María Eugenia Morales de Sierra. Case Nº 11.625, Report on the Merits Nº 4/01. [ENG]
Violation of the right to equal treatment and non discrimination, to protection of the family against gender discrimination in domestic legislation, and to work free from gender discrimination. Interpretation of the American Convention on Human Rights based on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.
María Eugenia Morales de Sierra and the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) filed a report against the State of Guatemala before the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights ( IACHR). They claimed that the provisions in the Civil Code of Guatemala in respect of the role of each partner within marriage involved gender discrimination, violating the right to protection of the family, the right to equal protection, and the right to respect for honor and dignity under the American Convention on Human Rights (ACHR). The IACHR found the State was responsible for violating the rights to equality before the law and to protection of the family interpreted on the basis of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. Among other issues, the IACHR understood that the applicable legislation denied women the equal right to find employment and to benefit from the resulting enhanced self-determination, because it stated, among other things, that engaging in a profession or having a job, in the case of women, should be conditioned to situations in which their role as mothers and housewives is not impaired in any way. Consequently, the IACHR recommended the State to adjust the relevant Civil Code clauses to balance the legal acknowledgment of men's and women's reciprocal duties within marriage in order to bring domestic legislation in line with the ACHR, and to provide adequate remedy and compensation for María Eugenia Morales de Sierra.
Keywords: María Eugenia Morales de Sierra. Case Nº 11.625, Report on the Merits Nº 4/01, Women, Rights
Guatemala has reformed most of the questioned Civil Code sections. Recently, the IACHR urged the Government of Guatemala, based on the powers granted to it by article 174 of Guatemala's Political Constitution, to submit to Congress a bill containing a reform of Civil Code article 317. The said article allows women, on the basis of their gender, to be excluded from benefiting from certain forms of protection.
Claimants: María Eugenia Morales de Sierra and Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) (www.cejil.org)
This case is a major step in the elimination of stereotyped views on the role of women and men within the family and, consequently, a significant progress in the effective realization of the right to equal treatment and non discrimination of women in Latin America. Furthermore, the case shows the potential of the Inter-American system to protect social rights such as the right to work through the right to non discrimination.