made available at several websites that were searchable on the appellee search engine.  This case concerned the appellant’s request—based on his personal rights and moral interests—for an order of provisional disposition, requiring the search engine to make websites that refer to the appellant’s criminal record unsearchable.  The High Court dismissed the request.  The Supreme Court, on one hand, recalled its finding from precedents that the protection of information related to an individual’s privacy is subject to legal protection.  On the other hand, it noted that search engines’ provision of search results (1) may constitute acts of expression and (2) has become an important infrastructure for distribution of information through the internet.  The Supreme Court then found that the evaluation of whether providing particular search results amounts to an illegal action must take into account both the benefits of making the information at question unsearchable on the one hand, and reasons and circumstances pertaining to providing such search results on the other hand; the court can require that the search engine remove such search results only if the former exceeds the latter.  In this case, the Supreme Court found that, while the criminal record at issue pertained to the privacy of the appellant and which he did not wish to be made largely available to the public, such information also concerned the public interest in light of the nature of crimes relating to child porn and child prostitution.  In addition, the Supreme Court took into account that the information dissemination was limited to a certain degree considering that such search results did not show up unless a search engine user used the appellant’s name and his residing prefecture together as search keywords.  Thus, the Supreme Court found that the benefit of making the information at issue unsearchable did not exceed the need of having the websites at issue on the search engine and sustained the lower court’s ruling.



2016 (Ju) No. 2076 Supreme Court of Japan (2018)

Employment discrimination, Sexual harassment, Stalking

The appellee, a former employee of the appellant’s subsidiary, suffered sexual harassment and stalking from an employee of the appellant’s other subsidiary who shared the same work site with the appellee. The appellant had developed a corporate-group-wide compliance system, which included a consulting desk at which an employee of the appellant or its subsidiaries could raise and discuss any compliance-related matters.  The appellee brought the harassment issue to her supervisors at her immediate employer (i.e. the appellant’s subsidiary) twice, but sufficient solutions were not provided, following which she left the company without bringing the issues to the consulting desk.  The stalking continued even after her resignation, so her former colleague who still worked at the appellant's subsidiary brought the issue before the appellant through the consulting desk, but it did not provide sufficient solutions either.  The question brought before the Supreme Court was whether the appellant (i.e. a parent company of her former immediate employer) bore the duties based on the principle of good faith to provide certain protective measures to the appellant  because it had developed the corporate-group-wide compliance system.  The Supreme Court found that the appellant was not imposed with such duties in light of particular facts in the case since the appellant did not bring the harassment issue to the consulting desk during her employment.  However, in dicta, the Court stated that a parent company, depending on particular facts of the case, can be responsible for providing sufficient solutions to an employee of its subsidiary who is a victim of sexual harassment––failure of which would result in liability for damage based on the principle of good faith––if the parent company provides a system through which the employee could, and actually did, bring an issue of sexual harassment to the parent company’s attention.



2007 (Gyo-Tsu) No. 164 Supreme Court of Japan (2008)

Gender discrimination

The issue before the Supreme Court was whether a part of a provision in the Japanese Nationality Act conformed with Article 14.1 of the Japanese Constitution, which prohibits discrimination based on race, belief, sex, social status, or lineage.  The provision at issue does not grant Japanese nationality to a child born out of wedlock to a non-Japanese mother and a Japanese father––even if the father formally declares and recognizes the father-child relationship––unless the child obtains legal recognition as a child of the man and the woman through their marriage.  The Supreme Court first noted that the Japanese Nationality Act does not grant Japanese nationality to a child in the aforementioned situation although it recognizes a parent-child relationship and grants Japanese nationality to a child born out of wedlock if (1) the child’s mother was Japanese or (2) the child’s Japanese father filed for the recognition of the father-child relationship before the child’s birth.  The Court found that, while creating this distinction was reasonable at the time of the legislation, such a distinction amounted to unjustifiable discrimination in present day Japan.  Thus, the Supreme Court found that the part of the provision at issue was unconstitutional and invalid.  In its reasoning, the majority opinion stated, inter alia, “under the Japanese Nationality Act that adopts the principle of jus sanguinis, maintaining a distinction in terms of eligibility to have Japanese nationality based on whether the Japanese parent is the mother or the father of the child at issue does not accord with the basic principle of equality of the sexes.”



2012 (Ku) No. 984 Supreme Court of Japan (2013)

Property and inheritance rights

In this appeal, a child born out of wedlock appealed the High Court’s finding that a relevant part of the proviso to Article 900.4 of the Japanese Civil Code was not inconsistent with Article 14.1 of the Constitution of Japan, prohibiting discrimination based on race, belief, sex, social status, or lineage.  The proviso set forth that the statutory share in inheritance of a child born out of wedlock is half of that of a child in wedlock.  The Supreme Court reversed the High Court’s ruling and found that the proviso was inconsistent with Article 14.1 of the Constitution.  In making this finding, the Supreme Court took into account the changes in the following, which have been observed since 1947––the year in which the Japanese Civil Code was revised after World War II:  Japanese society, forms of family, legislative acts in foreign countries, and relevant Japanese legal frameworks.  The Supreme Court noted that, even though the system of civil marriage is strongly respected in Japanese society, society has come to accept the idea that a child should not suffer disadvantages based on a factor that she/he did not cause or could not change––whether to have been born in or out of wedlock––and that a child’s rights need to be protected and she/he must be given respect as an individual. 



2004 (Ju) No. 1748 Supreme Court of Japan (2006)

Abortion and reproductive health rights

The Supreme Court was asked to rule whether a father-child relationship could be legally recognized in the case where a child’s mother became pregnant through in-vitro fertilization with the frozen sperm of a deceased husband who, while he was alive, had consented to the use of the sperm even after his death.  The Supreme Court reversed the High Court’s ruling and declined to recognize the father-child relationship.  The Supreme Court considered that the legal framework in Japan concerning parent-child relationships did not anticipate such a relationship between a father and his child who was conceived after his death in light of the fact that, even if the father-child relationship had legally been established, the deceased father would not be in a position to hold parental rights, he would not be able to support his child, and the child could not be an heir of the father for the purposes of inheritance.  According to the Supreme Court, such issues need to be addressed by legislation upon analyzing several factors including bioethics, child welfare, and social acceptance.  As the country lacks such legislation, the Supreme Court did not find that the father-parent relationship could be established.



2006 (Kyo) No. 47 Supreme Court of Japan (2007)

Abortion and reproductive health rights, International law

A Japanese married couple petitioned for a court order that a Japanese local government accept birth registers for twins born from a surrogate mother in Nevada with the ovum and sperm of the Japanese couple.  The state of Nevada, pursuant to its state court, had issued birth certificates for the twins, which showed the Japanese couple as their parents.  The Supreme Court reversed the High Court’s ruling that the birth registers need to be accepted.  It stated that Article 118 of the Japanese Civil Proceedings Act prescribes that a final judgment made by a foreign court takes effect in Japan only if it satisfies all enumerated conditions, which include that “the foreign court’s ruling and its proceedings are not contrary to public policy in Japan.”  The Supreme Court recalled that the Japanese Civil Code stands on the premise that a mother of a child is a woman who conceived and delivered the child and that a mother-child relationship is established through objective factors such as gestation and delivery.  According to the Supreme Court, when a parent-child relationship can be legally established is a matter that forms the basis of the country’s legal order, and factors for finding such a relationship must be unequivocal.  Thus, the Court found that a mother-child relationship between the twins and the Japanese wife could not be established, given that the Nevada court’s ruling, which recognized a parent-child relationship contrary to Japanese laws, ran against the public policy in Japan.  In its statement, the Supreme Court urged the Japanese legislature to address the issues of parent-child relationships and assisted reproductive technology through legislation.



2013 (Ju) No. 233 Supreme Court of Japan (2014)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Gender discrimination

A mother, on behalf of her infant child, filed a lawsuit for a declaratory judgment for absence of parent-child relationship with the appellant––a man to whom the mother was married when the child was born.  The request for the judgment was based on the fact that a DNA test result showed that, with 99.99 percent probability, the infant was a child of a different man, with whom the mother was having an affair.  By the time of the trial, the wife and the child had left the appellant to live with the child’s biological father.  Article 772 of the Japanese Civil Code, in general, presumes a man to be the father of a child if the man is married to the mother of the child at the time of conception.  While Article 774 allows the husband to file a proceeding to rebut such a presumption, the wife or the child does not have standing to initiate such a proceeding.  The Supreme Court, stressing the importance of maintaining legal stability pertaining to familial status, found that the facts that (i) there was scientific evidence that clearly denied a biological father-child relationship and that (ii) the child was currently raised––without any problem––by the biological father does not negate the presumption of the father-child relationship under Article 772 of Japanese Civil Code, as the importance of maintaining the legal stability pertaining to familial status would not be undermined by such factors.  Therefore, the Supreme Court found that there was no legal ground to deliver the requested declaratory judgment.



