Thursday, July 24, 2014

College Settles Campus Assault Lawsuit

NYT, UConn to Pay $1.3M to End Suit on Rape Cases.

The University of Connecticut will pay $1.28 million to settle a lawsuit filed by five students who charged that the university had treated their claims of sexual assault and harassment with indifference, the two sides announced on Friday in a joint statement.

 

In a news conference on Friday, Gloria Allred, the plaintiffs’ counsel, said the settlement was in the best interest of her clients and of the university. “We hope that other victims of sexual assault will hear about the positive results in our case involving UConn and be inspired and encouraged to report instances of sexual violence and assault,” Ms. Allred said, adding, “Title IX is there for their protection, and other universities should follow the law and UConn’s example.”

July 24, 2014 in Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Digging Deeper Into Fathers' Rights Rhetoric

At Jotwell, Ruthanann Robson's essay, Empiricism and Equality: Studying Fathers' Rights, reviews Kelly Behre's article Digging Beneath the Equality Language: The Influence of the Fathers' Rights Movement on Intimate Partner Violence Public Policy Debates and Family Law Reform, 21 W&M J. Women & L.  (forthcoming).  John previously noticed this article too.  Robson concludes:

Behre’s article is worth reading for its “deep dig” into the reality, rhetoric, and social science of “fathers’ rights.” Gender equality in family law remains worthy of our attention. But Behre’s article is also worth reading for its applicability to issues involving “reverse discrimination,” “color-blindness,” or formal equality, in which similar empirical underpinnings promote continued subordination. Digging beneath the equality rhetoric does not only unearth profound differences in the meanings of equality, it may also surface a dirty study.

July 24, 2014 in Family, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Prosecutors Fail to Take Campus Assault Seriously Too

NYT, Support for a College Student Grows After Rape Complaint is Dismissed.  In this story about a failed college investigation of sexual assault, what struck me here was the response of the prosecutor.  

Anna, a freshman, said she was assaulted by three football players last September, after two weeks on campus. The school’s disciplinary panel quickly cleared the athletes. Six months later, after Anna belatedly pursued a criminal complaint, the district attorney declined to bring charges, saying he believed the sexual encounter had been consensual. ***

 

The Ontario County district attorney, R. Michael Tantillo, closed the case without testing whether that seminal fluid matched the DNA of any of the accused. ***

 

Anna’s lawyer, Inga L. Parsons, said she requested that the rape kit be tested by the police even though Anna was pursuing her case [initially] through the school, and offered to pay to have it expedited. Ms. Parsons eventually arranged to have the rape kit samples sent to a private lab, which identified the seminal fluid.

 

Then in February, Ms. Parsons asked the police about getting DNA from one of the football players Anna had accused of repeatedly assaulting her. She said that it was warranted “given that we have extensive seminal fluids from the rape kit” and because the football player had denied having sexual intercourse with Anna. Even so, Mr. Tantillo decided not to test it.

 

Here is the prior article on the details of the alleged crime.  One word: Steubenville. 

July 22, 2014 in Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Prostitution Laws: 7 voices

From the CBC (Canada)..... Among the voices, one worker with victims of human trafficking said: 

"I can't walk into a group home in Canada where [there aren't] children, and these are 14-, 15-, 16-year-old children, whom are being recruited out of there by low-level, small organized gangs and things like this. And in fact these girls are now going in using friending tactics. To go in and get their friends to help them know, 'oh, you can just make a little bit of extra money, you can do this, do that, it's not so bad,'" she said.

"I'm seeing younger and younger persons entering the sex trade."

 

July 17, 2014 in Human trafficking, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Honor Killings in Pakistan

From Amnesty International, an appalling story of violence against women in Pakistan.

July 10, 2014 in International, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Colleges Fail to Investigate Campus Assaults

40% of Colleges Haven't Investigated a Single Sexual Assault

A stunning new Senate report shows nearly half of schools haven’t looked at a single case of rape and 20 percent don’t investigate all the incidents they report to the feds.
 

More than 40 percent of U.S colleges and universities have not conducted a single sexual assault investigation in the past five years, according to a new survey released by Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) Wednesday.

 

“That is hard to believe, and obviously very problematic,” McCaskill said. These schools, she continued, were either “in denial or incompetent” with regard to sexual assault on campuses.

July 10, 2014 in Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 3, 2014

What It Takes for Violence Against Women To Become An News Story

From the HuffPost

International studies tell us that more than one out of every three women worldwide (35 per cent) has experienced sexual violence at some point in their lives. That's more than one billion people. When it comes to children, up to 1.5 billion annually experience some sort of sexual, physical or psychological violence because they are girls.

