Thursday, September 18, 2014
From the NYT. The Question: Going After the Abusers: When police have evidence of domestic violence, should prosecution be mandatory or should the victim be allowed to decide whether to pursue the case?
Law professors weigh in here:
NYT, Leigh Goodmark (Maryland), Healthy Alternatives to Prosecution can Help Victims
Donna Coker (Miami), Mandatory Policies Can be a Threat to Women
The rest of the debate here.
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
After a week of unprecedented bad publicity, the NFL has hired four women to shape new policies on domestic violence and sexual assault.
The announcement was something of a mixed message, coming just moments before the Minnesota Vikings announced that Adrian Peterson, who was arrested Saturday for recklessly or negligently injuring a child, was cleared to play Sunday.
Commissioner Roger Goodell made the announcement in a letter to owners, writing that the goal is “to make a real difference on these and other issues.”
Anna Isaacson, currently a league vice-president of community relations and philanthropy, assumed the additional title of vice-president of social responsibility. She will oversee initiatives aimed at raising awareness about the issues and decreasing the instances of violence. Lisa Friel, Jane Randel and Rita Smith were hired as senior advisers because of their experience with the issues. Friel is the former head of sex-crimes prosecution for the Manhattan district attorney; Randel is a co-founder of NO MORE, an advocacy group focusing on domestic violence and sexual assault; and Smith is former executive director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
Friday, September 12, 2014
Carissima Mathen at Ottawa Law has uploaded "Crowdsourcing Sexual Objectification" on SSRN. The abstract reads:
This paper analyzes the criminal offence of the non-consensual distribution of intimate images (frequently called “revenge porn”). Focussing on the debate currently underway in Canada surrounding Bill C-13 (Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act), it notes that such an offence would fill a grey area in that country’s criminal law. Arguing, more broadly, that the criminal law has an important expressive function, the paper posits that the offence targets the same general type of wrongdoing — sexual objectification — that undergirds sexual assault. While not all objectification merits criminal sanction, the paper explains why the non-consensual distribution of intimate images does, and why a specific offence is legitimate.
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
A story by Michael Cassidiy, Boston College Law, from WBUR (the Boston NPR station). The introduction:
The current spotlight on campus sexual assault will no doubt raise awareness among college students of their legal rights and obligations. One hopes that it will also hold universities accountable for the social cultures they tolerate, if not create, on their own campuses. But difficult conversations about sexual responsibility need to be raised well before our children head off to college. As a law professor who has taught rape for more than a decade, and as a father of teenage boys, I believe that if we want to change behavior, we need to train young men to recognize sexual assault when it occurs and to internalize norms against it. Our conversations about rape need to start in our homes, at our dining room tables.
Sunday, September 7, 2014
....according to UNICEF. More:
About one in 10 girls around the world experiences serious sexual violence, the UN children's agency has said in a major report detailing the "staggering extent" of sexual, physical and emotional abuse faced byyoung people.
The Unicef report found that 120 million girls and female adolescents under 20 had endured rape or other forced sexual acts, with such experiences especially common in some developing countries – about 70% of girls suffer sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Equatorial Guinea, and an estimated 50% in Uganda, Tanzania and Zimbabwe, Unicef said.
The report also pointed to problems in richer countries, with many girls reporting "sexual victimisation", for example, by harassment or exposure to pornography.
Many young victims did not report abuse, the authors found, with data showing that nearly half of all girls aged 15-19 who said they had faced physical and/or sexual violence had never told anyone about it.
The report also highlighted the high numbers of young people murdered every year, totalling about 95,000 deaths in 2012. In some countries, for example Panama, Venezuela, Brazil and Colombia, murder is the leading cause of death for males aged 10-20. Nigeria alone had 13,000 child and adolescent homicides in 2012, with some 11,000 in Brazil.
A student at the University of California at Santa Barbara who allegedly drugged and sexually assaulted a female undergraduate was punished by being removed from campus for three months, a federal complaint filed Wednesday claims.
Myra Crimmel, a 2014 UCSB graduate, submitted a Title IX complaint to the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights against her alma mater for allegedly failing to inform her of all her options as a rape victim, delaying adjudication and eventually giving her assailant what amounted to a single-quarter suspension.
Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Bloomberg News took the campus sexual assault backlash to a new low last week with a piece describing how “hook-up culture” is on the decline at elite colleges now that there’s a heightened awareness of sexual assault on campuses. The focus of the article is the “burden” male students carry as a result of new interest in the campus rape epidemic. So what is the burden that is so heavy it warrants an entire article?
- Having to be more cautious about gauging the interest of a romantic pursuit
- Having to avoid making romantic pursuits “feel uncomfortable”
- Having to learn what constitutes consent
- Having to be more cautious about making decisions while drunk
- Having to be more cognizant of how social media comments may appear to others
In other words, the new campus anti-rape movement has made male students more thoughtful and less predatory, but journalist John Lauerman and former Bloomberg intern Jennifer Suraneframe this in negative terms.
Now here's an excellent example of scientific innovation.
USA Today, Nail Polish May Prevent Date Rape
Undergraduates at North Carolina State University are being credited with creating a new kind of nail polish.