2017 (Ju) No. 2015 Supreme Court of Japan (2018)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, International law

This case concerns the custody of a Japanese couple’s son who was born and raised in the United States until the mother, without the father’s consent, took him to Japan when he was 11 years old.  Pursuant to the Japanese implementation of The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, the father, whose life was still based in the U.S., petitioned for the return of the son to the U.S.  A family court in Tokyo granted the petition.  However, the attempt to enforce the order of the court failed as the mother strongly resisted when a court execution officer approached her––the son also voiced his desire to stay in Japan at the time.  Subsequently, the father requested habeas corpus relief seeking release of the child.  The High Court dismissed the request.  In this appeal, the Supreme Court of Japan reversed the High Court’s ruling and remanded the case.  In its reasoning, the Supreme Court first recalled its old ruling that care for a child is tantamount to “restraint” within the meaning of the Habeas Corpus Act and the Habeas Corpus Rules in special circumstances where it cannot be deemed that the child is staying with the care provider based on the child’s free will, even if the child is capable of making her/his own decisions.  The Supreme Court found such a special circumstance––undue emotional influence from his mother––existed with respect to the son in light of the fact that he was not capable of making decisions regarding his life when he was taken to Japan, he appeared to have had less than sufficient opportunities to communicate with his father, and he had been largely dependent on his mother.  Furthermore, the Supreme Court found that the restraint at issue was unequivocally unlawful, taking into account that the mother had refused to follow the family court’s order to return the child to the United States, and that there was no special circumstance in which removing the child would be significantly unjust.  This Supreme Court’s unanimous decision may be an indication that the Court will put significant weight on compliance with The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.



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.



Mwape v. The People Supreme Court of Zambia (2012)

Statutory rape or defilement

The appellant was charged with defilement contrary to Section 138 of the Penal Code, Chapter 87 of the Laws of Zambia (unlawful carnal knowledge of a girl under 16 years) and was sentenced to the minimum mandatory sentence of 15 years’ imprisonment. On behalf of the appellant, the appeal was filed on two grounds. On ground one, it was contended that the Court had erred in law by deciding not to conduct a voir dire and proceeding to receive the sworn evidence of a child. On ground two, it was contended the court below erred by finding corroboration and concluding the appellant was guiltywwww. Relative to the first grounds, the Court held that, while there had been no voir dire and while the Magistrate had failed to inquire as to whether the child understood the nature of the oath, this did not necessitate a re-trial, given that such orders are typically discretionary and this was not the only evidence tendered at trial. Relative to the second grounds, the Court observed that the question of identity was not in dispute and that there was substantial corroborative evidence that the crime had been committed. Accordingly, the Court concluded that the grounds lacked merit, as the Court was competent to convict the appellant even without the victim’s evidence. The Court further noted that the crime was compounded by the breach of trust that the appellant (who was the prosecutrix’s step-grandfather and exercising parental responsibility over her at the time) had committed against the victim and, therefore, set aside the 15-year minimum sentence in favor of a 20-year hard labour sentence. 



Mutombo v. Mutombo High Court for Zambia (2012)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage

The petitioner filed a petition for the dissolution of his marriage. Under Zambian law, there is only one ground for divorce: that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. A marriage has irretrievably broken down when there is no chance of the parties resuming cohabitation. The High Court observed that, on the facts, the conduct and lifestyle of the parties, especially during the period when the suit’s hearing was pending, was utterly inconsistent with that of a couple whose marriage has irretrievably broken-down. In particular, the parties still continued to enjoy family life, the petitioner was still supporting the respondent financially, and the parties continued to enjoy a sexual relationship. In this light, the High Court rejected the submission that there was no mutual love between the parties and concluded that the respondent had not behaved which would preclude the petitioner from reasonably being able to live with the respondent. Accordingly, the High Court dismissed the petition. 



Ponde v. Bwalya Supreme Court for Zambia (2016)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Property and inheritance rights

The petitioner and the respondent were divorced in the local court where the petitioner was granted custody of the couple’s three children, with the respondent retaining rights of access. The couple were also ordered to share their household goods equally. The petitioner appealed to the High Court in relation to the property adjustment in respect of the matrimonial property and the two houses built on it, acquired during the subsistence of the marriage and in particular, against the award of the smaller house to the respondent on the basis that this was not a just and proper order of property adjustment. In support of his argument, the respondent argued that: (i) the plot was too small to share; (ii) the petitioner should not be compelled to live with his former wife using a single gate and in limited space; and, (iii) the smaller house allocated to the respondent by the court was already occupied by the three children of the family. The High Court held that there is no family property too small to for a former husband and wife to share after divorce. Moreover, the husband’s inconvenience in this context was deemed immaterial; if the physical structures could not be shared, for whatever reason, then, the couple should share the market value of the properties once sold. The High Court noted, on the facts, that the lower court’s decision to grant the petitioner the option to buy the smaller from the respondent after valuation or in the alternative, sell the entire property, and share its market value was perfectly just and correct under the circumstances. Accordingly, it dismissed the appeal with costs.



Joan v. Hodgson High Court for Zambia (2011)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Property and inheritance rights

The defendant alleged that he was induced to make and execute an agreement to pay the plaintiff various amounts following the breakdown of their 10-year relationship, including: payment of US $50,000 (with US $30,000 to be paid initially followed by the remainder; this was subsequently amended to US $60,000), payment of the plaintiff’s rental and medical expenses for 12 months, the purchase of furniture and a computer, and the provision of financial support to the plaintiff’s daughter who was studying. The defendant freely paid the plaintiff US $30,000 but did not honor the rest of the proposed agreement. The defendant claimed that the agreement had been entered into by duress on the part of the plaintiff or alternatively, should be set aside for lack of consideration, and therefore counterclaimed the US$30,000 paid under that agreement. In reply, the plaintiff claimed that: (i) there was a common law marriage between the parties for the defendant held himself out as the plaintiff’s husband and father to her children and for all intents and purposes they lived as husband and wife; and, (ii) the defendant entered into the agreement willingly. The Supreme Court concluded that, in the present case, there was no celebration of marriage and, therefore, the parties could not be presumed to have been married under common law. Further, the Supreme Court noted that there was evidence in support of the position that the agreement was the result of blackmail on the part of the plaintiff who held various sensitive documents of the defendant and threatened to report the defendant to the Zambia Revenue Authority if he did not agree to enter into the agreement. The Supreme Court noted that the evidence established that the agreement had been entered into under duress and therefore was capable of being set aside on this basis. However, a party who enters into a contract under duress has the option of ratifying the contract or seeking to avoid it once the duress has come to an end. The Supreme Court noted that while the defendant paid the US $30,000 with full knowledge of all the circumstances (including suspecting that the plaintiff no longer had any sensitive documents in her possession), the defendant could not have legally ratified the contract, as it was invalid for lack of consideration (in particular, any consideration would be past consideration because the relationship had ended and the plaintiff was supposed to move out of the defendant’s house anyway as she had no legal right to continue staying there). Accordingly, the Supreme Court ordered the plaintiff to refund US$30,000 without interest to the defendant on the basis that the plaintiff should not be unjustly enriched by the threat (with costs to be borne by the plaintiff, to be agreed upon or taxed in default of agreement).



Miloslav v. The People Supreme Court for Zambia (2014)

Sexual violence and rape

The appellant was charged with the offence of indecent assault on a female contrary to Section 137(1) of the Penal Code, Chapter 87 of the Laws of Zambia. The victim worked for the appellant as a maid when she was indecently assaulted. The appellant advanced four grounds of appeal: (i) the trial court erred when (i) it found the appellant had a case to answer at the close of the prosecution’s case; (ii) it convicted the appellant of the offence in the absence of corroborative evidence; (iii) the trial court erred when it convicted the appellant on the evidence of the victim who suffered from unsoundness of mind without satisfying itself that the victim understood the nature of an oath and was capable of giving rational testimony; and, (iv) it held that the findings in the medical report supported the prosecution’s evidence and when it held that the appellant had corroborated the evidence of the victim when he admitted touching the victim. The Court dismissed all grounds for appeal on the following bases: (i) the Court was satisfied that the victim’s testimony was presented in a very coherent manner and that the three ingredients of the offence had been established and that the victim’s testimony was not discredited at all; (ii) there was medical evidence which corroborated the crime as well as evidence that the victim did not consent to the indecent assault; (iii) the victim’s testimony was very consistent and was given with ‘lucid clarity’, therefore there was nothing in the victim’s testimony that could have compelled the trial court to conduct a voir dire; and, (iv) there was medical evidence which corroborated the victim’s testimony and there was no evidence of a romantic relationship between the parties which would indicate consent. Further, the Court held that, because of the ‘master and servant’ nature of the relationship, the minimum sentence of 15 years imprisonment was inappropriate and should be set aside and replaced by a sentence of 20 years imprisonment with hard labor effective from the date of conviction.



The People v. Mugala High Court for Zambia (2012)

Gender-based violence in general, Sexual violence and rape

The accused was charged with one count of rape contrary to Sections 132 and 133 of the Penal Code, Chapter 87 of the Laws of Zambia. The accused denied the charge. However, following the trial (during which the prosecution called five witnesses, and after considering the evidence of the accused which was given on oath), the trial magistrate found the accused guilty and convicted him of the subject offence. The case was then remitted to the High Court for sentencing pursuant to Section 217 of the Criminal Procedure Code, Chapter 88 of the Laws of Zambia. Before passing any sentence, the Court was required to satisfy itself that the relevant legal and procedural provisions had been observed by the trial court. The Court held that there was medical evidence in support of the violent nature of the act as well as other corroborative evidence, such as the distressed state of the victim when she reported the act.  Furthermore, the Court concluded there was sufficient evidence in support of the identification of the accused by the victim including the trial magistrate’s finding that the victim was a truthful witness. On the totality of the evidence, the High Court held that the trial judge’s finding of guilt and the conviction was ‘anchored on firm ground’ and, therefore, concluded that it should be upheld. The High Court sentenced the accused to 25 years imprisonment with hard labor effective from the date of arrest.