Rosemary Carney, the HuffPost blogger, writes: 

I often wonder why the media pays attention, and the public takes note, only when the atrocity level crosses a certain tolerance line? Why is it that there is no universal outrage when we report that one-third of girls worldwide are sexually assaulted before they turn 16?

And: 

Violence against women is so systemic and pervasive, that being on guard against it has become part of the female DNA. Instinctively, they check out sidewalks and look over their shoulders, even for such routine activities as walking to their car in the office parking lot after a day's work.

What can be done?

July 3, 2014 in Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 29, 2014

What It Takes for Violence Against Women To Become An News Story

From the HuffPost

International studies tell us that more than one out of every three women worldwide (35 per cent) has experienced sexual violence at some point in their lives. That's more than one billion people. When it comes to children, up to 1.5 billion annually experience some sort of sexual, physical or psychological violence because they are girls.

Rosemary Carney, the HuffPost blogger, writes: 

I often wonder why the media pays attention, and the public takes note, only when the atrocity level crosses a certain tolerance line? Why is it that there is no universal outrage when we report that one-third of girls worldwide are sexually assaulted before they turn 16?

And: 

Violence against women is so systemic and pervasive, that being on guard against it has become part of the female DNA. Instinctively, they check out sidewalks and look over their shoulders, even for such routine activities as walking to their car in the office parking lot after a day's work.

What can be done?

June 29, 2014 in Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Federal Legislation to End Rapists' Parental Rights

Bill Would Help Rape Survivors Terminate Rapists' Parental Rights.  A few years ago, one of my students proposed this topic for his thesis paper.  I didn't believe that this was a real issue.  I asked him to document the existence of the problem he was purporting to solve in the paper by finding me the exact laws he had seen referenced in the media.  And sure enough, he was right.  Given the state of the law on unwed fathers that require more than biology for a legally-enforced social relationship, other than child support, it seem farfetched that the law would support criminal parents but not other unwed fathers.  

June 26, 2014 in Family, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Community Justice Alternatives for Healing for Domestic Violence Victims

Leigh Goodmark (Maryland), Law and Justice are Not Always the Same Thing: Creating Community-Based Justice Forums for People Subject to Intimate Partner Abuse, 41 Florida State L. Rev. (2014).

What constitutes justice in cases involving intimate partner abuse has historically been determined not by the person subjected to abuse, but rather an actor within the legal system — a police officer, a prosecutor, an advocate, or a judge — and those individuals most often define justice in terms of what the legal system has to offer. People subjected to abuse may conceive of justice quite differently, however, in ways that the legal system is not well suited to address. For people subjected to abuse who are interested in punishment, whose goals are congruent with the legal system’s goals of safety and accountability (as defined by the state), and who are willing to use state based systems, society offers a response: the criminal justice system. Imperfect though that response might be, in theory it meets the justice needs of some people subjected to abuse. For people who are more interested in healing and are willing to work through state systems, society also offers a response, albeit a more limited one: restorative justice. But for those who are not interested in a state-based response, little by way of justice exists for people subjected to abuse. This article seeks to fill that void by suggesting the development of community based forums to deliver justice. In her 2003 article, Battering, Forgiveness and Redemption, law professor Brenda Smith suggested a number of alternative models that might be used to address intimate partner abuse. Building on her work, and recognizing that there are parallels between the experiences of people seeking justice for violations of human rights and people subjected to intimate partner abuse, this article borrows from the structures used to find justice after atrocity, including truth commissions and community-based courts, to flesh out what community-based justice forums to address intimate partner abuse might look like. The article imagines how international human rights processes might productively inform efforts to create new alternatives for finding individualized justice, voice, validation and vindication outside of the criminal justice system and considers the crucial questions that such a radical reimagining of justice provision raises — about the role of the state, the problems of gendered justice, the existence of community, and the provision of resources.

June 26, 2014 in Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, June 21, 2014

George Will Stands by His Incendiary Sexual Assault Comments

George Will Stands By His Incendiary Sexual Assault Comments

In the interview, Will refused to take back any of his comments. Instead, he repeated the thrust of his initial message, worrying about the damage that sexual assault allegations would have on college men: 

"A lot of young men and young women in this sea of hormones and alcohol...you're going to have charges of sexual assault. You're going to have young men disciplined, their lives often permanently and seriously blighted by this, don't get into medical school, don't get into law school, all the rest, and you're going to have litigation of tremendous expense."

 

He also said that, in his view, the definition of sexual assault has become dangerously broad.

 

"Remarks become sexual assault," he said. "Improper touching: bad, shouldn't be done, but it's not sexual assault."

