"There are prejudices in the Portuguese judicial system," according to the European Court of Human Rights which has reviewed the case of Maria Ivone Morais whose compensation was cut as she was over 50, and sex for the over 50s woman “is not so important.”
Sra Morais pursued a compensation claim for medical malpractice after an operation left her in pain when walking, sitting and certainly when having sex.
The 50s are "an age where sexuality does not have the importance it assumes at younger ages, an importance that diminishes as we get older."
This was how the Supreme Administrative Court justified its reduction in the compensation awarded to Maria Ivone Morais, who suffered considerable injuries after her surgery.
The European Court of Human Rights has condemned Portugal for sexual discrimination and the infringement of two articles of the European Convention on Human Rights: Article 14, about discrimination,* and Article 8, which is about the right to a private and family life.**
According to the ruling of the European Court this Tuesday, for the decision to reduce the compensation payable to Maria Ivone Morais, "the age and sex of the complainant were decisive factors."
"The decision was based on the generalised assumption that sexuality is not as important to a woman over 50, with two children, as it is to a younger woman. From the perspective of the Court, these considerations show that prejudices prevail in the judicial system of Portugal," stated the institution.
In December 1993, Maria Ivone Morais was diagnosed with Bartholinitis. This is a cyst that forms in the Bartholin glands, which release a liquid that helps lubricate the vagina. When one of the channels becomes blocked, the fluid accumulates and forms a mass and, in some cases, becomes infected. These cysts can be painless, but they also can cause great discomfort and make simple actions such as walking or sitting, difficult and painful.
Treatment in acute cases usually involves drainage and the use of antibiotics. Not so frequently id an operation and this is what Maria Ivone Morais was offered. This was to involve the removal of the left gland. Two years after the diagnosis she was operated on and woke to be told that both glands had been removed.
"The complainant began to feel intense pain and to lose sensation in the vagina. She also began to suffer from urinary incontinence, difficulty in walking and sitting and could not have sex," according to the judgment from the European Court, which continues, "The complainant was informed that the pudendal nerve on the left side, which controls urinary and faecal continence, had an injury due to surgery."
In 2013, the Alfredo da Costa women’s clinic in Lisbon was ordered to pay €172,000 for medical malpractice for having "partially injured" the pudendal nerve, leaving the patient unable to work.
The hospital appealed the decision and in 2015, the Supreme Administrative Court reduced the compensation to €60,000 as 50 is "an age in which sexuality does not have the importance it has at younger ages, an importance that diminishes as we get older."
This discriminatory nonsense now has been judged as such.
* Article 14. The enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set forth in this European Convention on Human Rights shall be secured without discrimination on any ground such as sex, race, colour, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, association with a national minority, property, birth or other status.
** Article 8. Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.