Celebrity lawyer Pedro Proença is under fire this week for suggesting that a female judge should not consider the appeal of a father condemned for raping his 18-year-old daughter.
Proença’s reasoning was that the Adelina Barradas de Oliveira was “a woman and certainly a mother” and would not have the same impartiality in this instance as a man.
To a large extent, the issue is already ‘over’: Proença’s arguments failed to sway either the Supreme or Constitutional courts and his client remains in jail.
But the furore prompted by what has been seen as attempt to undermine a female judge’s place on the bench is overwhelming.
Television and radio shows today are full of it, with SIC TV running a ‘public opinion’ phone in.
Proença meantime has refused to make any new statements, saying he has not been given the necessary greenlight by the lawyers association.
Nonetheless, this has not stopped the country discussing judges’ impartiality in general and what this appeal in particular was all about.
As to the latter, the appeal centred on a ‘foreign’ naval engineer who apparently got his daughter (whom he saw very infrequently) drunk on her 18th birthday in October 2017.
Says Observador, “in court the man confessed to having had sexual relations with his daughter but talked of consent and affirmed that his daughter had seduced him”.
The defendant even suggested that he may not have been the girl’s father “but a DNA test ruled out this affirmation”, the online news service continued.
Almada court ended up condemning the father to eight years and four months in jail (possession of an illegal weapon was also involved) and it is after this point that Pedro Proença stepped in.
In many respects, Proença appears to have tried every avenue of appeal open to him – including a writ of Habeas Corpus claiming his client has been in preventive custody too long.
But the argument that the “innate aversion to the act of incest” could somehow sway a female judge against his client in a way that would not affect a male counterpart is being seen now as an attack on the principle of gender equality.
Certainly, the judge in question – who refused the father’s appeal – was having none of it.
Citing her 34 years of experience, Adelina Barradas de Oliveira said that being a woman and mother could not affect her “independence as a judge”, nor her legitimacy in deciding and applying the law.
Any decision to remove her would open the doors “to the possibility of choosing the judge for a case according to skin or eye colour, football club, who knows, religion…”
For now, Pedro Proença is described as having one final appeal bid yet to be considered, while his client remains in jail.
The daughter meantime has moved away from Portugal, say reports, and is described as still receiving psychological support.