Sikazwe v. The People Supreme Court for Zambia (2012)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

The appellant was charged with incest contrary to Section 159(1) of the Penal Code but was convicted of the lesser charge of indecent assault contrary to Section 137(1) as amended by Act No. 15 of 2005, Cap 871, as the medical evidence ‘left a lot to be desired’ (as described by the Magistrate). However, when the matter was sent to the High Court for sentencing, the sentencing judge substituted the charge of indecent assault with incest and sentenced the appellant to 20 years imprisonment with hard labor. The appellant appealed this conviction and sentence on the basis that the Magistrate “erred in law and fact when he tried and convicted the appellant without the Director of Public Prosecutions’ consent.” In support of this argument, the appellant noted that the instructions of the Director of Public Prosecutions were to try the appellant for rape not incest. Therefore, in the absence of express consent by the Director of Public Prosecutions as required by Section 164 of the Penal Code, Cap 871, the trial court had jurisdiction neither to hear the matter nor to proceed to convict the appellant on indecent assault and sentence him to 20-year term for incest. The Supreme Court reviewed the letter from the Director of Public Prosecutions and noted that, while the first paragraph gave the impression that he had sanctioned the prosecution to go ahead with the charge of incest, the remainder of the letter made it clear that he had also sanctioned the appellant’s prosecution on a charge of either rape or defilement. The Supreme Court also noted that the latter could potentially enable a conviction of indecent assault under the relevant provisions of the Penal Code. Thus, the Supreme Court confirmed that the Director of Public Prosecutions rightly guided the prosecution and the court below to invoke whichever of these provisions as necessary. Moreover, the Supreme Court stated that the Magistrate rightly concluded that ‘the medical evidence left a lot to be desired.’ Ultimately, it concluded that the appellant was not guilty of the offence of rape, but that he was guilty of the offence of indecent assault contrary to Section 137 of the Penal Code and that the sentencing judge was mistaken to sentence the appellant for incest. The Supreme Court quashed the incest conviction, but still upheld the conviction for indecent assault and imposed a 20-year prison sentence.



Habeenzu v. The People Supreme Court for Zambia (2012)

Sexual violence and rape

The appellant was charged in the Subordinate Court of attempted rape contrary to Section 137 of the Penal Code, Chapter 87 of the Laws of Zambia. The statement of offence read defilement, contrary to Section 138 of the Penal Code. The appellant was convicted of indecent assault, a minor offence per Section 181(2) of the Criminal Procedure Code. The appellant appealed on two grounds. First, the statement of offence was defective, as (i) it did not specify the offence by section and subsection of the provision of the law contravened, and (ii) it was amended late which was unjust. Second, on the available evidence, a court could not have properly convicted appellant for attempted rape or indecent assault because the allegation of attempted rape impliedly includes both an allegation of assault and of indecency; on the facts, there was only an element of indecency (and not assault). The Supreme Court rejected both grounds of appeal on the basis that: (i), indecent assault, attempted rape, rape and defilement are offences of the same genus and therefore a defendant charged with attempted rape may be convicted of a lesser related charge like indecent assault; (ii) the appellant had an opportunity to defend himself in relation to the alternative charge, so there was no constitutional violation of the fairness of the trial; and (iii) the findings of fact were in accordance with the evidence on the record, as the appellant was ‘caught in the act’ and there was medical evidence of injuries sustained by the victim. Accordingly, there was no reason to interfere with the findings of fact or the minimum sentence of 15 years’ imprisonment imposed by the sentencing judge. The Court dismissed the appeal.



Applicants McEwan, Clarke, et al. v. Attorney General High Court of the Supreme Court of Judicature (2013)

Gender discrimination, LGBTIQ

On February 6, 2009, four transgender individuals (A, B, C, D) identifying as female were arrested and charged with both Loitering and Wearing Female Attire.  The police detained the Applicants for the entire weekend without explaining the charges against them.  Wearing Female Attire is prohibited under Section 153(1)(XLV11) of the Summary Jurisdiction (Offences) Act, chapter 8:02.  At the hearing on February 9, 2009, the Chief Magistrate commented that the Applicants were confused about their sexuality and told them they were men, not women, and needed to give their lives to Jesus Christ.  The Applicants, who were all unrepresented at the time, pleaded guilty to the charge of Wearing Female Attire.  Applicants A, B and D were fined $7,500, and Applicant C was fined $19,500 (Guyanese dollars).  The loitering charges were eventually dismissed.  The Applicants contacted the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD), the Equal Rights Trust’s Guyanese partner, about the case.  SASOD agreed to represent Applicants and filed a Notice of Motion challenging the Magistrate’s Court decision and seeking redress.  The Applicants argued that the police violated the Constitution because the officers failed to inform them of their arrest and did not permit the Applicants to retain counsel.  They also argued that Section 153 (1) (XLV11) of the Summary Jurisdiction (Offences) Act 1893 is: (1) vague and of uncertain scope; (2) irrational and discriminatory on the ground of sex; and (3) a continuing threat to their right to protection against discrimination on the ground of sex and gender under the Constitution.  Applicants further argued that, by instructing the Applicants to attend Church and give their lives to Jesus Christ, the Chief Magistrate discriminated against them on the basis of religion, which violated a fundamental norm of the Co-operative of the Republic of Guyana as a secular state in contravention to the Constitution.  The Court upheld the Applicants’ claims in relation to their fundamental right to be informed of the reason for their arrest under Article 139 of the Constitution, but rejected all of their other claims.  The Court found that the prohibition of cross-dressing for an improper purpose was not unconstitutional gender or sex discrimination, impermissibly vague, or undemocratic.  The Court also struck SASOD’s application in full, finding that SASOD did not have standing to be an applicant in the case.



Institutional Violence Against Women (Docket XXVII.1o.3 C (10a.)) Mexico Supreme Court (2016)

Gender discrimination, Gender-based violence in general, International law

This isolated thesis is a relevant example of gender perspective case law, as the criteria issued by the collegiate tribunal is binding on all cases resolved by such tribunal. In addition, such criteria issued may be persuasive in similar cases arising in other federal courts. The Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence Against Women “Convention of Belém do Pará,” states that violence against women is an offense against human dignity, which constitutes a violation of fundamental rights. In addition, Article 18 of the General Law for Women’s Access to a Life Free of Violence establishes that any public servant’s conduct, whether by act or omission, which is discriminatory or which impairs the woman’s human rights is considered institutional violence. Therefore, if a governmental authority deprives a woman of any right in the context of family law, the court shall acknowledge the authority’s intention to discriminate or impair the plaintiff’s human rights in its ruling. Further, any court ruling seeking to restore the woman’s rights shall identify the authority responsible for the violation. (Amparo Directo: http://sise.cjf.gob.mx/SVP/word1.aspx?arch=462/04620000174646210006004.d...)

 

Esta tesis aislada es un ejemplo relevante de la jurisprudencia de la perspectiva de género, ya que los criterios emitidos por el tribunal colegiado son vinculantes para todos los casos resueltos por dicho tribunal. Además, los criterios emitidos pueden ser persuasivos en casos similares que surjan en otros tribunales federales. La Convención Interamericana para Prevenir, Sancionar y Erradicar la Violencia contra la Mujer "Convención de Belém do Pará", afirma que violencia contra la mujer es un delito contra la dignidad humana y constituye una violación de los derechos fundamentales. Además, el artículo 18 de la Ley General para el Acceso de las Mujeres a una Vida Libre de Violencia establece que la conducta de cualquier servidor público, ya sea por acto u omisión, que sea discriminatoria o que perjudique los derechos humanos de la mujer se considera violencia institucional. Por lo tanto, si una autoridad gubernamental priva a una mujer de cualquier derecho en el contexto del derecho de familia, el tribunal reconocerá la intención de la autoridad de discriminar o menoscabar los derechos humanos del demandante en su decisión. Además, cualquier fallo judicial que busque restaurar los derechos de la mujer deberá identificar a la autoridad responsable de la violación.



Femicide (Docket 1a/LIV/2016 (10a.)) First Collegiate Tribunal of the Twenty-Seventh Circuit (2016)

Femicide, Gender discrimination

This isolated thesis is a relevant example of gender perspective case law, as the criteria issued by the collegiate tribunal is binding on all cases resolved by such tribunal. In addition, such criteria issued may be persuasive in similar cases arising in other federal courts. The Mexican Supreme Court has determined that in order to determine whether a law is discriminatory a court must evaluate the following: (i) whether the purpose of such law is objective and not contrary to the Constitution; (ii) the means; (iii) that the purpose of the law and the means are proportional. The Mexican Supreme Court has determined that the state legislator can develop any mechanism to protect human rights. Therefore, given that femicide, as a felony, is designed to protect a disadvantaged segment of the population, any special treatment inherent to this felony cannot be interpreted as contrary to the human right to equality.

