Monday, March 2, 2015
Child marriage is both the cause and consequence of grinding poverty, gender-based violence and the inescapable inequality that girls experience every day. For example, Florence Mwase, an eight-year-old Malawian orphan, had to give up her dream of becoming a nurse because her aunt couldn’t afford her school fees. Her aunt sent her to attend a sexual initiation camp when she turned 13. At the camp, Florence and the girls were forced to participate in kusasa fumbi a traditional practice common in southern Malawi to cleanse girls of their “childhood dust” and prepare them to become wives. Florence was forced to have sex with the “hyena,’” an older man who was paid by the village to have sex with all girls attending the camp.
After Florence returned from the camp, Florence’s aunt arranged her marriage to a 27-year-old man. Florence lived as a virtual slave to her husband, with no way to escape his physical and sexual abuse. After two years, Florence was able to leave her marriage through the support of the Girls Empowerment Network (Genet), which is leading Malawi’s fight for girls. And despite the brutality she suffered, Florence was lucky – most Malawian girls never get a second chance.
Malawi’s Stop Child Marriage campaign was launched in 2011 by Genet and Let Girls Lead on the principle of empowering girls to fight for their own rights. We trained over 200 girls in the Chiradzulo District of southern Malawi to become advocates. The girls lobbied 60 village chiefs to ratify and enact by-laws that protect adolescent girls from early marriage and harmful sexual initiation practices. These bylaws force men who marry girls under the age of 21 to give up their land in the village and pay a fee of seven goats, a major economic penalty in the region. The bylaws also penalise parents who marry off their underage daughters by imposing social sanctions that include three months of mandatory janitorial service in the local health clinic.
Sara Bahayi is Afghanistan’s first female taxi driver in recent memory, and she is believed to be the only one actively working in the country. She’s 38, unmarried and outspoken. And in a highly patriarchal society, where women are considered second-class citizens and often abused, Ms Bahayi is brazenly upending gender roles.
Every day, she plies her trade in a business ruled by conservative men. She endures condescending looks, outright jeers, even threats to her life. Most men will not enter her taxi, believing that a woman should never drive for a man.
Yet she earns $10 (£6.50) to $20 a day, enough to provide for her 15 relatives, including her ailing mother. She relies on ferrying women shackled by traditions and fear, who vicariously live their dreams of freedom through her.
Friday, February 13, 2015
On Thursday a database will be launched online entitled Femicide Census: Profiles of Women Killed by Men. It is a project designed to force a recognition of the scale and significance of male violence against women and is the culmination of several years of work by Ingala Smith, who began a grim and time-consuming task of counting Britain’s murdered women and putting their names on her own blog back in 2012. There were 126 women killed through male violence that year, 143 in 2013 and 150 in 2014.
Scouring news websites and police reports, she pieced together what she says is an important pattern that was not being represented in the way crime and other statistics are collated. It became a personal tribute, too: “It’s really hard sometimes and I admit I’ve had a cry now and again. A photo captures a moment in time that trials don’t. A moment of the person who that woman was. What suffering she endured, and the suffering that continues for their family is so very hard to grasp.”
The database launch, by Ingala Smith – chief executive of London-based domestic violence charity Nia Project – together with Women’s Aid and the legal firm Freshfields, will mean a public tally of the dead is kept in a more formal manner, using police statistics as well as court reports. The site will be used to store as much information as possible on the background and the crime, available for approved subscribers – the first time such details have been held together – to make research and studies easier.
Wednesday, February 11, 2015
DUBAI // A council that will ensure women are given leading roles in the development of the country has been established by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai.
Forming the Gender Balance Council showed the Government’s keenness to increase the roles of young Emirati women in the nation’s progress, Sheikh Mohammed said on Tuesday.
“I am happy to be part of this discussion,” he told the Government Summit in Dubai.
“We have a great opportunity to uncover new paths that we may walk on together.
