Paula Marckx blessed her luck when she discovered she would become a mother at the age of forty-seven. However, a few months after her baby Alexandra was born, Paula discovered that – legally speaking – she was not [yet] the girl’s mother.
That was because Paula was single. A letter from the authorities said that, because the baby was born outside of marriage, it was not automatically recognised as being Paula’s. To obtain some kind of recognition, she had to go through a legal process.
Paula was insulted that she did not automatically qualify as a mother just because she was a single woman. Worse, she discovered that even after going through this legal process, her baby would not have the same status as if she had been married. In particular, Alexandra would not stand to inherit from Paula when she died.
When she complained to an official, Paula was told that: “Women always protest but are never prepared to take action.”
Paula decided to take action. She brought the case to the European Court of Human Rights.