 

Esta tesis aislada es un ejemplo relevante de la jurisprudencia de la perspectiva de género, ya que los criterios emitidos por el tribunal colegiado son relevantes para todos los casos resueltos por dicho tribunal. Además, los criterios emitidos pueden ser persuasivos en casos similares que surjan en otros tribunales federales. El Tribunal Supremo de México ha determinado que para determinar si una ley es discriminatoria, un tribunal debe evaluar lo siguiente: (i) si el propósito de dicha ley es objetivo y no contrario a la Constitución; (ii) los medios para enforzarla; (iii) que el propósito de la ley y los medios sean proporcionales. La Corte Suprema de México ha determinado que el legislador estatal puede desarrollar cualquier mecanismo para proteger los derechos humanos. Por lo tanto, dado que el femicidio, como delito grave, está diseñado para proteger a un segmento desfavorecido de la población, cualquier tratamiento especial inherente a este delito grave no puede interpretarse como contrario al derecho humano a la igualdad.



Access to Justice in Equal Conditions (Docket 1a.J. 22.2016 (10a.)) Mexico Supreme Court (2016)

Gender discrimination

This jurisprudential thesis is a relevant example of case law, as the criteria issued by the Mexican Supreme Court is binding on all courts in the country. Every court shall rule based on a gender perspective. Therefore there should be a test to determine whether there is a gender violence case before the court. This test shall be performed by the court regardless of whether a party makes such a petition. The court shall take into consideration the following points: (i) if the particular case involves gender violence, taking into account the facts and the evidence, excluding any stereotype that the court may have; (ii) in the event that the evidence is insufficient to determine whether the case involves gender violence, the court shall request more evidence to make a determination; (iii) if the court determines that the case involves gender violence, it shall apply the relevant law to the particular case and issue a ruling; (iv) human rights shall be taken into consideration at all times during the process and; (v) the use of inclusive language to ensure access to justice that is free of gender-based stereotypes.

 

Esta tesis jurisprudencial es un ejemplo relevante de jurisprudencia, ya que los criterios emitidos por el Tribunal Supremo de México son vinculantes para todos los tribunales del país. Cada tribunal decidirá con una perspectiva de género. Por lo tanto, debe haber una prueba para determinar si hay un caso de violencia de género ante el tribunal. Esta prueba será realizada por el tribunal, independientemente de si una parte hace tal petición. El tribunal deberá tener en cuenta los siguientes puntos: (i) si el caso en particular involucra violencia de género, teniendo en cuenta los hechos y las pruebas, excluyendo cualquier estereotipo que el tribunal pueda tener; (ii) en el caso de que la evidencia sea insuficiente para determinar si el caso involucra violencia de género, el tribunal deberá solicitar más evidencia para tomar una decisión; (iii) si el tribunal determina que el caso involucra violencia de género, aplicará la ley pertinente al caso particular y emitirá un fallo; (iv) los derechos humanos se tendrán en cuenta en todo momento durante el proceso y; (v) el uso de un lenguaje inclusivo para garantizar el acceso a la justicia sin estereotipos o discriminación sexual.



Rape (Docket II.2o.P.37 P (10a.)) Second Collegiate Tribunal in Criminal Matters of the Second Circuit (2016)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Sexual violence and rape

This isolated thesis is a relevant example of gender perspective case law, as the criteria issued by the collegiate tribunal is binding on all cases resolved by such tribunal. In addition, such criteria may be persuasive in similar cases arising in other federal courts. In cases of rape, facts of a psychological nature such as fear originated in relationships shall be taken into consideration. Every judgement shall be based on a gender perspective and the courts shall consider every element set forth by the victim, as those elements may increase the severity of the sentence. A failure to do so could potentially invalidate the sentence. (Amparo Directo: http://sise.cjf.gob.mx/SVP/word1.aspx?arch=104/01040000180833650006005.d...)

 

Esta tesis aislada es un ejemplo relevante de la perspectiva de género, ya que los criterios emitidos por el tribunal colegiado son vinculantes para todos los casos resueltos por dicho tribunal. Además, dichos criterios pueden ser persuasivos en casos similares que surjan en otros tribunales federales. En casos de violación, se deben tener en cuenta los hechos de naturaleza psicológica, como por ejemplo, el miedo originado en relaciones personales. Cada juicio se basará en una perspectiva de género y los tribunales considerarán cada elemento expuesto por la víctima, ya que esos elementos pueden aumentar la severidad de la sentencia. Si no lo hace, podría invalidar una determinación final.



Adequate Defense of Pregnant Women in Labor Matters (Docket 3.o.2 L (10a.)) Third Collegiate Tribunal in the Assistant Center of the Tenth Region (2016)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

ADEQUATE DEFENSE OF PREGNANT WOMEN IN LABOR MATTERS. PREGNANT WOMEN ARE CONSIDERED A VULNERABLE GROUP AND THEREFORE THE JUDGE SHALL RULE BASED ON A GENDER PERSPECTIVE.

This isolated thesis is a relevant example of gender perspective case law, as the criteria issued by the collegiate tribunal is binding on all cases resolved by such tribunal. In addition, such criteria issued may be persuasive in similar cases arising in other federal courts. The labor law states that every person shall have an appropriate defense. In addition, this right acquires different considerations when the claimant is a pregnant woman. Historically, women in Mexico have been fired solely for being pregnant. Pregnant women are consequently considered a vulnerable group. Therefore, this isolated thesis requires the courts to inform the claimant of her right to have an attorney, and in those cases where the claimant cannot afford one, the court shall appoint one for her. (Amparo Directo Laboral: http://sise.cjf.gob.mx/SVP/word1.aspx?arch=484/04840000187544100005005.d...)

 

 

DEFENSA ADECUADA DE LAS MUJERES EMBARAZADAS EN ASUNTOS LABORALES. LAS MUJERES EMBARAZADAS SON CONSIDERADAS EN UN GRUPO VULNERABLE Y, POR LO TANTO, EL JUEZ REGIRÁ BASADO EN UNA PERSPECTIVA DE GÉNERO.

Esta tesis aislada es un ejemplo relevante de la jurisprudencia de la perspectiva de género, ya que los criterios emitidos por el tribunal colegiado son vinculantes para todos los casos resueltos por dicho tribunal. Además, los criterios emitidos pueden ser persuasivos en casos similares que surjan en otros tribunales federales. La ley laboral establece que cada persona tendrá una defensa apropiada. Además, este derecho adquiere diferentes consideraciones cuando el reclamante es una mujer embarazada. Históricamente, las mujeres en México han sido despedidas de sus empleos por estar embarazadas. En consecuencia, las mujeres embarazadas son consideradas un grupo vulnerable. Por lo tanto, esta tesis aislada requiere que los tribunales informen al reclamante de su derecho a tener un abogado, y en aquellos casos en que el reclamante no pueda pagar uno, el tribunal le asignará uno.



Public Safety (Isolated Thesis Docket XVI.1o.A.115 A (10a.)) First Collegiate Tribunal in Administrative Matters of the Sixteeth Circuit (2016)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination, International law

This isolated thesis is a relevant example of gender perspective case law, as the criteria issued by the collegiate tribunal is binding on all cases resolved by such tribunal. In addition, such criteria may be persuasive in similar cases arising in other federal courts. The Mexican Supreme Court has previously determined the social benefits to which a former public safety employee is entitled at the time of her termination. The social benefits and salary must be paid upon termination and must account for both the period before and after an unjustified termination for pregnancy. The Mexican Constitution (Article 123, section B, item XI, subparagraphs (a) & (c)) recognizes the rights of pregnant women. These include social benefits during pregnancy. Consequently, the impairment that results from the termination must be paid and includes: (a) medical bills and payments made to private medical institutions due to the lack of social security benefits and (b) the payment of the full salary from the last month before birth as well as the two months after it, unless there is a court ruling in relation to unpaid wages. This provision of the Mexican Constitution, as well as other provisions of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment And Eradication Of Violence Against Women “Convention of Belém do Pará” compels the courts to rule with a gender perspective in order to ensure justice for this historically vulnerable social group. (Amparo Directo Administrativo 121/2016: http://sise.cjf.gob.mx/SVP/word1.aspx?arch=1320/13200000186095880003003....)

 

Esta tesis aislada es un ejemplo relevante de la jurisprudencia de la perspectiva de género, ya que los criterios emitidos por el tribunal colegiado son relevantes a todos los casos resueltos por dicho tribunal. Además, dichos criterios pueden ser persuasivos en casos similares que surjan en otros tribunales federales. La Corte Suprema de México ha determinado previamente los beneficios sociales a los que tiene derecho un ex-empleado de seguridad pública en el momento de su despido. Los beneficios sociales y el salario deben pagarse a la terminación y deben tener en cuenta tanto el período antes como el de después de una terminación injustificada por embarazo. La Constitución mexicana (Artículo 123, sección B, artículo XI, subpárrafos (a) y (c)) reconoce los derechos de las mujeres embarazadas. Estos incluyen beneficios sociales durante el embarazo. En consecuencia, el deterioro que resulta de la terminación debe pagarse e incluye: (a) facturas médicas y pagos realizados a instituciones médicas privadas debido a la falta de beneficios de seguridad social y (b) el pago del salario completo del último mes anterior al nacimiento, así como los dos meses posteriores al mismo, a menos que exista un fallo judicial en relación con los salarios impagos. Esta disposición de la Constitución mexicana, así como otras disposiciones de la Convención sobre la Eliminación de Todas las Formas de Discriminación contra la Mujer (CEDAW) y la Convención Interamericana para Prevenir, Sancionar y Erradicar la Violencia contra la Mujer "Convención de Belém do Pará" obliga a los tribunales a gobernar con una perspectiva de género para garantizar la justicia para este grupo social históricamente vulnerable.



