Monday, March 2, 2015
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.
Saturday, February 28, 2015
A bipartisan group of 12 U.S. senators introduced legislation on Thursday that is aimed at curbing sexual violence on campuses in ways that protect both victims and accused students. The changes reflect heightened attention over the past six months to the due-process rights of accused students.
The Campus Safety and Accountability Act, sponsored by six Democrats and six Republicans, builds on legislation that was introduced over the summer but never came to a vote. The new version was strengthened with additional input from sexual-assault survivors, students, colleges, law enforcement, and advocacy groups, according to one of its main sponsors, Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat. A companion bill is expected to be introduced soon in the House of Representatives.
The revised proposal comes at a time when the Department of Education is investigating nearly 100 colleges and universities for possible violations of the federal civil-rights law known as Title IX. Colleges have increasingly been held responsible under that law to investigate and resolve alleged assaults promptly and fairly, whether or not the police are involved.
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.
Tuesday, February 10, 2015
All 50 states allow victims of domestic and sexual violence to get protective orders, Angela C. Vigil told the ABA House of Delegates Monday.
But only 19 states allow the orders when the victim and the perpetrator have no established domestic relationship, said Vigil, who is a partner at Baker & McKenzie and the chair of the ABA Commission on Domestic and Sexual Violence. Of reported stalkers, she said, 80 to 90 percent are not intimate partners.
Resolution 109A urges governments to remove the partner requirement. It passed unanimously.
Its sister resolution, Resolution 109B, urges governments to address the housing problems often faced by victims of domestic violence. Vigil said the resolution would support extending the Violence Against Women Act’s housing provisions to state law.
“We cannot make [victims] choose between trauma and a roof over their heads,” she said.
Monday, February 9, 2015
One of the better This American Life episodes recently aired. Lindy West is a blogger who had been threatened and degraded on the internet by a vicious troll. That troll would eventually apologize to her.
Her story is recounted in the Guardian UK . Here is some of the beginning of that story:
Being harassed on the internet is such a normal, common part of my life that I’m always surprised when other people find it surprising. You’re telling me you don’t have hundreds of men popping into your cubicle in the accounting department of your mid-sized, regional dry-goods distributor to inform you that – hmm – you’re too fat to rape, but perhaps they’ll saw you up with an electric knife? No? Just me? People who don’t spend much time on the internet are invariably shocked to discover the barbarism – the eager abandonment of the social contract – that so many of us face simply for doing our jobs.
Thursday, February 5, 2015
A Utah lawmaker apologized Wednesday for questioning whether a man who has sex with his unconscious spouse should be charged with rape.
Republican state Rep. Brian Greene said in a statement he supports a bill to make it clear that an unconscious person can't consent to sex but was worried about unintended consequences of the measure.
"I'm sorry for any unintended pain that my statements have caused," he said. "I abhor sexual assault under any circumstances, including within marriage."
On Tuesday, Greene rocked victims' advocates with his discussion of consent during debate on the bill.
"If an individual has sex with their wife while she is unconscious ... a prosecutor could then charge that spouse with rape, theoretically," Greene said, according to The Salt Lake Tribune. "That makes sense in a first-date scenario, but to me, not where people have a history of years of sexual activity."
In his statement, Greene said his comments had been taken out of context and "have allowed my intentions to be misinterpreted."
He said he was attempting to "clarify the issue" of removing consent from Utah rape law. He noted he had voted for the bill as it passed unanimously out of committee.
"I strongly support closing any loopholes that allow offenders to evade prosecution, and I believe this bill does that," Greene said.
Holly Mullen, director of the Rape Recovery Center, told USA TODAY she had not expected a debate.
"I was shocked," Mullen said. "He's a lawyer, you think he would know better. He just went off on a tangent. But with the kind of work we do, we realize that so many people don't understand this issue."
Tuesday, February 3, 2015
Danielle Citron’s Hate Crimes in Cyberspace is a breakthrough book. It has been compared, and with good reason, to Catherine MacKinnon’s Sexual Harassment of Working Women. The book makes three major contributions. All are central to furthering the equality of women and men both in cyberspace and elsewhere.
First, Citron convincingly catalogues the range of harms, and their profundity, done to many women and some men by the sexual threats, the defamation, the revenge pornography, the stalking, and the sexual harassment and abuse, all of which is facilitated by the internet. ***
The second contribution, and the bulk of the book—the middle third to half—is a legal analysis of these harms. Citron begins by comparing the current status quo regarding our understanding of gendered harms in cyberspace with the legal environment surrounding domestic violence and sexual harassment thirty or twenty years ago. ***
The third contribution, and last third of the book, is her discussion of possible objections, and then her turn to extra-legal reforms, with a particularly helpful focus on the roles of educators, parents, and the providers themselves (“Silicon Valley” for short).
The Wisconsin Journal of Law, Gender & Society is seeking faculty interested in publishing a piece in its Fall 2015 edition. The Fall 2015 edition will focus on WJLGS' 2015 Symposium topic, "Civil Rights in the Digital Age: Developing Effective Legal Responses to Cyber Sexual Harassment." In the digital age, sexual harassment and assault can be perpetrated on, or compounded by, the Internet. The rise of "revenge porn," and the recent rash of sexual assault cases in which the crime was taped and distributed via the Internet, highlight the need for an effective response to a new form of cyber crime.
