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.
Wednesday, October 1, 2014
In one leap, Denmark has changed its law on trans rights, taking it from a country where transgender people were forced to undergo sterilisation in order to be legally recognised as a different gender, to one of the most progressive countries on the issue in the world.
Unlike in most of the countries that allow new gender recognition, trans people in Denmark now do not even need a medical expert statement, but can simply self-determine. There are still restrictions – the minimum age is 18, and there is a six-month waiting period before the person has to reconfirm their wish to have their gender legally changed – but the law seems to be moving in the right direction.
But Denmark's new law – which came into force on Monday – raises questions for the other European countries where forced sterilisation – either as a result of hormone treatment or surgery – is still the only route for someone transitioning to gain legal status. This requirement ignores the fact that many trans people don't want to undergo a major operation, or to irretrievably lose their fertility as a result of it, as part of their transition.
Thursday, September 25, 2014
Shagufta Omar, International Islamic University, has uploaded to SSRN Marriage in Islam. The abstract reads:
The institution of family occupies a highly important position in Islam. Besides regulating human marital relations it plays a key role in the development and progression of a well-entrenched social order. It considers this relationship a sacrament social contract between two independent and pubescent persons and introduces checks and balances to protect and secure the rights of all stakeholders in this matter - husband, wife, children and the society large. Unlike certain other religions, Islam however does not regard marriage above dissolution and gives this right to both the spouses. According men and women equal social, legal and moral status as human beings, Islam differentiates between their status, roles and responsibilities in the family system, based on equity and justice. However, the true spirit of role differentiation is misunderstood by non Muslims as well as by less informed Muslims as establishing the patriarchal system endorsing gender equality and discrimination against women.
Friday, September 5, 2014
(a cathedral in Copenhagen)
Even in countries that are nominally supportive of transgender people, sterilization—whether by surgery or hormones—is often the price a trans individual must pay in order to receive legal recognition of his or her transition. It’s a paradigm that theWorld Health Organization has called "counter to respect for bodily integrity, self-determination and human dignity," and it’s one that doesn’t acknowledge the fact that for many trans people, transition is not necessarily tied to invasive physical changes.
Earlier this week, Denmark moved beyond this inhumane legal logic when its new gender recognition law came into effect. Under the new policy, trans people in the country are now only required to fill out some paperwork in order to receive a new social security number and accompanying personal documentation for their gender. Medical intervention, including surgery, psychological diagnosis, and official statements, are no longer necessary prerequisites—in Denmark, gender identification is now based solely on self-determination.
KINGSTON, JAMAICA - Young Jamaican gay rights activist who brought a legal challenged to the Caribbean island's anti-sodomy law has withdrawn the claim after multiple threats and violent backlashes, advocacy groups and colleagues said Aug. 29.
Javed Jaghai made headlines in 2013 after he initiated a constitutional court challenge to Jamaica's 1864 law that bans sex between men. Jaghai argues the law fuels homophobia and violates the 2011 adopted Human Rights Charter that guarantees people the right to privacy. However, Jaghai is withdrawing his challenge due to threats of violence.
TOKYO — Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan unveiled a reshuffled cabinet on Wednesday that included five women, an apparent nod toward his promises to raise the status of women in the workplace. The appointments tie the record for the number of women in top political positions in Japan.
Since taking office in December 2012, Mr. Abe has spoken of the need to revive Japan, the world’s third-largest economy, by more fully unleashing the potential of its huge pool of highly educated women, who have long been relegated to relatively low-ranking positions in the work force.
Thursday, August 21, 2014
Chinese men in rural villages are paying $3200 to families (parents, usually) to sell their daughters in rural Vietnam for marriage.
Their marriages were arranged for cash, but some of the Vietnamese women who have found unlikely Prince Charmings in remote Chinese villages say they are living happily ever after.
"Economically, life is better here in China," said Nguyen Thi Hang, one of around two dozen women from Vietnam who have married men in Linqi.
Thursday, August 14, 2014
Women in France can now end a first-trimester pregnancy for any reason — and the full cost of the abortion will be financed by the government — under asweeping new gender equality law approved on Tuesday. The new policy amends the country’s existing abortion law, which currently allows women to get an abortion only if they can prove they’re in “emotional distress.”
From the Irish Times:
....many members of the trans community still exist on the fringes of Irish society and experience high levels of stigmatisation and discrimination.
A major cause of the marginalisation of trans people in Ireland is the lack of State recognition of trans identities. While you can change your gender marker on certain documents such as your passport or driving licence, there is no legal process to change the gender on your birth cert.
People are forcibly “outed” every time they are asked to produce a birth certificate. Young people miss out on their college places because the CAO office has no capacity for dealing with trans people. Trans people have to explain ourselves – to validate our identity – over and over. But legal gender recognition goes beyond the practicalities of daily life; it is about the State recognising that we exist.
Sunday, August 10, 2014
A pervading online misogyny is the most visible reason why the internet is failing to live up to its potential to improve people's lives, a report for a digital charity has concluded.
Charles Leadbeater, an author and former policy adviser to the Labour government, argues in the report A Better Web, that the problem is so serious one solution could be awards for women who succesfully contend with online abuse.
An interesting piece from the Atlantic:
From start to finish, the latest Gaza conflict has largely been a man’s war. The Israeli negotiating team in Egypt does not include a single woman–not even Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, whose condition for joining the current governing coalition was that she head Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has instead appointed his own (male) representative, Yitzchak Molcho, to represent him in the delegation. Livni sits on Israel’s security cabinet, the small committee that has made most of the major decisions about this war, but, tellingly, she is the only woman at the table. The story is the same on Israeli television and in the country’s newspapers. According to a study by The Marker, fewer than 10 percent of all experts interviewed on news programs during the war have been women.
Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Statistics show 30 million girls are at risk of FGM in the next decade, and, each year, about 14 milliongirls are forced to marry before they are ready. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN convention on the rights of the child should prevent such injustices, yet girls' basic rights to health, education and security remain unmet. As young feminists, we know that patriarchy perpetuates the idea that girls are of less value, which leads to their systematic neglect in economic, political, social, legal and educational realms.
Saturday, July 26, 2014
Known as the “women’s treaty,” the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women—CEDAW—was signed by the United States 34 years ago today. The United Nations had adopted the treaty, pledging to give women equal rights in all aspects of their lives, on December 18, 1979, and at a special ceremony during the Copenhagen Conference the U.S. and 63 other countries signed on.
But that was only part of the process necessary for putting CEDAW into action. Countries also need to ratify the treaty—and 34 years later, the U.S. still hasn’t. That puts this country in what could hardly be called good company, with Iran, Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Palau and Tonga. Hardly a roll call of great democracies and world leaders. Meanwhile, 188 other countries and regions haveratified the treaty.