Ruling with a Gender Perspective (Isolated Thesis Docket XXI.2o.P.A.1 CS (10a.)) Second Collegiate Tribunal in Criminal and Administrative Matters of the Twentieth Circuit (2017)

Gender discrimination

“RULING WITH A GENDER PERSPECTIVE. THE COURT MUST DETERMINE IF THE RELEVANT PARTY IS IN A VULNERABLE STATE THAT RESULTS IN A REAL DISADVANTAGE OR CLEAR IMBALANCE VIS-À-VIS THE OTHER PARTIES TO THE CASE.”

This isolated thesis is a relevant example of gender perspective case law, as the criteria issued by the collegiate tribunal is binding on all cases resolved by such tribunal. In addition, such criteria may be persuasive in similar cases arising in other federal courts. Each case that is brought to court must be analyzed in order to determine whether there is a degree of vulnerability for each woman. Without such scrutiny, courts cannot provide a gender perspective analysis to a controversy, as gender perspective does not depend solely on gender but on other considerations, such as social vulnerability, which must be proven. In order to determine if a woman finds herself in a disadvantaged situation, the following issues must be taken into consideration: (a) if one or more parties find themselves in one of the categories identified in the Brasilia Regulations Regarding Access to Justice for Vulnerable People; (b) the gender disadvantage and the violence that prevails in the place of residence or the social core in which the parties may be involved, in order to clarify the possible existence of structural inequality; (c) education level, age, socioeconomic situation, and the particular characteristics of all of the people involved in the trial, in order to determine if a inequality actually exists; and (d) all proven facts in the docket, in order to identify the power relationships. Taking the aforementioned considerations into account, it must be determined if in the particular case it is optimal to order measures seeking to balance one or more differences and vulnerabilities that prevent the disadvantaged party from the enjoyment of its human rights. (Amparo Directo Agrario 163/2016 here: http://sise.cjf.gob.mx/SVP/word1.aspx?arch=752/07520000188524300006005.d...)

 

“REGLA CON UNA PERSPECTIVA DE GÉNERO. "EL TRIBUNAL DEBE DETERMINAR SI LA PARTE PERTINENTE ESTÁ EN UN ESTADO VULNERABLE QUE RESULTA EN UNA DESVENTAJA REAL O UN CLARO DESBALANCE VISE-VISE CON RESPECTO A LAS OTRAS PARTES DEL CASO." 

Esta tesis aislada es un ejemplo relevante de la jurisprudencia de la perspectiva de género, ya que los criterios emitidos por el tribunal colegiado son relevantes a todos los casos resueltos por dicho tribunal. Además, dichos criterios pueden ser persuasivos en casos similares que surjan en otros tribunales federales. Cada caso que se lleva ante el tribunal debe analizarse para determinar si existe un grado de vulnerabilidad unico para cada mujer. Sin tal control, los tribunales no pueden proporcionar un análisis de perspectiva de género a una controversia, ya que la perspectiva de género no depende únicamente del género, sino de otras consideraciones, como la vulnerabilidad social, que deben probarse. Para determinar si una mujer se encuentra en una situación de desventaja, se deben tener en cuenta los siguientes temas: (a) si una o más partes se encuentran en una de las categorías identificadas en el Reglamento de Brasilia sobre el acceso a la justicia para personas vulnerables ; (b) la desventaja de género y la violencia que prevalece en el lugar de residencia o el núcleo social en el que pueden participar las partes, a fin de aclarar la posible existencia de desigualdad estructural; (c) el nivel de educación, la edad, la situación socioeconómica y las características particulares de todas las personas involucradas en el ensayo, a fin de determinar si realmente existe una desigualdad; y (d) todos los hechos comprobados en el expediente, con el fin de identificar las relaciones de poder. Teniendo en cuenta las consideraciones mencionadas anteriormente, se debe determinar si, en el caso particular, es óptimo ordenar medidas que busquen equilibrar una o más diferencias y vulnerabilidades que impidan que las partes desfavorecidas disfruten de sus derechos humanos. 



M.M. v. Minister of Home Affairs & 2 Others Supreme Court of Zimbabwe (2014)

Abortion and reproductive health rights, International law, Sexual violence and rape

This case was brought by the complainant, who was attacked and raped by robbers at her home.  She immediately reported the matter to police and requested a medical practitioner to prescribe emergency contraception.  The medical practitioner said he required the presence of a police officer to do so.  Because she was advised at the police station that the officer who had dealt with her case was not available, the victim returned to the hospital, where she was refused treatment without a police report.  The next day she went to the hospital with another police officer and was informed that the prescribed 72 hours had already elapsed.  When the complainant was confirmed pregnant, she indicated to the prosecutor that she wanted her pregnancy terminated, but was told that she had to wait until the rape trial had been completed.  She finally obtained the necessary magisterial certificate, but when she sought the termination, the hospital matron felt that it was no longer safe to carry out the procedure.  After the full term of her pregnancy, the complainant brought an action against the Ministers of Health, Justice and Home Affairs for pain and suffering endured as well as maintenance of the child.  The High Court dismissed her claim that the employees of the respondents had been negligent in their failure to prevent the pregnancy, and subsequently to facilitate its termination.  She appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, which determined the claim by applying the test for negligence, finding the doctor negligent for having failed to take reasonable steps to prevent the pregnancy and the police negligent for failing to timely take the victim to the doctor for her pregnancy to be prevented.  The Supreme Court recognized the relevance of regional and international human rights norms and standards, making reference to various provisions relating to the reproductive rights of women in CEDAW and the Maputo Protocol, but held that, pursuant to Constitutional terms, these cannot operate to override or modify domestic laws until they are internalized and transformed into rules of domestic law.  Furthermore, the Supreme Court determined that it was the responsibility of the victim of the alleged rape to institute proceedings for the issuance of a magisterial certificate allowing the termination of her pregnancy.  Ultimately, the Supreme Court partially allowed the appeal and granted the complainant general damages for pain and suffering arising from failure to prevent her pregnancy.  Although conceding that Zimbabwe’s Termination of Pregnancy Act is “ineptly framed and lacks sufficient clarity as to what exactly a victim of rape is required to do when confronted with an unwanted pregnancy,” the Supreme Court dismissed the complainant's claim for damages for pain and suffering beyond the time her pregnancy was confirmed and for the maintenance of her minor child, as the authorities could not be liable for not assisting her to terminate the pregnancy because they do not have any legal duty to initiate and institute court proceedings on her behalf. 



Gumede v. President of the Republic of South Africa & Others Constitutional Court of South Africa (2008)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Gender discrimination, International law, Property and inheritance rights

Mrs. and Mr. Gumede, both domiciled in KwaZulu-Natal, entered into a monogamous customary marriage in 1968 and four children were born during their marriage.  Because she was forbidden by her husband to take up employment, Mrs. Gumede never worked and could not contribute to the accumulation of the family’s estate, which included two family homes.  She was always the primary caregiver of the children.  After forty years, the marriage broke down irretrievably.  Mrs. Gumede had no family and was dependent for financial support upon her children and her old-age pension.  In 2003, Mr. Gumede instituted divorce proceedings before the Divorce Court.  Mrs. Gumede also approached the High Court and obtained an order invalidating the discriminatory legislative provisions on which the Divorce Court could rely.  The Constitutional Court subsequently was approached by the Minister of Home Affairs and the KwaZulu-Natal Member of the Executive Council for Traditional Leaders and Local Government Affairs who resisted the order, for the reevaluation of the order of the High Court declaring constitutionally invalid certain sections of the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act, of the KwaZulu Act on the Code of Zulu Law 16 of 1985 and certain sections of the Natal Code of Zulu Law (Proc R155 of 1987), which regulate the proprietary consequences of customary marriages.  In a lengthy judgment, the Constitutional Court took great pains to explain that any distinction between the consequences of customary marriages entered into before and after the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act came into operation is discriminatory, inconsistent with the Constitution, and invalid.  The Constitutional Court noted the international instruments that South Africa has ratified that prohibit forms of discrimination against women, including CEDAW.  It held that the two provisions are patently discriminatory, unfair, and not justifiable.  In terms of the judgment, all monogamous customary marriages entered into before the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act came into operation are now ipso facto in community of property, excluding customary marriages which had been terminated by death or by divorce before the date of the judgment.  The Constitutional Court further held that the constitutional invalidity of Section 7(1) was limited to monogamous marriages and should not concern polygynous relationships or their proprietary consequences, determining that polygynous marriages should continue to be “regulated by customary law until parliament intervenes.”



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

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

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



Police v. Apelu Supreme Court of Samoa (2010)

Abortion and reproductive health rights, International law

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



In the Marriage of Pavey Family Court (1976)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage

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



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

Divorce and dissolution of marriage

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



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

Gender-based violence in general, International law, LGBTIQ

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



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

Gender-based violence in general, International law, LGBTIQ

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



TC/0003/17 Constitutional Court (2017)

Femicide, Gender discrimination, Gender-based violence in general, International law, Sexual violence and rape

Due to the increase of femicide crimes in the Dominican society, the Constitutional Court proclaimed the termination of violence against women in all its forms as it is a violation of the Constitution. The proclamation was made in commemoration of the murder of Mirabal, Minerva, Patria and María Teresa, political opponents of the regime of Rafael Trujillo, and in accordance with the international agreements executed in defense of women's rights, as well as the laws issued against gender violence, sexual violence and femicide. 