Topics could include: cyber civil rights; the nature of the Internet and how online culture contributes to harassment; current responses to the problem; a focus on distribution of images depicting felony crimes, e.g. the Steubenville rape case, the recent "viral rape case," etc.; the recent hacking and the posting of celebrity nudes; efficacy of current legislative solutions; strategies for effective prosecution; strategies for stopping distribution of the image; the limits of consent in a "revenge porn" case; an analysis of the Communications Decency Act and Internet service provider immunity; First Amendment concerns in drafting effective legislation, etc.
Interested faculty should contact WJLGS' Senior Symposium Editor, Amelia Maxfield, at email@example.com by February 15th.
Tuesday, January 20, 2015
But now, the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to decide a case that will determine the future of this key legal protection. Next week, the court will consider whether the Fair Housing Act prohibits policies that have a discriminatory effect, regardless of whether they were adopted with the intent to discriminate, in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project, Inc.
Without the ability to bring disparate impact claims, many domestic violence survivors will have no recourse when they face the same double victimization as Ms. Alvera: first abuse, then an eviction notice blaming them for the violence in their homes. Even more disturbingly, landlords usually only become aware of the violence after survivors call for help, and so survivors are forced to choose between seeking safety and keeping their homes.***
Most of the time, landlords that hold victims of abuse responsible for violence perpetrated against them do not say they are making their decisions because they intend to discriminate against women. Yet, as we described in our amicus brief, it is clear that the majority of domestic violence victims are women, and that time and again, the homes and security of female victims of domestic violence are jeopardized because ostensibly neutral housing policies that evict entire households following criminal activity are enforced against them.
Monday, January 19, 2015
Or so argues Phyllis Schlafly in Salon.
Conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly is worried that college campuses are populated by too many women, a phenomenon she insinuated has contributed to increased sexual assault on campus.
In a Monday column for the far-right website World Net Daily, the longtime anti-feminist crusader lamented the declining portion of university enrollments accounted for by men. Schlafly — BA and JD, Washington University in St. Louis; MA, Radcliffe College — argued that it may even be time to implement quotas to ensure that men constitute at least half of a college’s enrollment.
“Long ago when I went to college, campuses were about 70 percent male, and until 1970 it was still nearly 60 percent,” Schlafly wrote. “Today, however, the male percentage has fallen to the low 40s on most campuses.”
Thursday, January 15, 2015
Prosecutors recounted graphic crime details on Tuesday at the opening of a trial of two former Vanderbilt University football players charged with raping a female student at the school in 2013.
The woman was raped and sodomized by Brandon Vandenburg and Cory Batey while unconscious in Vandenburg's dorm room on the morning of June 23, 2013, Deputy District Attorney General Tom Thurman told the jury.
Thurman added that Batey urinated on the victim while using racial slurs and the rape was recorded on a cell phone.
Defense attorneys countered that the two men, who both pleaded not guilty, should not be convicted because Batey was too drunk to make a conscious decision at the time and that Vandenburg did not do anything. ***
Batey's attorney said the football player from Nashville was influenced by a campus culture of sexual freedom, promiscuity and excessive alcohol consumption that contrasted with the manner of his upbringing.***
All four men were kicked off the football team and banned from campus after the charges were leveled.
Monday, January 12, 2015
Thursday, January 8, 2015
With just a few weeks left in her Air Force career, Capt. Maribel Jarzabek decided to vent a little. She posted a few messages on a U.S. senator’s Facebook page, supporting the lawmaker’s push to overhaul the military justice system for sexual-assault cases.
Not long afterward, Jarzabek received an e-mail from a higher-ranking officer, informing her that she was under criminal investigation. The allegations? That she had wrongfully advocated “a partisan political cause” and expressed opinions online that could undermine public confidence in the Air Force.
Jarzabek is a military lawyer assigned as part of a new program to represent victims of sexual assault. Although the Defense Department has promoted the program as a success story and part of a broader campaign to crack down on sex crimes within the armed forces, Jarzabek had grown disillusioned and said she felt the Air Force was papering over deeper problems.
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.
Saturday, January 3, 2015
Harvard Law School has entered into an agreement with the U.S. Department of Education to update its sexual assault and harassment policies after a four-year investigation concluded its handling of student complaints did not comply with Title IX.
The department’s Office for Civil Rights concluded the school gave law students accused of sexual harassment or assault with more opportunities to present evidence and appeal decisions than it did their accusers, according to an announcement on Tuesday.
Additionally, investigators concluded that that law school set too high a threshold for determining when harassment occurred—a “clear and convincing” standard of evidence rather than the “preponderance of evidence” standard required under Title IX.
Investigators examined the two cases of sexual harassment filed by law students since 2005. “[The Office for Civil Rights] concluded that the law school failed to provide a prompt and equitable resolution of the two complaints,” Department of Education said in a letter to law dean Martha Minnow.