“We have moved beyond the phase of empowering women. Indeed, we are empowering society through women.
“The impact of a significant female presence in leadership roles has wide-ranging benefits on the economy, on governance and on society at large.”
Sunday, January 25, 2015
From bikini-clad beachgoer to veiled jihadist fugitive, the partner of Paris gunman Amedy Coulibaly underwent a startling metamorphosis that illuminates the dangerous potential behind militant groups' efforts to increase their recruiting of female terrorists.
Although French police initially questioned Hayat Boumeddiene, 26, five years ago, they acknowledge that she was subsequently able to make hundreds of phone calls and arrange meetings for Coulibaly through the wives of fellow assailants. She is then believed to have fled to Turkey just before the rash of killings in Paris this month, and is believed to have crossed into Syria.
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Chinese health authorities on Wednesday described the gender imbalance among newborns as "the most serious and prolonged" in the world, a direct ramification of the country's strict one-child policy.
A Chinese government website
acknowledged that women were transferring blood samples overseas to determine the genders of their babies as part of an "underground chain for profit".
"This has further exacerbated the gender imbalance in our country's birth structure," the agency said.
Researchers have warned that large sex-ratio imbalances could lead to instability as more men remain unmarried, raising the risks of anti-social and violent behavior.
Monday, January 12, 2015
On Wednesday, Iceland will host a conference at the United Nations headquarters in New York City to discuss issues of gender equality such as violence against women, parental rights and female representation in business.
But the conference is different to others of its kind, because women have not been invited.
In the spirit of the “He For She” campaign launched last year by actress Emma Watson with a speech that urged “as many men and boys as possible to be advocates for gender equality”, the UN is calling upon world leaders and business executives, who are overwhelmingly male, to tackle the lack of women in senior political and financial positions around the world.
Friday, January 9, 2015
According to the BBC:
Russia has listed transsexual and transgender people among those who will no longer qualify for driving licences.
Fetishism, exhibitionism and voyeurism are also included as "mental disorders" now barring people from driving.
The government says it is tightening medical controls for drivers because Russia has too many road accidents.
"Pathological" gambling and compulsive stealing are also on the list. Russian psychiatrists and human rights lawyers have condemned the move.
The announcement follows international complaints about Russian harassment of gay-rights activists.
In 2013 Russia made "promoting non-traditional lifestyles" illegal.
Valery Evtushenko at the Russian Psychiatric Association voiced concern about the driving restrictions, speaking to the BBC Russian Service. He said some people would avoid seeking psychiatric help, fearing a driving ban.
Tuesday, January 6, 2015
Sahar F. Aziz, Texas A & M Law, has uploaded "Coercive Assimilationism: The Perils of Muslim Women's Identity Performance in the Workplace." It's forthcoming in the Michigan J. of Race & Law and its abstract reads as follows:
Fifty years after Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, unlawful discrimination continues to ail American workplaces. Despite the prevailing narrative that America is now "post-racial" after the election of the first African American president, equal opportunity still eludes many Americans. Their membership in racial, ethnic, or religious groups stigmatized as the "other" adversely affects their access to education, political empowerment, and equal opportunity in the workplace.
At the time Title VII was passed, victims often experienced explicit bias against their protected group. The law’s immediate effect was to ban overt prejudice causing disparate intergroup discrimination between men and women, blacks and whites, different ethnicities, and Christians and non-Christians.As a result, Title VII, along with other anti-discrimination laws, has been relatively successful in rooting out explicit bias in employment. Many employers now refrain from overtly treating employees disparately on account of an immutable characteristic. But, as the data show, the absence of discriminatory policies on paper does not always translate into a discrimination free workplace in practice. Rather, it pushes bias into more covert manifestations wherein facially neutral factors become proxies for unlawful discrimination.
