Judgment of 5 February 2014 in Case 00320-2012-01-AIA (Constitutional Court of Bolivia (2014))

A member of the Bolivian Parliament (“Applicant”) brought an action before the Constitutional Court to challenge the constitutionality of several provisions of the Bolivian Criminal Code. The Applicant contested the constitutionality of the following Articles:

• Article 56 (preventing imprisoned women, but not men, from working outside the prison)
• Article 58 (enabling women to serve jail sentences of less than two years through home arrest)
• Article 245 (providing a mitigating factor for instances where any man provides false information about a newborn to the civil registry in order to protect the honor of his wife, mother, daughter, or sister)
• Article 250 (punishing any man who abandons a pregnant woman to whom he is not married)
• Article 254 (punishing homicide carried out in a state of “violent emotion” or following “honorable motives” with a lesser term of imprisonment)
• Article 258 (punishing infanticide aimed at concealing the mother’s “fragility or dishonor”)
• Articles 263 – 266 (criminalizing abortion, with specific articles for those that result in injury or death or are “honoris causa,” and providing exceptions to the prohibition on abortion where the pregnancy results from rape or other criminal acts, and where abortion is necessary to protect the woman’s health or life)
• Article 269 (punishing anyone who regularly performs abortion)
• Articles 315 and 317 (criminalizing the abduction of a person with the intention of forced marriage, and reducing the sanction when marriage is entered into with the person’s consent).

In the Applicant’s view, these provisions contain patriarchal and sexist elements contravening the constitutional principle of equality and prohibition of gender discrimination (Articles 8 and 14 of the Constitution), the fundamental right to life and physical integrity (Article 15), the right to health (Article 35), the rights of the child (Article 58), the equal duty of both spouses with respect to the home and the children (Article 64), sexual and reproductive rights (Article 66), the principle of direct applicability of all constitutional rights (Article 109), and the right to effective judicial protection (Article 115).