Case (legal case/studies)

CEDAW. Case of Yildirim v. Austria. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW); 2007. Publisher's VersionAbstract


The authors of the communication were the Vienna Intervention Centre against Domestic Violence and the Association for Women’s Access to Justice, two organizations in Vienna, Austria, that protect and support women victims of gender-based violence. From July 2003 Fatma Yildirim was subject to repeated death threats from her husband Ifran Yildrim, who also threatened to kill her children. On 6 August 2003 the police issued an expulsion and prohibition to return order against Irfan Yildirim. The police also reported to the Vienna Public Prosecutor that Irfan Yildirim had made a dangerous criminal threat against Fatma Yildirim and requested that Irfan Yildirim be detained. The Public Prosecutor rejected the request. On 14 August 2003, Fatma Yildirim gave a formal statement about the threats made to her life to the police, who in turn reported to the Vienna Public Prosecutor, requesting that Irfan Yildirim be detained. Again, this request was refused. On 11 September 2003, Irfan Yildirim fatally stabbed Fatma Yildirim near the family’s apartment.

Irfan Yildirim was arrested and convicted of killing Fatma Yildirim. At the time of the application he was serving a sentence of life imprisonment. 

CEDAW. Case of Goekce v. Austria. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW); 2007. Publisher's VersionAbstract


In 2007, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women considered Goekce v. Austria (C/39/D/5/2005 ). In 2002, the author's (Goekce's) husband shot and killed her in front of their two daughters. Before her death, the author had obtained three expulsion and prohibition-to-return orders against her husband in response to repeated episodes of domestic violence. The local prosecutor denied requests to detain the husband and terminated proceedings against him two days prior the author’s death. Police reports show that the law enforcement failed to respond in a timely fashion to the dispute that resulted in the author’s death. Representatives of the author submitted a complaint to the Committee, alleging that Austria’s Federal Act for the Protection against Violence within the Family provided inadequate protection for victims of spousal abuse, and stating that women are disproportionately affected by the State’s failure to effectively respond to domestic violence.

Decision. The Committee found that although Austria had adopted progressive legislation to address domestic violence, State authorities needed to investigate and respond to such complaints with increased diligence. Accordingly, the Committee concluded that the police knew or should have known that the author was in serious danger; thus, they were accountable for failing to protect her. By allowing the perpetrator’s rights to supersede the victim’s right to life and to physical and mental integrity, Austrian law enforcement violated its obligations under Article 2 to end sex-based discrimination through appropriate legislation, and its Article 3 duty to guarantee women’s equal access to human rights. The Committee recommended that Austria strengthen its implementation and monitoring of the Federal Act for the Protection against Violence within the Family, respond to complaints of domestic violence with due diligence, and provide adequate sanctions for the failure of authorities to do so.

Case of Devrim Turan v. Turkey. European Court of Human Rights; 2006. Publisher's VersionAbstract{"fulltext":["Devrim%20Turan%20v.%20Turkey"],"documentcollectionid2":["GRANDCHAMBER","CHAMBER"]}

In 1999 the applicant was taken into police custody on suspicion of being a member of an illegal organisation, the DHKP/C (Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front). Two hours after her arrest she was taken to hospital to be examined. A medical report indicated the presence of an abrasion under one eye but no signs of ill-treatment on her body. Further medical examinations were carried out which also concluded that her body showed no signs of ill-treatment. The applicant refused to undergo a gynaecological examination on the first and the last day of her arrest and no such examination was carried out. Before a public prosecutor she denied the allegations against her and maintained that the statement she had made to the police shortly after her arrest had been taken under duress. She stated that she had been hosed with cold water, subjected to electric shocks and Palestinian hanging. She repeated her allegations before an investigating judge. Criminal proceedings were initiated against her before a state security court. She wrote to the court retracting her statement which she maintained had been made under duress. She also described in more detail her ill-treatment in police custody. She was found guilty as charged and sentenced to 12 years and six months’ imprisonment. She appealed to the Court of Cassation, referring in particular to her ill-treatment in custody, but her appeal was rejected.

CEDAW. Case of Nguyen v. The Netherlands. The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW); 2006. Publisher's VersionAbstract


The author was a resident of the Netherlands, and worked as a part-time salaried employee as well as a co-working spouse in her husband’s enterprise. She took maternity leave in 1999 and in 2002. She was insured under the Sickness Benefits Act (Ziektewet – “ZW”) for her salaried employment and received benefits to compensate for her loss of income. She was also insured under the Invalidity Insurance (Self- Employed Persons) Act (“WAZ”) for her work in her husband’s enterprise but was denied benefits under this scheme by the “LISV”, the benefits agency, as s. 59(4) (the “anti-accumulation clause”) of the WAZ allowed payment of benefits only insofar as they exceeded benefits payable under the ZW.