The polish doubles as a way to prevent sexual assault, according to the Triangle Business Journal, The nail polish changes color when the person wearing it is exposed to date rape drugs.
So, how does it work?
The person wearing the nail polish has to use their finger to stir their drink. If the drink has a date rape drug in it, the nail polish changes color.
The Washington Post reports that 55% of about 1,570 colleges and universities with more than 1,000 students received at least one report of forcible sex offense on campus in 2012. From 2010 to 2012 there were 14 forcible sex offenses reported on N.C. State's campus.
Undercover Colors, which was started by four males students, is raising money to refine the prototype and to pay executives.
The company won the Lulu eGames this spring, which is sponsored by N.C. State's Entrepreneurship initiative. The contest challenges students to design working solutions to real-world problems.
[h/t Stefan Padfield]
Saturday, August 30, 2014
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has announced new guidelines for how the league will handle incidents of domestic violence and sexual assault. The change in policy, explained an open letter to team owners, come a month after the NFL was criticized for how it handled player Ray Rice's arrest on domestic violence charges.
Goodell says that the new policies were developed after conversations with outside experts, team owners and the NFL Players Association. The open letter describes several ways in which the NFL plans to provide training, support and resources to personnel, players and their families. It also sets down guidelines for how sexual assault and domestic abuse will be punished in the future.
The nation’s highest immigration court has found for the first time that women who are victims of severe domestic violence in their home countries can be eligible for asylum in the United States.
The decision on Tuesday by the Board of Immigration Appeals in the case of a battered wife from Guatemala resolved nearly two decades of hard-fought legal battles over whether such women could be considered victims of persecution. The ruling could slow the pace of deportations from the Southwest border, because it creates new legal grounds for women from Central America caught entering the country illegally in the surge this summer in their fight to remain here.
Thursday, August 28, 2014
State Sen. Wendy Davis, the Democratic candidate for Texas governor who rose to national fame last year by spearheading a fight against a draconian abortion bill,held a press conference Wednesday to highlight her ideas on how to fight sexual assault. Talking about her legislative efforts to process the estimated backlog of 16,000 untested rape kits in the state, Davis said she wanted to take the solution a step further. She proposed lifting the statute of limitations for sexual assault entirely, in no small part to make sure that rapists don't escape justice just because a rape kit lingered untested for so long that the window for prosecution closed.
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
.....you--a college student--complete an education program intended to prevent sexual assault. The story:
Bill Arnold, graduate assistant for bystander intervention and prevention education with the OU Survivor Advocacy Program (OUSAP), said Thursday the Not Anymore program is akin to the mandatory Alcohol EDU course all freshmen must take. The online course takes about two hours to complete, and features video lessons on topics including consent, alcohol, sexual assault, bystander intervention and rape culture.
Arnold said the mandatory program is a required part of the Violence Against Women Act's grant funding for the OU Women's Center, which supports OUSAP. He said the average cost per student to the university for the Not Anymore program, depending on final enrollment totals at OU, is around $3 to $4.
Saturday, August 23, 2014
Last month, Michelle Miers was shot and stabbed at her home by an attacker. Still breathing but in need of urgent medical care, she picked up her cellphone and dialed 9-1-1. Like most Americans, Miers probably presumed that calling 9-1-1 guaranteed help was on the way. For the 26-year-old mother of two, however, help would come too late—not because Miers was too far away, or because her wounds were already too severe, but because police and paramedics couldn’t figure out where she was.
Miers is one of more than an estimated 10,000 Americans who will die this year because wireless companies don’t transmit precise enough location data to 9-1-1 operators, leaving police unable to locate victims. In Miers’ case, responders were left scrambling door-to-door for 20 minutes before they spotted the apartment building with broken glass in the entryway where Miers lay covered in blood.
Thursday, August 21, 2014
As former social chair of the Sigma Chi fraternity at Harvard University, Malik Gill wants to appear especially welcoming to girls who come to the house for parties.
Yet, Gill, who starts his junior year in a few weeks, says he won’t be offering a female classmate a beer.
“I don’t want to look like a predator,” the 20-year-old economics major said. “It’s a little bit of a blurred line.”
Thursday, August 14, 2014
Jennifer Denbow (New England), has published The Pedagogy of Rape Law, 64 J. Legal Educ. 16 (Aug. 2014). Her research suggests that
instructors of criminal law, perhaps particularly male professors, have anxiety about teaching the law of rape. Indeed, as I began to research the pedagogy of rape law, I discovered that this anxiety is relatively common and that, in response, some instructors either do not teach rape law in their courses or they teach it, as my own professor did, in a manner entirely different from the way they teach other criminal law subjects. ***
In this article I consider some potential roots of the anxiety surrounding the
teaching of rape law and its actual or perceived explosiveness. In particular, I
argue that the crime of rape implicates issues of identity, gender and emotion.