While Title VII prohibits covert bias; it is ill equipped to prevent two increasingly prevalent forms of discrimination: 1) implicit bias arising from negative stereotypes of protected classes; and 2) disparate treatment of subgroups of protected classes who do not conform to coercive assimilationist pressures.Because an employee alleging discrimination must show that a similarly situated worker outside the protected class does not receive the same adverse treatment or impact, an employer who treats a subgroup of a minority better than another subgroup of the same minority can evade liability.
Of course, if the difference in treatment among the subgroups is based on performance and skills directly related to the work at issue, then no liability should attach. However, that is not always the case. Disparate treatment of members of the same protected class arises from negative racial, ethnic, or religious stereotypes that privileges those able and willing to perform their identity in accordance with assimilationist demands of the majority group. The effect is intragroup discrimination based on intergroup bias rooted in implicit negative stereotyping.
Female employees who fall under multiple protected classes face an intersection of identity performance pressures as women, racial or ethnic minorities, and religious minorities.The dominant group’s expectations of how women or members of minority groups should behave, dress, and communicate to be "professional" are often contradictory due to conflicting stereotypes. A Black woman, for example, who is assertive, ambitious, and exhibits leadership qualities associated as masculine characteristics, risks being stigmatized as aggressive, insubordinate, and threatening because of negative stereotypes of blacks. Meanwhile, her behavior contradicts gender conformity norms that women should be deferential, gentle, soft spoken, and pleasant. And if she is a Muslim, then her behavior triggers stereotypes of Muslims as terrorists, disloyal, foreign, and suspect.
For workplace anti-discrimination laws to eradicate these multiple binds that disparately impact women of color, this Article argues that Title VII jurisprudence should take into account intergroup discrimination based on intragroup identity performance to assure all employees, not just a subset of a protected class, are covered by workplace antidiscrimination law. As such, a plaintiff’s treatment should not be compared only with similarly situated employees outside the protected class but also with similarly situated employees within the protected class whose identity performance accommodates coercive assimilationism rooted in stereotypes.
This Article applies social psychology and antidiscrimination theories to the case of Muslim women of color in the workplace, an under-researched area in legal scholarship. I examine in detail the identity performance challenges and contradictions faced by Muslim women of color as "intersectionals" facing stereotypes against 1) Muslims as terrorists, violent, and disloyal; 2) Muslim women as meek, oppressed, and lacking individual agency; 3) women as sexualized, terminally second best to men, and uncommitted to their careers; 4) immigrants as forever foreign and undeserving of equal treatment; and 5) ethnic minorities from the Middle East and South Asia as barbaric, misogynist, and anti-American. I conclude that Muslim women of color are at risk of falling between the cracks of Title VII jurisprudence due to courts’ unwillingness to recognize the harms caused by coercive assimilationst pressures to conform one’s identity to comport to high status group norms, irrespective of the relevance to work performance.
Monday, January 5, 2015
Orna Alyagon Darr, Carmel Academic Center, has uploaded an article forthcoming from the Yale J. of Law and Humanities. It's titled "Relocated Doctrine: The Travel of the English Doctrine of Corroboration in Sex Offense Cases to Mandate Palestine." The abstract reads:
The spread of the British Empire was accompanied by the relocation of legal doctrines, which took on new meanings and uses. This article follows the relocation to Mandate Palestine of the common-law doctrine of corroboration of victim testimony in sex offense cases. In England, corroboration was a cautionary rule that expressed mistrust of female complainants. In jury-less Palestine, the rule also expressed deep distrust toward non-English complainants, especially children. While the British rulers of Palestine prided themselves on imposing sexual regulation tailored to protecting women and children, an analysis of the way corroboration was applied in that setting reveals a rigidly imposed and hard-to-meet evidentiary standard. British colonial judges maintained that demanding corroboration in sex offense cases was an implementation of English law. However, the rule was not simply a ‘transplant’ that reproduced the original but, rather, acquired its meaning within the specific social context and in the subjectivities of its users.