 

Debido al aumento de los delitos de femicidio en la sociedad dominicana, el Tribunal Constitucional proclamó el cese de la violencia contra la mujer en todas sus formas, incluyéndolo como una forma de violación de la Constitución. Dicha proclamación se realizó en conmemoración del asesinato de Mirabal, Minerva, Patria, y María Teresa, quienes fueron opositores políticos del régimen de Rafael Trujillo. La proclamación está en conformidad con los acuerdos internacionales celebrados en defensa de los derechos de las mujeres y con las leyes emitidas contra la violencia basada en género sexual, violencia sexual en sí, y femicidio.



Sentencia TC/0599/15 Constitutional Court (2015)

Abortion and reproductive health rights

The foundations “Justicia y Transparencia”, “Transparencia y Democracia” and “Matrimonio Feliz” challenged the constitutionality of Articles 107, 108, 109 and 110 of the Criminal Code Law 550-14. Law 550-14 regulates abortion, including the adjudication of cases of exoneration from criminal liability such as the interruption of pregnancy based on the crimes of rape, incest or malformations of the embryo that may endanger life. The foundations alleged the violation of, among others, Articles 101, 102, 105 and 112 of the Constitution that provide for the process of enacting organic laws (defined as those that regulate fundamental rights), and the violation of Article 37 that provides the inviolability of the right to life from the conception to death. The Criminal Code was approved by a simple majority. However, as it restricts fundamental rights such as the right to freedom, it must be considered as an organic law and therefore, had to be approved by a two-thirds majority. Additionally, only one of the chambers reviewed the executive authority’s observations before the law was approved. Likewise, the foundations argued that admitting exemptions from criminal liability to those who perform abortions was contrary to the Constitution which protects life from conception. The Constitutional Court admitted the action and ruled that Law 550-14 was unconstitutional because it created a new Criminal Code without following the due process necessary for its promulgation. 

 

Las fundaciones “Justicia y Transparencia”, “Transparencia y Democracia” y “Matrimonio Feliz” desafiaron la constitucionalidad de los artículos 107, 108, 109 y 110 de la Ley 550-14 del Código Penal. La Ley 550-14 regula el aborto, incluyendo el fallo de casos que tratan con la absolución de responsabilidad penal, como la interrupción del embarazo por delitos de violación, incesto, u otras malformaciones del embrión que pueden poner en peligro la vida de la madre y del feto. Específicamente, las fundaciones alegaron la violación de, entre otros, los artículos 101, 102, 105 y 112 de la Constitución, los cuáles contemplan el proceso de promulgación de leyes orgánicas (definidas como aquellas que regulan los derechos fundamentales), y además la violación del artículo 37, el cual establece como inviolable el derecho a la vida desde la concepción hasta la muerte. El Código Penal fue aprobado por la mayoría. Sin embargo, como restringe derechos fundamentales como el derecho a la libertad, el Código clasifica como una ley orgánica y, por lo tanto, debe ser aprobada por una mayoría de dos tercios. Además, sólo una de las cámaras tribunales revisó las observaciones dadas por la autoridad ejecutiva antes de que se aprobara la ley. Las fundaciones argumentaron que abstener de responsabilidad penal a quienes realizan abortos era contrario a la Constitución, la cuál protege la vida desde la concepción. La Corte permitió la acción a proceder y declaró que la Ley 550-14 en violación de la Constitucion en base a que creó un nuevo Código Penal sin seguir el procedimiento necesario para su promulgación inicial. 



Sentencia TC/0070/15 Constitutional Court (2015)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Gender discrimination

Mrs. Angela Merici Mendoza Minier challenged the constitutionality of Article 35 of Law number 1306-Bis published on May 21st, 1937, which provided that a divorced woman could not marry within 10 months after the divorce. Mrs. Angela argued that Article 35 contravened the gender equality provision provided in Article 39 of the Constitution because the 10-month waiting period to remarry did not apply to men. Article 35 thus conferred a privilege only to men. The attorney-general disregarded the action on the basis that the petitioner lacked legitimate interest. However, the Constitutional Court determined that as a woman, Mrs. Angela could be affected by Article 35 and ruled that she therefore had a legitimate interest in challenging Article 35. The Constitutional Court subsequently admitted the action and nullified Article 35 on the basis that it no longer fulfilled its aim to prevent a woman from remarrying when already pregnant with her former husband’s child because it could have negative consequences for the child or the newly formed couple. As technology now allows women to know their state of pregnancy at an early stage, the restriction is no longer needed. Moreover, the Constitutional Court acknowledged that it is a woman’s decision to remarry, pregnant or not. 

 

La Sra. Angela Merici Mendoza Minier desafió la constitucionalidad del artículo 35 de la Ley número 1306-Bis publicada el 21 de mayo de 1937, la cuál establecía que una mujer divorciada no podría casarse por un período de 10 meses posteriormente a un divorcio. La Sra. Angela sostuvo que el artículo 35 era contrario a la disposición de igualdad de género garantizada en el artículo 39 de la Constitución porque el período de espera de 10 meses para volver a casarse no se aplicaba a los hombres. Ella propuso que el artículo 35 confería un privilegio único a los hombres. El fiscal general ignoró la acción basándose en que la peticionaria no tenía un interés legítimo en la acción. Sin embargo, el Tribunal Constitucional determinó que, como mujer, la Sra. Angela podría verse afectada por el artículo 35 y dictaminó que, por lo tanto, esto era un interés legítimo suficiente para impugnar el artículo 35. Posteriormente, el Tribunal Constitucional admitió la acción y anuló el artículo 35 sobre la base de que no cumplía su objetivo inicial de evitar que una mujer se volviera a casar mientras ya estaba embarazada con el hijo de su ex esposo, lo cual podría tener consecuencias negativas para el niño o para la pareja recién formada. Como la tecnología ahora permite a las mujeres conocer su estado de embarazo desde una etapa temprana, dicha restricción ya no es necesaria. Además, el Tribunal Constitucional agregó que es una decisión personal de la mujer volver a casarse, embarazada o no.



Advisory Opinion No. 2008/64 Fatwa & Contracts Department (2008)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

This legal advisory opinion found that a divorced woman is not entitled to the typical social allowance provided to married individuals by their employers.  The woman, unnamed in the opinion, applied for the allowance because she has custody of her minor son.  The opinion states that the allowance can be only provided to married women with children whose husband is unemployed, jobless, or incapacitated.  A divorced woman cannot benefit from this support even if she is the sole custodian of her child.  Nonetheless, this Advisory Opinion requests that the Qatar Legislator revisit this situation a “with a view to cure the unreasonable position of a divorcee employee who has children, because her situation resembles the situation of a widow in jurisprudence.”



Human Trafficking (Isolated Thesis Docket: I.9o.P.144 P (10a.)) Ninth Collegiate Tribunal in Criminal Matters of the First Circuit (2017)

Gender-based violence in general, Trafficking in persons

“HUMAN TRAFFICKING. IF A VICTIM OF THIS CRIME, IN ONE OF THE FIRST STATEMENTS, MAKES AN ALLEGATION AGAINST THE DEFENDANT, INCLUDING A NARRATIVE OF THE FACTS, AND SUCH STATEMENT IS CORROBORATED BY FURTHER EVIDENCE, SUCH EVIDENCE SHOULD BE REGARDED AS ACCURATE EVEN IF THE VICTIM SUBSEQUENTLY RETRACTS THE ALLEGATIONS.”

This isolated thesis is a relevant example of gender perspective case law, as the criteria issued by the collegiate tribunal is binding on such tribunal. In addition, such criteria may also be persuasive in similar cases arising in other federal courts. In this case, the federal court determined that it is a well-known fact that Mexican society discriminates against sex workers. In light of the stigma that sex workers carry, they are subject to continuous pressure from different societal actors, including their nuclear family, to refrain from providing statements or to withdraw initial statements regarding crimes committed against them. The collegiate tribunal held that when a sex-worker case comes before a court, the court must consider a gender perspective in its ruling. As a result, courts must use all available mechanisms in order to obtain irrefutable proof from the victim. The tribunal based its ruling on Article 2(c) and (d) of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW):  “(c) to establish legal protection of the rights of women on an equal basis with men and to ensure through competent national tribunals and other public institutions the effective protection of women against any act of discrimination; (d) to refrain from engaging in any act or practice of discrimination against women and to ensure that public authorities and institutions shall act in conformity with this obligation.”

 

“LA TRATA DE PERSONAS. SI UNA VÍCTIMA DE ESTE CRIMEN, EN UNA DE LAS PRIMERAS DECLARACIONES, HACE UNA ALLEGACIÓN CONTRA EL DEFENDIENTE, INCLUYENDO UNA NARRATIVA DE LOS HECHOS, Y DICHA DECLARACIÓN ES SUSTENTADA CON EVIDENCIA DICHA EVIDENCIA SE MANTENDRA COMO VALIDA INCLUSO SI LA VICTIMA RECANTA SU TESTIMONIO."

