Strasbourg Observers

Toward an Anti-Stereotyping Approach for the ECtHR

November 30, 2011

As part of our joint research project I have written an article on gender stereotyping and the ways this could be addressed by the European Court of Human Rights in its case law.

Now I’m not sure whether flagging my own research is correct blog-etiquette, but I will take this opportunity to let you know that my article has just been published by the Human Rights Law Review and share the link with you. The full reference is Alexandra Timmer, ‘Toward an Anti-Stereotyping Approach for the European Court of Human Rights’, 11 Human Rights Law Review (2011), p. 707-738.

Here is a direct link to my article.

Comments are most welcome, either here on the blog or via email!

Here is the abstract:

The central tenet of this article is that stereotypes are both cause and manifestation of the structural disadvantage and discrimination of certain groups of people. Focusing on the gender case law of the European Court of Human Rights, this article explores what conception of equality the Court should embrace to adequately address the harmfulness of stereotypes. Since stereotypes are often the mechanisms that underlie discrimination, this article advances an anti-stereotyping approach that the Court could employ in its rulings. The proposed analysis consists of two phases: ‘naming’ and ‘contesting’ stereotypes. The whole argument is illustrated by Konstantin Markin v Russia and Rantsev v Cyprus and Russia, two recent cases in the area of gender equality.

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  • Joe says:

    “stereotypes are both cause and manifestation of the structural disadvantage and discrimination of certain groups of people.”

    That doesn’t make any sense at all. Those envious of others who are doing better than they are are just as prone or even more prone to stereotype those whome they direct their invective to.

    Stereotyping is a rotten feature of the human condition, but it’s also a nearly universal one. Like “taking a stand” against an emotion, the consequences of tryuing to combat it, unlike prosecuting the physical harm it might result in is basically impossible in a society that has any regard for protecting speech.

  • Vladislava Stoyanova says:

    I disagree with your analysis of Rantsev v Cyprus and Russia. I agree that in the first place the Court should not rely on harmful stereotypes in its own reasons (page 11 of your article). Unfortunately, to my understanding, in Rantsev v Cyprus and Russia, the ECtHR does exactly this. The Court assumes that all Eastern European women working in Cyprus on artiste visa are prostitutes who have to be ‘saved’; the Court assumes that all prostitutes are exploited without giving any definition of exploitation or explaining how Miss Rantseva was indeed exploited. This position of mine should be understood without prejudice to the Court’s analysis on Article 2.