The 2015 Gender Justice Uncovered Award winners are in. This year the Awards concluded with over 10,000 votes and 100,000 case views for the 67 nominated decisions across 28 different countries.
The hours of tough jury deliberation have concluded and your votes have been counted. It’s time to announce the winning decisions of the 2015 Gender Justice Uncovered Awards, an initiative by the international human rights organization Women’s Link Worldwide to highlight the most progressive and regressive gender-related judicial decisions of the year.
This year the Awards concluded with over 10,000 votes and approximately 100,000 case views for the 67 nominated decisions across 28 different countries around the world. The jury, comprised of human rights experts Manjula Pradeep, Claudia Paz y Paz, and Junot Díaz, considered many cases of devastating abuses of the justice system as well as inspiring examples of judges transcending gender stereotypes and discrimination. You also took action, voting for the People’s Choice Gavel and Bludgeon Awards.
Without further ado, I present to you the winners of the 2015 Gender Justice Uncovered Awards.
Bludgeon Award Winners (Judicial decisions that negatively affect gender equality)
The Jury Awarded this year’s Golden Bludgeon, for the decision which most egregiously violated the rights of women and girls, to the Superior Court of St. Joseph County in the United States for its decision in the “Purvi Patel” case. The Indiana Court sentenced Purvi Patel to 20 years in prison for feticide and child neglect after she experienced a miscarriage, or what prosecutors claim was actually an illegal abortion. The feticide law was enacted to protect women against violence but has increasingly been used to prosecute pregnant women, particularly women of color.
The Silver Bludgeon was awarded to the Special Fast-Track Court of Dwarka in India, which refused to recognize rape as a crime when committed by a woman’s husband. The fast-track court was established as a way to expedite the shameful backlog of sexual violence cases after protests erupted in response to the gang rape and murder of a woman in 2012. The woman in the present case asserted she was drugged, forced into marriage and then raped by her legally recognized husband.
The Bronze Bludgeon is awarded to the Sentencing Court of Honduras, which condemned prominent Women’s Human Rights Defender, Gladys Lanza, to prison for “defamation and libel.” As coordinator for the Honduran Women’s Committee for Peace “Moviemento de Mujeres por la Paz Visitación Padilla“, Ms. Lanza advocated for a woman sexually harassed at work which angered the woman’s employer. He retaliated with a defamation suit against Ms. Lanza and the resulting court decision legitimizing his claim sets a dangerous precedent for human rights defenders.
Gavel Award Winners (Judicial decisions that positively affect gender equality)
This year’s Golden Gavel is awarded to the Supreme Court of Justice of Colombia for its unprecedented recognition of feminicide (the murder of a woman on the basis of her gender) as a crime and emphasis that such a crime cannot be considered a “crime of passion.”
The Silver Gavel goes to the High Court of Botswana for guaranteeing LGBT rights organizations the opportunity to officially register with the State, reversing the previous rejection of LEGABIBO (Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana). Though consensual adult same-sex activity is criminalized in the country, the Court affirmed lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are entitled to all rights under the Constitution. The Court also stated the organization promotes good values such as self-reliance, non-discrimination, health, and education.
In a time where laws are increasingly used to ensure women’s bodies remain under state control, the Bronze Gavel has been awarded to the High Court of Ireland which ruled that a woman, 18-weeks pregnant and brain-dead, could be taken off life support in accordance with her family’s wishes. The Court stated that to continue treatment would deprive the woman the right to a dignified death and subject her family to unimaginable distress.
The People’s Choice Awards
The People’s Choice Bludgeon, with 452 votes and 3,347 views, goes to the Circuit Criminal Court in Colombia, for accepting a preliminary agreement, which recognized the defense of “poverty and extreme ignorance” of a father accused of sexual abusing his young daughters. The preliminary agreement reduced the man’s penalty, undermining the fundamental rights of the victims.
The People’s Choice Gavel Award, with 1,836 votes and over 12,000 views, is awarded to the European Court of Human Rights which prevented the deportation from Spain of a Cameroonian woman, a victim of forced marriage. Her asylum claim, brought by the Spanish Commission for Refugee Aid in Madrid (CEAR) and initially denied by the Ministry of Interior, was upheld by the European Court on the grounds that her removal from Spain would have endangered her life and safety.
We thank you again for your nominations and votes in the Awards as it is your participation and vigilance that hold judges accountable for their decisions each year. We look forward to seeing you next year for the 2016 edition of the Gender Justice Uncovered Awards!