Avon Global Center for Women and Justice at Cornell Law School - Green Background

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  • Arjona Camacho v. Securitas Seguridad España, SA, Spain, European Court of Justice, 2015.
    Ms. Arjona Camacho was dismissed from her position as a security guard at a juvenile detention center. The Social Court No. 1 of Cordoba in Spain found that her dismissal constituted discrimination on the grounds of sex, and referred to the European Court of Justice the question of whether EU law (specifically Article 18 of Directive 2006/54/EC) requires a national court to grant punitive damages, i.e., damages that go beyond the amount necessary to compensate the actual loss and damage caused by the discriminatory act, even when the concept of punitive damages does not exist within the legal tradition of that national court. The European Court of Justice found that, although punitive damages may be awarded under such circumstances, they are not required under EU law. If the national law does not provide a ground for the award of punitive damages, EU law does not independently provide such a right.
  • González Carreño v. Spain, Spain, CEDAW Committee, 2014.
    In 2003, a father murdered his seven-year-old daughter Andrea during a court-approved parental visitation. Ángela González, Andrea’s mother, had previously reported instances of physical abuse to the police on numerous occasions and sought court-ordered restraining orders against him to protect herself and her daughter. The father had refused to accept supervised visitations with his daughter. After killing his daughter, the father committed suicide. The mother brought suit in national court against Spanish authorities. The court ruled against her, deciding in April 2011 that the visit regime was sound and denied the case any constitutional relevance. As a result, the mother brought this complaint to the CEDAW Committee. The Committee found for the mother, stating that in deciding the parental visitation scheme the Spanish authorities should have taken into account the existing context of domestic violence in the family. Instead, the Spanish authorities had made a routine decision that this type of visitation scheme was appropriate without taking the specific facts of this case into consideration. The Committee held that the Spanish authorities thereby failed to take the best interest of the child into account. The Committee has repeatedly found that a State can be held responsible for acts of individuals if it fails to exercise necessary diligence in order to prevent violations of the CEDAW Convention. Specifically, Spain had violated articles 2 a), d), e) and f), 5 a) and 16 paragraph 1 of CEDAW. Additionally, CEDAW ruled that Spain must provide training to judges and other professionals to avoid similar failures in the future. Spain has since stated that it will introduce new mechanisms to protect children in gender violence cases, such as requiring judges to act with precaution in their decision-making.
  • Sentencia Nº 145/14, Spain, High Court of Andalucía, Labour Chamber, 2014.
    Mrs. Ana was denied a survivor’s pension because when her husband died they were already divorced. Normally, when a couple divorces and between the divorce and the death of the husband there is a period of more than ten (10) years, the ex-spouse does not have the right to a survivor’s pension. Nevertheless, as the ex-spouse was victim of physical abuse by her ex-husband during their marriage, this period of ten (10) years does not apply. As the ten (10) years period does not apply when there are physical abuses, the woman has the right to obtain the survivor’s pension even if she was divorced from her husband when he died. The decision of the High Court of Andalucía is to recognize the right of Mrs. Ana to a survivor’s pension even if she was already divorced when her husband passed away.
  • B.S. v. Spain, Spain, European Court of Human Rights, 2012.
    A Spanish woman of Nigeria origin was allegedly verbally and physically abused when she was stopped and questioned while working as a prostitute in the street on two occasions. She lodged a complaint with the investigating judge who asked the police headquarters to produce an incident report in which the identities of the police officers on patrol at the time of the incidents differed from those indicated by the applicant. The judge subsequently made a provisional discharge order and discontinued the proceedings on basis of insufficient evidence. The applicant applied for a review, asking to identify the police officers and obtaining witness statements, but the request was rejected. She lodged an appeal, leading to the reopening of the proceedings at which the police officers were acquitted on basis of the police headquarters’ report. The applicant was again stopped for questioning. Her criminal complaint, review request and subsequent appeal were all unsuccessful. The ECtHR considered that the investigative steps taken had not been sufficiently thorough and effective to satisfy the requirements of Article 3 of the Convention, and found a violation of Article 3. With respect to allegations of ill-treatment, the Court was unable to find a violation in this respect due to inconclusive evidence. The Court considered that the domestic courts had not taken into account the applicant's special vulnerability inherent in her situation as an African woman working as a prostitute. The authorities had not taken all possible measures to ascertain whether or not a discriminatory attitude might have played a role in the events. The Court therefore concluded that there had been a violation of Article 14 in conjunction with Article 3.
  • Sentencia Número 677 (Ruling 677), Spain, Provincial Court of Madrid, 2012.
    In 2010, Spain amended its Penal Code by enacting Article 177 to prohibit human trafficking. Spain did so in response to international human rights agreements regarding human trafficking. This ruling was the first conviction under this new article. Two women reported to authorities that the defendants had lured them from Paraguay under false pretenses, forced them to work as prostitutes, and physically and emotionally assaulted them. The Provincial Court of Madrid found that the defendants' actions constituted: 1) crimes against the rights of foreign nationals (Article 318 bis), 2) human trafficking for purposes of sexual exploitation (Article 177 bis), 3) solicitation by coercion to commit prostitution (Article 188.1), and 4) sexual assault (Article 179). According to the court, the fact that the defendants promoted, encouraged, or facilitated illegal immigration with the intention of using the women for prostitution was enough to find criminal sexual exploitation. The court found the victims’ testimony to be credible, realistic, and consistent, and used their testimony as the base for this decision.
  • Sentencia núm. 7262/2008, Spain, High Court of Cataluña, Labour Chamber, 2008.
    Mrs. Yolanda was dismissed from her job post when she was in a situation of temporary incapacity as a consequence of an anxiety disorder due to physical abuse carried out by her husband. The company alleges that during the period of temporary incapacity due to anxiety disorder, Mrs. Yolanda carried out a normal life. This situation may be a cause of dismissal for normal workers, but not when the worker is a victim of gender abuse. Mrs. Yolanda was in a situation of temporary incapacity determined by the Spanish health services. The High Court of Catalonia decided that as Mrs. Yolanda was in a situation of temporary incapacity determined by the health services due to gender based violence she had to be readmitted in her job.
  • Sentencia Numero 740/06, Spain, High Court of the Basque Country, Contentious-Administrative Chamber, 2004.
    During a staff selection process for the Basque Health Service, in particular for the substitution of the chief of psychiatry services in the Santiago de Vitoria Hospital for a period of six (6) months, Mrs. Elena who had had a baby fifteen (15) days before the above mentioned selection process, was obliged by the Basque Health Service authority to renounce to the post she had the right to. The Basque Health Service authority deprived Mrs. Elena from a post that corresponded to her by the position she had in the list of temporary recruitment. The Basque Health Service authority forced Mrs. Elena to renounce to the post because of her recent maternity when she had expressly said that she wanted to accept that job. Art. 48 of the Statute of Workers Right (Estatuto de los Trabajadores) damage the worker depriving them from an appointment that corresponds to the worker. The maternity leave is not equal to a lack of capacity for the performance of their duties for the post under Spanish law. Law 30/1999 of 5th October of selection of temporary workers of the Health Service, does not exclude the recruitment of a person during the maternity leave. The decision of the High Court of the Basque Country was to appoint Mrs. Elena as temporary worker for the Basque Health Service (in particular for the substitution of the chief of psychiatry services in the hospital Santiago de Vitoria) for the remaining period until the fulfillment of the six (6) months period of the vacant position.