She therefore received only partial compensation for loss of income during her maternity leave. The author lodged an objection to the decision, which was rejected. Her appeals were rejected by the District Court and the Central Appeals Tribunal which found that s. 59(4) of the WAZ did not result in unfavourable treatment of women as compared to men. 

CEDAW. Case of Szijjarto v. Hungary. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW); 2006. Publisher's VersionAbstract


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

CEDAW. Case of A.S. v. Hungary. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW); 2006. Publisher's VersionAbstract


The A.S. v. Hungary (C/36/D/4/2004) complaint was filed under the Optional Protocol to CEDAW on behalf of a Hungarian woman of Roma origin who was coercively sterilized in a public hospital. The complaint was filed jointly by the Budapest-based Legal Defense Bureau for National and Ethnic Minorities (NEKI) and the European Roma Rights Center (ERRC), and charges the Hungarian government with violating A.S.’s rights to appropriate health care, family planning information, and free and informed decision-making over the number and spacing of her children as guaranteed under CEDAW. In November 2005, the Center submitted supplementary information to the CEDAW Committee in support of A.S. v. Hungary. The Center’s submission provided information from UN treaty monitoring bodies and international health and medical organizations underscoring women’s rights to receive accurate information on sterilization and other family planning services, and to informed consent to health care. In September 2006, CEDAW ruled in favor of A.S.

CEDAW. Case of Kayhan v. Turkey. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW); 2006. Publisher's VersionAbstract


In 2006, the Committee on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women considered Kayhan v. Turkey (C/34/D/8/2005). The author, a teacher in Turkey, was charged with the crime of “breaking the peace, silence and working order of the institutions with ideological and political reasons” for wearing a headscarf to her place of employment. On 9 June 2000, she was expelled from the civil service and her teaching position. On 23 October 2000, the author challenged her termination in an Administrative Court; the Court found the author’s termination lawful and dismissed her complaint, as well as her subsequent appeal. On 20 August 2004, the author submitted a complaint to the Committee, arguing that by terminating her status as a civil servant for wearing a headscarf, the State had violated Article 11 (discrimination against women in the field of employment) of the Convention.

Decision: Although the author’s employment was terminated before the entry into force of the Optional Protocol, the effects of this termination continued, thus eliminating any issue of temporal jurisdiction. However, the Committee still found the communication inadmissible, noting that the author failed to raise her claims of sex and employment discrimination in domestic courts before bringing these claims to the Committee. Thus, the author had not properly exhausted domestic remedies.

Sagot M. The Critical Path of Women Affected by Family Violence in Latin America: Case Studies From 10 Countries. Violence Against Women. 2005;11 :1292-1318. Publisher's VersionAbstract

*The full article is available through this link. This article may be available free of charge to those with university credentials.

This research examined the critical path followed by women from 10 Latin American countries who suffer family violence. It identified the personal and social processes women experience as a result of their help-seeking actions and the kinds of responses found at local services. The study used an action-oriented qualitative methodology with a standard research protocol that was translated and adapted for the various ethnic groups. The results provided community actors with an understanding of the barriers women face in overcoming the obstacles, humiliation, and inadequate responses they encounter along their critical paths.

CEDAW. Case of A.T. v. Hungary. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW); 2005. Publisher's VersionAbstract


The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against women held that State party's obligations extend to prevention of, and protection from, violence against women and remain unfulfilled in the instant case and constitute a violation of the author's human rights and fundamental freedoms, particularly her right to security of person; Violation of articles 5(a) and 16, traditional attitudes contribute to violence against women; facts of the communication reveal aspects of the relationships between the sexes and attitudes towards women; impossibility to ask for a restraining or protection order or to flee to a shelter.

CEDAW. Case of B. J. v. Germany. The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW); 2004. Publisher's VersionAbstract


In B.J. v. Germany (1/2003), Ms. B.J., a German citizen, submitted an individual complaint to the Committee alleging that she was subjected to gender-based discrimination under the statutory regulations regarding the law on the legal consequences of divorce. She claimed that the law relating to reallocation of pension entitlements and provisions governing the question of maintenance are similarly discriminatory. The author claimed more generally that women are subjected to procedural discrimination because the risks and stress of court proceedings to resolve the consequences of divorce are carried unilaterally by women, who are also prevented from enjoying equality of arms. She also claimed that all divorced women in situations similar to hers are victims of systematic discrimination. 

The Committee decided that the communication was inadmissible under article 4, paragraph 1, for the author’s failure to exhaust domestic remedies, and paragraph 2(e), because the disputed facts occurred prior to the entry into force of the Optional Protocol for the State party and did not continue after that date.