More background on the original complaint filed in 2011 is here.
The civil rights division of the US Department of Education is investigating Harvard Law School after a Boston lawyer filed a complaint with the agency alleging that school policies regarding response to sexual assault allegations violate Title IX rules against discrimination on campuses.
She said the most troubling violation is the school’s policy of waiting to address complaints on campus until police and prosecutors have finished investigating, a practice she called “running out the clock.’’ Murphy said criminal investigations can drag on until after victims graduate, leaving them vulnerable to retaliation from their attackers and others during the rest of their time in school.
Friday, January 2, 2015
The story about Southern Methodist University:
DALLAS — Southern Methodist University violated federal discrimination laws and has agreed to provide a safer environment for students who allege sexual assault or other gender-based violence, the U.S. Department of Education announced Thursday.
SMU violated Title IX, a 1972 law that bars discrimination on the basis of sex in federally funded education programs or activities.
Tuesday, December 23, 2014
Nancy Leong (Denver), in Slate, Domestic Violence is Violence
On Saturday, Ismaaiyl Brinsley shot his ex-girlfriend Shaneka Thompson in the stomach. If that were all he did, most of us would never have heard of him today.
We live in a country where shooting your ex-girlfriend is at most local news. According to media reports, the management of Thompson’s apartment complex distributed a letter to other residents stating that her shooting was the result of a “domestic dispute” in order to reassure them that “this was a private, isolated incident.” When three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends every single day in the United States, domestic violence is just another routine event—merely a landlord-tenant-relations issue of no concern to anyone else.
Of course, later that day Brinsley went on to murder New York police officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, so we now know that his shooting of Thompson was no private, isolated incident. The more difficult question is why anyone ever assumed that it was.
Saturday, December 20, 2014
Jeannie Suk in The Trouble with Teaching Rape Law revives the argument against teaching rape in the classroom due to the potential traumatic effect on students who might have experienced it.
Corey Yung disagrees, arguing the importance of this area of law in Jeannie Suk on Teaching Rape.
In this week’s New Yorker, Jeannie Suk laments what she perceives as the increasing difficulty in teaching rape to today’s law students. I was a bit surprised in reading Suk’s article because her descriptive account of today’s law school classroom environment regarding rape is at completely at odds with my own. A few years ago, I attended SEALS where there was a panel discussing teaching rape in the classroom. I asked the panelists whether the reluctance to teach rape, most famously described in James Tomkovicz‘s 1992 Yale Law Journal article on the subject, was simply outdated. Almost everyone else was teaching rape and students were reacting positively to that choice. And that is why Suk’s article struck me as particularly strange – teaching rape has become the majority rule in 1L Criminal Law.
Of course, the reluctance to teach rape articulated by Tomkovicz was somewhat different than the one now described by Suk. Tomkovicz was primarily focused on classroom controversy, potential professional consequences, and students being marginalized because of classroom discussions. In contrast, Suk focuses on trauma of rape victims in the classroom. She is concerned that students seem to want trigger warnings or no discussion of rape in the classroom.
Given the prevalence and front-page news of the issue of rape today, and debates over what "legitimate rape" or "campus rape" or "sexual assault" is, it seems like this topic is critical now more than ever. And much more than academic.
Urban Dictionary now lists the song under the heading “Christmas Date Rape Song.” Recently, it was given a “feminist makeover” in the clever, if not quite as catchy, YouTube video “Baby, It’s Consent Inside.”
Is all this controversy over a catchy classic really warranted?
Upon first listen, maybe. The tune was penned in the 1940s by Frank Loesser — writer of Guys and Dolls — to be performed as a duet with his wife at Los Angeles parties. Its predatory nature is apparent from the original notes, which label the male’s part as “wolf” and the female’s as “mouse.”
And try reading the lyrics with a moderately critical eye. She doesn’t want to stay. He tries to convince her. “It’s cold outside,” he croons over her protestations, “gosh your lips look delicious.” Over the course of their back and forth, she infamously wonders what’s in the drink he handed her. Oy.
However, the story behind the tune isn’t quite so uncomplicated. As feminist blog Persephone Magazine noted in 2010, the song’s historical context matters. At the time they were written, an unmarried woman staying the night at her beau’s was cause for scandal. It’s this fear we see reflected in the lyrics, more than any aversion on the part of the woman to staying the night.
Friday, December 19, 2014
Joe Biden gave a speech about fighting violence against women. Here were some comments he made about the moral obligations of manliness:
But unlike most people of my dad’s generation, he went further. He was a gentle man, but he raised us to intervene. He taught us, where we saw it, the definition of our manhood was not what a great football player, baseball player me or any of my brothers or sister were, it was to stand up and do the right thing.
I remember when my sister, my younger sister, was beat up by a young boy when she was in seventh grade. I'm older than my sister, I was two years ahead of her. I remember coming back from mass on Sunday, always the big treat was we would get to stop at a doughnut shop at a strip shopping center. We went in, and we would get doughnuts, and my dad would wait in the car. As I was coming out, my sister tugged on me and said, ‘That’s the boy who kicked me off my bicycle.’
Read the rest here.