European court rules sex for women over 50 is ‘important’

European court rules sex for women over 50 is ‘important’
Europe's top human rights court has overturned a "prejudicial" Portuguese ruling which said that intercourse for women over 50 was not "important." The verdict ruled in favor of a 72-year-old woman whose sexuality had been previously "ignored" by the courts.

Three Supreme Court judges in Portugal were found guilty of sexual discrimination when they ruled in favor of Central Lisbon Hospital reducing the amount of compensation granted to the woman following a botched vaginal surgery.

Maria Ivone Carvalho Pinto de Sousa Morais, now 72, was 50 when she underwent surgery for a painful vaginal disease known as Batholinits. The surgery left Morais with severe pain that hindered her ability to sit, walk, and have sex.

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Morais sued the hospital and was awarded €96,000 (US$112,000) for pain and suffering in 2013.

In 2014, Supreme Administrative Court judges ruled that when the surgery occurred in 1995 she was “at an age when sex is not as important as in younger years,” and reduced her compensation by about one-third.

On Tuesday, the France-based European Court of Human Rights published their ruling that the Portuguese judges were guilty of “prejudices” and had "ignored the physical and psychological importance of sexuality for women's self-fulfillment and other dimensions of women's sexuality."

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"The (Lisbon court) decision had moreover been based on the general assumption that sexuality was not as important for a 50-year-old woman and mother of two children as for someone of a younger age. In the (European) court's view, those considerations showed the prejudices prevailing in the judiciary in Portugal," it added.

The European court also noted two similar medical malpractice complaints made in Portugal in 2008 and 2014, by men who could no longer have normal sexual relations. In those cases, Portugal's Supreme Court found that the men's self-esteem had been impacted and they had endured “tremendous or strong mental shock," regardless of their age.

The court has ordered Portugal to compensate Morais to the amount of €5,710 in damages, costs, and expenses.