Women’s Link Worldwide is an NGO, started in Colombia, that strives to advance women’s rights through the implementation of international human rights law and strategic work with the courts, including strategic litigation. Founded in 2001, Women’s Link has 501(c)(3) status in the United States, foundation status in Spain and non-governmental organization status in Colombia. They have regional offices in Europe (Madrid, Spain) and Latin America (Bogotá, Colombia).
In 2009, Women’s Link started a project that got quite some press and media exposure in Latin America, the Gender Justice Uncovered Awards. The Awards seek to identify the best and worst decisions or statements related to gender made in English, Spanish or Portuguese within a judicial process. The three most sexist decisions receive bronze, silver and gold Bludgeons and the three decisions that best promote gender equality receive bronze, silver and gold Gavels.
For the 2011 edition, the nominees were presented by the general public and three judges will decide on the three overall winners in each category:
Lydia Cacho Ribeiro, a Mexican journalist and writer, also an activist for Women’s Rights, who has found herself in a legal battle after she published her book “Los demonios del edén: el poder detrás de la pornografía” (The Demons of Eden: the Power behind the Porn Industry), denouncing the participation of important Mexican business men in a child pornography network. After the publication of her book, which compiled testimonies of girls subjected to sexual abuse by an important Hotel businessman, she was subjected to what Amnesty International calls “judicial harassment”.
Baltasar Garzón, Justice, Spain’s High Court (Audiencia Nacional) and Advisor to the International Criminal Court. A well known Judge to those of us who lived through Latin American dictatorships, Baltasar Garzón is a Justice in Spain’s High Court since 1988 and an Advisor to the International Criminal Court in The Hague. He became an overnight star in South America for issuing an international arrest warrant against former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, for the death and torture of Spanish citizens under his government and for crimes against humanity in application of the principle of Universal Jurisdiction. He also opened an investigation for genocide against Argentine oppressor Adolfo Scilingo for acts committed during the dictatorship between 1976 and 1983. Currently he is under fire in Spain for his eagerness to investigate the crimes committed during Francisco Franco’s dictatorship rule.
Patricia Sellers, Attorney and Independent Legal Expert. She was the Legal Advisor for Gender and a prosecutor at the Yugoslav (ICTY) Tribunal from 1994 until February 2007. She has been a Special Legal Consultant to the Gender and Women’s Rights Division of the United Nation’s High Commissioner for Human Rights and to the Secretary’s General’s Special Representative to Children in Armed Conflict. As the ICTY Legal Advisor for Gender, Ms. Sellers developed the legal strategies that led to successful prosecutions of sexual violence under international criminal law. She tried the Furundzija case, the first international case wherein rape was recognized as a war crime. She was co-counsel and a legal strategist at the Rwanda Tribunal (ICTR) for two of the most important cases to date: Akayesu, the first international case to hold sexual violence as an act of genocide and rape as a crime against humanity and Kunarac, the first international case that led to a conviction of enslavement as a crime against humanity, based in part on acts of sexual violence. You can read more about her impressive and inspiring career here.
At last year’s edition the winner of the Bludgeon category in the Public’s Choice Award, for the worst decision, was granted to a statement made by Preston Crown Court, England, which acquitted a number of men accused of gang rape because the victim had spoken of sexual fantasies over the internet.
In the Gavel category, the Public’s Choice Award 2010, with a high difference in the number of votes, went to a decision made by the Tribunal of Santa Fe, Argentina, criminally sanctioning doctors who refused to provide cancer treatment or to perform a legal abortion on Ana María Acevedo, a pregnant woman who subsequently died due to their actions. A complete list of all 2010 winners (and losers) is available at the site.
Voting for the Public’s Choice 2011 is open until April 25th here. If you have a moment, please do so, because this is a project that doesn’t get nearly enough mainstream coverage in English speaking media and I really believe that they are doing a great job at exposing injustice and gender issues.