Esta tesis aislada es un ejemplo relevante de la jurisprudencia de la perspectiva de género, ya que los criterios emitidos por el tribunal colegiado son vinculantes para dicho tribunal. Además, dichos criterios también pueden ser persuasivos en casos similares que surjan en otros tribunales federales. En este caso, el tribunal federal determinó que es un hecho bien conocido que la sociedad mexicana discrimina a las trabajadoras en base a su sexo. En vista del estigma que las trabajadoras sexuales ejercen, están sujetos a la presión continua de diferentes actores sociales, incluida su familia nuclear, para que se abstengan de emitir declaraciones o de retirar declaraciones iniciales sobre los delitos cometidos contra ellas. El tribunal colegiado sostuvo que cuando un caso de trabajadora sexual se presenta ante un tribunal, el tribunal debe considerar una perspectiva de género en su decisión. Como resultado, los tribunales deben usar todos los mecanismos disponibles para obtener pruebas irrefutables de la víctima. El tribunal basó su decisión en el Artículo 2 (c) y (d) de la Convención sobre la Eliminación de Todas las Formas de Discriminación contra la Mujer (CEDAW): “(c) establecer la protección legal de los derechos de las mujeres en igualdad de condiciones con los hombres y asegurar a través de los tribunales nacionales competentes y otras instituciones públicas la protección efectiva de las mujeres contra cualquier acto de discriminación; (d) abstenerse de participar en cualquier acto o práctica de discriminación contra las mujeres y garantizar que las autoridades e instituciones públicas actúen de conformidad con esta obligación."



Ruling with Gender Perspective (Isolated Thesis Docket: VII.2o.C.127 C (10a.)) Second Collegiate Tribunal in Civil Matters of the First Circuit (2017)

Gender discrimination, Property and inheritance rights

“RULING WITH A GENDER PERSPECTIVE. IN ORDER TO PROPERLY ASSESS THE EVIDENCE, THE COURT MUST IDENTIFY A VULNERABLE SITUATION IN CASES WHERE A FAMILY CRISIS IS EVIDENT.”

This isolated thesis is a relevant example of gender perspective case law, as the criteria issued by the collegiate tribunal is binding on all cases resolved by such tribunal. In addition, such criteria may be persuasive in similar cases arising in other federal courts. As a reference, the Mexican Supreme Court has repeatedly instructed all Mexican courts to take gender perspective into account when ruling, even if the plaintiff does not formally request it. As background, the precedent that culminated in this isolated thesis arose from a dispute over a lease. The plaintiff, a housewife, offered testimonial evidence but was required to have her testimony corroborated by certain family members. Due to the plaintiff’s poor relationship with these family members, the family members provided false testimony in order to harm her. The Court ruled that this testimony should have been suppressed. In this case, the judge was required to take gender perspective into account, as the plaintiff was found to be in a vulnerable situation, given her status as a housewife. It is important to note that it has been proven that, historically, housewives have frequently been in a disadvantageous position. As a result, the Court was required to consider the plaintiff’s relationship with her family members in order to assess the evidence based on a gender perspective.

Original case available: http://sise.cjf.gob.mx/SVP/word1.aspx?arch=205/02050000198348990005005.pdf_1&sec=DIANA_HELENA_SANCHEZ_ALVAREZ&svp=1

 

“VEREDICTOS CON UNA PERSPECTIVA DE GÉNERO. "PARA PODER EVALUAR ADECUADAMENTE LA EVIDENCIA, EL TRIBUNAL DEBE IDENTIFICAR UNA SITUACIÓN VULNERABLE EN CASOS EN QUE UNA CRISIS FAMILIAR SEA EVIDENTE."

Esta tesis aislada es un ejemplo relevante de la jurisprudencia con la perspectiva de género, ya que los criterios emitidos por el tribunal colegiado son vinculantes para todos los casos resueltos por dicho tribunal. Además, dichos criterios pueden ser persuasivos en casos similares que surjan en otros tribunales federales. Como referencia, la Corte Suprema de México ha ordenado en repetidas ocasiones a todos los tribunales mexicanos que tengan en cuenta la perspectiva de género cuando dictaminen, incluso si el demandante no lo solicita formalmente. Como antecedentes, el precedente que culminó en esta tesis aislada surgió de una disputa sobre un contrato de arrendamiento. La demandante, ama de casa, ofreció pruebas testimoniales, pero se le exigió que su testimonio fuera corroborado por ciertos miembros de la familia. Debido a la mala relación del demandante con estos miembros de la familia, ellos proporcionaron un testimonio falso para hacerle daño. El tribunal dictaminó que este testimonio debería haber sido suprimido. En este caso, se requirió que el juez tomara en cuenta la perspectiva de género, ya que se descubrió que la demandante estaba en una situación vulnerable, dada su condición de ama de casa. Es importante tener en cuenta que se ha demostrado que, históricamente, las amas de casa con frecuencia han estado en una posición desventajosa. Como resultado, se requirió que la Corte considerara la relación de la demandante con los miembros de su familia para evaluar las pruebas basadas en una perspectiva de género.



Employment Termination (Jurisprudential Thesis Docket: 2a./J.66/2017 (10a.)) Supreme Court of Mexico (2017)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination, Sexual harassment

“EMPLOYMENT TERMINATION. WHEN EMPLOYMENT IS TERMINATED DURING AN EMPLOYEE’S PREGNANCY, THE EMPLOYER BEARS THE BURDEN OF PROOF TO DEMONSTRATE THAT SUCH TERMINATION WAS NOT DISCRIMINATORY.”

This jurisprudential thesis is a relevant example of case law, as the criteria issued by the Mexican Supreme Court is binding on all courts in the country. Mexico recognizes labor matters as independent from other matters of law, with a unique set of courts, legislation, and doctrine. This case law in particular comes from two different isolated theses, as settled by two different federal courts. The first case was settled by the Third Collegiate Tribunal in Labor Matters of the Third Circuit, and the second case was settled by the Third Collegiate Tribunal of Circuit in the Assistant Center of the Tenth Region. Both court resolutions contained contradictory substantive issues, which prompted the Supreme Court to settle these discrepancies. The Supreme Court acknowledged that all pregnant women should enjoy certain specific rights resulting from pregnancy. The Court also found that these rights should be extended to the postnatal period. The Supreme Court recognized that most pregnant women will likely face a lack of job security given the costs that maternity leave implies for most employers. The Supreme Court determined that pregnant women require certain social security benefits in order to eliminate the barriers and obstacles that they may face during the pre- and postnatal periods. When a pregnant employee is terminated and argues that the termination was discriminatory, the employer bears the burden of proving that such termination was not due to the woman’s pregnancy or any other discriminatory reason. In such scenarios, the courts must take a gender perspective approach in deciding such controversies in order to be able to effectively guarantee the rights of women recognized under the Mexican Constitution and international treaties to which Mexico is a signatory.

 

“TERMINACIÓN DEL EMPLEO. "CUANDO EL EMPLEO SE TERMINA DURANTE EL EMBARAZO DE UN EMPLEADO, EL EMPLEADOR ASUME LA CARGA DE PROBAR QUE DICHA TERMINACIÓN NO FUE DISCRIMINATORIA".

Esta tesis jurisprudencial es un ejemplo relevante de jurisprudencia, ya que los criterios emitidos por el Tribunal Supremo de México son de relevancia para todos los tribunales del país. México reconoce que los asuntos laborales son independientes de otros asuntos de la ley, con un conjunto único de tribunales, legislación y doctrina. Esta jurisprudencia en particular proviene de dos tesis diferentes, según lo resuelto por dos tribunales federales diferentes. El primer caso fue resuelto por el Tercer Tribunal Colegiado en Asuntos Laborales del Tercer Circuito, y el segundo caso fue resuelto por el Tercer Tribunal Colegiado de Circuito en el Centro Asistente de la Décima Región. Ambas resoluciones judiciales contenían cuestiones sustantivas contradictorias, lo que llevó a la Corte Suprema a resolver estas discrepancias. La Corte Suprema reconoció que todas las mujeres embarazadas deberían disfrutar de ciertos derechos específicos derivados del embarazo. El Tribunal también determinó que estos derechos deberían extenderse al período postnatal. La Corte Suprema reconoció que la mayoría de las mujeres embarazadas probablemente enfrentarán una falta de seguridad laboral, dado los costos que la licencia de maternidad implica para la mayoría de los empleadores. La Corte Suprema determinó que las mujeres embarazadas requieren ciertos beneficios de seguridad social para eliminar las barreras y obstáculos que pueden enfrentar durante los períodos pre y postnatal. Cuando una empleada embarazada es despedida y argumenta que la terminación fue discriminatoria, el empleador tiene la responsabilidad de probar que dicha terminación no se debió al embarazo de la mujer ni a ninguna otra razón discriminatoria. En tales escenarios, los tribunales deben adoptar un enfoque de perspectiva de género al decidir tales controversias para poder garantizar de manera efectiva los derechos de las mujeres reconocidos en la Constitución mexicana y los tratados internacionales de los que México es parte.



Case of Sebastian Ramirez Ledesma Supreme Court (1999)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

Sebastian Ramirez Ledesma was found guilty of murdering his father by the lower court.  The lower court sentence was confirmed by the Court of Appeals.  However, in 1997, the Supreme Court overturned the sentence and absolved the accused of all charges because he acted in self-defense.  On the day the events took place, Joaquin Ramirez, father of the accused was drunk and threatening to kill his wife, Francisca Ledesma de Ramirez.  Joaquin Ramirez regularly hit his wife.  In light of these circumstances, the accused intervened trying to defend his mother, which enraged his father.  Joaquin Ramirez took out a gun and fired three shots at the accused, missing him.  Then, Joaquin Ramirez continued the aggression against his wife.  Subsequently, the accused was able to grab the gun from his father.  When Joaquin Ramirez realized that his son took the gun, he took out a knife.  At this point, the accused fired the gun at his father, killing him.  The Supreme Court overturned the sentence because it found that the accused was acting in self-defense and also was trying to protect his mother. 