The criminal law distinguishes between different types of conduct in defining and punishing sexual offenses.  For example, in Ohio, "sexual conduct" is intercourse, "sexual contact" is touching. There is difference in rape (forced intercourse), sexual battery (coerced intercourse), gross sexual imposition (touching under threat of force), sexual imposition (touching when victim impaired). And there is a difference in penalties from felony in the first degree to misdemeanor.

"Remarks" can be (but are not always) actionable as sexual harassment, under Title IX in educational settings, under Title VI in work settings, or as stalking or domestic violence if they include threats of harm. 

 

June 21, 2014 in Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Domestic Violence as Regular Tort

Camille Carey (New Mexico) has posted, Domestic Violence Torts:Righting a Civil Wrong, 62 Kansas L. Rev. (2014).

    Tort law, especially personal injury law, has become an integral aspect of American society. Domestic violence injuries – including physical injury, pain and suffering, and death – have been conspicuously absent from the development of tort law. The common law history of chastisement, coverture, and spousal immunity contributed to the current dearth of domestic violence tort claims. Today tort law offers a number of underused claims that can be used to address domestic violence harms. Victims can use existing common law causes of action – such as battery, assault, and intentional infliction of emotional distress – to sue their abusers for abusive conduct. Specific causes of action for domestic and gender-motivated violence also offer ready remedies to victims of domestic violence. Through these actions, victims can achieve financial compensation for harm, obtain therapeutic outcomes, and seek deterrence of the abuser’s conduct. Domestic violence tort claims should be pursued aggressively and frequently and should become a prominent approach to addressing domestic violence.

June 19, 2014 in Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Federal Laws Inadequate to Protect Native American Women from Violence

Washington Post: New Federal Laws Help, But Still Don't Fully Protect Native American Women From Violence

President Obama toured the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota on Friday, marking his first visit to Indian Country since his 2008 campaign—and his first since signing two bills into law that were in large part aimed at better protecting Native American women from violent crimes on tribal lands.

 

Both laws—the Tribal Law and Order Act, signed in 2010, and the Violence Against Women Act, which passed Congress and was signed into law last year—essentially give tribal justice systems more power in prosecuting and sentencing violent offenders on reservations, where gaps in the federal law had made Native American communities safe havens for criminals for decades. The reason: Tribal prosecutors were barred from prosecuting crimes by non-Native American offenders.

June 17, 2014 in Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, June 14, 2014

DOJ Reaches Agreement on Gender Bias in MT Prosecution of Sexual Assaults

Department of Justice Reaches Landmark Decision to Improve Missoula County Attorney's Office's Responses to Sexual Assault

The Department of Justice announced today that it has reached a comprehensive agreement with the Missoula County Attorney’s Office, as well as Missoula County, Montana, and the Montana Attorney General’s Office, to resolve the department’s investigation of alleged gender bias in the prosecution of sexual assaults by the Missoula County Attorney’s Office (MCAO).  Under this first-of-its-kind agreement, MCAO and the county agree to take a number of significant steps to improve MCAO’s response to allegations of sexual assault and eliminate discrimination and gender bias.  This agreement completes the Civil Rights Division’s investigation of the response by the Missoula criminal justice system and the University of Montana to sexual assault.

June 14, 2014 in Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Misusing Data on Violence Against Women

The Washington Post Misused the Data on Violence Against Women.  

On Tuesday, the Washington Post published an op-ed about sexual assault claiming:

The bottom line is this: Married women are notably safer than their unmarried peers, and girls raised in a home with their married father are markedly less likely to be abused or assaulted than children living without their own father....

[T]he way the authors presented the data to support their claims was ... flawed, according to the author of the underlying study...

The graph which they used from my report does show clear differences between intimate violence rates — but that is because it is only showing one variable; household composition. The story could change if we started to control for other factors.

Here's another article objecting not to the study's use of data, but its conclusion. Marriage Will Not Save Women from Male Violence

June 12, 2014 in Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Teaching Nonviolence to Young Men

From the Guardian UK: 

'When I saw a girl in the street, I would tease her and pass nasty comments," says 17-year-old Jetmir Fejzullahu. "What I learned was that it doesn't make you attractive and interesting, but the opposite." Sitting in a bare school hall with graffiti scrawled across the walls, Jetmir is one of several teenagers discussing what they have learned from a special project about gender inequality and sexual violence in Kosovo.

Care International launched the Young Men Initiative (YMI) in 2007 with local partners in Kosovo, where an estimated 20,000 women were raped during the war. It is one of 22 countries worldwide where the UK-based charity focuses on sexual violence.

