WLW Tagline Email DEF sin fechas


Judges in the spotlight

Women’s Link Worldwide announces the winners of the 5th edition of the Gender Justice Uncovered Awards highlighting the court decisions that most advance or set back gender equality.


June 18, 2013 – The winning decisions for the Gender Justice Uncovered Awards were announced today. These Awards were created by the international organization Women’s Link Worldwide to identify the best and worst court rulings on gender equality issues. Every year, these Awards promote civil society’s involvement in monitoring the performance of judges worldwide who are charged with protecting the human rights of all without distinction. For more information on the Gender Justice Uncovered Awards you can watch this video.


In this 5th edition of the Awards, 41 decisions from 24 countries were nominated, including Argentina, Brazil, Botswana, Colombia, Ecuador, Spain, the United States, France, Ghana, Guatemala, Solomon Islands, Maldives, Mexico, Peru, Dominican Republic, Rumania, Somalia, and more.


The jury charged with selecting the winning decisions for the Gavel and Bludgeon categories this year included Jody Williams (USA), 1997 Nobel Peace Prize laureate for her work as  founder and  coordinator of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines; Elizabeth Odio-Benito (Costa Rica), former Judge and Vice President of the International Criminal Court, and Charles Ngwena (Zimbabwe), professor and staff member of the Center for Human Rights of the University of Pretoria, South Africa, an expert in sexual and reproductive rights and the rights of the people with disabilities


Bludgeon Awards: Winning Decisions

(Judicial decisions that set back gender equality)


The Bronze Bludgeon goes to Argentina’s Oral Criminal Tribunal, which reduced a man’s sentence because the judges found he acted “in the heat of passion” when he intentionally burned his wife by soaking her with alcohol and setting her on fire. It is appalling that judges attempt to justify this severe form of violence.


The Silver Bludgeon goes to the Supreme Court of Spain, which shortened the suspension time of a member of the armed forces who assaulted his wife. The Court found that his military honors and his participation in the peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan, where the use of force is commonplace, had not been taken into account. The judges’ attempt to justify this type of violence is unacceptable.


The Golden Bludgeon is awarded to the Court of Mogadishu, Somalia, for imposing a prison sentence on a woman who reported having been raped by members of the National Police. According to the Court, medical examinations showed that the woman had not been raped, and that her claim therefore sullied the honor of a state institution. This case sadly represents the impunity that exists when members of the armed forces commit gender based crimes. .



Gavel Awards: Winning Decisions

(Judicial decisions that advance gender equality)


The Bronze Gavel goes to the High Court of Botswana for abolishing a customary law that denied inheritance rights to women. The judge wrote in his decision that “it seems that the time has now arisen for the justices of this court to assume the role of the judicial midwives and assist in the birth of a new world of equality between men and women as envision by the framers of the Constitution.”


The Silver Gavel is awarded to the European Court of Human Rights for its ruling against Poland, in which the judges found that the lack of a legal framework guaranteeing the effective access to abortion in cases allowed by law constituted a violation of privacy rights. The case was brought before the ECHR by a girl who became pregnant after she was raped and by her mother.


This year’s Golden Gavel award recognizes the decision of the Supreme Court of Ghana, which held that a woman’s domestic labors, childcare, and care of her husband are key contributions to the economic growth of the marriage, which justifies an equitable division of property at the time of divorce. The judges also stated that “women are not donkeys” to be thrown away without regard to their rights as human beings after they contribute helpful and valuable services.


“People’s Choice” Awards

Just as anyone may nominate those decisions that promote or set back gender equality, anyone may vote for their favorite to get the People’s Choice Award on our web site. This year, a total of 14,597 people’s votes were tallied. The decisions that received the most votes and won each category (Gavel and Bludgeon) are the following:


With an overwhelming number of votes, the People’s Choice Gavel Award goes to the Electoral Tribunal of Ecuador, which suspended the political rights of a Christian pastor and fined him for his homophobic statements during the recent presidential election. After reviewing several rules of international human rights law, the judge found that Pastor Zavala’s statements were discriminatory, noting that sexual orientation is a right protected by the Ecuadorian Constitution.


The People’s Choice Bludgeon Award, goes to the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico, which found that the legal prohibition of adoption by same-sex couples was not discriminatory.


“The Awards empower people everywhere with a mechanism for monitoring the work judges in their obligation  to guarantee human rights in their application of the law, permitting us to denounce bad practices wherever they occur and applaud whenever human dignity is defended and protected,” says Glenys de Jesús, Director of the Gender Justice Observatory.