Case of Joao María Dos Santos Supreme Court (1997)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

S.J.D.S and M.J.D.S (16 and 13 years old) were sexually abused by their father, Joao María Dos Santos on several occasions.  The victims testified that they were forced to have sexual relations with their father.  The accused admitted that he raped them.  The accused was sentenced to 16 years in prison.  His sentenced was confirmed by the Supreme Court in 1997.



Case of Francisco Ramírez Irala Supreme Court (2011)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

In 2008, Francisco Ramírez Irala was found guilty of domestic violence against his wife.  The Justice of the Peace ordered the accused to refrain from living at their home or being within 300 meters of his house or any other place that represented a risk for the victim for a period of 60 days.  The accused appealed, and the sentence was confirmed.  Subsequently, the accused filed a request before the Supreme Court alleging that the sentence caused him great harm because he is a colonel in the military with an impeccable career and being evaluated for a promotion.  The Supreme Court rejected his motion.



Case of Emilio Garay Franco Supreme Court (1996)

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

Emilio Garay Franco was accused of murdering his mother, María Roque Franco González, in her home on August 3, 1983 at around 11:00 pm.  The weapon used to commit the crime was a knife.  The accused was sentenced to 30 years in prison.  The accused appealed the sentence, but the action was dismissed by the Supreme Court. The Court confirmed the sentence, noting “no hay delito más horrendo” ("there is no more horrendous crime”) than patricide.

 

Emilio Garay Franco fue acusado de asesinar a su madre, María Roque Franco González en su case el 3 de Agosto del 1983 alrededor de las 11 de la noche. El arma usada para cometer el crimen fue un cuchillo. El acusado fue sentenciado a 30 años de cárcel. Él apeló la sentencia pero la acción fue rechazada por la Corte Suprema, la cúal afirmó la sentencia y agregó que, “no hay delito más horrendo” que el parricidio.   



Case of Gilberto Arrúa González (No. 573) Supreme Court (2001)

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

Gilberto Arrúa González was accused of murdering his mother, Lidia Blanca González in her home on April 3, 1993 at around 7:00 pm.  The weapon used to commit the crime was a 21 cm long knife.  The police questioned Jorge Arrúa Godoy who testified that on that day his wife, the victim, and he returned to their home to find the accused, their son, drinking wine and listening to music on the patio of the house.  At one point, the defendant hit the radio with his hand, so his mother rebuked him, asking him to stop.  The defendant ignored her, and his mother grabbed him by his shirt and shook him.  In turn, the defendant’s father grabbed the victim by the arm, asking her to release his son.  When they released him, the defendant said “I will kill you all,” then ran into the kitchen where he grabbed the knife and tried to stab his father.  However, his mother stepped between them and the defendant fatally stabbed her.  The defendant was sentenced to 25 years in prison.  The accused appealed the sentenced but the Supreme Court confirmed the 25 year-prison sentence.



Case of Alejandro Candia Criminal Appeals Court (2011)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

Two minor children, an eight-year-old boy and a twelve-year-old girl, were raped by their father, once and multiple times over several years, respectively.  The defendant was sentenced to 20 years in prison, but the Criminal Appeals Court reduced the sentence to 19.6 years in prison on October 11, 2001, after finding that the 20-year sentence was impermissible under Paraguay’s sentencing guidelines.



Case of W.F.C.M. and L.M.S.V., No. 556 Supreme Court (2005)

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

L.M.S.V. and W.F.C.M were accused of sexual coercion against the victim L.del R.A., an 18 year old woman, who was sexually coerced by the two accused males with a knife.  The accused, who were minors, were sentenced to 3 years in prison.  L.M.S.V appealed and the Court of Appeals confirmed the lower court sentence.  Finally, L.M.S.V challenged the decision before the Supreme Court which partially overturned the decision.  The Supreme Court found that because L.M.S.V. was a minor at the time of the crime and, in order to hold minors criminally responsible, minors must have sufficient psycho-social maturity (“madurez sico-social”) to understand the criminality of their actions, the sentence should be reduced to two years in prison.  The court also ordered that during the probation period, L.M.S.V. must live no less than 10 kilometers away from the victim.



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

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

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



Case of Clarisa Velázquez de Acosta Supreme Court (1995)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

Quijote, S.R.L., (the “Company”) fired the plaintiff while she was pregnant.  The Labor Appeals Court (the “Court”) found that the firing was illegal because the law seeks to protect pregnant women, and though the medical certificate is a guarantee for the employer, it is not a requirement.  The Court ordered the company to reinstate the plaintiff to her position and pay her lost wages.  The Company challenged the court order in 1993, but the Supreme Court dismissed the challenge as an unconstitutional action in 1995.  Consequently, the Labor Appeals Court ruling remained in effect.



Case of Juan Alveiro Gómez Supreme Court (1997)

Sexual violence and rape

In 1994, a married woman was sexually abused and raped by Juan Aveiro Gómez in her home.  Law 104 (dated December 17, 1990) modified Paraguay’s penal code to punish the rape of a married woman with prison.  The Criminal Appeals Court sentenced the defendant to 12 years in prison.  However, the Supreme Court reduced the sentence to eight years in prison on February 20, 1997.



Case of Derlis Mauro Rodríguez Rojas Criminal Appeals Court (2002)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

The child victim was sexually abused by Derlis Mauro Rodriguez.  The parents of the victim stated that the child was found with the defendant in an abandoned house while he was touching her.  Medical reports confirmed the defendant had been sexually abusing the victim.  The defendant was sentenced to fifteen years in prison, which was confirmed by the Criminal Appeals Court on April 16, 2002.



Case of Florencio Arias, et al. Criminal Appeals Court (2003)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

A nine-year-old girl was sexually abused by her father, Florencio Arias, on several occasions.  The defendant was sentenced to 10 years in prison, which was confirmed by the Criminal Appeals Court on April 25, 2003.



Nxumalo v. Ndlovu Supreme Court (2011)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Gender discrimination, Property and inheritance rights

The executor of the estate of a deceased man (the appellant) brought an application to the High Court for a declaration that the civil marriage to the respondent was bigamous and invalid because of a number of pre-existing customary marriages between the deceased and three other women. The deceased considered the marriages over when the women left him and never returned. The deceased had executed a will and later four codicils. The High Court found that the respondent’s civil law marriage was a lawful marriage in community of property, and the will was declared null and void. The appeal is of the order of the High Court. The Supreme Court heard testimony from one of the wives married to the deceased under customary law and from experts in Swazi law and custom relating to the dissolution of customary marriages. The Supreme Court found in favour of the appellant. The decision of the High Court was set aside and the Master of the High Court was to appoint a suitable and proper person to administer the deceased estate. This case is important as it illustrates the importance and status of Swazi law.



Rex v. Simelane High Court (2017)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

The accused was charged with rape of his seven-year-old granddaughter between the months of August to October 2008. The prosecution alleged that the accused did intentionally have unlawful sexual intercourse with a female seven-year-old minor who is incapable of consenting to sexual intercourse. The complainant, her brother who was sharing a bedroom with her during the rapes, the complainant’s aunt who the complainant first told of the rapes, a neighbor who had been told of the accused’s actions by his wife, the doctor who examined the complainant, and the constable all testified for the prosecution. The accused denied the charges and argued that all of the witnesses were lying, specifically that the children had been coached by the police. The Court discussed the elements that the Crown must prove in order for the accused to be found guilty of rape, namely (1) the accused must be identified; (2) there must be sexual intercourse; and (3) there must be lack of consent by the complainant. The accused was found guilty of rape. In sentencing, the Court found that the Crown proved that there were aggravating factors under Section 185(bis) of the Criminal Evidence Act (1938), namely, (1) the victim was a minor of a tender age; (2) the accused sexually assaulted the victim on more than one occasion; and (3) the accused stood in locus parentis to the victim and this abused the relationship of trust. The Court found the witnesses credible and found the accused guilty as charged.



Dlamini v. The Quadro Trust & 8 Others Supreme Court (2016)

Gender discrimination, Property and inheritance rights

The appellant sought to set aside a lower court’s decision and remove his deceased paternal grandmother’s estate executors. The lower court found that the appellant had no locus standi to bring forth the application as he was not the lawful beneficiary of his grandmother’s estate—he was born out of wedlock and his father predeceased his now deceased paternal grandmother. Therefore, the appellant had no right of inheritance intestate. The Supreme Court found that Section 31 of the Constitution (the abolition of the common law status of illegitimacy of a person born out of wedlock) abolishes the principle that children cannot inherit from their father. The Court upheld the appeal and found that the applicant had locus standi to institute or defend legal proceedings relating the deceased estate.



Stapley v. Dobson High Court (2008)

Gender discrimination

This is a child custody case involving a father (the applicant) seeking custody of his minor child because the child’s biological mother, the respondent, sought to take the child to Sri Lanka without the applicant’s permission. The applicant and respondent were never legally married and the respondent had custody of the child. The Court found that Section 31 of the Constitution abolishes the status of ill