Discrimination Against Women A Global Survey of the Economic, Educational, Social and Political Status of Women

By Eschel M. Rhoodie | Go to book overview

11. Case Study: United Kingdom

Introduction

Britain's legal commitment to women's rights is unquestioned. The combined verbiage of the much-heralded Equal Pay Act of 19701 and the Sex Discrimination Act of 19752 probably provide the most comprehensive formulation of the rights of women to be found in any constitution or law in any place in the world. But the effect of these laws has been a disappointment. The British Parliament (and even more so its parliamentary draftsmen) must be blamed for the current situation, where the most important progress in rights for British women is the product of the courts of the European Economic Community and the Council of Europe.

These two Acts, unfortunately, "were clearly intended not to be mutually exclusive." 3 But it does not work in practice. Two of the justices of the House of Lords made appropriate comments on that issue in Shields v. Coomes (Holdings) Ltd. Wrote Lord Bridge: "The particular provisions designed to prevent overlapping between the two Acts are complex and it may often be difficult to determine whether a particular matter of complaint fails to be redressed under one Act or the other."4 Wrote Lord Denning: "The task of construing them is like fitting together a jig-saw puzzle. The pieces are all jumbled together, in two boxes."5 And not only that, the very verbiage tends to be verbose and confusing.

This is in stark contrast to the clarity and simplicity of the laws of the European Community discussed in the previous chapter.

But language infirmities are not the only obstacles to proper enforcement. The Acts themselves lack desirable and desired enforcement procedures. And, in addition, there are too many substantive gaps.

"Some of the gaps," according to J. M. Steiner, 6 "have been filled by the courts arguing by analogy from one Act to the other, as Browne Wilkinson, J., did in Jenkins v. Kingsgate." 7"There is little doubt," concludes Steiner, "that these gaps have been filled with our EEC obligations in mind."8

But Steiner is wrong. Significant gaps have not been filled, especially in the areas of personal autonomy. Britain's laws on women's rights say little, for example, about family planning and abortion in the wave of new medical and scientific techniques available for birth control.

There is one more important reason why there are more United Kingdom cases before the Luxembourg and Strasbourg courts than cases from any other country. It is simply because Britain does not have a one-document constitution encompassing a bill of rights. 9 There are no "constitutional" provisions on

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Discrimination Against Women A Global Survey of the Economic, Educational, Social and Political Status of Women
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Foreword ix
  • Part One Introduction 1
  • 1. the Evaluation and Presentation of Data 2
  • 2. the Status of Women: A Global View 13
  • 3. the Environment of Discrimination 34
  • Part Two: Legal and International Aspects 61
  • 4. the International World 62
  • 5. Constitutional and Statutory Differentiation 79
  • Part Three: the African World 99
  • 6. General Survey. 100
  • 7. Case Study: Nigeria 115
  • 8. Case Study: Kenya Introduction 125
  • 9. Case Study: South Africa 136
  • Part Four: the European Community 165
  • 10. General Survey 166
  • 11. Case Study: United Kingdom 191
  • 12. Case Study: France 201
  • 13. Case Study: West Germany 214
  • 14. Case Study: Switzerland 227
  • Part Five: North America 239
  • 15. Case Study: Canada 240
  • Conclusion 247
  • 16 Case Study: The United States 248
  • Part Six: the Communist East Bloc 289
  • 17. General Survey 290
  • 18. Case Study: the Soviet Union 304
  • Part Seven: Latin America 321
  • 19. General Survey 322
  • 20. Brief Case Studies of Colombia, Bolivia, Brazil and Peru 332
  • Part Eight: the Arab-Muslim World 345
  • 21. General Survey 346
  • 22. Case Study: Egypt 363
  • 23. Case Study: Tunisia 369
  • 24. Case Study: Iran 375
  • Part Nine: the Asian World 383
  • 25. General Survey 384
  • 26. Case Study: India 395
  • 27. Case Study: Japan 402
  • 28. Case Study: the People's Republic of China 417
  • Part Ten: Conclusions, Recommendations, Guide to Data, and Research Proposals 431
  • 29. Summary and Conclusions 432
  • 31. Data: Guide to Information Sources 481
  • 32. Research Proposals 505
  • Notes 519
  • Bibliography 587
  • Index 601
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