Wednesday, December 31, 2014
Two interesting recent articles from the NYT. One is about the status of LGBT folk in Cuba. An excerpt:
Mariela Castro, the daughter of the current president, Raúl Castro, has led the charge on legislative and societal changes [for LGBT rights] that have given rise to an increasingly visible and empowered community. In the process, she has carved out a rare space for civil society in an authoritarian country where grass-roots movements rarely succeed. Some Western diplomats in Havana have seen the progress on gay rights as a potential blueprint for expansion of other personal freedoms in one of the most oppressed societies on earth.
“It’s fine to criticize, but you also have to acknowledge that they’ve done good,” said John Petter Opdahl, Norway’s ambassador to Cuba, in a recent interview. Mr. Opdahl, who is gay, said his government gave Ms. Castro’s organization $230,000 over the last two years. “She has taken off a lot of the stigma for most people in the country, and she has made life so much better for so many gay people, not only in Havana but in the provinces.”
Another article revisits the Stanford undergraudates from the class of 1994.
Friday, December 26, 2014
Ireland recently published a draft of a legislative bill that would protect transgender folk from discrimination. Here's a quick summary of it:
The Irish government has finally published a long-awaited bill which will recognise the gender of trans people.
At present, Irish law has no process for recognising that transgender people do not identify as their birth gender.
The bill, which was first announced in June, will bring Irish law in line with that of other countries, by legally recognising the gender of trans people in all dealings with the State, public bodies, and civil and commercial society.
And here's a critique of the bill from Amnesty International:
“This is a missed opportunity to enshrine the rights of all transgender people in Irish law. This bill will require substantial changes if it is to tackle the serious issue of discrimination against transgender people,” said Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International’s Acting Europe and Central Asia Director.
“Rather than making it as easy as possible for all transgender people to obtain legal recognition of their identity, there are several groups that will be short-changed by the bill – in particular those who are married or in civil partnerships, minors, and those who do not wish to undergo medical treatment.”
Saturday, December 6, 2014
Feminist Study of Irish Discrimination Reform Shows Law Reinforces Gendered Assumptions about Work and Family
From Robert Lekey, at Jotwell, The Careless Ideal Worker, reviewing Olivia Smith, Litigating Discrimination on Grounds of Family Status, 22 Fem. Legal Stud 175 (2014).
It will not surprise readers alive to anti-discrimination law’s limited capacity to transform systems that Ireland’s reform to protect workers in certain care relationships from discrimination based on their family status has reinforced gendered assumptions about care and workforce participation. However much its findings line up with our pessimistic hunches, Olivia Smith’s study is worth reading because it exemplifies an admirable kind of feminist scholarship: quantitatively and qualitatively empirical; theoretically grounded; alert to the intersection of gender with other grounds of disadvantage, such as class; and self-conscious of its limits.
Smith offers a “contextualized assessment” of a dozen years’ tribunal litigation under the “family status” discrimination ground. Prior to this ground’s adoption in the Employment Equality Acts 1998-2011, women had challenged discrimination associated with their care obligations under the ground of gender. As Smith notes, that tack had confirmed the gendered view of care as women’s work. Yet while the gender-neutral ground of “family status” might signal that care obligations bear on men as well as on women, the litigation record shows it to have reinforced the gendered dynamics of Irish work and family life.
Thursday, November 13, 2014
The purpose of the workshop is to bring together researchers from different parts of the world to share their findings about the role of law in addressing some of the most challenging aspects of discrimination: those involving the intersection between gender, race and poverty. There were few opportunities of getting together researchers in Latin America, Africa, Europe and North America to work together on these issues. Despite the problems, the legal challenges and possibilities for reform are similar and closely related. The workshop will address the international and comparative law, and theory and practice.
