June 7, 2014

The Hague court wants less female judges

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 5:30 pm

In 2009 for the first time ever women made up the majority of judges in the Netherlands. This year even 64% of the judges of the court of Utrecht are female.

In response, according to Algemeen Dagblad, the court of The Hague (56% female judges) wants to give preferential treatment to male candidates. The court fears having too many women could influence the way the public views the courts’ impartiality.

The court’s plan received support from celebrity lawyer Theo Hiddema in Trouw who warned that you wouldn’t want to create a situation where a male rapist would have face three female judges and a female prosecutor. “Imagine,” Hiddema told Trouw, “that the suspects come from a different culture. Imagine the shame and humiliation when an all-female court tells them their behaviour is not of this time!”

Institutional mansplaining, who would have thought? Only job market news site Werf& appears to have noticed that what the court of The Hague wants is very much against the law. The site points out that affirmative action is only legal when used to help disadvantaged groups.

Although women form the majority of judges in lower courts, as late as 2006 they were still in the minority in appeals courts where a majority of two-thirds of the judges were men, as Trouw wrote back then. Judges that were ‘foreigners’ (allochtonen, Dutch code for people of colour) were in an extreme minority, the paper reported.

According to a Metro article of 2011, sociologist Bregje Dijksterhuis explains the preference of women for judicial robes because an appointment as judge is for life and because it is a job that combines well with having a family. Men on the other hand prefer higher paying jobs as lawyers.

The Dutch Council of Women quotes De Groene from 1947 after the appointment of Johanna Hudig as the first female judge in the Netherlands: “Courts have the reputation of being bastions of conservatism. The greater is our satisfaction at seeing how the court of Rotterdam has stood as one man behind the candidacy of this woman, giving a shining example of a broad and modern vision towards the judicial office.”

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