And: 

A study by the Kosovo Women's Network in 2008, almost a decade after the war, found that 43% of the population had experienced domestic violence, and that violence against women and children is largely under-reported. "For most people," John Crownover, programme adviser for the initiative, says, "violence is not seen as a violation of women's rights but as normal interaction between men and women."

Crownover explains why they set up in Kosovo: "Young people growing up in the aftermath of the conflict were faced with the rise of xenophobia, nationalism and gender inequalities. For boys, particularly in working-class neighbourhoods, many of the so-called successful men they saw were either 'hyper masculine' or linked to criminal activities. We're trying to shift attitudes that can lead to sexual and other types of interpersonal violence."

June 10, 2014 in Manliness, Masculinities, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 9, 2014

Challenge to Sexual Misconduct Cases

From the Chicago Tribune:  

Peter Yu, Drew Sterrett and Lewis McLeod were headed toward bright futures at prestigious colleges and universities when each got involved in one-night sexual encounters.

All three young men claimed the encounters were consensual — but the women asserted otherwise. In each case, campus officials found the men responsible for sexual assault and expelled or suspended them.

But: 

...all three are pushing back, suing the schools on charges that their rights to a fair hearing were violated.

And: 

The three young men are suing Vassar College, the University of Michigan and Duke University, respectively; students who were suspended or expelled for sexual assault have also filed actions against Occidental College, Columbia University, Xavier University, Swarthmore College, Delaware State University and a host of other campuses.

Most are arguing that the college hearing process is unfair. In a new twist, some young men also are asserting that the college discipline process is skewed against them because of their gender, violating the 1972 Title IX law, which bans sex discrimination by schools receiving federal funds.

And: 

Some critics argue that students should have the right to an attorney and to directly question their accusers — protections not granted on all campuses.

They also expressed concerns about the federal government's 2011 directive to apply a lower burden of proof — "preponderance of evidence" — in these sexual misconduct hearings, instead of the higher standard of "clear and convincing evidence" that some campuses had been using.

 

June 9, 2014 in Education, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

What's a College to Do about Sexual Assault?

Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

Brown University sued for not expelling student alleged as perpetrator of campus rape.

Duke University sued for expelling student alleged as perpetrator of campus rape.

June 3, 2014 in Education, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Strange News from Brown University

From HuffPost: 

A federal complaint filed Thursday against Brown University accuses the Ivy League school of violating the law by failing to expel a student the institution found had raped a fellow undergraduate.

And:

Brown student Lena Sclove, who was raped and choked by a male acquaintance in August 2013, said she filed complaints accusing Brown of violating the Title IX gender equity law, and the Clery Act campus security law. The complaints will be reviewed by the U.S. Education Department, which may investigate and impose sanctions.

And: 

A university disciplinary hearing in October found Sclove's assailant guilty of four code of conduct charges, including sexual violence involving physical force and injury, according to documents provided to The Huffington Post. A disciplinary panel recommended a two-year suspension, which would have allowed Sclove to finish her studies without the assailant's presence on campus. J. Allen Ward, Brown's senior associate dean of student life, reduced the suspension to one year. But because the suspension counts the semester he was punished, the assailant will be allowed back on campus as early as August.

May 28, 2014 in Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Navy SEALS and Elliot Rodger

On this Memorial Day, it is fitting that I should post about the military.  And, sadly, it is also perhaps appropriate that I comment about the ugly murders that were perpetuated by Elliot Rodger this weekend.  

The mentally unstable young man had written an elaborate 140 page manifesto summarizing his life and his reasons for his massacre at UCSB.  I did not read every page of the manifesto but a lucid pattern emerges.  Rodger was desperately insecure in his masculinity, or rather, his complete absence of such.  He was afraid of girls, afraid of friendships, afraid of being a decent human being who cared about others, and always afraid to ask for help.  A coward to the very end, he killed himself to escape punishment for his crimes.  

Throughout Rodger's deranged manifesto, he had given poignant testimony to his narcissistic personality disorder.  At the end, he referred to himself as a "god" who could end life.

One day before Rodger's killing, Admiral McRaven, a Navy SEAL for 36 years, delivered the commencement address at UT Austin.  He also spoke, albeit indirectly, about manliness because the SEALS are emblematic of it and women, at this time, are not members.  He urged the graduates--including, he specifically said, female grads--to model themselves after the SEALS.  

At least one lesson bespoke a manliness that seemed to be informed by those virtues that society has traditionally deemed....feminine.  

McRaven told the students that you're not a god and that no one is; learn that you need others' help and don't be afraid to ask for it.  "Find someone to help you through life....and respect everyone."  

Femininity....a good place for manliness.....

May 25, 2014 in Manliness, Masculinities, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)