The World Development Report 2012 identified substantive victories for women: there was an increase in their schooling, in their life expectancy and in their participation in the labor market. However, these gains were not reachable to poor women. Women in countries with low and middle income are more likely than men to die, they face unequal access to economic opportunities and are being marginalized in their homes and in society. This results in a cycle of discrimination and disempowerment. Women are responsible for a disproportionate share of care tasks in their homes, an activity that is not valued or remunerated, leading to lower levels of education and lack of preparation to seek financial independence in the formal labor market or to break with prejudices and stereotypes the role of women.
Whereas the World Development Report highlights that these gaps are more pronounced when gender and poverty are combined with other exclusion factors – ethnicity, caste, remoteness, age, race, disability and sexual orientation – there should have a critical study of forms of interaction between gender, race and poverty. While the feminization of poverty is a phenomenon long recognized, gender inequality, racial inequality and poverty are conceptualized as separate problems. Poverty is often approached from a neutral point of view with regard to gender, rather than adopting a comprehensive, integrated and holistic gender perspective. Likewise, racial discrimination is accessed by a neutral perspective regarding both gender and poverty. These approaches are not adequate to portray the various and intricate human rights violations experienced by poor women with multiple identities
Thursday, November 6, 2014
Athena Nguyen (Monash), Through the Eyes of Women? The Jurisprudence of the CEDAW Committee, Outskirts Mag. (May 2014).
In 1999, the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (OP CEDAW) was adopted. The OP CEDAW was received with much enthusiasm as it enabled women, for the first time, to submit a communication to the CEDAW Committee about a violation of their CEDAW rights and to seek redress at an international level. Whilst some of this enthusiasm has since been dampened by the significant number of communications that have been declared inadmissible and by criticisms about the progressiveness of the Committee’s views, the Committee has nonetheless issued a number of important decisions on areas such as violence against women, reproductive health and gender stereotyping. In this paper, the jurisprudence of the CEDAW Committee’s views will be examined. The question will be asked, have the views of the CEDAW Committee been cautious or progressive? Consistent or inconsistent? Commendable or regrettable? This paper will demonstrate that in cases involving severe human rights violations, such as violence, rape or death, the CEDAW Committee has been strong in its views and has incorporated a good analysis of how gender has contributed to these violations. However, for matters in which the discrimination has not been as direct or the consequences have not been as severe, the Committee has not undertaken the more nuanced analysis that is needed to draw out the human rights violations that have occurred. Hence, whilst the CEDAW Committee has commendably advanced the international law on women’s human rights in some areas, it has also been reluctant and slow to do so in others.
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
THERE is much to be unhappy about in Iran. Depression, drug addiction and cancer are at record rates, while divorce is nearing Western levels. But most worrying are new attempts to control women. Restrictions in Iran may not rival Saudi Arabia—Iranian women are permitted to drive and openly socialise with male friends—but a political debate has broken out about how they should conduct themselves in public. It has gained more urgency after a spate of acid attacks against women in Isfahan, Iran’s third city, this month, apparently for not conforming to Iran’s Islamic dress code. In another blow, on October 25th Iran said it had executed Reyhaneh Jabbari, a 26-year-old woman who killed a man she said was trying to sexually abuse her.
Thursday, October 23, 2014
So suggests the Korea Herald. The fertility rate (or lack thereof) among South Koreans is owing in part to the class inequality in the country and the demands of an industrial nation-state.
South Korea’s low birthrate is generating deep concern among policymakers.
The government is scrambling to shore up the falling birthrate, a threat that could jeopardize Asia’s fourth-largest economy, which is saddled with a rapidly aging population.
What many policymakers have failed to tackle is the underlying problem that forces Koreans to delay or forgo having children.
Just ask Kim Jin-ah, a 28-year-old Seoulite who still hasn’t been “properly” employed, despite her two university degrees.
“I don’t think marriage is an option for me right now,” said Kim, who currently works as a part-time tutor. “Having kids is just not even thinkable. I can’t even take care of myself right now. I am not sure if I deserve to be happy at this moment.”
After finishing her master’s degree in biology, Kim, at age 26, realized she didn’t want to be a scientist. She started looking for jobs ― a full-time position that would pay her enough to move out of her parents’ house and start a family of her own ― but never found one.
