Court Rules Sex Still Matters for Women Over 50

Case involved a woman who underwent a botched gynecological surgery
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 26, 2017 7:06 AM CDT
Updated Jul 26, 2017 7:27 AM CDT

(Newser) – A less ordinary ruling out of Europe on Tuesday: The continent's Court of Human Rights found that three Portuguese judges erred in deciding that sex is less important for older women, reports the AP. The case involves Maria Morais, a then-50-year-old who in 1995 underwent a gynecological surgery after being diagnosed with a vaginal disease called Bartholinitis; a nerve was damaged during the procedure, and it left her not just incontinent and struggling to even sit and walk but unable to have sex, reports the New York Times. The hospital was in 2013 ordered to pay the mother of two 80,000 euros (currently about $93,000) for her physical and mental woes, but a year later Portugal’s Supreme Administrative Court cut that to 50,000 euros, with the Lisbon judges saying she was of an age where sexuality wasn't so important, per a court press release.

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The European Court of Human Rights came down on Morais' side 5-2 in her case against Portugal, and ordered the country to pay Morais 5,710 euros in damages and expenses. Part of the ruling: "The question at issue here is not considerations of age or sex as such, but rather the assumption that sexuality is not as important for a 50-year-old woman and mother of two children as for someone of a younger age. That assumption reflects a traditional idea of female sexuality as being essentially linked to childbearing purposes and thus ignores its physical and psychological relevance for the self-fulfillment of women as people." The Times reports Morais, now 72, plans to pursue her case once more in Portugal with the goal of being awarded greater damages. (This study found a good reason to keep having sex after age 50.)

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