Extending the Reach of Human Rights to Encompass Victims of Rape: M.C. V. Bulgaria

Feminist Legal Studies 13 (1):145-157 (2005)
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Abstract

This note analyses a recent case of the European Court of Justice in which the applicant, a 14-year old rape victim, alleged that Bulgarian criminal law violated her rights under Articles 3 and 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights in pursuing a practice of only prosecuting rape where there was evidence of the use of physical force and active resistance. In upholding the applicant’s claims, the Court re-affirmed the positive obligation on states to adopt measures to ensure that fundamental rights under the Convention were secured. In particular, in the case of rape, this required the enactment and application of criminal laws effectively prescribing all acts of non-consensual sex and not just those involving physical violence. In this way the Court affirmed not only that rape was, in essence, a violation of personal sexual autonomy but also that legal systems which failed adequately to protect against all forms of rape risked operating in breach of Convention obligations.

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