During one job interview, for a marketing position at a big firm, Kim was told that she was “too old” for the company’s entry-level positions.
Kim, who lives with her parents, is considering going back to school, or even overseas for job opportunities. She is putting off marriage until she gets a full time job.
“If you are not working full time and want to be married, you have to have wealthy parents,” she said. “That’s just not the case for me.”
Saturday, October 18, 2014
Eva Schandevyl (Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium), ed., Women in Law and Lawmaking in Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Europe (Sept. 2014)
Exploring the relationship between gender and law in Europe from the nineteenth century to present, this collection examines the recent feminisation of justice, its historical beginnings and the impact of gendered constructions on jurisprudence. It looks at what influenced the breakthrough of women in the judicial world and what gender factors determine the position of women at the various levels of the legal system.
Every chapter in this book addresses these issues either from the point of view of women's legal history, or from that of gendered legal cultures. With contributions from scholars with expertise in the major regions of Europe, this book demonstrates a commitment to a methodological framework that is sensitive to the intersection of gender theory, legal studies and public policy, and that is based on historical methodologies. As such the collection offers a valuable contribution both to women's history research, and the wider development of European legal history.
Monday, October 13, 2014
From the New Republic:
“I see the Syrian revolution as not only a popular revolution of the people but also as a revolution of the woman, therefore I see myself as part of the revolution,” said Jazera, 21. “The woman has been suppressed for more than 50,000 years and now we have the possibility of having our own will, our own power and our own personality.”
Jazera, like thousands of other women in Rojava, the Kurdish region of Syria, is a member of the women’s wing of the People’s Protection Unit (YPG)—an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the Turkish-Kurdish guerrilla group designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S. and European Union because of its three-decade insurgency against NATO ally Turkey.
Of the 40,000–50,000 Kurdish troops in Syria, 35 percent are women, according to YPG spokesman Redur Khalil. Most women are not married, he added, but said there had been exceptional circumstances in which even mothers had joined the women's wing, known as YPJ.
Thursday, October 9, 2014
Julie Goldscheid (CUNY School of Law) & Debra J. Liebowitz (Drew) have posted Due Diligence and Gender Violence: Parsing its Power and Its Perils, Cornell Int'l L. J. (forthcoming).
Human rights advocates increasingly invoke the due diligence standard to hold States responsible for their actions and omissions with respect to gender violence. This paper traces the development of the due diligence obligation and analyzes how the due diligence principle has been interpreted in key international policy documents and developing gender violence caselaw from the United Nations, European, and Inter-American human rights systems. On its face, the due diligence obligation calls on the State to take responsibility for preventing gender violence, prosecuting and punishing perpetrators, and protecting and providing redress for gender violence victims. The notion of State responsibility for gender violence offered by the due diligence obligation is foundational, and is appealing in many ways, particularly when considering the near-universal history of non-responsiveness, State approval of, and all-too-frequent participation in, gender violence.
We argue that emerging interpretations of the due diligence obligation as applied to gender violence pay insufficient attention to the risks of State intervention. While State response is clearly needed, we should be cautious about the ramifications of the demand. A reflexive focus on State response can encourage an undue emphasis on criminal justice responses with adverse consequences such as arrests of survivors. It risks situating the State as the entity charged with program delivery when other entities would be more effective. An appropriate model of state responsiveness should explicitly grant the State discretion not to respond, or to delegate its response to other stakeholders such as community members, survivors, NGOs, and advocates. It should consider the impact of any intervention on those at the margins — particularly those from racial, ethnic, religious, and sexual minorities — and should take into account the experiences and recommendations of both advocates and survivors. A careful balancing of the need for State accountability with the risk of over-intrusiveness can best advance foundational human rights principles, such as non-discrimination, equality, autonomy, and dignity, in service of ending gender violence and promoting justice.