I explore how the politics of identity figures in the emotional intensity of
rape and in the anxiety around teaching rape law. I argue that the identity
politics framework and its epistemology would stifle classroom discussion and
reinforce problematic understandings of female and male identity. Although I
am critical of the politics of identity, I also argue that it challenges in important
ways many deep-seated assumptions about law, reason and objectivity and
is thus especially threatening to those law professors who take these things
for granted. Emphasizing that rape is too difficult to teach because it is an
emotional topic may mask the deeper ways in which a discussion of rape—particularly an analysis that views it as oppressive of women thus giving them special standing to analyze it—challenges ideas law professors take for granted, such as their own authority, rationality and objectivity. Moreover, it is in part emotion itself that grounds this challenge.
Given the very public debate and confusion over what constitutes rape--from discussions of "legitimate rape," campus assaults, and consent, it seems that avoiding or minimizing the topic of rape in law school is now more problemmatic than ever.
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
The U.S. Feminist Judgments Project seeks contributors of revised opinions and commentary for an edited collection entitled Feminist Judgments: Rewritten Opinions of the United States Supreme Court. This edited volume is a collaborative project among feminist law professors and others to rewrite, from a feminist perspective, key Supreme Court decisions relevant to gender issues. Editors Kathy Stanchi, Linda Berger and Bridget Crawford seek prospective authors for 20 to 25 rewritten Supreme Court opinions covering a range of topics including reproductive rights, equal protection, the state’s use of criminal power, privacy, the family, women’s political participation, Title IX, employment discrimination and substantive due process. The editors also seek authors for commentaries of 1,500 to 2,500 words to put into context each of the rewritten cases.
The U.S. Feminist Judgments project was inspired by the successful collection and publication in Britain of Feminist Judgments: From Theory to Practice, edited by Rosemary Hunter, Clare McGlynn, and Erika Rackley. This volume, which included feminist versions of twenty-three key British decisions from the Court of Appeal and House of Lords, was published in 2010 and has been very well received. Like the sister project in Britain, the U.S. Feminist Judgments Project endeavors to pioneer “a new form of critical socio-legal scholarship” that illustrates how cases could have been decided differently had a feminist method been employed. We believe that U.S. Supreme Court law is ripe for this kind of scholarly treatment.
Those who are interested in rewriting an opinion or providing the commentary on one of the rewritten opinions should fill out an application here:
Applications are due by September 15, 2014 at 5:00 p.m. eastern. Editors will notify accepted authors and commentators by October 7, 2014. First drafts of rewritten opinions will be due on February 1, 2015. First drafts of comments on the rewritten opinions will be due on March 15, 2015. The editors are in the process of identifying a publisher; publication of the final volume is anticipated for late 2015.
A list of cases tentatively scheduled for rewriting is available here: http://www.law.temple.edu/pdfs/faculty/FeministJudgmentsSurveyResults.pdf
Applicants may indicate their preferences among the list of cases. Applicants also may suggest other cases for rewriting. The tentative cases were chosen with the input and advice of an Advisory Panel of distinguished U.S. scholars including Kathryn Abrams, Katharine Bartlett, Devon Carbado, Mary Anne Case, Erwin Chemerinsky, April Cherry, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Martha Fineman, Margaret Johnson, Sonia Katyal, Nancy Leong, Catharine MacKinnon, Rachel Moran, Melissa Murray, Angela Onwuachi-Willig, Nancy Polikoff, Dorothy Roberts, Dan Rodriguez, Susan Ross, Vicki Schultz, Dean Spade, Robin West, and Verna Williams.
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.
Thursday, August 7, 2014
Ben McJunkin has uploaded "Deconstructingn Rape by Fraud," in the Columbia J. of Gender and Law. The abstract reads:
In this Article, I critically examine the role of normative masculinity in determining the shape and scope of the criminal law doctrine of rape by fraud, which purports to criminalize sexual intercourse procured through certain material deceptions. In application, the rape by fraud doctrine is exceedingly narrow — deceptively induced sexual intercourse is rarely criminalized as rape, despite deception’s profound impact on the voluntariness of sexual consent. As the Article explains, the rape by fraud doctrine is thus in tension with the prevailing view that rape law principally protects a thick norm of individual sexual autonomy. Despite this tension, the narrowness of the rape by fraud doctrine is frequently defended, often by those who are most committed to individual autonomy elsewhere in rape law.
Through an analysis of court decisions and academic commentary, I demonstrate that those defenses largely rest on appeals to a romanticized ideal of the practice of seduction. I illuminate the link between seduction and a prevailing ideology of normative masculinity that allocates social status for men on the basis of demonstrations of sexual conquest. That ideology perpetuates narratives in which women, through their capacity to grant or withhold consent, hold power over men when pursued as objects for sex. Indeed, within this account, the transgression of women’s power is what makes sexual conquest worthy of masculine status. Deceptions used to procure sex are criminalized only in exceptional cases where the narratives of interpersonal power break down. Thus, the rape by fraud doctrine can be seen as codifying existing limits on masculine status transfer. Ultimately, I argue that understanding the rape by fraud doctrine in terms of normative masculinity exposes an important continuity between contemporary rape law and rape law historically, in which rape was a crime against men’s property interest in women.
Thursday, July 31, 2014
....as many as a third of all women serving in the military are raped by fellow soldiers during their tours of duty, compounding whatever traumas they may have experienced in combat.