At a Fiji Judiciary Criminal Law Workshop for Judges and Magistrates in June 2012, Nazhat Shameem, a Barrister in Fiji and former Fiji High Court Judge, presented a paper on Gender, Justice and Judges.
In the paper Madam Shameem asks “If the purpose of the rule of law is to ensure equal access to justice, then how do we give equal access to a person in a wheelchair when there are structural and attitudinal barriers to access to justice? How do we even begin to hear the evidence of a disabled person when our courtrooms have no lifts? How do we give equal access to justice to a woman who is raped, when in our minds we cannot eradicate our own attitudes which create a barrier to hearing the evidence objectively?”
Madam Shameem offers critical insights on how attitudinal barriers subtly influence what judges listen to when hearing a case and their judication. Culturally driven bias in relation to how women are perceived and treated in the courtroom is a specific area of focus in this paper.